20 Epic Day Trips from Seattle You Need to Take in 2022

north cascades diablo lake
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The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Museum of Pop Culture are some of the most popular tourist destinations in Seattle. However, you can visit many other beautiful places outside of Seattle. Taking a day trip from Seattle lets you see just a small part of what else the state has to offer.

I’ve lived in Seattle for over 25 years and still haven’t explored everywhere I want to go in the state. Luckily, many of my weekends consist of finding new destinations in Washington, so I’ve been able to take dozens of different Seattle day trips. I’ve also been able to slowly cross items off my Washington State bucket list.

While it was hard to make a list of only 20 places, these are some of the best Washington state day trips in my opinion. Whether you’re a local looking for something new to do or visiting the city for a vacation, here are ideas to add to your list for the best day trips from Seattle.

The information in this article has been updated as of April 2021.

What to Bring on a Seattle Day Trip

Here are a few items I recommend bringing on a day trip in Washington for drives near Seattle.

  • Raincoat – It doesn’t rain as much in Seattle as people think, but there is the occasional summer storm. Bringing a lightweight raincoat is smart and easy enough to put in your backpack. Amazon | Backcountry.com
  • Sunglasses – Contrary to what you may think, it can get very sunny during the summer months, so keep your eyes protected when you’re outside with these glasses. Amazon | Ray-Ban
  • Water bottle – Water stations to fill up your water bottle are everywhere in Seattle, so stay hydrated with a refillable water bottle. Amazon | Backcountry
  • Backpack – Most of these day trips are pretty active, so it’s helpful to have a small backpack to store your items in while you explore. Amazon | Zappos

Coming from out of town? You’ll want to rent a car to be able to get around on your own. From Hertz to Alamo, we have a good variety available in Seattle.

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The Best Day Trips From Seattle

1. Mount Rainier National Park

mount rainier

Distance from Seattle: 86 miles

Travel time: 2 hours

Our first stop on this list of day trips from Seattle is Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in Washington State and in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest. You might recognize this as the unofficial logo of Seattle, as it’s on everything from tourist gifts to our license plates and the most popular Washington National Park.

People love to take a day trip to Mount Rainier and the surrounding national park to ski, hike, and go rock climbing. The most popular spot in Mount Rainier is Panorama Point from where you will have an amazing view of forests, meadows, and other mountains such as Mount St. Helens and Mount Adams.

While you can visit the mountain in one day, you can also turn this into a weekend getaway from Seattle if you want to spend more time hiking. I highly recommend this, as there are tons to explore on the mountain.

If you don’t want to drive, book a ticket on the Mt. Rainier Railroad for one of the more unique train day trips from Seattle. You’ll get a scenic view of the surrounding area while learning about history.

Prefer to go on a tour instead of driving yourself there? There are multiple day tours from Seattle to Mt. Rainier available, including a small-group tour with breakfast and lunch provided or an Mt. Rainier and wine tasting tour. The best part is most of these day trips from downtown Seattle will pick you up right at your hotel if you’re visiting.

Looking for the ultimate Seattle travel guide written by a local that tells you all the best places to go and what to see? My new ebook is now live, so click here to buy your copy!

2. Whidbey Island

langley whidbey island

Distance from Seattle: 35 miles

Travel time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

If you want to avoid one of those busy urban Seattle day trips, head to Whidbey Island for the day to take one of the more unique day trips from Seattle by ferry. This is only a short drive north of Seattle.

Here, you’ll find beaches, hills, cliffs, and farmland to explore. This is one of the best beach day trips from Seattle, as you can walk on beaches around the island when the tide goes out to discover the sea life in the sand. Visiting Whidbey Island wineries is another popular activity during any time of the year.

Whidbey Island is also a great place to go shopping. There are boutiques, cafés, and galleries in the island’s coastal towns, including Oak Harbor, Coupeville, and Langley. Check out some of the best things to do on Whidbey Island when planning your trip.

Day tours are available if you prefer someone else to drive you through Whidbey Island and see Deception Pass at the north end. Either way, this is one of the best day trips from Seattle in my opinion, so I recommend spending a day on this island soon.

3. Olympic National Park

Visit Olympic National Park fog

Distance from Seattle: 83 miles

Travel time: 2 hours and 25 minutes

Even though it will take about two and a half hours to reach Olympic National Park, it is still one of the most beautiful destinations in Washington State among this list of the best day trips from Seattle. It is located on the Olympic Peninsula in the Pacific Northwest and is home to a diverse ecosystem.

When you spend one day in Olympic National Park, make sure to stop by Hurricane Ridge (an elevated destination for hiking and skiing), Lake Crescent (a mountain lake with trails and sites for camping), and Sol Duc River. 

One of my favorite things to do here is all the hikes in Olympic National Park, ranging from easy hikes to multi-day backpacking trips.

This is a long day trip from Seattle, so you might want to check out guided tours such as the Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls tour or the Hoh Rain Forest and Rialto Beach tour. The Pacific Ocean is gorgeous, so you won’t want to miss spending time on it during one of the most scenic beach day trips from Seattle.

If you decide to extend your trip into an Olympic Peninsula road trip, you can spend the night at Olympic Lodge. This lodge is near the park and even has a pool when you want to relax at night. (rates start at $125 per night)

4. Bainbridge Island

pegasus coffee bainbridge day trip

Distance from Seattle: 11 miles

Travel time: 1 hour

Taking a day trip to Bainbridge Island is a close and easy day trip from Seattle that you can take. When I first moved to Seattle, my family would take this ferry across the water all the time just for the day. The ferry ride alone is one of the main reasons people love coming here and one of the best Seattle summer activities to do.

Bainbridge has plenty of hikes near Seattle to explore if you take your car. There is also a small town to have lunch at if you want to walk across instead.

Bainbridge Island also has an eco-friendly museum where rotating exhibitions by contemporary local artists can be seen. Some people just enjoy taking the ferry across and back without even getting off, which I also recommend on a sunny day.

You never know what you’ll see on the water, such as seals or whales if you’re lucky. Many people also enjoy walking on the ferry and then taking it back during a day in Seattle.

5. North Cascades National Park

How to Spend a Weekend in Winthrop Diablo Lake

Distance from Seattle: 110 miles

Travel time: 2 hours

Mountains of conifer trees, glacier peaks, and clear blue lakes – you can find all of these at the North Cascades National Park. This is one of the most beautiful US national parks in my opinion and one of the best road trips from Seattle.

It’s a great place to visit for those who are only looking for day trips from Seattle, but you can get more from this experience if you stay longer. Spending the weekend in Winthrop is a fun mini-vacation to plan.

You can go skiing at the Mt. Baker Ski Area in the winter or go hiking at Mount Shuksan. There are also several campsites inside the national park if you want to stay overnight, but it’s easy enough to take a North Cascades day trip from Seattle.

Make sure to stop at Diablo Lake on the way out. This is one of the most stunning parts of your one day trip from Seattle because of its breathtaking natural beauty. Located between Ross Lake and Forge Lake on the Skagit River, it is elevated at an astounding 1,201 feet above sea level. Make sure to check out my list of the best day hikes in North Cascades National Park while you’re there.

Due to its proximity to Canada, it’s a popular weekend getaway from Vancouver. People come from all over to get pictures of this lake and go on hikes nearby.

You’ll think people photoshopped photos of the lake until you see the aquamarine water in person that is surrounded by tall mountains and lush forests. You can go boating, hiking, or camping in addition to taking pictures.

6. San Juan Island

san juan island me

Distance from Seattle: 110 miles

Travel time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

San Juan Island is one of the longest day trips from Seattle on this list, but it will be worth the travel. There are so many places to see and activities to do while you’re here.

Many people love coming to one of the most scenic day trips from Seattle by ferry in the summer. (If you’re visiting and spending 3 days in Seattle, I recommend extending your trip to visit the island.)

When you come on the ferry, you’ll be in the town of Friday Harbor. There are many cute boutique shops to visit and restaurants with a view of the water.

Another popular activity is to go whale watching at Lime Kiln Point State Park. This is perhaps one of the most popular activities among tourists and locals alike when looking for what to do on San Juan Island.

This area is one of the most scenic places to go kayaking, so check out a San Juan Island kayaking tour if you have time.

Since this is one of the farthest Seattle day trips, you may decide to extend it into an overnight trip. Friday Harbor House is a chic hotel right on the water with a view of the ferry. (rates start at $341 per night; book your room on Hotels.com or Booking.com)

7. Snoqualmie Falls

snoqualmie falls

Distance from Seattle: 30 miles

Travel time: 35 minutes

If you only have a few hours and need ideas for easy day trips from Seattle, make sure to visit Snoqualmie Falls. One of the most popular waterfalls near Seattle, this 268-foot waterfall located on the Snoqualmie River in the east of Seattle. It is a popular destination with more than 1.5 million people visiting the waterfall every year and one of the best free things to do in Seattle.

There is also an observation deck and a gift shop in the vicinity, so you can have a great view of the waterfall and buy some souvenirs to take home. You’ll love that this is one of the closest day trips near Seattle and you can fit in other activities if you want.

One of the most common tours here is the Snoqualmie Falls and wine tasting tour, where you’ll get to visit two popular destinations in the Seattle area.

If you want to treat yourself and extend your stay, book a night at the beautiful Salish Lodge. You’ll wake up to a view of the waterfall and a tasty breakfast at the restaurant. You can read my full Salish Lodge review if you want more details. (rates start at $260 per night; book your room on Hotels.com or Booking.com)

8. Leavenworth

leavenworth activities bavarian village

Distance from Seattle: 125 miles

Travel time: 2 hours and 20 minutes

Visiting the town of Leavenworth is one of the most popular day trips from Seattle with tourists and locals alike. The entire town center is modeled to look like a Bavarian village, which is reminiscent of an old German town. No matter what time of year you come, you’ll love taking this Leavenworth day trip from Seattle.

The village is a popular tourist destination with all the fun things to do in Leavenworth. This is also one of the best day trips from Seattle in winter due to all the Christmas festivities. In fact, it is named A&E’s “Ultimate Holiday Town in the USA.” You can go shopping, eat German sausage and drink beer, and even play mini-golf. 

This town is a fun place to book a tour from Seattle to Leavenworth so you can enjoy the drive. If you’re going around Christmas, you’ll want to book this Christmas tour well in advance. Leavenworth is one of the only train day trips from Seattle you can take, so you’ll want to experience this yourself.

9. Tacoma

things to do in tacoma point ruston

Distance from Seattle: 40 miles

Travel time: 40 minutes

For those looking for easy day trips from Seattle, head south and take a short trip to Tacoma. It’s a coastal town that’s known for the Museum of Glass, which exhibits the work of renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly.

There are tons of things to do in Tacoma to fill your day. Some places you can visit in Tacoma include the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, the Point Defiance Park, and the Wild Waves Theme and Water Park. Based on how many kid-friendly things there are to do, Tacoma is one of the best day trips from Seattle with kids.

During the summer, catching a Tacoma Rainiers baseball game is a great way to spend a sunny day. Tickets and concessions are cheap and the game is entertaining no matter what age you are during one of the closest day trips around Seattle.

10. Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

Distance from Seattle: 41 miles

Travel time: 55 minutes

Another great day trip near Seattle is the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum. Located in the Puget Sound area, it will take you right back to the 19th century.

Staff members and volunteers wear period clothing to demonstrate the life of the people from this era. You’ll learn about their history and crafts in the most interactive and entertaining way possible. If you love history, this is one of the best Seattle day trips for you.

As of 2022, they are open Wednesday-Sunday from 11 am to 4 pm and you can purchase tickets online.

11. Woodinville

day trip near seattle woodinville

Distance from Seattle: 20 miles

Travel time: 25 minutes

Popular with locals and tourists alike, Woodinville is an easy day trip from Seattle due to how close it is. You can choose how long to spend here, whether you want to visit for an afternoon or spend all day at this Seattle area day trip.

The most common thing to do in Woodinville is to go wine tasting at the dozens of different wineries. In fact, they call it Woodinville Wine Country because of how large the area is. The most famous winery is Chateau Ste Michelle, and I recommend going here if it’s your first time in the area. They have a giant gift shop, cafe, multiple wine tasting stations, and a spacious outdoor area to walk around during your one day trip from Seattle.

Other wineries I like in the area include Armstrong Family Winery, Covington Cellars, and Cave B Estate Winery. If you’d prefer to sample something besides wine on your day trip near Seattle, you also have your choice of breweries, distilleries, and cideries in the area.

12. Mount St. Helens National Park

day trips from seattle mt st helens

Distance from Seattle: 185 miles

Travel time: 3 hours and 15 minutes

Mount St. Helens National Park attracts more than half a million visitors every year who want to go volcano watching. Most people can’t believe they can get so close to a volcano that still has steam coming out of it. There are other activities that you can do when you visit one of the most fun day trips from Seattle, such as hiking easy to difficult trails.

Aside from the observatory, you can take a helicopter tour of the park, climb the volcano, see elk, fish at Coldwater Lake, explore caves, and ride horses at the Eco Park. Mount St. Helens National Park is perfect for those seeking adventurous Seattle day trips.

For a once-in-a-lifetime tour, book a spot on this aerial tour over Mount St. Helens and Mt. Rainier. This will easily top your list of the best day trips outside of Seattle.

13. Bellingham

seattle day trip bellingham

Distance from Seattle: 90 miles

Travel time: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Bellingham is a coastal town near the Canadian Border with plenty to do outdoors. This is one of the best day trips from Seattle in my opinion (I used to live there in college), especially if you want to be surrounded by beautiful natural scenery.

The area is also a very kid-friendly destination if your family is with you. There are plenty of parks to visit and kid-friendly breweries to stop at for a meal as well.

Here, you’ll find Mount Baker, Whatcom Falls, Lummi Island, Chuckanut Mountains, and Lake Padden. You should also visit the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention and the Whatcom Museum while you’re in Bellingham. Make sure to stop by one of the local restaurants downtown for lunch or dinner.

14. Boeing Everett Factory

seattle day trip boeing factory

Distance from Seattle: 30 miles

Travel time: 35 minutes

Located just thirty minutes from the city, the Boeing Everett Factory will fit your day trip around Seattle itinerary well. Those who love all things airplanes will love this (I even enjoyed it and I’m not the biggest aviation fan).

This airplane assembly building is the largest building in the world in terms of volume and area. Here, you can see large aircraft (like the Boeing 747, 767, 777, and 787) being assembled. This tour is best saved for when you need ideas for cozy day trips from Seattle in winter.

You’ll need to sign up for your Boeing tour in advance, so buy your tickets online. For a longer tour, sign up for the Boeing and Pike Place Market tour. As of April 2022, these tours are both paused, so check back at a later time.

Either way, you’ll love this when you need ideas for easy day trips from Seattle. Stop by the nearby town of Mukilteo afterward to get lunch or dinner at Ivar’s Seafood Bar.

15. Lakewold Gardens

wisteria gardens

Distance from Seattle: 45 miles

Travel time: 45 minutes

If you want a relaxing day trip near Seattle, head to Lakewold Gardens, a ten-acre, non-profit estate garden in Washington State. It features beautifully manicured lawns, colorful flowers, and old trees that give the pathway a nice shade.

Great for romantic day trips in Washington state, Lakewold Gardens is open to visitors all year round. This also makes for a short one day trip from Seattle if you’re looking for something quick to do.

Seattle in the fall is beautiful, so visiting the gardens then makes for one of the more scenic day trips from Seattle in October. Admission is $10 per adult and children under five years old are free.

16. Yakima

visiting yakima vineyard

Distance from Seattle: 142 miles

Travel time: 2 hours and 10 minutes

Yakima is one of the best Seattle day trips that locals go on when they want warm weather for a day. Located on the other side of the Cascade Mountains, the weather tends to be sunny and hot consistently during the summer.

There are dozens of wineries here if you want to wine taste some of the best wine in the state. They also have a good number of breweries for sampling beer, and more breweries continue to open up each year.

You won’t want to miss some of the more unique food here, such as tamales that often sell out. Be sure to stop at the Sunday Farmer’s Market as well to stock up before you head back home.

17. Victoria, BC

victoria with kids butchart gardens

Distance from Seattle: n/a (ferry ride)

Travel time: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Did you know you can easily visit Canada in a day, and the best part is you don’t have to drive there? Victoria Clipper lets you take a day trip from Seattle to Victoria in less than three hours, and you’ll arrive in Canada just before 11 am.

That means you’ll have almost five hours to explore the very walkable city of Victoria during one of the best day trips from Seattle.

While it makes for a long day, this is one of the most entertaining day trips from Seattle with kids. They’ll love looking for whales and other sea life during the ferry ride, and there are plenty of activities to do in Victoria with kids once you get there.

I’ve been to this city about a dozen times at this point, and the places I always recommend are the Royal BC Museum, Fisherman’s Wharf, and Butchart Gardens. For a meal before your trip back, stop at The Flying Otter Grill.

18. Chuckanut Drive

Distance from Seattle: 75 miles

Travel time: 1 hour and 11 minutes

One of the most scenic drives and best Seattle day trips is Chuckanut Drive up by Bellingham. I went to college at the nearby Western Washington University and can’t tell you how many weekends I came here to be in awe of the beautiful sights.

There are many pullouts where you can safely get off the road and take pictures of the San Juan Islands and Canada. If you’re a hiker, you’ll love doing some of the trails up here, such as Oyster Dome.

Hiking in the summer is the best time to come here, which is why it makes one of the best day trips from Seattle in summer.

A few restaurants are located on the drive, but they’re not always open. I recommend driving down to La Conner after your drive to check out this cute town on the water.

You can stop by the family-friendly La Conner Pub & Eatery for lunch or dinner to fill up after your exploring. After that, head down to Pioneer Park and take a walk across Rainbow Bridge.

19. Gig Harbor

weekend trip from seattle gig harbor

Distance from Seattle: 38 miles

Travel time: 45 minutes

One of the most romantic day trips in Washington state is Gig Harbor, which is only a short drive south of the city. You’ll love walking around this small town exploring boutique shops and talking to locals.

One of my favorite things to do is grab a coffee to go and walk around the water. You’ll see small boats, yachts, kayaks, and more out on the water. You can also rent a kayak for an hour or two if you want to get some exercise.

I recommend taking a boat tour so you can see everything the area has to offer while learning about the history of Gig Harbor. There are several companies to choose from, and I suggest booking a morning tour while the water is calm.

20. The Bloedel Reserve

bloedel reserve

Distance from Seattle: 17 miles

Travel time: 1 hour and 10 minutes

Being one of North America’s ten best botanical gardens, the Bloedel Reserve is a great thing to do outside of Seattle if you love flowers and gardens. This 150-acre forest garden is located on Bainbridge Island.

Founded by Prentice and Virginia Bloedel, it transformed a rough and rugged landscape into a well-kept reserve with curated gardens, structural features, and a distinctive landscape. It looks like a page out of a children’s storybook!

Where to Stay After a Day Trip From Seattle

If you’re spending the day out, you’ll want a comfortable hotel to relax in when you get back. Here are a few Seattle hotel recommendations.

  • Inn at the Market – If you want to be right in the center of the action at Pike Place Market, you’ll want to stay here. You’ll have a beautiful view of Puget Sound and be able to head down to the Market in the morning to buy fresh fruit and croissants (rates start at $220 per night on Hotels.com or Booking.com).
  • Mayflower Park Hotel – Built in the early 1920s, this hotel has a European feel to it while still providing modern amenities. They have a fitness center if you want to get in an early morning workout, and a restaurant and bar so you don’t have to go out if you’re tired from your day trip (rates start at $149 per night on Hotels.com or Booking.com).
  • Mediterranean Inn – If you want to stay outside the busy part of this city, you’ll enjoy being at this hotel in the Queen Anne neighborhood. You’ll still be around plenty of stores, coffee shops, and restaurants for when you want to go out (rates start at $89 per night on Hotels.com or Booking.com).

For a very Pacific Northwest feel, check out some of the best Washington Airbnb cabins you can rent. Here are a few other options in the Seattle area:

  • Quiet Condo in Seattle Center – This modern Belltown condo has free parking, a pool, and is within walking distance to many Seattle attractions (rates start at $155 per night)
  • Beautiful Queen Anne Guesthouse – This two-bedroom guesthouse offers stunning views of Elliot Bay and has a deck to enjoy. (rates start at $215 per night)

Hopefully, you’re feeling inspired to get out of the city and take one of these amazing day trips from Seattle after reading this list! I know I enjoy exploring the state and I know you will too.

10 thoughts on “20 Epic Day Trips from Seattle You Need to Take in 2022

  1. Jude Boudreaux says:

    What an informative post! We are spending 5 nights in Seattle after we visit Olympic and I have so much great stuff for us to do now. Thanks for the great site!

  2. Ann Flood says:

    Wonderful. I visit my daughter once a year and now have so many great day trips Thank you !

  3. Carole Anne says:

    Wonderful information. Still not sure if we will get to Alaska in May with RoyalC, our second year of trying. So
    Much to do in Seattle if we are allowed to comej. Must see our cousins on Victoria what ever happens.

  4. Tammy says:

    We are flying to Seattle in March for 8 days. The original plan was to spend 3-4 days in Vancouver. However with Covid travel restrictions we are rethinking that idea. Any ideas where else we can travel (by car) that’s up to 8 hrs away for a few days outside of Seattle? Don’t know the area. Coming from fl.

  5. Pavlina says:

    Hi Marissa, I just wanted to drop you a line saying how much I appreciate all your blog posts! I have been busy planning our family roadtrip to Washington, Oregon and California and your tips have absolutely saved me! Thanks to your insights I have been able to decide on where to go and what to see there.
    I wish you all the best!

  6. Marissa says:

    Hi Pavlina, I love getting comments like this! I started this website years ago to inspire others to explore this beautiful area and to make it easier with my guides, so I’m glad you’ve been using them!

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