Best Day Trips from Seattle

I recently shared an article detailing my favorite day trips from Atlanta (read it here), and was feeling inspired to do a Seattle version! Washington is one of my favorite states to explore and there are so many awesome day trips from Seattle, so let’s jump right in with some of my top recommendations.

Bainbridge Island – 35 minutes via ferry

Bainbridge Island is a beautiful area just a short ferry ride from downtown Seattle. I only spent part of a day on the island, but I absolutely fell in love with how quaint it is, and I can’t wait for my next visit. Whether you’re a fan of the outdoors, an arts lover, or a shopaholic, Bainbridge has something that everyone will love. For some of my favorite stops on the island, read my guide to Bainbridge Island right here.

North Bend + Snoqualmie – 40 minutes

The towns of North Bend and Snoqualmie are only about 30-40 minutes from Seattle, and they’re some of my favorite areas to spend a day exploring. Make sure to bring an appetite and grab a bite at Twede’s Cafe in North Bend, a well-known diner that was featured in the show Twin Peaks. Catch a movie at the North Bend Theatre, or take a hike up to the summit of Mount Si for views of the whole Snoqualmie Valley. Just down the road is the town of Snoqualmie (make sure to watch for elk on the drive over!), an area rich in history and natural beauty. Downtown Snoqualmie is home to lots of shops and restaurants, and Snoqualmie Falls is a must-visit spot for jaw-dropping views of a massive waterfall. I also have a full guide to North Bend and Snoqualmie, which you can read here!

Leavenworth – 2.5 hours

Leavenworth is a stunning Bavarian village tucked among the Cascade Mountains. During the summer, Leavenworth is the perfect place for hiking, rock-climbing, or tubing down the Wenatchee River. Over the winter, Leavenworth transforms into a winter wonderland, with massive displays of Christmas lights. With plenty of shopping and a good variety of restaurants, Leavenworth is a day trip that everyone in the family is sure to love.

Mount Rainier National Park – 2 hours

Of course, a visit to Washington truly wouldn’t be complete without spending some time in Mount Rainier National Park. Mount Rainier is a stunning sight, and seeing it up close and personal is seriously awe-inspiring. Mount Rainier National Park is a massive park with tons of hiking areas for any level of difficulty/length you’re looking for. Naches Peak Loop Trail is a short hike offers some serious bang for your buck with stunning views of Mount Rainier almost the entire way. Skyline Trail, meanwhile, will make you feel like you’ve stepped into another world, offering views of alpine meadows, waterfalls, and glaciers.

Olympic Peninsula + Olympic National Park – 2 to 3.5 hours (depending on where you go)

The Olympic Peninsula is a beautiful area of Washington, featuring glaciers, rainforests, and rocky beaches. There’s so much to see and do in the area that a day really doesn’t do it justice, but a day trip is still 100% doable! For a shorter trip, I recommend visiting the Port Angeles area. Port Angeles is a cute little town right on the water with lots of shopping, restaurants, and some museums about the area’s history. You can also drive over to Hurricane Ridge for hiking, or just to take in some stunning views of the area. If you’d like to explore the Olympic Peninsula further, I highly recommend visiting the Hoh Rain Forest – you’ll feel as though you stepped into Jurassic Park with all the massive, mossy trees! A bit past Hoh Rain Forest is the town of Forks and Rialto Beach, classic PNW areas you may recognize from the Twilight series. I have a whole guide to the Olympic Peninsula here where I give you even more ideas on must-visit spots!

Have you visited any of these spots yourself? What’s your favorite day trip from Seattle? Let me know down below in the comments!

A Weekend Guide to Snoqualmie + North Bend

The towns of Snoqualmie and North Bend, located in the Snoqualmie Valley, are some of my favorite areas to visit when I find myself in Washington. This guide is an overview of what I consider the must-see spots in Snoqualmie and North Bend, and my idea of the perfect weekend spent exploring this area!

Day 1

Start your day off on the right foot by enjoying an indulgent brunch at the Salish Lodge & Spa. The Salish Lodge is a picturesque establishment situated right on top of Snoqualmie Falls. The dining room features stunning views of the surrounding forest and the Snoqualmie River, and the whole lodge feels cozy and welcoming. For brunch, I would highly suggest treating yourself to their country breakfast, a multi-course affair with fresh baked goods, pancakes, oatmeal, meat, eggs, and more. The highlight of this breakfast is the “Honey From Heaven” service where they drizzle house-made honey atop freshly baked biscuits. If you have the option, I’d also recommend pairing the breakfast with a mimosa or Snoqualmie coffee (both alcoholic).

After brunch, you’ll probably feel like going to your room and passing out, but I encourage you to take the time to explore Snoqualmie Falls. There’s an upper and lower park, and both offer uniquely beautiful views of the waterfall. The upper park is less than a minute walk from the Salish Lodge, overlooking the dramatic falls and Snoqualmie River. To access the lower park, you can either hike about 3/4 mile down along a gravel trail, or drive to the lower parking lot. From the parking lot, you can follow a boardwalk along the Snoqualmie River that will lead you to a viewpoint at the base of the falls. There are also a lot of informational signs and exhibits around the park to learn about the history of the falls and the Snoqualmie Valley.

Fun fact: I actually used to work at the Snoqualmie Falls Hydroelectric Museum, located across the river from the Salish Lodge! The museum is open seasonally during the summer, but I would check the website for updates before stopping by. The museum is small but mighty, packed with information about the history of the hydroelectric plant located within Snoqualmie Falls.

Once you’ve explored Snoqualmie Falls, it’s time to drive over to downtown Snoqualmie. Downtown Snoqualmie is small and quaint, consisting mostly of local shops, restaurants, and a few more museums. There are lots of small shops and boutiques to pop in and out of if you’re searching for souvenirs and locally-made goods. If you’d like to learn more history about the area, I also suggest checking out the Northwest Railway Museum, which educates visitors on the railroad in the region. The museum also hosts seasonal events like a Santa Train around the holidays and a Thomas the Tank Engine weekend in September.

If you’re starting to get hungry for lunch/dinner, I’d recommend Snoqualmie Falls Brewery, a low-key spot with great beer and food options. Remember to save room for ice cream though, as a visit to Snoqualmie Ice Cream is a must, and the perfect way to end your first day of adventures.

Return to your room at the Salish Lodge, curl up by the fire for a bit, and get a good nights rest before kicking off day 2!

Day 2

Snoqualmie and North Bend are surrounded by the Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest, which offers endless options for hiking. Near the Snoqualmie Valley you can opt for Mount Si, a difficult hike to sweeping views of the valley, or something more family-friendly, like Franklin Falls. I personally recommend Franklin Falls because the trail is short, easy to moderate in difficulty, and absolutely stunning. The trailhead is about 40 minutes from the Salish Lodge, making it a convenient destination for a quick morning hike. The trail itself is only about 2 miles roundtrip and will lead you to a 130′ waterfall. The setting is beautiful, though this hike does get quite popular, so try to head out early in the day, if possible.

After relaxing and freshening up following your hike, it’s time to head to North Bend, another picturesque town. North Bend is just about a 10 minutes drive from Snoqualmie, and make sure you look for elk along the way, as you can frequently spot herds beside the road. You’ll also be granted with beautiful views of Mount Si as you drive. Once in town, there are a number of small shops to explore, and even an independent theater that showcases classic films and hosts special events, like film festivals and comedy shows.

The real star of North Bend, however, is Twede’s Cafe, which you may recognize from the iconic show Twin Peaks. The diner was featured extensively in the show, and the staff are usually kind enough to show you some of the well-known filming spots and memorabilia throughout the restaurant if they have time to spare. Even if you’re not a fan of the show, Twede’s Cafe is like stepping back in time, making it a super fun dining experience. At the very least, you must enjoy a slice of cherry pie and an order of their “damn fine cup of coffee.”

And there you have it folks: my guide to an ideal weekend spent exploring Snoqualmie and North Bend. I hope you have an opportunity to visit these towns for yourself and experience their beauty and history, and I hope this guide provided you with some ideas on what to do and see!