While there’s lots to do in Seattle, there are also a wealth of fantastic day trips for those times you just want to get away from the city, including these.
Cruise to Blake Island and Tillicum Village
While lots of people take the ferry over to Bainbridge Island, few manage to visit the little island that it passes along the way. Blake Island is the birthplace of Chief Seattle, and it’s also home Tillicum Village, a place where the traditions of indigenous people have been carefully preserved and brought to life. Here you can explore the art and history of the area’s native tribes, and even taste traditional foods like steamed clams, getting a true sense of how people lived before the Europeans arrived. While the Washington State Ferry doesn’t go there, you can book the trip through Argosy Cruises anytime from late spring through mid-fall.
Located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, just a 40-minute drive east of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is a 268-foot-high waterfall on the Snoqualmie River, and is world famous after being spotlighted in the cult television series, “Twin Peaks.” Its spectacular year-round, but the best time to go is after the snow begins to melt in the spring, or following a period of heavy rain when it’s so powerful that it creates a practically blinding spray. There is a park at the site of the falls as well, which offers many beautiful spots for a picnic, as well as a number of hiking trails, a cafe and gift shop.
Langley, Whidbey Island
Set atop a bluff on Whidbey Island, a short ferry ride from Edmonds, just north of Seattle, Langley overlooks the Saratoga Passage and the Cascade Mountain Range. One of the most popular getaways in the Northwest with its charming, tranquil atmosphere, and streets lined with historic buildings that host antique shops, book stores, cafes and eateries, it’s a great place to spend a day, a weekend or longer.
There’s lots to do in this seaside village, from browsing the art galleries and chatting with the artists to joining a whale watching trip and meeting up with winemakers that produce local wines, and enjoying a taste or two, of course. You could paddle the waters of Saratoga Passage in a kayak, keeping an eye out for bald eagles, blue herons, sea lions and whales, or hike the over 1,000 acres of wooded trails. If you like whales, be sure to stop in at the Langley Whale Center, featured on our site recently.
San Juan Island
San Juan Island, the largest in the San Juan archipelago, is easily accessible from Seattle. In fact, it’s a breathtaking magnificent adventure in itself, with the ferry weaving its way through small forest islands. If you want to get there quicker, you can hop on a float plane, and get a bird’s-eye view of the scenery along the way. The historic seaport town of Friday Harbor is home to several museums, art galleries, eclectic shops and lots of outstanding eateries with menus based on fresh local ingredients, including produce, herbs, and seafood. On the west side of the island, Lime Kiln Point State Park is one of the best places in the Northwest for watching the orca whales that frequently pass by during the summer.
Be warned, you may fall in love, but if that happens, plan to come back again on an 8-day excursion with USA River Cruises, for an in-depth look at the breathtaking San Juans and more.
Mount Rainier National Park
If you want an up close look at magnificent 14,411-foot-tall Mount Rainier, which looms over Seattle and the Puget Sound, go for a hike in Mount Rainier National Park. Not only will you get to see its snow-capped summit, but in the summer, there are beautiful wildflower-filled alpine meadows, along with a wealth of waterfalls and massive glaciers. Tipsoo Lake is a must experience, where you can capture that picture-postcard shot of the mountain reflecting in its clear waters.
Northwest Trek Wildlife Park in Eatonville lies just 30 miles west of Mount Rainier, and easy stop along the way, so you might want to include it on your itinerary as well. This is your chance to see many of the Northwest’s impressive animals living like they would in the wild in a 435-acre free-roaming area that’s home to moose, Roosevelt elk, deer, caribou, mountain goats and bison.