In Need of a Vacation But Short on Time? Take One of These Northwest Daycations Instead

You’re really in need of a vacation, but it’s just not in the cards right now, so, what about a daycation instead? All it requires is taking one day off from your regular routine. There’s no need to blow your budget either, with the myriad of amazing daycations available right in the Northwest. Whether you live in Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Boise, or somewhere in between, you’re sure to find one among this list that will be just for you.

Whidbey Island

Whidbey Island is just a short drive from Seattle, but it feels like its world’s away with beautiful beaches and woodlands, a wealth of wildlife and charming towns like Langley, which is frequently ranked as one of the best escapes in the Northwest. In this seaside village you’ll find historic buildings housing book stores, antique shops and eateries serving fresh local seafood, and you’ll even have the opportunity to chat with winemakers, artists and coffee roasters.

Outdoor lovers may want to spend the day at Deception Pass State Park, one of the state’s most picturesque and most popular destinations. It boasts a saltwater shoreline with dramatic cliffs that plunge down to meet emerald-hued waters, along with a historic bridge that offers jaw-dropping views of the pass. At low tide on Rosario Beach, you can explore tide pools filled with a myriad of colorful creatures like starfish and hermit crabs and just offshore, pods of porpoises and killer whales can be see swimming through the strait.

Bainbridge Island, Washington

Bainbridge Island is a scenic ferry ride away from downtown Seattle, offering stunning backdrops of the Olympic Mountains, the Cascades and Mount Rainier along the way. Get out on foot or two wheels and head out on the trails, and visit the village of Winslow, home to a waterfront park as well as a variety of shops, cafes and restaurants. If you’re here in the spring, you can visit one of the country’s top-rated gardens, Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre forest garden. A unique blend of natural woodlands and meticulously-landscaped gardens, it features a Reflection Pool, Moss Garden, Japanese Garden and the founders’ former estate home. Bird enthusiasts will have the chance to watch for trumpeter swans, great blue herons and kingfishers.

Northwest Trek Wildlife Park

With or without kids, Northwest Trek Wildlife Park is a wonderful place to spend the day. Located near the base of Mount Rainier about 60 miles south of Seattle, animals are housed in a natural setting that allows them to roam in vast, acres-large enclosures among the forest land and mountain meadows. The native Northwest wildlife can be viewed via a paved trail that winds through the landscape, as well as by taking a tram tour. The particular creatures you might see depends on the time of year you visit. Autumn is breeding season for the resident elk, and you might just catch a glimpse of bull elk locking antlers in effort to win a mate, while spring brings the chance to catch adorable newborns.

Astoria, Oregon

One of Oregon’s most historic cities is just a 90-minute drive west of Portland. Simply walking the streets can make for a fun day out, they’re lined with grand Victorians and have also served as the setting for a number of films, like “The Goonies,” a 1985 cult classic. Take a selfie in front of Mikey’s house, and visit the Flavel House Museum, which served as Mikey’s dad worked in the film.  The infamous prison now serves as the state’s film museum. As the city sits along the Columbia River, if you’re into water sports you can enjoy activities like sailing, kayaking, fishing and more. One must-do, is to head to the top of the Astoria Column and take in the breathtaking panorama of the Pacific, river and snow-covered volcano peaks of the Cascades.

Seaside, Oregon

If you’re looking for a beach town that’s fun for the entire family, Seaside is just an hour-and-a-half drive from Portland and features a beautiful, nearly three-mile stretch of beach along with a host of attractions. The Funland Arcade offers old fashioned pinball and video games as well as bumper cars, skee ball and carnival-type entertainment, while the Seaside Aquarium offers the chance to feed fish to the sea lions.

Mount Hood, Oregon

Mount Hood is Oregon’s highest peak and sits only about 70 miles east of Portland. While the winter months bring visitors to ski the five downhill ski areas or hit the mils of cross-country trails, you’ll find something to do here year round, including fabulously scenic hikes. The Timberline Lodge makes a great stop for lunch, made famous after it was used for exterior shots in Stephen King’s “The Shining.” The Cascade Dining room is renowned for serving up outstanding Northwest cuisine with a view.

Columbia River Highway, Oregon

This winding highway that spans 74 miles from Troutdale to The Dalles, is often named among America’s most impressive drives. It was the first paved road in the Northwest and the very first scenic highway in the United States. Get behind the wheel, turn up the tunes and enjoy the jaw-dropping vistas – one of the highlights is from Crown Point, which offers panoramic views of the gorge and river. If you want to get out on the water, this stretch is world-famous for windsurfing and kite boarding, and on land, you can discover practically more waterfalls than you can count – the vertical basalt walls along the gorge are graced with the highest concentration of waterfalls in North America.

Breitenbush Hot Springs, Oregon

In the mood for a little nature and relaxation? Breitenbush Hot Springs is a holistic hot spring resort in the Willamette National Forest about two hours southeast of Portland, and offers the chance to embark on meditative guided hikes on trails with names like the “Inner Path,” and the “Spotted Owl.” Afterward, take a dip in the soothing hot springs that are lined in smooth river rocks and vary in temperature. The resort also offers yoga and massage.

Wallace, Idaho

The historic mining town of Wallace has long been famous as the “Silver Capital of the World, with 1.2 billion ounces of silver coming from the region since the late 19th-century. If you live in Spokane, you’re just an hour and 20 minute drive to this stunning mountain town that offers something for outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs alike. Every building downtown is on the National Register of Historic Places, and the scenic surrounds offer the chance to ride a wide range of biking and hiking trails, enjoy the tranquil solitude of alpine lakes, or play in winter’s deep powder.

Bruneau Dunes State Park, Idaho

Boise residents can be at Bruneau Dunes State Park in just a little over an hour. It’s home to North America’s largest freestanding sand dune, towering more than 470 feet – and, it’s one of the few places in the U.S. where you can dune ski. Rent a sandboard and hit the slopes, or take part in other activities like fishing, swimming and hiking. A five-mile self-guided nature trail showcases the unique geology that created the dunes and the pond situated at their base, while the visitor center provides information on fossils, wildlife, birds of prey, the dunes and more.

Written by KC Dermody
K.C. Dermody is the author of hundreds of travel articles both online and in print as well as the author of the “Best Travel Guide for First Time Visitors to Ireland.” She has traveled throughout the world and has a passion for imparting what she has learned from her experiences to others, but always appreciates coming home to the beautiful Olympic Peninsula in Washington State.