If you’ve already made your way through Seattle’s most popular sights, like the Space Needle and Pike Place Fish Market, consider exploring the city’s peripheral destinations, which offer a wealth of fun attractions.
From Seattle’s convenient location on the Puget Sound, you can embark on whale-watching tours, clamming and fishing expeditions, trips to small islands with hidden beaches, and coastal hikes.
Within a quick drive from the city, you can also find a variety of options for day trips from Seattle, including charming seaside towns and stunning waterfalls. If engineering and technology appeal to you, go explore the Boeing Factory or one of several maritime museums in the area.
If you have an extra day in the Pacific Northwest, consider taking one of these day trips from Seattle and discover the beauty and culture of coastal Washington along the way.
Blake Island Marine State Park is one of the best Seattle day trips if you want to see the region’s rural side. Though Seattle is now a major city, it started as a fishing town, and Blake Island still captures much of that spirit.
Blake Island covers more than 1,000 acres and has five miles of beaches. In the summer, swimming and relaxing on the sand are the main draws, but the island’s year-round activities are worth considering, too.
Go hiking, biking, fishing, or digging for clams. Walk through the historical Trimble Estate homesite, or visit the island’s Tillicum village to learn about the indigenous tribes of the Pacific Northwest. Be sure not to miss out on attending a classic salmon bake.
Keep in mind that the island is only accessible by boat, so you’ll need to book a tour from Seattle.
Woodinville Wine Country
The West Coast’s wine scene isn’t limited to California. Drive out towards Seattle’s nearby Woodinville Wine Country, located only about 30 minutes from Seattle, and marvel at the more than 130 wineries spread out across the Puget Sound American Viticultural Area.
There are plenty of tasting rooms offering different varieties, allowing you to sample grapes grown from other well-known A.V.A.s in Washington state, like the Columbia Valley, which is larger than California’s Napa.
You’ll recognize many of the wineries in the area, but perhaps the most famous is Chateau St. Michelle, where you can walk among the vines, try vintage and reserve wines, or even dine in a private chateau igloo.
As soon as you start nearing the roaring Snoqualmie Falls, you’ll understand why this land is sacred to the Salish People. The falls are 270 feet tall and located within the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forests, which are just east of Seattle.
The views from the top are fantastic and highly accessible. If you want a different perspective, you can also embark on a steeper half-mile hike down to the base.
The beautiful building atop the falls is the Salish Lodge, which is a great place to have lunch near this natural beauty. Inside, there’s a small snack bar, but if you have time, try to grab a window seat at the lodge’s Dining Room restaurant for the best lunchtime views in the state.
Snoqualmie Falls is about 30 minutes from the city, making it the perfect half-day or full-day trip from Seattle.
Boeing Factory and Future of Flight Exhibits
If you’re into technology, engineering, or modern marvels, you’ll want to take a day trip from Seattle to the Boeing Factory.
About 45 minutes north of the city, the Boeing Factory is easily reached via a rental car on a guided tour bus that will provide transportation and tickets to this wonderful attraction.
At the Boeing Factory, you’ll get to see where the world’s largest airplanes are designed and built. Plus, you’ll play around with high-tech modeling software to create your own plane at the Future of Flight Aviation Center.
While the aviation center and museum are self-guided, the factory has a guide on hand to help answer any questions.
Mount Rainier National Park
Only about two hours away from Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park is the perfect day trip for hiking enthusiasts or anyone keen on seeing one of America’s most spectacular natural sites.
While hiking up Mount Rainier, an active volcano well over 14,000 feet above sea level, is a major draw, non-hikers will be delighted to learn there’s plenty more to do at the park that doesn’t ever require lacing up a pair of boots.
Stroll through several flat walks spread around some of the Pacific Northwest’s most colorful wildflower fields in the spring and summer. Or listen to one of the daily history talks hosted by a park ranger at the historic Paradise Inn, which was built in 1916. The park’s Longmire Museum is also worth a visit.
At less than an hour from the city, Tacoma is one of the best day trips from Seattle. Considered a smaller-scale version of Seattle, Tacoma boasts some of the same colorful neighborhoods and waterfront restaurants and parks.
Some important places to visit during your day in Tacoma include the Foss Waterway Seaport’s massive collection of historic boats, the Washington State History Museum, and the famous Chihuly Bridge of Glass. This 500-foot-long bridge is a major symbol of the city and includes art gifted from world-famous glassblowing artist and Tacoma native, Dale Chihuly.
Tacoma makes for a great Seattle day trip, particularly on a rainy day as it offers plenty of indoor attractions.
Head to Bainbridge Island, Seattle’s newest up-and-coming suburb. Start your journey there with a brisk 45-minute ride on a ferry that crosses the Puget Sound, and enjoy fantastic views of the Seattle skyline along the way.
From the Bainbridge Island ferry terminal, head straight downtown to the tourist-friendly Winslow neighborhood, which has plenty of cafes and shops to peruse while you’re there.
You can also hike through the botanical gardens of the Bloedel Reserve or take guided kayak and paddling tours off the island’s shoreline and look for ocean birds and otters. If you want to explore further out from the ferry terminal, rent a bike and go to places like Fort Ward Park’s World War I military outpost or embark on a cycle tour of the island.
Bainbridge Island is one of the most popular day trips from Seattle, but if you have more time, it’s also an excellent weekend trip.
Olympic National Park
Nature lovers will be thrilled to learn that Mt. Rainier National Park isn’t the only park near Seattle. Just two hours from the city, you’ll find the Olympic National Park, home to the country’s only temperate rainforest, the Hoh Rainforest.
Olympic National Park sprawls for nearly one million acres and is considered one of the most fascinating ecosystems in North America. Aside from its temperate rainforest, it also houses many other ecosystems, including high-alpine terrain and tidal areas.
Keep in mind that most of the park is undeveloped and generally inaccessible to vehicles, but there’s a free phone-based audio tour to guide visitors around those few roads inside of the park.
Aside from sightseeing, you can also engage in some catch-and-release fishing, tide-pooling, as well as hiking across dozens of trails of various lengths and difficulties. If you’re looking for a more relaxed time at the park, board a scenic boat tour that leaves from the historic Lake Crescent Lodge.
Lakewold Gardens was once a country retreat for one of Seattle’s wealthiest families. Today, it’s a great day trip from Seattle, especially if you’re looking for a little peace and quiet in nature after a busy few days in the city.
At only ten acres, the gardens are small but have several manicured and natural environments that are the perfect place to stroll around with a fresh cup of coffee or tea from the on-site cafe. You can also tour the garden’s historic home or take a group or self-guided tour.
If you have extra time, try and visit the town of Lakewood, which is just south of Tacoma, another stress-free place to spend a nature-focused day just outside of Seattle.
Drive east for a little over two hours away from Seattle and arrive at the town of Leavenworth, a destination intentionally designed to look like a Bavarian ski town. The commitment to that architectural style is evident once you arrive downtown, where you’ll see alpine-style buildings and Tudor-revival cabins.
There’s a wealth of activities to explore in Leavenworth including a nutcracker museum and a healthy beer garden scene. At its many German bakeries, it’s not uncommon to see a line form out the door, especially on weekend mornings.
Leavenworth also offers cider and wine tastings, cycling, and horseback riding. Throughout the year, there are frequent festivals that celebrate everything from Mozart to whiskey—the holidays are especially festive. It’s an easy drive from Seattle and you’ll pass Snoqualmie Falls along the way, in case you want to combine the two trips.
The tiny town of Gig Harbor has a population of around 7,000 people, making it a nice juxtaposition to a day spent in Seattle, where the population is over 720,000. Unlike modern Seattle, Gig Harbor still looks and feels much the way it did in the mid-1940s when it was officially incorporated. Fishing and related industries are still the town’s economic backbone, though tourism is quickly becoming a close second.
The best thing to do in Gig Harbor is to get out on the water, which you can do via sailing and kayaking tours, boat rentals, wildlife watching cruises, or even on a gondola—yes, you can hire a gondolier to paddle you around the Sound.
The Harbor History Museum in downtown Gig Harbor has some fascinating permanent exhibits focused on the beginnings of the fishing industry, while the town’s Heritage Distilling Company offers factory tours and in-depth distilling classes. There are many interesting shops and experiences in Gig Harbor, too. The best way to experience the town is to park your car and walk along the waterfront.
Wenatchee National Forest
If you want to escape the crowds and squeeze in a serious workout, head to Wenatchee National Forest, located about an hour east of Seattle. This large forest is beautiful and offers signature Pacific Northwest vistas like jagged mountain peaks, valleys full of spring wildflowers, and shallow streams dotted with colorful pebbles and stones.
Some of the best outdoor vacation experiences include going on a hike around Snoqualmie Falls or exploring the nearby national parks. Take a day trip from Seattle to this less-popular forest is ideal for those who are looking for a remote, backcountry wilderness experience for the day.
The forest has eight miles of accessible trails and more than 1,000 miles of wilderness trails. Consider packing a pair of flip-flops or slippers so you can change your tired feet into something more comfortable during the drive back to Seattle.
Experience these incredible day trips before embarking on an unforgettable luxury cruise from Seattle. Browse cruise itineraries on our website and start planning your next vacation today.