View of Diablo Lakes in North Cascades National Park, one of the best day trips from Seattle WA

26 Best Day Trips From Seattle in 2023 (By a Local)

Seattle is a world class city, but trust this area local when I say that you should carve out some time to escape the city limits when you visit. You don’t need a ton of time, because thankfully, there are just so many incredible day trips from Seattle that can give you a taste of the beautiful Pacific Northwest. 

Mountains, rainforests, beaches, and waterfalls are abundant in this almost too-good-to-be-true region. Seeing them will help you understand the answer locals give when asked what’s so special about our home: we’ve got the mountains and the water – what more could we need?

I’m a Seattle local and, to help you plan your trip, I put together this list of the best Seattle day trips! I’ve also got a guide to where to stay in Seattle and the top things to do in Seattle – bookmark them now for reading later.

Disclosure: Travel Lemming is an independent reader-supported blog. You can support us by purchasing via the affiliate links on this page, which may earn us commissions. See our Advertising Policy for further explanation. Thank you!

26 Best Seattle Day Trips

Mount Rainier National Park

View of Mount Rainier between evergreen tree

Distance from Seattle: 90 minutes to 2 hours | Google Maps | Mount Rainier National Park Website | 👉 Browse Top Mt Rainier Tours on Viator

If you happen to be in Seattle on a clear day, you’ll probably hear locals commenting on how “the Mountain is out”. They’re referring to Seattle’s iconic Mount Rainier. The magnificent view of this over 14,000-foot beauty alone should entice you to travel the 80 miles south of Seattle to the #4 entry on my list of best places to visit in Washington State.

Hiking trails abound in the surrounding areas and if you’re visiting in summer, you’ll be welcomed by meadows of colorful wildflowers filled with marmots, pikas, hummingbirds, and chipmunks. Nature lovers and hikers of all levels will love visiting Mount Rainier National Park.

While there are many day hikes to choose from, one of the best for novice hikers is Summerland (be sure to look up trail reports before you go on the Washington Trails Association’s website).

🚗 How to Get There: Mount Rainier is an easy drive if you have a car, or you can easily rent one through Discover Cars. If you’d prefer to let someone else handle all the logistics, there are tons of highly rated tours on Viator to choose from.

Bainbridge Island

View of the Bainbridge ferries docked in Puget Sound
The first Seattle ferry ride most people take, and it’s a great one

Distance from Seattle: 40 minutes | Google Maps | Bainbridge Island Website | 👉 Bainbridge Island Wine & History Tour

Riding the downtown ferry to Bainbridge Island is a prototypical Seattle experience and it marks the first ferry most new arrivals and visitors ride when they go exploring. In fact, just riding the ferries is one of the top activities in Washington state.

Whether you’re going by foot, bike or car, there are a ton of fun things to do in Bainbridge Island. Restaurants, shops, and wineries are all easily accessed from the ferry terminal, as is the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. 

Lytle Beach to the south is a local favorite and offers surprisingly warm waters for the Puget Sound, while Fort Ward Park is the perfect place to picnic. To the north, the Bloedel Reserve is a tranquil respite where you can soak up the beauty of the island’s Japanese-inspired garden. Interested in wine-tasting, the Reserve, and learning some island history? This excellent tour offers a chance to check off all three activities.

San Juan Islands

View of person in distance on a cliff edge on the San Juan Islands, a top day trip from Seattle
The perfect place on Friday Harbor for whale watching

Distance from Seattle: 3.5 hours (including ferry) | Google Maps | San Juan Islands Website | 👉 Top Suggested Tour for Whale Watchers

Interested in some whale watching? It’s one of the best things to do outside Seattle and the San Juan Islands are the perfect place for it. Located about three hours north of Seattle, the little archipelago consists of 172 islands with the biggest being Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Island. 

Lime Kiln State Park on Friday Harbor is the perfect base for whale watching, and is also a great spot for kayakers looking to grab some of the best views in the state. The islands also offer small boutiques and farm-to-table restaurants, helping to make this one of the best Seattle day trips for relaxation or adventure. 

✈️ Local Tip: If you’d rather skip the drive or ferry, you can arrive in the San Juan Islands in style by taking a seaplane transfer.


View of the Tacoma Washington skyline at sunrise

Distance from Seattle: 40 minutes | Google Maps | Tacoma Website | Where to Stay in Tacoma

Tacoma is one of the largest cities in Washington state. Check out my post on the best things to do in Tacoma to understand why this is one of those short day trips from Seattle that offers something for everyone.

Art connoisseurs will enjoy wandering through the breathtaking Chihuly Museum of Glass. The Point Defiance Zoo is great for families, animal lovers, and conservationists. History buffs will love being transported to the 1800s at the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum

🍽️ Local Tip: Wherever you choose to explore in Tacoma, don’t miss the scrumptious soul food eats at Southern Kitchen

Olympic National Park

The author and a friend among trees in Olympic National Park
I loved that this hike along the Hoh River had plenty of spots for a rest in the shade

Distance from Seattle: 2 to 2.5 hours | Google Maps | Olympic National Park Website | 👉 Browse Top Olympic National Park Tours on Viator

Hikers and backpackers will find their options endless at Olympic National Park, located two hours west of Seattle. And all types of travelers will gape in awe at the varied landscapes, which range from rainforest to glacier-capped mountains to coastal beaches. Popular destinations within the park include Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh rain forest.

The Olympic National Forest is admittedly a long day trip from Seattle, so consider either taking a tour to maximize your time within the park, or spending the night and camping beneath the forest canopy. It’s definitely one of the best weekend getaways from Seattle.

Skagit Valley

View of woman picking tulips in the Skagit Valley
Gorgeous miles of tulips during the Tulip Festival brighten the cloudiest PNW days

Distance from Seattle: 1 hour | Google Maps | Skagit Valley Website

About 70 miles north of downtown Seattle, the Skagit Valley makes for one of the more colorful and lowkey day trips from Seattle. It’s most famous for its tulip festival and, if you’re visiting around late March to April, it’s pretty much a must-see. 

While the tulips are the main draw, the valley also features a lot of farm stands full of delicious seasonal produce. There are pumpkin patches and apple picking in the fall, and it’s one of the best day trips near Seattle for bird watching, particularly in the wintertime to see eagles.

👉 Local Tip – Aprils in the Seattle are are quite rainy, and that means the fields around the tulips can get pretty muddy. Be sure to wear some rain boots or at least a pair of old shoes that you don’t mind getting dirty.

Port Townsend

Boats lined up in the Port Townsend Marina

Distance from Seattle: 2 hours | Google Maps | Port Townsend Website 

Port Townsend is quickly becoming a hotspot for Seattle day-trippers, and it’s hard not to feed off the energy coursing through town. It’s chock full of historic Victorian-style buildings erected in the 19th century, when Port Townsend was expected to become one of the most bustling cities along the Puget Sound. 

Boating is huge here, with events like the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival happening annually along with several regattas. You’ll want to visit Fort Worden State Park both for its camping opportunities and to explore the abandoned military bunkers that are probably (most definitely) haunted. Finally, don’t skip out on the downtown area which has great options for shopping, two independent theaters, and some funky cafes!

Gig Harbor

View of the Gig Harbor on a cloudy day
Even on a cloudy day, Gig Harbor is beautiful

Distance from Seattle: 1 hour | Google Maps | Gig Harbor Website | 👉 Take A Sunset Harbor Tour

Gig Harbor is a quaint town with friendly people and an active waterfront. You can visit Gig Harbor at any time during the year and have fun. Still, the town is most popular during warm summer days. 

Rent kayaks or standup paddleboards, or take a sunset cruise to explore the harbor. Book a gondola ride for a romantic date. Visit the farmers market from June to September, or catch one of its summer concerts or movie nights to relax with the community. 

Best of all, after a day of exploring, there are plenty of dining and drinking options. End your day with some fish and chips from Tides Tavern and a pint of beer from Gig Harbor Brewing all while enjoying views of the water.

Vashon Island

View of a lighthouse at Vashon Island
Point Robinson Lighthouse on Vashon is the perfect summer escape

Distance from Seattle: 1.25 hours | Google Maps | Vashon Island Website

If you need a place to go to slow down and retreat from city life, then Vashon Island is calling. Vashon is yet another place that’s an easy ferry ride away from Seattle, but entering this particular island feels like you’ve pressed the pause button in the best way. 

This laidback and rural small-town community is known for its strawberry festival but is also home to several cideries, wineries, and May’s Kitchen, one of the best Thai food places in the Seattle area. Explore the tiny downtown or retreat to one of the many beaches around the perimeter of the island if you’re craving a rejuvenating trip. Get planning with my guide to things to do on Vashon Island.

🥐 Local Tip: Be sure to stop at Snapdragon Bakery and Cafe during your visit and order a cinnamon bun. Trust me, you won’t regret it.


View of the walk area surrounded by shops, flowers, and plants in the Woodinville Schoolhouse District area
A cute area in Woodinville with plenty of tasting room options (photo: Colleen Michaels / Shutterstock)

Distance from Seattle: 30 minutes | Google Maps | Woodinville Website | 👉 Book a Woodinville Wine Tasting Tour

Experience Washington’s incredible wine scene by driving 30 minutes north to Woodinville. This small city is where locals go when they want to visit some of the best tasting rooms in the state. 

Chateau Ste Michelle is the perfect choice if you’re looking for an upscale wine-tasting experience at a historic venue. It hosts outdoor concerts in the summertime, regular live music nights, and other unique experiences. 

Visit DeLille Cellars for the city’s best French-style wine. Go to Quiddity Wines for a relaxed tasting experience in a game-filled room.
With over a hundred wine-tasting rooms to choose from, it may feel a little overwhelming tackling Woodinville without a plan. Luckily, this Woodinville wine-tasting tour brings guests to some of the best. Book it, and you’ll also get to stop at the epic Snoqualmie Falls!


View of the parked cars in the street outside the shops and restaurants in downtown Snohomish at night
December is a great time to go visit downtown Snohomish and enjoy all the lights

Distance from Seattle: 45 minutes | Google Maps | Snohomish Website | 👉 Woodinville and Snohomish Wine Tasting Pass

If you’re looking for a picturesque small town with ample options for shopping, set your sights on Snohomish. Just 40 minutes from Seattle, Snohomish is one of the best small towns in Washington.

The historic Snohomish District stretches several blocks parallel to the Snohomish River. Vintage shops, boutiques, bakeries, cafes, restaurants, and breweries are all clustered here. 

In particular, Snohomish is an antiquer’s paradise. Need a place to start? Check out Remember When or the Star Center Antique Mall for some super unique finds.

If you like to take your time wandering in and out of shops finding all sorts of treasures, you can easily spend hours in Snohomish. Shop, eat, and drink to your heart’s content on a day trip here.


The boardwalk over wetlands at the Nisqually Wildlife Reserve
Traverse the wetlands of the Nisqually Wildlife Reserve via the boardwalk 

Distance from Seattle: 1 hour | Google Maps | Olympia Website

Despite being the capital of the state, Olympia tends to get overlooked when it comes to day trips from Seattle. That shouldn’t stop you from going, though, because there’s plenty of fun things to do in Olympia.

The nearby Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Reserve is a wonderful place to visit for those interested in waterfowl and wandering through a landscape consisting of marshes, mudflats, grassland, and woodland. 

Within Olympia, you’ll find delicious breweries like Headless Mumby and one of the best coffee roasters in the state, Olympia Coffee. All this is just an hour’s drive south from downtown, making it a totally worthwhile destination for your day trip from Seattle.

North Cascades National Park

View of Diablo Lakes in North Cascades National Park
Diablo Lakes stunning turquoise waters make it a must-see spot

Distance from Seattle: 2 hours | Google Maps | North Cascades National Park Website

The North Cascades National Park is what most people think of when they imagine the Pacific Northwest. Jagged mountain peaks, sprawling forests, valleys with crisp blue lakes, and cascading waterfalls make up this landscape. Its rugged terrain is just calling out for adventure lovers to visit.

Don’t miss Diablo Lake, whose turquoise blue waters are mesmerizing. The entire area is also great for camping and backpacking adventures. Skiers will be especially pleased with the options the Mount Baker area provides.


Overlooking scenic landscape and lake view from Mt. Erie
The view from the beautiful Mt. Erie

Distance from Seattle: 1 hour 30 minutes | Google Maps | Anacortes Website | 👉 Book an Epic Anacortes Whale Watching Tour

Take a day trip to Anacortes to discover everything there is to do in this vibrant Fidalgo Island port city. 

Outdoor enthusiasts will love Anacortes. Go camping, boating, or wildlife watching at Washington Park. Visit Cape Sante Park for views of the town and water, and hike the trails around Mount Erie to catch a breathtaking sunset.

Book a fishing charter to take you out on the water and catch some delicious seafood for dinner. Or book a whale-watching tour to see majestic orca whales around the islands. 

If you’d prefer to stick around the downtown area, you can enjoy a beer with locals at Rockfish Grill & Brewing or Bastion Brewing Company. In summer, visit during the annual Shipwreck Fest (a citywide flea market and garage sale) to hang with the community.

Snoqualmie Falls

The Snoqualmie Falls and the colorful sky above it during sunset
Most views of the falls are from a higher viewpoint, but it’s just as epic (maybe more so) from below.

Distance from Seattle: 55 minutes | Google Maps | Snoqualmie Falls Website | 👉 Book a Falls and Winery Tour

Snoqualmie Falls is probably best known for its appearance in the cult TV classic Twin Peaks. Fans should definitely make a visit, but even those unfamiliar with the show will enjoy these picture-perfect falls, some of the best waterfalls Washington offers. Located east of Seattle between Snoqualmie and Fall City, the 268-foot falls are central to the indigenous Snoqualmie Tribe’s beliefs. 

While visiting the falls provides a good photo opportunity, be sure to continue exploring the area. Twede’s Café in North Bend will continue your Twin Peaks tour, and avid hikers might want to try their hand at one of the popular nearby trails: Rattlesnake Mountain or Mount Si. Alternately, drive a little further north to Camlann Village, a medieval living history museum in Carnation.

👉 Local Tip – If you want to stay at the falls for the day instead of going to North Bend, be sure to dine at the amazing Salish Lodge. And, as long as you’re there, why not book yourself a relaxing massage as well? 

Whidbey Island

View of Deception Pass Bridge on Whidbey Island
Looking up at or down from the Deception Pass Bridge is a real treat.

Distance from Seattle: 1.25 hours | Google Maps | Whidbey Island Website | 👉 Book a Kayak Tour in Deception Pass State Park

Puget Sound’s Whidbey Island is as much a destination for hippies and artists as it is for outdoor enthusiasts. About 35 miles north of Seattle, visitors will find Whidbey Island an easy-going community with several larger Washington towns to explore.

Langley is my personal favorite and you’re guaranteed to have a great time there whether you spend your time relaxing by the waterfront, playing games in the old-school arcade, or marveling over just how many wild bunnies are running about. 

To the north of the Island is the Deception Pass Bridge, which provides magnificent views whether you’re walking across it or exploring the area beneath it on this epic kayak tour. It definitely makes for one of the more memorable day trips from Seattle you can take, and don’t miss Deception Pass State Park, too!

👉 Local Tip – Visiting Langley? Be sure to bring a roll of quarters with you so you have plenty of time to enjoy the local arcade, the Machine Shop.


View of the shops in downtown Ellensburg from across the street
A few of the shops in downtown Ellensburg (photo: Ian Dewar Photography / Shutterstock)

Distance from Seattle: 2 hours | Google Maps | Ellensburg Website 

The tiny, charming city of Ellensburg is located right in the center of the state. Ellensburg is known for hosting one of the best rodeos in the country. It’s also home to Central Washington University and has a rich historical district you don’t want to miss. 

On a day trip to Ellensburg, make sure you check out the cafes, restaurants, and unique local shops downtown. Start with The Early Bird for a delicious breakfast, and visit Ellensburg Brewery for beers and German food. Go to Kittitas County Historical Museum to learn about the region’s history. Admire whacky local art at Dick and Jane’s Spot. 

Cyclists will especially enjoy a visit to bike-friendly Ellensburg. There are plenty of routes within the city and on the outskirts, if you’re looking for that perfect scenic ride.


View of downtown Leavenworth at night during Christmas season
Christmases in Leavenworth are magical, to say the least. (photo: Checubus / Depositphotos)

Distance from Seattle: 2 hours | Google Maps | Leavenworth Website | 👉 Browse Leavenworth tours on Viator

Feeling up for a Bavarian adventure? Leavenworth offers some of the most fun things to do outside of Seattle! This city in the Cascade Range has architecture, food, and restaurants reminiscent of a cute German town. It’s the perfect place to visit during the wintertime when it gets dressed up in a magical display of Christmas lights, although it does get busy.

Leavenworth’s location in the Cascade Mountains also makes it the perfect place for skiers and winter sports enthusiasts. Even if you’re visiting in summer, you’ll find fun activities to do, like sipping cold brews, paddle boarding, and rafting in the Wenatchee River. Lucky for you, you can enjoy both the brews and the river with this tour.

Mount St Helens National Park

View of wildflowers in front of Mount Saint Helens

Distance from Seattle: 2.5 to 3 hours | Google Maps | Mount St Helens Website | 👉 Browse Mount St Helens National Park Tours

Continuing south past Mount Rainier will take you to yet another magnificent mountain. Mount Saint Helens is part of the cascade mountain range and is most well-known for its violent eruption in the ‘80s. It’s still an active volcano, but this doesn’t deter visitors and for good reason – the mountain’s distinctive crater-shaped top tells a stark visual story of its history.

One of the best ways to see Mount Saint Helens is on an aerial tour above the mountain, which will treat you to once-in-a-lifetime views. There are also hiking trails of multiple difficulties for those who want to climb the volcano, as well as caves to explore and meadows brimming with wildflowers in the spring and summer. 

👉 Read Next: How to Visit Seattle Cheaply

Port Angeles

View of a sailboat at dusk in Port Angeles harbor

Distance from Seattle: 2.5 hours | Google Maps | Port Angeles Website | 👉 Top Suggested Tour With Biking and Kayaking 

Since Port Angeles is in the vicinity of the Olympic National Park and Rialto Beach, an overnight stay is a good idea for those that also want to go to a couple of those places. If you only have a day, though, Port Angeles is certainly worth a day trip all of its own. Hiking, biking, fishing, and boating are all available to visitors, with some trails accessible right from downtown.

If you are interested in learning more about the area’s Native Tribes and their culture, you will find many opportunities through museums, festivals, and murals. Shoppers, meanwhile, will find tons of antique and specialty shops in the walkable downtown area to keep them happy.

⛴️ Did You Know? If you want to plan a day trip to Victoria, British Columbia, you have the option of taking a ferry right from Port Angeles!


View of the cityscape and Downtown Bellevue Park from across the lake
Downtown Bellevue Park is a pretty place to hang out

Distance from Seattle: 20 minutes | Google Maps | Bellevue Website

Bellevue is a super quick and easy day trip from Seattle. I wrote an article about the 19 best things to do in Bellevue, so you can see for yourself how much there is to do in this city east of Seattle!

There are tons of shopping and dining options in Bellevue. The shopping center is huge with everything from luxury brands to well-known chains. You can enjoy a variety of fine dining, too, whether you’re in the mood for steak, sushi, or Italian food.

In addition to shopping, Bellevue is a good destination for outdoor excursions. Go to the cute beach parks on the shores of Lake Washington, or to the Bellevue Botanical Garden. Don’t miss the Coal Creek Natural Area, which has one of Washington’s great waterfalls.

Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour

View of an airplane at the Future of Flight Aviation Center
(photo: FirstClassPhotography / Depositphotos)

Distance from Seattle: 30 minutes | Google Maps | Boeing Factory Website

⚠️ Closure Note: As of February 2023, The Boeing Factory Tour is currently closed, and still don’t have a projected reopening date at this time.

Aviation fanatics and tech enthusiasts should take the easy 30-minute drive up to the Boeing Factory in Everett. You’ll find production lines of the 747 and other famous aircraft here. The Factory is the world’s largest building by volume. If you’ve ever wondered how a plane is built, you’ll be treated to that answer with this tour.

Check out ever-changing exhibits, learn about robots and aerospace, and the new things Boeing is working on. This is the perfect, easy day trip to take in the winter or on one of Seattle’s (frequent) rainy days.


Boats in a harbor at Poulsbo Washington, one of the best day trips from Seattle

Distance from Seattle: 1.25 hours | Google Maps | Poulsbo Website

A visit to Poulsbo will transport you to Scandinavia. This tiny town, also known as “Little Norway,” is at the north end of the Kitsap Peninsula. The town charms visitors with its many Nordic-inspired events, like the annual Viking Fest in May and the Midsommer Celebration in June.

Poulsbo’s main strip is incredibly walkable and offers tons of cute shops to wander through. Foodies should try pastries at Sluys Bakery, which make for a pleasant snack to munch on while walking along the waterfront. The city is kid and family-friendly and you can even go check out Sawdust Hill Alpaca Farm.

👉 Read Next: 22 Seattle Travel Tips (That You Need to Know!)


View of people enjoying the scenic views in Marina Park on Lake Washington
Marina Park on Lake Washington is just steps from Kirkland’s downtown area (photo: VDB Photos / Shutterstock)

Distance from Seattle: 20 minutes | Google Maps | Kirkland Website

Like Bellevue, Kirkland is another city on the Eastside that makes for an easy day trip from Seattle. A lot of the city is along the Lake Washington shoreline, making it a great place to go for lakeside relaxation, swimming, boating, and picnics. Juanita Beach Park is a popular Kirkland destination for these outdoor activities.

Downtown Kirkland is also a charming area to explore. It has several blocks of locally-owned shops and restaurants, as well as some of the best Seattle-area coffee shops. On the outside, it may appear a bit ritzy, but overall, Kirkland has a small-town feel despite being a bigger city.

🌳 Love City Parks? Bookmark my guide to the best parks in Seattle!

Victoria, BC

View of moss covered buildings at the Victoria BC harbor

Distance from Seattle: 2.75 hours (via ferry) | Google Maps | Victoria, BC Website | 👉 Browse Top Victoria, BC Tours on Viator

Seattle residents and visitors are lucky – Victoria, BC is only a ferry ride away. This city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island deserves many days of exploration. But if you have only a few hours of a day to stay, then there are several sites you’ll want to visit, like the grand Craigdarroch Castle and the Fisherman’s Wharf.

Don’t miss out on a classic tea time at the Empress (and be sure to dress up for the occasion!). This is a magnificent city for whale watching tours, and its incredible beauty and bike-ability mean you can easily spend the entirety of your trip outdoors.

Important Note: As of late summer 2021, the Canadian border is currently in the process of reopening to vaccinated American travelers. Rules and regulations are quickly changing, so be sure to check here to find out if you can enter Canada.

👉 Read Next: 33 Fun Things to Do in Washington

Ruby Beach

View of sunset at Ruby Beach, Washington, with a rock along the shoreline

Distance from Seattle: 3.5 hours | Google Maps | Ruby Beach Website 

Ruby Beach certainly makes for one of the longer day trips from Seattle on this list, but experiencing this magical stretch of Pacific Northwest coast is absolutely worth the trek. Fantastic sunsets, a gorgeous hike, and a chance to search tide pools for crabs and starfish await you on this chilly beach of the Olympic Peninsula.

Ruby has readily identifiable sea stacks, though there are more coastal beaches around Kalaloch to the south (also worth checking out). For those deterred from all the driving it takes to get out to the coast in a day, it’s a good idea to book a cabin at either Kalaloch Lodges or a place in Forks for the night. 

👉 Local Tip – Washington beaches tend to be rocky, and to get to this one you often have to climb over a ton of driftwood first. Be sure to wear shoes that can accommodate the trek!


So, which of these day trips from Seattle are you taking? Leave a comment about your favorites down below! And, before you go, be sure to check out my detailed list of all the best places to go in Washington and all my Seattle travel guides.

How useful was this post?

Click on a star to rate (you can leave feedback after clicking submit)

Help us help you travel better!

Your feedback really helps ...

What did you like about this post? Or how can we improve it to help you travel better?


  1. Great Suggestions. This travel writer has provided a great selection of options and personalized tips (like the rocky beaches)when visiting Seattle and area.

  2. Great article, Chelsea! I’m looking forward to taking multiple trips there to experience many of your suggestions.

  3. Great list of sites. I would also include Ellensburg and the Yakima Valley. These locations are closer than Victoria and even Port Angeles.

Leave a Reply

All comments are moderated for compliance with our community guidelines. Most importantly be kind & be helpful!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.