The Perfect Weekend in Seattle: Your 2 Day Seattle Itinerary

Seattle is a fun waterfront city located between Puget Sound and Lake Washington in Northwest Washington.

Known for coffee, bridges, evergreen forests, and rain, there are plenty of things to do on a weekend in Seattle!

Although rainy and dark from November through May, if you visit this beautiful Northwest city in July or August, you will find the perfect temperatures and bright sunshine!

If you ask me, these two months make up for the rest of the year, but then again, I grew up in Seattle, and I might be biased.

A weekend in Seattle isn’t long enough to see everything in the city, but for a quick 2 days in Seattle itinerary, I recommend visiting Downtown and the Fremont and Ballard neighborhoods to experience the best of what the metropolitan city has to offer.

Let’s begin this Seattle itinerary!

Your Weekend in Seattle Itinerary: Day One

Hit the original Starbucks bright and early

Spend Saturday morning exploring downtown Seattle and the many attractions near the waterfront.

Saturday morning is the perfect time to visit the original Starbucks near Pike Place Market, the first stop on this Seattle itinerary.

The Starbucks opens at 7 AM, and is a popular tourist spot, so show up before or around the opening time to avoid the long line.

Wander down the waterfront

With your mocha and pastry in hand, take a stroll along Seattle’s waterfront.

Head north along the piers towards the Olympic Sculpture Park. The Olympic Sculpture Park is a public park created by the Seattle Art Museum, featuring modern and contemporary outdoor sculptures along the beach.

The Sculpture Park is next to Myrtle Edwards Park, a long beachfront park with a walkway, perfect for extending your morning walk.

Head towards the Seattle Great Wheel

Once you’ve finished your coffee and morning snack, wander back the way you came towards the Seattle Great Wheel.

The Seattle Great Wheel is the tallest Ferris Wheel on the West Coast at 175 feet tall.

Although a relatively new Seattle attraction – it opened in 2012 – the wheel has quickly become a staple activity in downtown Seattle.

Riding a Ferris wheel on the pier is a fun way to view the boat traffic and bustle of the city!

Hit Pike Place Market

After a thrilling ride on the wheel, head up to Pike Place Market.

When you arrive, be sure to look above the market to see the famous sign with the neon letters and clock!

After snapping a picture, enter the market and wander around the businesses.

While exploring the stores, treat yourself and buy a few souvenirs.

As you are wandering, stop by the Market Rummage Hall to sort through the items for treasures and visit the Market Magic Shop and peruse the magic books and tricks throughout the shop.

Rachel’s Ginger Beer is also a local favorite and is located on the corner of Post Alley and Pine Street, right across from Sur La Table.

Tasty on any day, but especially perfect on a bad weather day, try any of the drinks at Rachel’s for a fun treat.

Down in the fourth level of Pike Place Market, visit the Giant Shoe Museum that shares space with the Old Seattle Paperworks store. Just bring a few quarters to drop into the coin boxes to view the giant shoes.

The most notable vendor at the market is Pike Place Fish, fishmongers who throw fish back and forth when someone orders fish!

While you are at the market, choose from the large variety of food and find something for lunch to fully experience the market.

Get grossed out at the Seattle Gum Wall

After lunch, head down to the Seattle Gum Wall.

The gum wall is located in Post Alley underneath the market and is covered in gum stuck to the wall by the box office for the Market Theater.

The gum wall was cleaned in 2015 for the first time in 20 years, and 2350 pounds of gum were removed from the brick wall! Yikes.

However, since 2015, gum has been added to the wall again, and it is a fun tourist attraction that is pretty high on most people’s Seattle itinerary wishlists.

Head over the Seattle Center

From the Gum Wall, walk to the Seattle Center, the location of the Space Needle, built for the 1962 World’s Fair.

When you arrive at the Seattle Center, go to the Space Needle and purchase tickets for a ride to the top.

Tickets for the Space Needle are timed, so if you don’t buy them ahead of time, you can buy tickets for later in the day and return for your ticket time instead of waiting in line.

At your ticket time, join the line and enter the elevator for a ride to the observation deck. The observation deck was recently remodeled with floor to ceiling glass panels to allow visitors an even better viewpoint.

From the top, you can see Mt Rainier and the surrounding Puget Sound on a clear day. On the ride down, the elevator stops at the 500-foot level, a restaurant with a revolving glass floor, before returning to ground-level.

Stop by the Chihuly Glass Museum

While in the Seattle Center, also stop by the Chihuly Glass Museum.

The museum features work by Dale Chihuly, a well-known glassblower from Tacoma, Washington.

The museum features beautiful glass exhibits that will blow you away. The works of art are extraordinary, and the museum is a must-see if you are spending a weekend in Seattle.

Have a delicious meal at Ivar’s

After visiting the glass museum, visit Ivar’s Fish Bar for dinner. Ivar’s is a Seattle classic, featuring a seafood-based menu.

The Seattle waterfront location of Ivar’s on Pier 54 is the original location of Ivar’s, opened in 1938.

The fish n’ chips and the clam chowder are two local favorites on the menu, although all the food on the menu is popular.

See the sunset from Kerry Park

During the evening, walk up to Kerry Park for sunset, where you will find the best view of downtown Seattle available within the city.

The walk to the park is up a very steep hill but is worth the effort to catch the sun setting over the city.

Your Weekend in Seattle Itinerary: Day Two

On Sunday, take the day to explore the neighborhoods of Fremont and Ballard, just north of Lake Union.

These neighborhoods are known as fun and upbeat neighborhoods with plenty of activities and cool shops, bars, and cafés to enjoy.

Grab some breakfast at Sea Wolf Bakers

Start off the day with a visit to Sea Wolf Bakers, on Stone Way in Fremont.

This bakery serves coffee but is best-known for their delicious fresh-baked goods.

Their bread is known as the best in the area, and the croissants have a perfect buttery, crisp texture.

Go on a morning stroll in Gas Works Park

Once you have ordered your morning coffee and pastry (or pastries, if you couldn’t decide on one), take them down to Gas Works Park.

Then, take a seat on the grass on the top of the hill in the center of the park and look out on the view of Lake Union and downtown Seattle while you are enjoying your morning treats.

While in the park, be sure to check out the structures remaining from the former oil plant in the park, where it gets its name.

Spot the quirky Fremont Troll

Gas Works Park isn’t the only unique site in Fremont, and it is well worth a walk over to the Fremont Troll from the park.

From Gas Works, walk west along the Burke Gilman Trail, a multi-use pedestrian and cycling trail along the waterfront until you reach the bridge under Aurora Ave N, then turn north and walk up to 36th St.

The Fremont Troll is as its name implies, a large troll statue underneath the bridge! The statue is 6.5 tons, and the best part is the actual VW Bug incorporated in the statue being held by the troll.

This a great spot for a picture, and you can pose either at a safe distance or climb onto the troll if you aren’t afraid.

Visit the Sunday Fremont Market

After visiting the troll, walk downhill to the Sunday Fremont Market, a year-round outdoor farmers market held in Fremont along the waterfront.

The farmers market features many local vendors selling fresh produce, street food, handcrafts, and vintage goods.

The market is a great place to find lunch, so browse the vendors with an eye for tasty foods and stop by the food trucks for more options.

Wander towards the Ballard Locks

Just west of the Sunday market is the Ballard Locks, a worthwhile trip to see the marine operations between Puget Sound and Lake Union.

The locks prevent the saltwater of Puget Sound from entering the freshwater of Lake Union, maintain the water level of the lake at 20 feet above sea level, and allow boat passage between the two.  

While visiting the Locks, you are likely to see the lock operation as boats pass through. The Ballard Locks also features a fish ladder to allow safe passage for native salmon species!

The largest salmon run through the Locks is Sockeye Salmon, from mid-June through mid-July, but you may see salmon pass through in August or September as well.

Head towards Discovery Park

Once you’ve seen the locks and fish ladder, continue west to Discovery Park, the largest park in Seattle.

Discovery Park is a beautiful park on the waterfront, with plenty of trails through the forest as well. It even has a lighthouse, West Point Lighthouse!

There are plenty of options for longer and shorter walks, depending on how you are feeling. And if you are tired of walking for the day, the beach makes a great spot to sit!

Grab a tasty dinner at the Walrus and the Carpenter

After this packed weekend in Seattle, if you still have time for dinner before returning home, stop at The Walrus and the Carpenter. This cool place is one part restaurant, one part fishing pub.

Here enjoy the delicious fried oysters and a variety of beers, wines, and cocktails amongst the fishing center in Ballard before returning home and plan for your next weekend trip to Seattle!

Pin this Weekend in Seattle Itinerary!

10 Best Things to Do in Mount Rainier National Park

Mt. Rainier is the iconic mountain seen from downtown Seattle, the largest mountain in Washington State.

Its large presence over Western Washington means that Seattleites simply call it “The Mountain.”

In fact, you’ll often hear them use the popular saying “The Mountain is out” – meaning that the skies are clear (a rare occurrence through the grey Northwest winters!) – and you can see Mt. Rainier looming over the landscape.

Although Mt. Rainier can be seen from Seattle, a visit to Mt. Rainier National Park is well worth the trip to truly take in the alpine wonderland.

There are plenty of things to keep you busy during your visit, but here are the 10 best things to do in Mount Rainier National Park, easily one of America’s most beautiful National Parks:

What to Do in Mount Rainier National Park

Enjoy the drive!

Tunnel in Mt. Rainier National Park leading to interior of park

As with many National Parks, the roads through Mount Rainier National Park are lined with breathtaking views, but also wind along cliff-sides, making them nerve-wracking if you’re not into that (no worries, there are plenty of roadside barriers).

The abundance of pull-outs along the road offer many places to stop to take in the views. There are a few different roads that offer entry into the park, depending on which direction you come from.

If you want to take a nice long drive, drive towards Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, where the road winds around trees and corners to give you stunning views.

If you enter the park from Seattle, you can drive from the Nisqually Entrance up to Paradise, and can continue on past to the Stevens Canyon Entrance, and up to Sunrise.

The Carbon River entrance is a side trip and you’ll have to leave the park and re-enter to access this area, but this also means there’ll be fewer people here too.

Hug some big trees

Tall cedar trees on a shady hiking path in the middle of the forest in Mt. Rainier National Park.

Stopping at the Grove of the Patriarchs is quite a treat, and one of my personal favorite things to do in Mt. Rainier National Park.

Here you’ll find huge cedar trees along an easy path through the woods. Although you may be in the park to see the mountain, take advantage of your trip into the Cascades to explore the forest landscapes.

On this walk you’ll be immersed in old-growth forest, full of lots of green and huge trees. Isn’t it crazy how old these trees are? There is a short hiking loop that will take you through trees older than the state of Washington.

My favorite way to enjoy the trees is to sit on one of the park benches and look up at the canopy. If your neck gets too sore, another option is to lie on the ground (off to the side of the path, of course!) and gaze up at these massive giants from the perspective of the forest floor.

This path is a flat and accessible loop, allowing you to experience the wonder of old-growth northwest forests without a long hike.

Spend a night at Mowich Lake Campground

A calm lake reflecting mountains and clouds and trees in Mt. Rainier National Park, called Mowich Lake.

Camping within the park gives you the luxury of falling asleep and waking up to an alpine glow on the mountain.

Sunset on the mountain is always a beautiful sight, and on a nice summer evening, you’ll be immersed in the light pinks and oranges surrounding the snow-capped mountain during golden hour, the best time for pictures.

There are several campsites within the park that allow advance reservations and offer more amenities, but if you’re up for a more rugged and spontaneous adventure, head out on the gravel road to Mowich Lake Campground.

Here, campsites are available first-come first-serve, so be sure to arrive early during summer, especially on the weekend, but if you manage to get one, you are afforded with unparalleled access to the beautiful Mowich Lake and a base camp for the surrounding adventures – including Tolmie Peak, Spray Falls and Spray Park hikes.

Be sure to bring enough water for your group or a filter for lake water, as there is no potable water at this campsite.

Bask in the fields of flowers at Spray Park

Purple, white, and pink wildflowers in the spring in Spray Park. Hiking here is one of the best things to do in Mt. Rainier National Park!

Spray Park in mid-summer is a wonderful place, with meadows full of multi-colored wildflowers blanketing the hills in front of Mt. Rainier.

Access to this trail is from the Mowich Lake trailhead on a gravel road, but if you make it to the trailhead you’ll be rewarded with a less-crowded hike than others in the park.

Two miles into the hike you can take a short detour to Spray Falls and then continue up the switchbacks to find meadows and a view of Rainier.

A good place to end this hike is at the viewpoint at Mist Park. From this endpoint, you can return the way you came for a total distance of 8 miles.

Climb to the top of an old fire lookout

A woman wearing a plaid shirt and black pants looking off into the distance of the mountains with a fire lookout (a small wooden hut) in the background.

Fire lookouts dotted the mountainous landscape of the Western U.S. before cell towers and satellites took off, allowing summer employees to live in the lookouts (small, one-room cabins) keeping watch for fires, and alert authorities when they spotted a fire.

No longer in use for this fire watching, these locations offer spectacular viewpoints, and many of these lookouts are preserved for visitors. There are several hikes within MRNP featuring old fire lookouts, but the most accessible hike is at Mt Fremont.

If you make it to the top of this 5.6 mile hike, you’ll be rewarded with a fantastic view of Mount Rainier and the shimmering Frozen Lake below, and a piece of history (the lookout).

The hike begins at Sunrise, then wanders past Frozen Lake, and up the final stretch to the lookout. Frozen Lake is a wonderful stopping point if you’d prefer a shorter hike (3 miles), and is surrounded by alpine meadows. Just make sure you stay on the trail to avoid trampling the plants!

Soak up the mist from Narada Falls

A narrow but tall waterfall cascading down a cliff-edge with trees and rocks framing it and a small rainbow prism in the waterfall.

Named from the Hindu word ‘Narada’, meaning uncontaminated, Narada Falls is an energetic waterfall that does not require a long hike to view.

The waterfall is located just off the park road between Longmire and Paradise. In fact, you can look down on the waterfall from the parking lot.

If this leaves you wanting more, there is a short trail that leads you down to a lower viewpoint, where you can stand in the mist.

Make sure to watch your step on the way down though, since the mist dampens the path and it can get slippery.

Spot mountain climbers from the visitor center 

The view of Mount Rainier from the window of the Mt. Rainier National Park Visitor Center with pine trees in foreground.

The Henry M. Jackson visitor center in the Paradise area of the National Park offers spectacular views of the mountain.

The visitor center looks over the popular climbing route to the summit and makes use of this viewpoint by offering telescopes for park visitors hoping to spot a climber making their way up or down the mountain.

Although the route to the summit is challenging and inaccessible to most park visitors, it is inspiring to gaze up at the route and imagine the perils and adventures of a summit trip.

At the visitor center, browse the information on the displays to learn about the formation of this volcano and the history of the region.

You can also chat with the friendly park rangers who love answering visitor questions, and browse the gift shop for souvenirs to bring home from your adventure.

Visit the Longmire historic district

A view of Mt. Rainier from Longmire, with rock-strewn landscape, green trees in foreground and the mountain in the background.

The Longmire area of the park has several hiking trails, a replica of a homestead on the park from the 1890s, and hot springs.

Longmire is named after James Longmire, whose homestead and hot springs resort was the park’s headquarters when it was established in 1899.

The park headquarters are no longer located at Longmire, but the 1916 park headquarters here now feature a museum with the early history of the national park.

In this location is also the National Park Inn and the Longmire Wilderness Center.

Watch marmots along the Skyline Trail

A well-trodden trail with wildflowers dotted on either side of the path and a patch of pine trees in Mt. Rainier National Park.

Marmots are a large, cute ground squirrel that live among the rocks and dirt in high alpine environments.

Although they live in many places in the park, a good place to find these cute creatures is along the Skyline Trail, a trail that goes from Paradise up the steps with the John Muir quote and onward.

If you don’t manage to see one, you may see their burrows along the dirt or hear their whistles across the meadows.

The Skyline Trail is the main hiking route from Paradise and can be done as a 5.5 mile loop or made shorter, depending on how you’re feeling.

Picnic at Tipsoo Lake

A perfectly snow-covered Mt. Rainier reflected in Tipsoo Lake with trees and grass around the lake edges.

Tipsoo Lake has a picnic area close to the parking area where you can eat with a view of the lake, creeks, flowers, and mountains.

After your picnic, you can continue to sit and enjoy the views or you can take advantage of the short and flat trail that meanders around the lake.

On this trail you can continue to enjoy the sparkling blue lake, views of Mt Rainier, and fun small wooden bridges over the little creeks that criss-cross the meadow.

Although there are plenty of hiking options at Mt Rainier National Park, the lake around Tipsoo Lake is a great stroll if you’re looking for a short and flat, but rewarding walk, and a great location for a picnic.

Pin This Guide to Things to Do in Mount Rainier National Park

7 of the Best Day Hikes in North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park encompasses some of the most remote mountains in the lower 48 states…. and some of the best views

Known for the lack of roads, meaning long hiking distances to reach destinations, there are enough trails and hikes in North Cascades National Park to last a lifetime.

However, there are thankfully also plenty of beautiful hikes for a day’s walk.  Here are a few of my favorite day hikes in North Cascades.

The Best Hikes in North Cascades National Park

Cascade Pass

Mountain pass with pine trees and a few snow-covered peaks and a slightly cloudy sky.

Total Length: 7 miles
Hike Type: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 1800 ft
Difficulty: Moderate

Driving Directions: Take highway 20 to Marblemount and then continue onto Cascade River Road (proceed straight when highway 20 takes a left). Follow Cascade River Road 23 miles to the end of the road, where you will find the trailhead.

The Cascade Pass trail is a moderate-level hike, but it is the most popular hike in North Cascades National Park for a reason: it’s worth the climb!

A hike up this trail will grant you with fields of heather, snow-capped mountains vistas, and glacial carved valleys. 

You may also find a marmot or two and some chipmunks along the way. Take care not to feed the chipmunks — they are already chubby enough.

Diablo Lake

Turquoise-blue lake with pine trees and peaks in the mountains with a few clouds.

Total Length: 7.6 miles
Hike Type: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 1400 ft
Difficulty: Moderate

Driving Directions: Drive east along highway 20 from Marblemount. After crossing the Gorge Lake bridge, drive another 1.5 miles, then turn left on Diablo Dam Road toward the North Cascades Environmental Learning Center. Cross the dam and drive to the end of the road, where you will find the trailhead

Diablo Lake is a brilliant blue lake featured in many pictures from people hiking North Cascades National Park. Views like this are what make many people say the North Cascades is one of the best hiking destinations in the USA.

Smaller than the nearby Ross Lake, but equally as beautiful (or more), this trail features islands, deep gorges, waterfalls, and the stunning mountain peaks of the North Cascades. 

This trail offers views of Diablo Lake throughout the hike and ends at a viewpoint overlooking Ross Lake and a picturesque bridge.

The trail begins with a beautiful walk through old-growth forest. When the trail emerges from the forest and crosses Deer Creek, there is a short side trail that offers a view of the lake.

From here, the trail reaches views of a waterfall and the surrounding peaks. The trail then reaches an overlook of Ross Lake and its Dam. You can continue down the steep trail to the suspension bridge or stop here and soak up the views. 

If you want a change of pace on the return trip, you can enjoy a ride on the Diablo Lake Ferry back to the trailhead to experience the lake from a different perspective (and save some walking!). The ferry is operated by Seattle City Light from June to October.

Sourdough Mountain

Sourdough Mountain, a gray and green mountain, on a foggy day with pine trees.

Total Length: 10.4 miles
Hike Type: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 4870 ft
Difficulty: Hard

Driving Directions: Drive east along highway 20 from Marblemount for 22 miles. When you reach Diablo Dam Road, take a left. In 0.7 miles at cross the Stetattle River bridge, stay to the right, and reach the trailhead in 0.25 miles from the road split.

Sourdough Mountain is the site of one of the first fire lookouts established by the U.S. Forest Service, and the historic lookout building still stands at its peak.

To reach the lookout, you first begin with steep switchbacks in the forest. The first two miles of the trail gains 3000 ft of elevation with grueling switchbacks.

However, this effort will become worthwhile once you make it out of the forest, where you will be greeted with wildflower meadows and expansive views that get better as you go.

Although beautiful, this is not a beginner-friendly hike in North Cascades, and there are a few considerations to keep in mind.

Since this is a steep trail, occasionally narrow and loose, the trail will be easier with a pair of hiking poles. In addition, the trail is steep and there is no water access until a potential stream 4 miles from the trailhead. 

Stehekin River Trail

A view of Lake Chelan, a still lake with a small beachy area and dock, part of the hike in Stehekin.

Total Length: 7.6 miles
Hike Type: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 100 ft
Difficulty: Beginner

Driving Directions: This trail begins in the remote town of Stehekin, and to access this town you’ll need to take the Lady of the Lake ferry from Chelan. From the ferry dock in Stehekin, take a bus up the Stehekin Valley Road for 4.5 miles. You will find the trailhead after crossing Harlequin Bridge, following Company Creek Road to the airport, and walking to the end of the airport runway.

Explore the Southern side of the North Cascades National Park Complex with a visit to the town of Stehekin on Lake Chelan.

There are plenty of trails from town, but this shaded trail along the river is ideal for the warm summer day.

Better yet, the trail ends at Weaver Point at Lake Chelan, a campground with a bit of a sandy beach and view of the town.

The trail begins by wandering through the valley floor, giving you views of the neighboring mountains. About a mile into the hike, you will be greeted with your first view of the river and surrounding meadows.

Continue on from here until you reach Lake Chelan and enjoy the peaceful walk through the beautiful landscape.

Cutthroat Pass

A fall hike in Cutthroat Pass, one of the best day hikes in North Cascades National Park, with yellow trees and fall colors.

Total Length: 10 miles
Hike Type: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Difficulty: Hard

Driving Directions: Drive approximately 50 miles east on Highway 20 past Marblemount to Rainy Pass. Turn left (across from the road to Lake Ann), and drive down the road half a mile to the parking lot and trailhead for the Pacific Crest Trail.

You can’t go wrong with any hike on the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT), a 2,650 mile trail that extends from the Mexican border in California to the Canadian border in Washington, but this hike to Cutthroat Pass is on one of the best sections.

To reach Cutthroat Pass, you will follow the PCT from its Highway 20 crossing, 5 miles north towards Canada.

The trail begins with small creek crossings that may be running high, so be sure to cross carefully. As the trail continues, the forest thins, and you can see the mountains across the valley, before crossing through the granite-filled, heather meadows of the alpine.

Upon reaching the pass, there are 360-degree views of the surrounding mountains to enjoy with your summit treats. This is also an excellent fall hike, as the larches will turn a brilliant yellow before winter comes.

Sauk Mountain

A view from Sauk Mountain with green grass mountain sides and a tiny brilliant turquoise glacial lake.

Total Length: 4.2 miles
Hike Type: Out and Back
Elevation Gain: 1200 ft
Difficulty: Moderate

Driving Directions: Take exit 232 off of I-5 to Highway 20, then after 35 miles, turn left onto Sauk Mountain Road (FS 1030). The trailhead is 8 miles down this steep, but generally passable road. It is worth reading recent trail reports on for an updated road report before you head out for this hike, as conditions vary throughout the season.

Sauk Mountain is one of my favorite hikes in the area because of the great variety you find along the trail.

Although outside the boundary of the national park, it showcases the best the region has to offer. It is never a slog, offering excitement throughout the entire trail, with views that grow continuously more impressive.

With the multitude of peaks that you can see from the trail, it is the perfect trail to bring along a map of the area for peak identification, or try out the PeakFinder app, an app that identifies visible peaks as you point your phone out on the horizon.

When you are not looking at the views, or if the clouds roll in, spend some time admiring the variety of wildflowers adorning the slopes, or listening for marmots squeaking as they run around the rocks.

Lake Ann

A small brilliant blue lake, Lake Ann, surrounded by wildflowers and mountain peaks at the base of a mountain valley.

Total Length: 3.4 miles
Hike Type: Out & Back
Elevation Gain: 700 ft
Difficulty: Beginner

Driving Directions: Drive approximately 50 miles east on highway 20 past Marblemount. Stop at the Rainy Pass trailhead on the right side of the road.

Not to be confused with Lake Ann near Mt. Shuksan, which is also a beautiful hike in the area, this Lake Ann is near Rainy Pass and the Maple Pass Loop.

Lake Ann is a crowd-pleaser for any season (besides winter, when the road closes), offering wildflowers in summer, larches in fall, and majestic snow-sprinkled mountains in early winter.

To find the trail from the parking lot, follow the “Lake Trail” signs. When you find a junction between a paved trail and a dirt trail, take the dirt trail to the right.

A mild hike through forest and wildflower meadows, this is a great stroll for any day.  Lake Ann is the perfect alpine lake, with beautiful blue water lined by talus fields.

From the lake, you can return back the way you came or continue up to Maple Pass for a longer hike. It is possible to do a loop hike on the Maple Pass Trail, but prepare for double the distance and double the elevation gain.

Pin This Guide to Best Hikes in North Cascades National Park!

8 Best Weekend Getaways from Seattle

One of the greatest things about Seattle is how close to nature everywhere in the city is. It’s a place where the Pacific Northwest landscape seems to blend seamlessly with urban design, making Seattle feel more calm than many other large American cities.

But also, sometimes you just have to plan a brief weekend getaway from Seattle to explore all that the PNW has to offer and appreciate your home city.

I teamed up with fellow Washington-savvy travel bloggers to get their insight on what the best weekend trips from Seattle are.

I’ve divided this list for weekend getaways from Seattle into drives shorter than 3 hours and longer than 3 hours, so you can decide based on distance and how far you’re willing to drive for a short Seattle weekend getaway trip or even an overnight trip from Seattle.

From national parks to water parks like Great Wolf Lodge Grand Mound to wine countries to the Olympic Peninsula and even a dip into Canada, here are the best weekend getaways from Seattle for every type of traveler!

Weekend Getaways from Seattle (Under 3 Hours Drive)

Olympic National Park

Contributed by Adam Marland of We Dream of Travel

Located 2.5 hours from the bustle of Seattle’s city center is the entrance to one of the most eco-diverse National Parks in the US.  Within the Olympic National Park borders, you can explore glaciated mountains from Hurricane Ridge, watch crystal clear water plummet into the lush greenery of the Sol Duc forest, get lost in the vibrant green mosses of the Hoh Rainforest, and watch the sun set over the rugged Pacific coastline… and you can do it all in the same day!

Oh, and did I mention there are hot springs as well?!

Olympic NP is a natural treasure trove, but it is important to understand that the park is extremely large and spaced out.  While much can be seen in an overnight trip from Seattle, you will have to plan carefully, and may need to prioritize the destinations and hikes that interest you most.

There are numerous destinations for all types of visitors, each providing essential services such as food and accommodation. 

Coastal visitors will find “Second Beach” the most photogenic option, with the town of La Push offering services nearby.  Be sure to try the seafood at the River’s Edge Restaurant!

Mountain-lovers, meanwhile, should plan time for exploring the trails of Hurricane Ridge.  There is a visitor center at the top with facilities and a small cafe.  In addition to above-the-cloud views, expect numerous wildlife encounters!

Forest, waterfall, and nature lovers will have their hands full with options! Sol Duc Falls is my favorite destination, and it doesn’t hurt that the hot springs are located nearby.

A comprehensive guide to photographing Olympic National Park can be found on the We Dream of Travel website.

Leavenworth, WA

Contributed by Nathan of All About Glamping

Drive just two hours east from Seattle and you’ll find yourself transported to Bavaria. The charming town of Leavenworth, WA is surrounded by the Cascade Mountains and is modeled after an authentic Bavarian village complete with alpine chalets, german restaurants, beer gardens and Bavarian-style cultural events and festivals.

This is a year-round destination that’s perfect for an overnight or weekend getaway from Seattle. In the warmer months you can go hiking, cycling, or rafting or simply stay in the village and relax on the patios and in the main square. During the colder season there’s usually snow for winter activities and for the month leading up to Christmas the town of Leavenworth turns into a winter wonderland of Christmas lights and holiday events.

All year long you can shop in the lovely boutiques and galleries, enjoy a delicious meal at one of the many restaurants or sample wine at the local tasting rooms. There are also several festivals throughout the year including, of course, a hugely popular Oktoberfest. It seems there’s always something going on in Leavenworth.

As for accommodations there’s everything from romantic guest houses to full resorts and of course Bavarian-style chalets. You can even go cave glamping in Leavenworth for a really unique experience!

Bellingham, WA

Contributed by Hannah of That Adventurer

Only 1.5 hours away from Seattle, the town of Bellingham is the perfect place for an adventurous weekend accompanied by great food and drink. The town is made up of downtown Bellingham and the historic (and very pretty) Fairhaven district slightly to the south. 

The best things to do in Bellingham include driving the scenic Chuckanut drive which runs along the coast and has plenty of places to stop off at including antique stores, seafood restaurants and beaches. For an awesome short hike, try the Oyster Dome Trail along Chuckanut Drive. From the summit, you’ll get amazing views of Bellingham Bay and Lummi Island. Adrenaline seekers should take their mountain bike with them and hit the trails!  Galbraith Mountain and Chuckanut Mountain include mountain biking trails for all abilities.

You’re spoilt for choice when it comes to where to eat in Bellingham. A must-do is Taylor Fish Shellfish Farms. This restaurant right on the water serves up freshly caught, grilled seafood and oysters. You can buy the fish grilled, or grill it yourself as there are grills at each table. Tables fill up quickly so expect to wait! In town, be sure to check out Makeworth Market for delicious cakes, teas, coffee and a beautiful interior.

Weekend Getaways from Seattle (3+ Hours Drive)

Walla Walla, WA

Contributed by Sarah & Nathan of Discover the PNW

Just over 4 hours southeast of Seattle lies Walla Walla, Wa. The town and county with the funny name but amazingly good wine and food. Italian immigrants began making wine here in the 1800s and the region was designated as an American Viticultural Area in the mid 80s. But, it’s only fairly recently become known as a wine tourism destination.

If you’re driving in at the right time of year you’ll see the scenery change from golden fields of wheat with the Blue Mountains as a backdrop to multi-colored rolling hills and lush green vineyards before arriving at the quaint town of Walla Walla. The town itself is charming and peaceful with a downtown historic core lined with boutiques, cafes, restaurants and of course wine tasting rooms. The residential streets around the center are tree-lined with many lovely houses of Late Victorian Queen Anne style architecture. Spending an hour or more exploring the area on foot is highly recommended.

Drive out of town in any direction and you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to Walla Walla wineries and wine varietals. The more than 100 wineries are separated into districts such as Downtown, Southside, Westside, Eastside, and Airport and part of the wine region even lies within the Oregon border. Whichever districts you decide to visit you will find beautiful scenery and a refreshingly laid back and unpretentious vibe which is welcoming to all wine lovers.

As for food, there’s no lack of delicious options. You can find pretty much any type of cuisine in Walla Walla but be sure to try the funky and unique Andrae’s Kitchen: 5 star gourmet food served in a gas station. Also, you can’t go wrong with a meal at Saffron Meditteranean Kitchen or Passatempo Taverna.

Portland, OR

Contributed by Chrysoula of Travel Passionate

If you’re staying in Seattle and looking for other local destinations that you could visit for a day or two to get out of the city. Portland, Oregon is one such destination.

Lying just three hours from Seattle, Portland is a charming city that boasts an incredible food scene, some great street art, a bunch of weird and wonderful attractions, and some excellent outdoor activities. Whether you like brunching, biking, markets, music or simply strolling round parks and gardens, Portland most definitely has you covered.

Cycling is pretty standard practise in Portland, with most locals and lots of tourists choosing two wheels to get around. So, pick up a rental bike and start cycling along the waterfront down to the Portland Saturday Market. The sheer mix of goods on sale at the market represent the eclectic nature of the city, with everything from local handicrafts and souvenirs to jewellery, art and home interiors.

You can continue your day with tasty treats from around the city such as Saint Cupcakes, doughnuts from Voodoo and popcorn from Poplandia with every flavour imaginable. You certainly won’t go hungry here in Portland!

When you’re ready to walk off the calories, head over to Washington Park or the Portland Japanese Garden to witness creatively curated flowerbeds, tranquil tea gardens, and myriad other attractions.

And, when you’re done exploring the top city sights, you can consider visiting the Willamette Valley wineries, the nearby Hood River, or the small artistic town of Eugene.

Orcas Island, WA

Contributed by Kay of The Awkward Traveller

Orcas Island is part of the San Juan Islands off the coast of Washington, about 3 hours from Seattle (which includes a 1.5hr ferry ride). If you really want to immerse yourself in the nature of Orcas Island, consider setting up camp at one of the gorgeous sites inside Moran State Park.

During peak season, campsites can run ~$27-37USD a night. However, if you are looking for lodging on the less rugged side, grab a room at the Orcas Hotel which is right across from the ferry terminal and is also pet friendly!

There are tons of things to do on Orcas Island, though hiking is a must. Cascade Falls trail is one of the most beautiful hikes, but this short 1/4 trail is as steep as it is beautiful! For beginner hikers, the Cascade Lake Loop is relatively flat and is easily accessible!

After working up a sweat, indulge yourself in the locally run restaurants around town! Visit New Leaf Cafe for breakfast, Roses Bakery Cafe (Vegan options!) for lunch, and Island Hoppin’ Brewery for dinner! After all, you’re in the Pacific Northwest, you gotta sample the local microbrews! 

Orcas Island also has a surprisingly lively downtown area in the summer, so you can browse the rows of cute boutiques and shops selling handmade goods. However, you can’t leave Orcas Island without checking out Mt. Constitution, the highest point of all the San Juan Islands! At the summit, there is a stone tower offering 360 views of the island, and the perfect vista photo for your memory books!

Victoria, BC (Canada)

Contributed by Daisy of Beyond my Border

Despite being in two different countries, one of the best overnight trips from Seattle is Victoria, BC.

As the capital city of British Columbia, Victoria sits at the corner of Vancouver Island. Noted for its numerous historical architecture, diverse outdoor activities, and gorgeous seaside view, Victoria is one of the most popular destinations in Canada.

From Seattle, simply hop onto the Clipper ferry at Pier 69. This scenic 3-hour ride will bring you straight to the Belleville Terminal in downtown Victoria. It’s best to visit this city during the summer months as the weather will be more suitable for outings.

Known as “The Garden City”, Victoria is famous for its vast greenery and pleasant harbor life. There is no surprise that there are many things to do in Victoria BC.

Be it a visit to the Craigdarroch Castle, a stroll along the Inner-harbour pathway, or an excursion at the Beacon Hill Park, the city will captivate you with its charming entwinement of nature and modernity.

Some of the best places to cure your hunger are at the floating food stalls in the Fisherman’s Wharf Park. You can venture out to the nearby dockside restaurants and dine at the finer establishments such as the Fish Store or Pizza Pizza Co. Since you are right by the harbor, seafood is a must!

Vancouver, BC (Canada)

Contributed by Dhara from It’s Not About the Miles

Looking for a great overnight getaway from Seattle? Consider Vancouver BC! The vibrant cosmopolitan Canadian city is just 2.5 hours away by road, but border crossings will probably make it closer to 3+ hours.

There are tons of fun things to do in Vancouver that can keep you engaged for much longer than a couple of days. On a short visit, focus on a few iconic places. Stanley Park and the Seawall are great for a morning walk. Take in the beautiful boats and buildings as you walk.

For panoramic views of the city, head to the Vancouver Lookout. It is especially beautiful at sunset, and you can watch as the lights of the city come on. After dark, Canada Place is a must-stroll, to see the illuminations. Visit some of Vancouver’s quirky neighborhoods: Gastown is known for its fun vibe and nightlife, and it also has a quaint steam clock.

If you enjoy gardens, Vancouver’s botanical garden is famous, and Queen Elizabeth Park, nearby, has lots of gorgeous plantings as well as great views of the city skyline.

Take the Aquabus across False Creek to Granville Island, where you can browse all the food stalls in the public market and grab something delicious to eat. Nightingale, the casual eatery by Chef Hawksworth, is a great place for a special dinner.

Pin These Great Weekend Getaways from Seattle for Later!

11 Outstanding Things to Do in Orcas Island: A Local’s Guide

Contributing writer: Roo Smith

I grew up on an island paradise located in an archipelago of 172 named islands, as well as many others unnamed.

The community of just over 2,000 people in the winter means that you know just about everybody by name and it’s not uncommon to see the same faces at pick up soccer games as you do acting in community theater.

This island was named as one of the top 52 places in the world to visit by the New York Times in 2019 due to its amazing wildlife, sweeping ocean vistas, and welcoming population.

The location of this island may surprise you: it’s not located in French Polynesia, but rather situated a few hours off the coast of Washington State.

Orcas Island, the biggest geographical island of the San Juan Islands and my increasingly famous hometown, isn’t necessarily as difficult to reach as French Polynesia but it’s also no easy day trip from Seattle or Vancouver.

Getting to Orcas Island

To begin the journey to Orcas Island you must first arrive at the ferry terminal of Anacortes, Washington.

The Anacortes ferry terminal, as well as the 2-hour ferry boat ride, is where the Orcas Island experience truly begins so take it as an excuse to hike around the beaches and appreciate the views of Mount Baker across the water.

On the boat, the beauty is nothing short of fantastic so although some of us on the ferry on not paying attention to the views around us since it may be a monthly errand run to Costco, I highly recommend spending most of the boat ride taking in the stunning ocean vistas from the open-air decks.

From the moment you step on the island, put the phones away, take the cameras out, and start the adventure. As somebody who spent their whole life on Orcas Island, here are my favorite things to do in Orcas Island to explore while you’re there.

Visit Moran State Park

If you go to Orcas Island and don’t visit Moran State Park in any capacity, you missed a big part of the beauty that Orcas has to offer.

There truly is something here for every type of person.

Go mountain biking

If you’re feeling adventurous and want to mountain bike the West Boundary Loop (a 5.6-mile trail with 1,620 feet of elevation gain), you will not be disappointed.

This is one of the most appreciated mountain biking trails on the island and although the climbs are steep, the experience of flying through the old-growth forest with enchanting moss or simply hiking up the mountain’s northern face will definitely have you feeling fulfilled.

Go for a hike

If mountain biking or longer hiking trails isn’t something that interests you, there’s a number of mid-length trails that vary in length from 0.25 miles to 3-4 miles.

A Sunday tradition for my family growing up consisted of visiting one of our two favorite trails; Cascade Falls or the Mountain Lake Loop.

Hike to Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls is a 0.25-mile trail that leads down about 130 feet to the base of a magical 40-foot waterfall that boasts the title of the tallest waterfall in the entire San Juan Islands.

The waterfall connects with a creek that squiggles down through a jumble of logs and branches before settling into a gentle flow through the old-growth cedar trees and vibrant moss.

The combination of the waterfall and the creek make it the perfect place to hang with families and small kids as well as a place for adults to play around on the fallen logs, appreciating nature’s playground the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed.

Hike the Mountain Lake loop

Mountain Lake loop, another classic hike, is about 4 miles that’s relatively flat and has some incredible views of this dark blue lake.

There’s a number of sun-warmed vantage points and swimming opportunities throughout this loop so definitely take it slow and bring a snack so you can have a picnic on one of these amazing overlooks.

Admire the beautiful Cascade Lake

Finally, if hiking isn’t something you’re interested in, there are still activities for you to do at Moran State Park.

Cascade Lake, or “The Lake” as locals call it, has a grassy field with a designated swimming area for kids, a paddleboat rental shop, and a treat store during the summer.

During the summer, “The Lake” sometimes gets crowded but if you’re looking for tanning by a body of water, there’s no better place to do it than right here in Moran State Park.

Explore the Ocean

Obviously, since you have to take a boat to Orcas Island, it’s surrounded by water.

Although this ocean isn’t necessarily one you would want to leisurely be swimming in, due to its frigid temperature, that doesn’t mean there’s not an endless amount of activities to do on or near the water.

Go sea kayaking

Sea kayaking is a popular activity here on the island, locals and visitors alike. There are a thousand spots to launch from on the island such as Westsound, Deer Harbor, or Olga.

No matter where you go you’re likely going to encounter a calm, gentle sea as well as some incredible views of the rest of the San Juan Islands from the water.

Due to Orcas Island’s geographical position in the archipelago, strong waves and wind are rare during the summer so, as long as you’re close to shore and avoid major channel crossings between islands, it’s going to feel as though you’re paddling on a lake.

If you don’t own kayaks, there’s still plenty of opportunities to rent or even hire a guide to take you around. Some of my favorite kayak rental spots on the island are located on Crescent Beach and at West Beach Resort.

Go whale watching

Sea kayaking is probably the most popular ocean activity among visitors but that’s not the only way to explore the ocean around here.

There’s a number of whale watching guide services to choose from who will bring you to spot the famous J-Pod, a group of Orca whales that reside in the waters around the San Juan Islands.

I would highly recommend Outer Island Excursions as your whale watching guide company as they have a whale sighting guarantee! If you don’t see whales on your trip, you can go out for free again until you do.

Try your hand at sailing

Sea kayaking and whale watching will definitely keep you busy during your time on Orcas, but the fun isn’t over yet.

If you’re wanting to explore the ocean on your own time and feel the breeze of the salty sea in your hair then sailing may also be an activity worth checking out on Orcas.

There are a number of sailing charter companies that will rent you a boat for the day or week if you’re looking for a true on-the-water experience out in the San Juan Islands.

A number of other islands in the area are within a few-mile radius of Orcas Island so if you want to take day trips to smaller uninhabited islands by boat to camp, hike, or explore, there’s a lot of beautiful wildlife and nature to explore there as well.

Visit the Saturday Market in Eastsound

The word “downtown” on Orcas island doesn’t describe a booming metropolitan area that one may think of when first hearing the word, but rather a small series of buildings where the community comes together.

The Orcas Island “downtown” (also referred to as Eastsound) has adorable shops, bakeries, restaurants that you must visit if taking a trip out there. Of all the things to do in Orcas Island, my absolute favorite is going to the Saturday Markets in the summer.

There’s a large grassy area called the Village Green off the side of the main road through town and it’s here where the Saturday Markets take shape. This market is a series of tents full of local business owners, artisans, restaurant owners, and community members.

You can smell the most beautiful and vibrant flowers from Mimi Anderson from Morning Star Farm or purchase thoughtfully homemade pottery from Luke Bronn Pottery.

You can taste some of the most delicious cookies from Teezer’s Bakery, an old bakery on the island that closed its business doors a few years back but continue to sell their island famous cookies at the Saturday Markets. It’s the only place in the world you can buy them and they’re well worth it.

Often, the Saturday Market will feature live music from local musicians or student bands that accompany the smell of baked goods and freshly picked flowers. It’s here where you will feel welcome into the community that is Orcas Island.

Unlike some destination vacation spots around the U.S., Orcas Island is special because you immediately feel like you’re a part of the community, even if you’re only there for a day.

People will greet you like they’ve known you your whole life because that’s just how they interact with everyone. This small-town feel makes Orcas truly special. You not only get to see the most beautiful and awe-inspiring nature while exploring all the best things to do in Orcas Island, but you get an idea of what it’s like to call this place home.

Pin This Guide on Things to Do in Orcas Island!