There's plenty to do in Seattle, WA but there are just as many great day trips for those who want to get out of the city. No matter where your interests lie, there's a day trip that's perfect for you. Nature lovers can visit one of the many beautiful Washington State parks, gardens and islands in the area, while visitors looking for a small town experience have plenty to choose from. Here are the best Seattle, WA day trips.
1. Bellingham - 1 hour 35 min
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Known for its magnificent scenery and abundant outdoor recreational opportunities, Bellingham is the northernmost city in the contiguous United States and has a population of more than 50,000. Popular summer activities include fishing, hiking, and golfing, while winter visitors can ski at Mt. Baker or check out the many museums and galleries that Bellingham has to offer.
The city also has a jam-packed events calendar; highlights include an annual seafood festival in April and a six-day fair in August. Anyone wishing for assistance in planning their visit can visit the Visitor Center at 904 Potter St.
2.Bainbridge Island - 1 hour
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Bainbridge Island is a small town located in the heart of Puget Sound. With backdrops of the Cascade Mountain Range, the Olympic Peninsula, and Mount Rainier, Bainbridge offers picturesque views of the surrounding area in addition to its own natural beauty.
Alcohol connoisseurs will be pleased to learn that the island features a number of artisan wineries, an organic distillery, and a brewery. Visitors will also find acres of parks, several hiking trails, and some fascinating historical sites. Just a short walk from the ferry is the little village of Winslow, which is home to a variety of restaurants, unique shops, and a waterfront park.
3.Mount Rainier National Park - 1 hour 45 min
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Established in 1899, Mount Rainier National Park encompasses 236,381 acres, including Mount Rainier itself. At 14,410 feet above sea level, the active volcano is home to more glaciers than any other peak in the continuous United States and is one of the most famous landmarks in Washington.
There are a number of hiking trails and climbing spots available for visitors to enjoy. The park also contains a number of visitor centers, picnic areas, and dining options. Visitors to the park can choose from a number of different pass options, including an annual pass and nightly camping passes.
4.Snoqualmie Falls - 1 hour
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Snoqualmie Falls is a 270-foot waterfall listed in the National Register of Historic Places for its importance in the traditional beliefs of the Snoqualmie people. Admission to the two-acre park is free, and the park is home to a short hiking trail as well as a handicap-accessible observation deck and a picnic area with five tables.
The historic Salish Lodge & Spa overlooks the falls, and includes a restaurant renowned for its hearty pancakes. A gift shop, coffee stand, and public washrooms are also found on-site. Free parking is available, and it is open from dawn until dusk.
5.Boeing Factory Tour - 30 min
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As Boeing is the world's largest aerospace company, the Boeing Factory Tour in Everett offers visitors a unique opportunity to step inside a commercial jet assembly plant. Tours include fascinating facts about the history of Boeing, and guests will be able to watch as 747, 777, and 787 jets are assembled on the factory line.
Public tours of the factory are offered seven days a week, and guests are advised to purchase tickets ahead of time to ensure a spot. Tours are approximately 90 minutes long, and they begin and end at the Future of Flight Aviation Center.
8415 Paine Field Blvd, Mukilteo, WA 98275, Phone: 800-464-1476
6. Lakewold Gardens - 50 min
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Lakewold Gardens is a 10-acre non-profit garden designed with assistance from the well-known landscape architect Thomas Church. Highlights of the gardens include a rhododendron collection, an alpine stream with three waterfalls, and a garden of boxwoods that have been shaped into ground-level geometric patterns.
Classes on various gardening topics are offered throughout the year, and members of the garden pay a reduced price. A gift shop is found on-site, and the grounds can be rented for weddings, conferences, and other special events. A variety of tours are offered, and group tours can be arranged if reserved in advance.
12317 Gravelly Lake Dr SW, Lakewood, WA 98499, Phone: 253-584-4106
7.Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument - 3 hours 15 min
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For anyone interested in volcanoes, the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is a must-see. The 110,000-acre area was set aside for research, recreation, and education after the volcano erupted in 1980. A wide variety of hiking trails are in the area, and there are several excellent viewpoints accessible by car.
The closest viewpoint available to the public is known as Windy Ridge, and it overlooks the beautiful Spirit Lake as well as the areas destroyed when the volcano erupted. Visitors can climb the volcano itself, but a permit is required, as there is a limit on the number of people allowed per day.
3029 Spirit Lake Hwy, Castle Rock, WA 98611, Phone: 360-449-7800
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8.Lake Cle Elum - 1 hour 40 min
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Lake Cle Elum is located along the course of the Cle Elum River, seven miles north of the town of Cle Elum. Despite being used as a storage reservoir for an irrigation project run by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, the lake is a popular fishing destination.
Fishing season is open year-round, but annual depletion of the reservoir means that there are no boat launch facilities after mid-summer. The lake is home to a number of different trout species, including kokanee, rainbow, and cutthroat trout. Fishing regulations are subject to change, so visitors are advised to check the website for the most up-to-date information.
9. Olympic National Forest - 2 hours 40 min
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Created in 1897, Olympic National Forest encompasses 628,115 acres of land that nearly surrounds Olympic National Park and the Olympic Mountain range. The forest covers a number of different landscapes, including the rain forest, a salt-water fjord, and the peaks of Mt. Washington.
Activities are available for people of all ages and interests; popular choices include fishing, horse riding, and driving along one of the many scenic routes the park has to offer. The forest is also home to a campground, and overnight guests looking for a little more comfort can rent one of three historic cabins.
10. The Bloedel Reserve - 70 minutes
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Located on Bainbridge Island, the Bloedel Reserve is a 150-acre forest garden originally created by the colorblind vice-chairman of a lumber company and his wife. The design of the Reserve was inspired by Japanese gardens, and the property on which it's situated was donated to the University of Washington in 1970.
Highlights of the grounds include a bird marsh, a moss garden, a flower-filled glen, and a more traditional Japanese garden. Everyone over the age of four must pay for admission, but guided tours of the grounds are available at no additional charge. A gift shop is located on-site. Read more
7571 NE Dolphin Dr, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, Phone: 206-842-7631
11.Darrington - 1 hour 20 min
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Located in Snohomish County, Darrington is a small rural town surrounded by mountains and rivers. The location makes the town a popular tourist destination and a hub for outdoor activities every month of the year.
Popular summer activities include hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking, and bird watching, while the winter brings opportunities to snowmobile and scour the surrounding forests for the perfect Christmas tree. Adrenaline seekers can get a bird's eye view of the mountains surrounding the town by taking a sightseeing helicopter tour. Darrington also hosts a number of events year-round, including concerts in the park and an annual harvest festival.
12.Flaming Geyser State Park - 50 min
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Flaming Geyser State Park was named for a 25-foot flame that used to burn in a concrete basin in the park. The flame no longer burns, as its methane source has been depleted, but the "Bubbling Geyser" can still be seen in a nearby mudhole.
The park is 480 acres in size, including over three miles of freshwater shoreline on the Green River. Several interpretive walks can be found in the park, and popular summer activities include tubing and rafting on the Green River. The park also features a designated area for flying remote-controlled model airplanes.
23700 SE Flaming Geyser Rd, Auburn, WA 98092, Phone: 253-735-8839
13.Maury Island - 1 hour 30 min
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Located in Puget Sound, Maury Island is a fairly small island connected to Vashon Island by a narrow strip of man-made land. The island is mostly rural and is largely made up of farmland, shoreline, and forest. The historic Point Robinson lighthouse is located on the easternmost point of the island.
The island is also home to both the 320-acre Maury Island Marine Park and the Maury Island Natural Area, a 275-acre park that includes almost one mile of undeveloped shoreline. To get to the island from Seattle, visitors must take a short ferry ride.
14.LeMay Family Collection Foundation - 50 min
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Created because of Harold LeMay's dream of sharing his massive car collection with the world, the LeMay Family Collection Foundation is a non-profit organization that owns more than 1,500 vintage vehicles. The collection is housed at the historic Marymount Military Academy, and roughly 500 cars are on display for the public at any given time.
Cars are rotated in and out of storage to ensure that guests always have the opportunity to see something new. The museum is open to the public six days a week, and the LeMay Family Collection Foundation hosts their annual LeMay Car Show every August.
325 152nd St E, Tacoma, WA 98445, Phone: 253-272-2336
15.Hoh Rain Forest - 4 hours
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True to its name, the Hoh Rain Forest gets between 140 and 170 inches of rainfall every year. The result is a beautifully lush canopy of greenery with vegetation that includes both coniferous and deciduous trees as well as a wide variety of mosses and ferns.
The Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center features several exhibits explaining the special features of the area, and staff members are happy to help guests plan their visit. Visitors interested in spending the night can book one of the 88 campsites located in the old growth forest along the river; the campsite is open year-round.
Olympic National Park, Upper Hoh Rd, Forks, WA 98331, Phone: 360-374-6925
16.Little Kachess Lake - 1 hour 35 min
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Located along the course of the Kachess River, Little Kachess Lake is a very popular lake for fishing. It functions as a storage reservoir for an irrigation project run by the United States Bureau of Reclamation, and annual reservoir drawdown means that there are no boat launching facilities available by late summer.
The lake is periodically stocked with kokanee and cutthroat fry, and fishing season runs year-round. Fishing rules and regulations are subject to change, so visitors are advised to check the website. The lake is also home to a campground run by the U.S. Forest Service.
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17.Skagit Wildlife Area - 1 hour
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The Skagit Wildlife Area is composed of just over 16,700 acres of wildlife habitat, including intertidal estuary, farmland, mudflats, marshes, and forested uplands. The area is divided into 16 different management units, most of which are located in the west half of Skagit County.
Quite a few different aquatic and terrestrial species have made the Skagit Wildlife Area their home, and popular activities in the area include bird watching, waterfowl hunting, dog walking, and wildlife viewing. There are also some federally threatened species that rely on the area for survival, including bald eagles and several types of salmon.
21961 Wylie Rd, Mt Vernon, WA 98273, Phone: 360-445-4441
18.Reptile Zoo - 45 min
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Founded in 1996 by a high school biology teacher, the Reptile Zoo aims to connect people with the beauty and mystery of the natural world. Some of the zoo's most popular animals include a turtle with two heads and a black mamba, the world's deadliest snake.
Interactive exhibits allow visitors to touch snakes, handle tortoises, and get up close and personal with a number of other animals. The zoo is open 10 am to 6 pm every day of the year except for Christmas and Thanksgiving, and visitors can watch the zoo's carnivorous animals being fed every Saturday and Sunday.
22715 US-2, Monroe, WA 98272, Phone: 360-805-5300
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19.Tenino - 1 hour 20 min
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Officially incorporated in 1906, Tenino is a small community that originally came into being as a railroad town. Later, the area became the only producer of Tenino sandstone, which was widely used for building in the 19th century.
The remains of this history can be seen all throughout the city. A 54-acre city park is located just south of the city's downtown core, and it houses a quarry pool, a museum in the old Tenino Depot, and the Tenino Sandstone Company Block inventory. The city is also home to several wineries, a distillery, and a wolf sanctuary.
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20.Fort Nisqually Living History Museum - 1 hour
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Fort Nisqually Living History Museum is located on the site of a former Hudson's Bay Company trading post, the first non-Native settlement on Puget Sound. As a living history museum, Fort Nisqually offers guests the chance to discover what life was like in the 1850s.
Volunteers and staff dressed in period clothing put on interactive shows demonstrating the crafts of the 19th century and engaging visitors in historic dialogue. A number of events are held at the fort throughout the year, including an annual Candlelight Tour and weekly visits by local artists during the summer months.
Point Defiance Park, 5400 N Pearl St, Tacoma, WA 98407, Phone: 253-591-5339
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21.Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility - 1 hour
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Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility (PSNS) is a United States Navy shipyard that encompasses 179 acres on Puget Sound, making it the largest naval shore facility in the Pacific Northwest.
The shipyard, established in 1891, was used to construct and repair ships during World War I and World War II, and it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992. Today, the shipyard is also home to part of the United States Navy reserve fleet as well as a sizable collection of U.S. Navy vessels that are no longer active. The facility is also certified to recycle nuclear ships.
1400 Farragut Ave, Bremerton, WA 98314, Phone: 202-781-0000
22.Jones Creek Farms - 1 hour 30 min
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Jones Creek Farms is a certified organic family farm that specializes in growing different varieties of heirloom apples that are not easy to find elsewhere in Washington. In addition to their large orchards, the farm also offers a picnic area and a small farm shop selling a variety of produce grown on the farm.
U-Pick apples and pears are available through most of August and September, but visitors are advised to check the farm's website for the most up-to-date information. Other highlights at the farm include an annual Harvest Festival in October and hay rides in the fall.
32260 Burrese Rd, Sedro-Woolley, WA 98284, Phone: 360-391-3904
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23. Hibulb Cultural Center - 45 min
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The Hibulb Cultural Center and Natural History Preserve is an interactive cultural center that was the first Tribal facility certified by the state of Washington. The center aims to revive and interpret the traditional beliefs and cultural values of the Tulalip Tribes, the successors to the Snohomish, Snoqualmie, and Skykomish tribes.
The natural history preserve itself is 50 acres, and the cultural center is 23,000 square feet, consisting of several exhibits, two classrooms, a longhouse, and a gift shop. Family admission passes are available, and admission is free for everyone the first Thursday of every month.
6410 23rd Ave NE, Tulalip, WA 98271, Phone: 360-716-2600
24.Port Gamble - 1 hour 30 min
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Port Gamble is an unincorporated community located on the northwestern shore of the Kitsap Peninsula, and it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1966. The National Historic site itself is 120 acres and is made up of turn-of-the-century buildings that house shops, tree-lined streets, and historic New England style homes.
Visitors to Port Gamble can shop, dine, or get out on the trails at the town's privately owned 4300-acre tree farm. The town also hosts a variety of events throughout the year, the biggest of which is the annual three day long Old Mill Days festival in early July.
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25.Fort Ward State Park - 1 hour 15 minutes
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Located on the southern end of Bainbridge Island, Fort Ward State Park is a 137-acre marine park that boasts 4,300 feet of saltwater shoreline along Rich Passage in Puget Sound. As a former military base, the land is full of significant military history, but it has since been developed for use by the general public.
The park features a concrete boat ramp, an underwater park for scuba divers, and a beautiful rocky beach. There are two picnic areas with vault toilets and potable water in the park, one of which is only accessible by foot or by bicycle.
2241 Pleasant Beach Dr NE, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110, Phone: 206-842-2306
25 Best Day Trips from Seattle
- Bellingham - 1 hour 35 min, Photo: Courtesy of egschiller - Fotolia.com
- Bainbridge Island - 1 hour, Photo: Courtesy of quasarphotos - Fotolia.com
- Mount Rainier National Park - 1 hour 45 min, Photo: Courtesy of Galyna Andrushko - Fotolia.com
- Snoqualmie Falls - 1 hour, Photo: Courtesy of Alexander - Fotolia.com
- Boeing Factory Tour - 30 min, Photo: Courtesy of Shutterbas - Fotolia.com
- Lakewold Gardens - 50 min, Photo: Courtesy of Michael Longoria - Fotolia.com
- Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument - 3 hours 15 min, Photo: Courtesy of amadeustx - Fotolia.com
- Lake Cle Elum - 1 hour 40 min, Photo: Courtesy of Vlad - Fotolia.com
- Olympic National Forest - 2 hours 40 min, Photo: Courtesy of underwaterstas - Fotolia.com
- The Bloedel Reserve - 70 minutes, Photo: Courtesy of haveseen - Fotolia.com
- Darrington - 1 hour 20 min, Photo: Courtesy of Chris Boswell - Fotolia.com
- Flaming Geyser State Park - 50 min, Photo: Courtesy of George Cole - Fotolia.com
- Maury Island - 1 hour 30 min, Photo: Courtesy of Tomasz Zajda - Fotolia.com
- LeMay Family Collection Foundation - 50 min, Photo: LeMay Family Collection Foundation
- Hoh Rain Forest - 4 hours, Photo: Courtesy of maislam - Fotolia.com
- Little Kachess Lake - 1 hour 35 min, Photo: Courtesy of madajar - Fotolia.com
- Skagit Wildlife Area - 1 hour, Photo: Courtesy of effe64 - Fotolia.com
- Reptile Zoo - 45 min, Photo: Courtesy of Uzfoto - Fotolia.com
- Tenino - 1 hour 20 min, Photo: Courtesy of annapimages - Fotolia.com
- Fort Nisqually Living History Museum - 1 hour, Photo: Courtesy of Zack Frank - Fotolia.com
- Puget Sound Naval Shipyard & Intermediate Maintenance Facility - 1 hour, Photo: Courtesy of Mariusz Niedzwiedzki - Fotolia.com
- Jones Creek Farms - 1 hour 30 min, Photo: Courtesy of hcast - Fotolia.com
- Hibulb Cultural Center - 45 min, Photo: Hibulb Cultural Center
- Port Gamble - 1 hour 30 min, Photo: Courtesy of dplett - Fotolia.com
- Fort Ward State Park - 1 hour 15 minutes, Photo: Courtesy of Joni - Fotolia.com
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of Kevin Meyer - Fotolia.com