Seattle is a fantastic city by itself, but there are a few day trips you don’t want to miss. Whether you’re visiting for a bit or you’re new to the area, there’s more than just the city. Let’s take a look at some of our favorite places to go when you need to get out of the city. Here are our top 20 picks.
Puget Sound – Watery Options
This stunning outdoor space features an intricate collection of waterways where visitors can see a variety of wildlife.
- Take a full tour leaving from Seattle for the chance to spot whales.
- Head to Whitby Island for picturesque towns you could get lost in for the day.
- Check out local wildlife and follow migration patterns for your best chance to see something special.
The area is a gorgeous option for a day trip, but could quickly turn into more if you want. Be sure to check the weather before you go and the typical movements of the local wildlife for the best sightseeing.
Victoria, British Columbia – Picturesque Townships
Just a ferry away, Victoria offers guests gorgeous views, good food, and great shopping. It has some of the area’s mildest climates as well.
- Take in the architecture with the capital building and Craigdarroch Castle
- Marvel at the Butchart Gardens, a pristine example of well-kept grounds.
- Visit the miniature worlds at the Fairmont Express hotel where mini dioramas wow guests.
The city is lovely and is a nice change of pace to the hustle and bustle of Seattle, but you can still be back in the city by nightfall.
Leavenworth Village – German Aesthetic
An entire town modeled on a classic Bavarian village? Yes, please. Leavenworth is a local favorite with lots to do.
- Drink your fill of German Beers at any of the many Bierhauses
- Visit during Christmas to see everything lit up for the festivities.
- Eat traditional foods and find loads of shopping for unique souvenirs.
This town gets crowded during holidays, so if you’re planning an Ocktoberfest celebration, plan way ahead.
Tacoma – Underrated Washington City
An underrated city of Washington State, Tacoma, is only about 40 minutes away. It features quite a few things you can’t find in Seattle.
- Check out the Museum of Glass, featuring sculptures from Dale Chihuly.
- Families may enjoy the zoo and aquarium.
- Cool off during the summer months at the Point Defiance Theme and Water Park.
- Check out LeMay Family Collection of vintage cars.
Tacoma is a manageable city with lots of walking areas and plenty of parking. It’s a super easy change of pace from Seattle.
Boeing Factory – For the Flight Enthusiasts
- Take this chance to see the largest building in the world – 472,000,000 cubic feet.
- Learn about the future of flight and what we might expect during the next generations.
- See lots of examples of aircraft, both real and experimental.
The museum is a fun thing to do for anyone interested in learning and those who love the whole history of flight. You can even arrange a tour that leaves directly from Seattle.
Olympia National Forest – Heritage Site
One of only 20 UNESCO world heritage sites in North America, the overwhelming beauty of the forest here delights travelers.
- Take gentle strolls through the forest trails and forest bathe for your health.
- Challenge yourself to one of the more challenging hikes for amazing views.
- Take in the saltwater fjords nestled in the heart of the park.
This park is a national treasure and could quickly turn into a multi-day excursion. It’s a gorgeous place for those looking for a good dose of nature after being in the city.
Portland, Oregon – Keep Your Trip Weird
Portland may have been immortalized in the show, but the city offers so much to visitors. Just a short way from Seattle, it’s an art and coffee lover’s dream.
- Head to the International Rose Garden for something altogether different than the typical Portland fare.
- Check out the local music scene and catch a show from a variety of music types.
- Find the perfect evening dinner at one of the many restaurants in this walkable city.
Portland is a vacation all by itself, but as a day trip, it’s an excellent companion to the city of Seattle. You may even get inspiration for your next solo trip there.
Bellingham, Washington – King of Festivals
This city boasts, “The Northern-most city in the United States.” It’s so much more than that.
- Catch one of the many festivals happening throughout the year for a fun way to spend the day.
- During the winter, ski at Mt. Baker.
- Hike, fish, run, swim, and more at a multitude of outdoor spaces just outside the city.
The visitor’s center makes it easy to plan your trip. Be sure to look at the calendar so you’re prepared, and you don’t miss anything.
Bainbridge Island – Breweries, Wineries, and Distilleries
Bainbridge Island is gorgeous, but it’s also home to some well-respected wineries. Whether you’re here for the walking trails or the organic distillery, you’re in luck.
- Sample wines from the region. Or if beer is more your speed, local organic beer.
- Find a hiking trail to get lost for the day.
- Take a stroll through the Bloedel Reserve, one of North America’s ten best botanical gardens.
Bainbridge Island is such a beautiful day trip and one that has lots to offer. Wine options are well-respected and offer you the chance to sample wines grown in that particular climate.
Mount Saint Helens
Whether you remember the eruption or not, this is one sight you don’t want to miss. The dormant volcano fundamentally changed the landscape of the area.
- Check out the crater at the Johnston Ridge Observatory and see some of the histories of the area.
- Follow the trail of lava and catch glimpses of how the trail changed the landscape for good.
- Go during the spring for glimpses of wildflowers in the area.
The history of the volcano is tragic, but visitors can marvel in awe of the earth. This is also a must-see for because of its importance in US news.
North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades National Park is yet another beautiful outdoor area for those looking to escape the city. It features picturesque sights often used in promotional materials and immortalized in coffee table books.
- Head to the turquoise waters of Lake Diablo.
- Take in excellent skiing at the Mount Baker Ski Area, known for its deep snow.
- Hike, swim, bike, walk, and a host of other things, both challenging and accessible.
As one of the many national parks in the area, this one offers visitors a little bit of everything. It’s an easy day trip and one you may find yourself making again and again.
Snoqualmie Valley – Television History
This area boasts both waterfalls and a bit of television history.
- Head to North Bend and take in the sights of the filming location for Twin Peaks.
- Take in the beauty of Snoqualmie Falls and the views from the lodge above.
- Check out the town of Snoqualmie itself and the Railway Museum for a bit of US history.
The gorgeous views and the towns along the way offer visitors a slower-paced day with plenty to do. Whether you’re a TV buff or a lover of the great outdoors, there’s something in the valley for you.
Renton – Music History and Wildlife
Another small town just outside of Seattle, this offers visitors a picturesque day. Music lovers may want to head out as well.
- Check out the final resting place of Jimi Hendrix and pay your respects to the legend at Greenwood Memorial Park.
- Check out history in the area at the Art Deco fire station turned Renton History Museum.
- The Gene Coulon Memorial State Park is perfect for everything water-related – fishing, beachcombing, and more.
Renton is an easy day trip with plenty of walkable trails around the city and surrounded by more than 3,000 acres of wildlife habitat.
Bremerton – Naval History
The small city has worked in recent years, developing its offerings for those interested in Naval history. It’s a short trip across Puget Sound from Seattle.
- Marvel at the USS Turner Naval museum.
- Check out Harborside Fountain Park for excellent views.
- Catch great seafood and some local bakeries for taste.
It’s easy to travel around in the city, and it boasts some gorgeous views along with the chance for everyone to learn a little something.
Lake Cle Elum
If it’s summer, Lake Washington is probably packed. Take time off from the crowds and head to Lake Cle Elum.
- Head out for great fishing during certain times of the year.
- Rent a boat and watch the local wildlife.
- Hike around the lake through many walking trails.
The area is an excellent alternative to the popular lake Washington and may give you some respite from the crowds.
Maury Island – Appreciate the Extra-Terrestrial
Aside from being gorgeous, Maury Island is home to controversial alien sightings and claims to be the first place the famed Men in Black were spotted.
- Visit the Maury Island Marine Park for a glimpse of wildlife in the area.
- Tour the Museum of Flight (already mentioned on the list and could be a trip all by itself).
- Relax with the local scenery.
While many people come in just for the Museum of Flight, this island deserves a trip all its own. Sights, sounds, and beautiful places outdoors – try your hand at finding aliens in the sky.
Reptile Zoo – Up Close with Creepy Crawlies
Reptile Zoo was founded in 1996 by a biology teacher and puts people up close and personal with an often mysterious animal world.
- Check out interactive exhibits where you can touch snakes and other residents of the zoo.
- Watch carnivorous animals fed on Saturday and Sunday.
- Definitely stop by the Black Mamba exhibit and see the world’s deadliest snake.
The zoo is a wonderful connection with the world of reptiles, and visitors can build knowledge and experience for something they may have never seen before.
Fort Nisqually Living History Museum
The Living History Museum is a representation of one of the first non-native settlements in the region.
- Watch an interactive show from staff and actors dressed in authentic gear.
- Catch one of the events that happen throughout the year.
- Check out local artists during the summers for displays and exhibitions.
It’s an excellent way to explore what life was like in the region in the 1850s. Be sure to look at the local calendar for a listing of the events.
Jones Creek Farms – Apple Picking Afternoons
This organic apple farm grows hard to find varieties and space for picnics. The area has beautiful views as well.
- Visit in August and September for apple and pear picking.
- Choose a spot in their outdoor area for a picnic.
- Visit their farm store for a variety of fare from the farm.
The chance to pick your own apple varieties right from the farm that you may not see anywhere else is an enjoyable option for a day trip. Be sure to check the harvest schedule before you go.
Hibulb Cultural Center – Natural History and Native Culture
The cultural center is an interactive exhibit designed to showcase the history and skills of native populations and is the first facility certified by the state of Washington.
- Check out the 23,000 square foot cultural space.
- Tour 50 acres of land surrounding the center.
- Attend events and lessons in the classrooms.
The Tulalip tribe is determined to preserve the culture and history of the area and the tribes that came before.
See More Than the City
Seattle is a thriving city filled with music, food, and history. When you want to get out of the city for the day, there is plenty to do, covering history, food, shopping, or and outdoors. There are wonderful things about this area, and we hope you find things you love.