Post Summary: Incredible Day Trips From Seattle, Washington
Seattle feels like it was situated in the perfect spot for outdoor adventure. While there is an abundance of fun activities to do in the city, Berty and I couldn’t help but plan exciting adventures just outside the city limits every chance we got. We have our pick on mountains, rainforest, and ocean in any direction we choose!
In this post, we’re sharing the best Seattle day trips that you can easily manage in a day. You’re bound to find something on this list for your next family adventure!
The Best Day Trips From Seattle, Washington
1. Whidbey Island
For dreamy day trips from Seattle that aren’t too far away, a trip to Whidbey Island is a great pick for you! This small Puget Sound island is home to quaint little sea towns, hikes with views of the Sound, and Deception Pass State Park.
There are two ways to access the island from the Seattle area. The first is taking the Mukilteo-Clinton Ferry to access the south side, and the second way is by driving over to the north section of Whidbey Island via I-5 and Highway 20.
Explore the darling town of Coupeville (once the set of the movie ‘Practical Magic’) to wander the gift shops, restaurants, and pier. Hike at Ebey’s Landing for some incredible (and windy!) sunsets. Finally, spend some time finding hidden beaches and spotting sea lions off the coast of Deception Pass State Park!
2. Gig Harbor
If you’re craving time by the water, the darling coastal town is Gig Harbor is a great Seattle day trip option. Only a 45-minute to 1-hour drive on I-5 transports you to a charming town with a marina, small shops, and lots of ways to enjoy the water.
During the summer season, you can rent paddleboards and boats from Lee’s SUP (located near Anthony’s restaurant) or schedule a boat cruise to learn more about the harbor and the sound at Destiny Harbor Tours.
Winter in Gig Harbor is fun and festive, with lots of holiday celebrations happening during the month of December. It’s also common to visit parks year-round. Walk to Skansie Brothers Park on a clear day for views of the marina. Too cold to be outside? Visit the Harbor History Museum!
3. North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades National Park honestly deserves its own weekend, but it can also be easily explored as a Seattle day trip too!
For a fun day trip to North Cascades National Park, drive all the way from Seattle to Washington Pass Overlook. From there, you can turn around back to Diablo Lake Overlook, Ross Dam, and stop to dip your toes in the water at Thunder Creek Trail.
The drive to the North Cascades from Seattle is moody, filled with evergreen trees, and filled with Pacific Northwest vibes. We suggest taking this scenic Washington drive early in the morning to catch the fog on the trees!
Note: Winter snow closes Highway 20 every year, right after Diablo Lake Overlook. Save this website for updates on when the road will open back up in the spring.
4. Mountain Loop Highway
If you’re looking for day trips from Seattle that involve hiking, we’ve got the perfect adventure for you!
The Mountain Loop Scenic Byway is an alternate driving route between Granite Falls and Darrington, Washington. Along the way, it’s bursting with trailheads, lookouts, mountains, and waterfalls to explore. The hard part will be finding which of these amazing Washington hikes to try first!
Note: The Mountain Loop Highway between Gothic Basin Trailhead and Darrington are closed in the winter season. After Barlow Pass, the road isn’t paved, and the roads are quite narrow. Be cautious and know if your car can take the “off-road” features of this stretch of highway.
5. Wallace Falls
Wallace Falls is one of the most convenient hikes near Seattle and a great activity for the whole family. It’s one of the best day trips from Seattle if you’re looking for a nearby hike!
Wallace Falls trail has a little bit of everything the PNW is known for – lush ferns, rushing rivers, majestic waterfalls (yes, there are a few drops to see!), and tall trees and moss everywhere you look!
You’ll definitely work up a sweat on this hike – it can get quite steep at times! Pack lots of water and snacks, and take a break whenever you feel like it.
Planning a winter day trip from Seattle? Continue east on Highway 2 to go skiing at Stevens Pass after your hike!
6. Snoqualmie Pass
For lots of hikes near Seattle, head over to Snoqualmie Pass for an abundance of choices! For an easy hike, take the short Gold Creek Pond Loop with the whole family. For a moderate trail, take on Rattlesnake Ledge or Snow Lake. For a challenge, try Mount St or Mailbox Peak for a sweat!
Looking for a way to volunteer your time? The Pacific Crest Trail Association frequently posts work parties all along the trail, and lots of them meet in Snoqualmie Pass.
7. Snoqualmie Falls
While it shares the same name as Snoqualmie Pass, the waterfall is its own attraction completely!
This trip is a quick drive from Seattle – only 30 minutes. It’s easily accessible for the whole family, with boardwalks and short trails to explore that have lots of views of the falls! The best time to come visit is during late spring or after heavy rain when the water levels are high!
Other Seattle day trip ideas near the area? Visit Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park and Tiger Mountain State Forest for a little more time in nature.
If you don’t have access to a car, you can easily book day tours from Seattle via bus or small van from downtown!
8. Mount Rainier National Park
Definitely one of the more iconic day trips from Seattle, a visit to Mount Rainier National Park is one of the best things to do in Washington state!
The park is best enjoyed by car (it’s big), and the most accessible sections of the park are the Paradise area and the Sunrise area, but you’ll have to pick just one if you’ve got only one day to spare!
In the Paradise area, take the short but beautiful Nisqually Vista Loop or take the 5.5-mile Skyline Trail. For roadside attractions, check out Reflections Lake and Inspiration Point.
In the Sunrise area, hike the iconic Naches Peak Loop Trail or Tipsoo Lake. For roadside attractions, stop by the White River Patrol Cabin, Sunrise Point, and the Columnar Lava banks.
If you’re coming during peak season (summer), make sure to get there early, as the parking lots fill up very fast, sometimes by 8:00 am!
9. Mount St Helens National Monument
Following its tumultuous eruption in 1980, Mount St Helens National Monument is an incredible place to visit for geology enthusiasts. Start your day at the Johnston Ridge Observatory to get an up-close view of the blown-out side of the mountain.
Visiting this volcano is one of the coolest day trips from Seattle if you like history and nature!
From here, you can learn about the damage it caused in such a short amount of time and simultaneously learn about the forest regrowth just 40 years later.
The Mount St Helens area has quite a number of Washington hikes to take with the whole family. Work your way back down the mountain by exploring trails like Hummocks Trail, Coldwater Lake, and the Johnston Ridge Observatory loop.
Stop by the many viewpoints of the mountain along the way – don’t forget your camera!
10. Olympic National Park (Southeast and Northeast)
While this is probably on the longer side for day trips from Seattle, it’s worth it if you are seeking adventure and seclusion! For Seattle day trips, the easiest spots in the park to access are the north side and the southeast side (but you’ll have to choose which one!)
The north side includes Hurricane Ridge, the Storm King Ranger Station, the Mount Storm King Trail, Marymere Falls, and Sol Duc Falls. Choose this area if you are looking for adventurous hikes in the Olympic National Park!
The south side includes Lake Crescent, the Staircase area, and high elevation hikes like Lena Lake. Come here for a day trip from Seattle if you are seeking nature and solitude – it’s one of the least visited areas of Olympic National Park.
If you dare to drive a little farther, you can check out the Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach, and Ruby Beach. (Just be prepared for a very long day drive!)
11. Kitsap County Parks
If you’re looking for quieter trails to explore, take a quick ferry over to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island and explore the Kitsap County Parks system! It’s one of the easiest day trips from Seattle (just a ferry ride away) and perfect for taking the whole family.
From serene forest walks to seaside explorations, there are a variety of heritage parks to explore. Some notable ones include Port Gamble Forest Heritage Park, Newberry Hill Heritage Park, and North Kitsap Heritage Park.
For a fun, family-friendly day trip from Seattle, check out the Stump House in Guillemot Cove Preserve. Here, you can explore a house bored from a stump, which is the location of many folklore stories from the past!
12. Friday Harbor (San Juan Islands)
For unique Seattle day trips, don’t forget the San Juan Islands! Orcas Island and San Juan Island specifically are great places to check out. They can be visited in a day, but we actually suggest making it out for a Seattle weekend trip too!
You can drive up there yourself and catch a ferry in Anacortes, or you can book a tour on the Clipper Ferry to Friday Harbor that leaves and returns to downtown Seattle. On the way, you can look for whales and hear about the many islands on your way through Puget Sound.
Spend time wandering around Friday Harbor for great food, local shops, and lots of beautiful perspectives of the harbor. You can also rent bikes in town and take a bike ride around the island. It’s a total of 43 miles!
Travel Tip: If you are going to rely on the ferry to get from island to island, we HIGHLY recommend booking your spot in advance!