Whether you live in Seattle or are visiting from out of the area, you’ll find no shortage of things to do in the city. The Emerald City isn’t the only place worth exploring in Washington, though, by any means! Some of the best weekend getaways from Seattle are arguably even better ways to spend your time.
Within a few hours’ drive, you’ll find plenty of outdoor activities like hiking, skiing, or kayaking. There are also plenty of opportunities to spend time indoors with world-class museums and restaurants. While we love all the things there are to do in Seattle, we’re excited to share with you some fabulous ways you can spend a weekend within driving distance of the city.
Best Weekend Getaways From Seattle
- Best Weekend Getaways From Seattle
- 1. San Juan Islands
- 2. Tri-Cities, Washington
- 3. Tacoma, Washington
- 4. Olympic Peninsula
- 5. Portland, Oregon
- 6. Mount Saint Helens
- 7. Victoria, British Columbia
- 8. Sea to Sky Highway, British Columbia
- 9. The Columbia River Gorge
- 10. Leavenworth
- 11. Lummi Island, Washington
- 12. North Cascades National Park
- 13. Forks (in the Olympic Peninsula)
- 14. Lake Chelan
- Final Thoughts on Best Weekend Getaways From Seattle
1. San Juan Islands
Recommended by Tabitha Bailar, travelcompositions.com
Escape the hustle and bustle of Seattle to peaceful San Juan Island. Take the 1.5 hour drive north to the port town of Anacortes and catch a 1 hour ferry ride to San Juan Island. Reservations are highly recommended.
Your adventure begins as soon as you board the ferry. Enjoy Puget Sound scenery, passing rugged small islands, waving at boats, and watching for marine life.
The ferry will dock in Friday Harbor, a cute, walkable coastal town with coffee shops, souvenir shops, and restaurants. You might catch live music in Fairweather Park overlooking the harbor or wander into the farmers market up the street.
Whale watching tours also take off from Friday Harbor.
In 1859 the US and Great Britain agreed to co-occupy San Juan Island. They built military camps on opposite sides of the island that you can still visit today. You can discover the parade ground, laundress quarters, and officers’ quarters at the American Camp.
At the English Camp, you can explore the parade ground, barracks, blockhouse, commissary, and a formal garden.
Those looking for adult beverages will be pleased to know that the island provides multiple places to visit. San Juan Island Brewery Co. serves an array of beers that please any hoppy palette.
San Juan Vineyard is the only vineyard on the island producing its own estate wines; reserve a tasting of a flight of three wines of your choice.
On Saturdays, visit San Juan Distillery for tastings of gin, vodka, brandy, and cider made with Washington apples.
Check out Pelindaba Lavender Farm. While it is open year-round, the blooming season is from May to October, so come prepared to take your insta-worthy purply pics in the field.
Learn about distilling lavender oil, shop the gift shop filled with over 200 lavender products, and refresh yourself with lavender lemonade, ice cream, and cookies.
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park is a quirky outdoor art museum. Wander through 20 acres and five marked trails, observing over 150 artsy creations, both abstract and realistic.
I love San Juan Island because reality seems to melt away as soon as you step onto this tranquil island reminiscent of a rom-com movie. Island time settles in fast and it’s always hard to leave the beauty, peacefulness, and eclectic things to do.Tabitha Bailar
2. Tri-Cities, Washington
Recommended by Margarita Ibbott of DownshiftingPRO.com
The Tri-Cities (Pasco, Richland, and Kennewick) are a leisurely three-and-a-half-hour drive south-east of Seattle. Taking I-90 through the Snoqualmie Pass you will love this scenic drive through the Cascade Mountains, to the Yakim Valley, and the Columbia River Basin.
There are two main reasons to visit the Tri-Cities area of Southeastern Washington State:
(1) STEM tourism: If you are a family who loves secret cities, and science, you will want to visit The Manhattan Project National Historic Park, The B Reactor as well as the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO) and Exploration Center (LExC).
(2) Wineries. With over 200 wineries within a 50-mile radius, you will be able to sample some of the best wines Washington State has to offer.
I think this is the perfect area for a girl’s getaway if you love wine tasting and soft adventure. It also has a great appeal for a boy’s weekend with golf, fishing, and hiking options. With good food, great wine, and 300 days of sunshine, you can’t go wrong visiting The Tri-Cities of Washington State.Margarita Ibbott
3. Tacoma, Washington
Recommended by Dr. Rachel from TheRxForTravel.com
Tacoma is located less than one hour ( about 35 miles) south of Seattle and situated on just one of the many bays of Puget Sound. There are so many things to do in Tacoma, Washington that will satisfy any traveler.
If you are an adventure traveler or prefer the great outdoors, then be sure to add Point Defiance Park to your list.
Within this massive over 700-acre park, you can find multiple lookout points for beautiful views of the bay, numerous gardens, a museum, a zoo with an aquarium, and a primary forest to explore via hike or drive that must include a stop at the Mountaineer Tree which is over 450 years old!
If you would consider yourself more of an indoor traveler, then be sure to check out one of the many museums Tacoma has to offer, like the Museum of Glass.
You will recognize this museum as part of the Tacoma skyline by its iconic silver cone. This is where live glass demonstrations take place.
Tacoma is also the home of the legendary glassmaker Dale Chihuly who has work on display at the museum and the Chihuly glass bridge that connects the museum to Tacoma’s Union Station.
Lastly, if you’re a movie buff, be sure to stop by Stadium High School in Tacoma, a film location for many scenes in the movie 10 Things I Hate About You.
My trip to Tacoma was my first-time visiting the Pacific Northwest, and it did not disappoint. One of the most incredible parts of my time was just how much beauty was around me. From Puget Sound to the forest and gardens of Point Defiance Park to the city skyline of Tacoma to the massive Mount Rainier. Everyone should make it a point to see the beauty of the Pacific Northwest.Dr. Rachel
4. Olympic Peninsula
Recommended by Katie Diederichs, Go Wander Wild
Whether you’re searching for solace in the mountains, wanting to be swept away in the beauty of the rugged coastline, or enjoy wandering cute little towns, Washington’s Olympic Peninsula will answer your craving.
With mountains, rainforests, and wild beaches, this region of Washington truly has it all. It takes roughly two hours to reach the Olympic Peninsula from Seattle, but you’ll want to factor in more driving time as you explore the far reaches of the region.
Pack your hiking boots because the Olympic Peninsula has tons of trails for varying levels. From causal forested walks to challenging multi-day treks, there are some incredible Olympic National Park hikes to choose from.
While on the coast, be sure to catch the sunset on one of the peninsula’s many beaches. Pack a picnic dinner and a blanket to drape over a driftwood log for the perfect view.
For a totally different experience, head to the Hot Rainforest. As you walk through the lush trails, you’ll feel a world away from Seattle.
I’ve traveled to the Olympic Peninsula many times over the years, and on each visit, I find something new to love. I particularly love the diversity of landscapes and hikes in this special part of Washington.Katie Diederichs
5. Portland, Oregon
Recommended by Mary King, Wanderu
Some see Portland as Seattle’s slightly-weirder younger sibling, but this quirky city has so many interesting and appealing reasons to visit on a weekend getaway from Seattle.
Driving from Portland to Seattle takes about 3 hours via I-5, but it’s also easy to take an Amtrak train directly from downtown Seattle to downtown Portland.
One of the most iconic stops in Portland is Powell’s City of Books. This sprawling bookstore occupies an entire city block and includes 3,500 sections in its color-coordinated rooms.
Mainstream new books, hidden gems of used paperbacks, niche reads, and even historical first editions in the Rare Book Room await you for literary exploration.
For a breath of fresh air, head to the International Rose Test Garden in Washington Park. Over 10,000 rose bushes of different varieties bloom and sweeten the air with their alluring scent between April and October. You’ll see why Portland is known as the City of Roses!
Thanks to Portland’s incredible food culture, you can guarantee that your weekend getaway will be filled with great eats.
Many know about the prolific food trucks on nearly every corner, but don’t miss out on the epic coffee shops and breweries for a pre-dinner or post-dinner drink. Some of the more unique breweries belong to the McMenamins brand, like the Fulton Pub & Brewery in a historic Prohibition-era pub.
Similarly, Hair of the Dog Brewing Company embraces an old-school vibe along with its excellent brews.
I lived in Oregon for four years and absolutely adored the area around Portland. Every time I went to Portland, I discovered a new part of the city with a unique vibe and quirky landmarks. And I have never found a city with better food – skip Voodoo Donuts and go to Blue Star for mouth-watering donuts!Mary King
6. Mount Saint Helens
Recommended by Kassidy, The Hiking Helper
One of Washington’s most iconic mountains, most well known for its 1980 eruption, Mount Saint Helens, makes for a great weekend getaway from Seattle.
You’ll surely find enough to fill a weekend between the beautiful views, endless hiking, and countless things to learn about this volcano.
From Seattle, the drive to the mountain’s north side is about 2 hours and 45 minutes. More epic adventures lie on the southern side of the mountain as well, making the drive just about 3 hours and 10 minutes.
First, make a stop at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, where you can learn about the volcano and its history. From the observatory, you’ll have a fantastic view of the crater that makes Mt. St. Helens so unique.
A short, paved trail features informative kiosks full of knowledge about the volcano and 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.
The ever-popular Harry’s Ridge Trail leads you right into the blast zone, where wildflowers bloom in the summer, and you can see the regrowth of nature.
Another unique and epic hike near Mount Saint Helens is Ape Cave. This 2.5-mile-long volcano tube is sure to be one of the highlights of your weekend.
You’ll walk underground, climb over boulders, and be immersed in blackness to experience this one-of-a-kind hike.
You will need a permit to enter the blast zone or Ape Cave, which both can be found online.
I personally love Mount Saint Helens because of the natural beauty that’s found within the area. With so many fantastic hikes nearby and the unique history behind the mountain, I never get tired of visiting.Kassidy, The Hiking Helper
7. Victoria, British Columbia
Recommended by Lisa Garrett, wavesandcobblestones.com
Victoria, in Canada’s province of British Columbia, is a perfect weekend getaway from Seattle. You can travel to Canada’s ‘Garden City’ in less than an hour by plane, or skip the hassle of the airport and take a leisurely ferry ride of just under three hours.
There are many great things to do and see in Victoria. Victoria definitely has a British flavor, with many gorgeous examples of Victorian architecture throughout the city. You can get an up-close look at period architecture and décor by touring Craigdarroch Castle.
Victoria’s main attractions are clustered around the inner harbor. Take a scenic walk around the harbor and admire the grand architecture of the Legislative Assembly building.
On the front lawn, there is a beautiful fountain and a statue of Queen Victoria, this city’s namesake. And just across the road is the iconic Empress Hotel, where you can indulge in a luxurious afternoon tea.
You’ll also want to explore Victoria’s Chinatown – it’s the oldest in Canada and the second oldest in North America.
Here you’ll find lots of interesting shops and restaurants, and also Fan Tan Alley, the narrowest street in Canada. For another unique shopping experience, visit Victoria’s Market Square, filled with boutiques and local eateries.
What I love most about Victoria is all of its gorgeous gardens. Beacon Hill Park is a beautiful 200-acre park right in the middle of the city. Its paths are lined with beautiful blooms and resident peacocks stroll across the lawns. And the glorious Butchart Gardens are not to be missed – these incredible botanic gardens are only a half-hour drive from Victoria and are definitely worth the trip!Lisa Garrett
8. Sea to Sky Highway, British Columbia
Recommended by Taryn Eyton, Happiest Outdoors
If you love amazing scenery, head to the Sea to Sky Highway in British Columbia. This gorgeous road trip route stretches from Vancouver to Whistler and makes a fantastic weekend getaway.
It’s a 3-hour drive to Vancouver from Seattle. From there you can drive to Whistler in 2 hours, but it’s much better to take your time and spread the trip out over a day or two.
With spectacular views around every bend, you’ll want to stop often to soak up the landscape. The towering mountains drop steeply into the ocean, and the highway winds along the shoreline.
Don’t miss Porteau Cove Provincial Park, where you can walk on the pier for great views of the mountains.
Another must-visit is Shannon Falls, which at 1100 feet tall, is the third tallest waterfall in BC. It’s a short walk from the parking lot to viewing platforms at the base.
To get high up in the mountains without breaking a sweat, take a ride on the Sea to Sky Gondola and admire the views from their mountain top decks and easy walking trails. Be sure to pop into the small town of Squamish to shop at boutiques and a great farmer’s market or enjoy craft beer at one of the microbreweries.
I may be biased because I live in Squamish, but even after driving the Sea to Sky Highway literally dozens of times, I still think the scenery here is some of the best in the world – it’s why I moved here! I also love that there are hiking trails that climb up to the summits of many of the mountains along the highway. It’s so rewarding to hike up a peak that many people just speed past in their cars!Taryn Eyton
9. The Columbia River Gorge
Recommended by Val Pope, Voyages With Val
The Columbia River Gorge is 182 miles and less than 3 hours from Seattle, making this destination one of the best weekend getaways from Seattle. It’s close to Portland, but the scenery is so wild it doesn’t feel near the city at all!
The Columbia River Gorge is full of amazing views and the best waterfall hikes near Portland.
Start your trip on the Historic Columbia River Highway, making your first stop at the Vista House. The Vista House is a century-old round building that overlooks the Gorge. After taking in the sites, continue to the iconic Multnomah Falls, a staggering 620 feet tall!
Next, head to Wahclella or Latourell Falls Trails. Both hikes are relatively easy and have stunning waterfall views. Spend the night in either Cascade Locks inside the Gorge or Hood River to the East.
Hood River is a larger town and has plenty of places to eat and sleep. Hood River is also well known for its orchards and wineries. Enjoy a glass of wine or cider while gazing at Mount Hood from one of the many wineries right outside the Gorge.
To head back to Seattle, you can always drive back along the Washington side of the river for a slightly different view than the Oregon side. The best stop on the Washington side of the Gorge is Beacon Rock, a fun hike up the core of an ancient volcano.
I love the Columbia River Gorge for its immense beauty and fantastic hikes! There are so many beautiful waterfalls and scenic overlooks that even visiting every weekend, it’s impossible to see them all.Val Pope
Recommend by Chantelle, Flannels or Flip Flops
The scenic Bavarian town of Leavenworth is one of the best weekend getaways from Seattle! Nestled at the base of the Cascade Range of mountains, this adorable little town will capture your heart instantly.
Whether you are here to enjoy the incredible scenery, celebrate a holiday, or do some food and wine tasting, Leavenworth is a must! With all of its charm and beauty, an added bonus is that it’s so easy to get here from Seattle.
The drive is just about 2 hours and crosses over the incredible scenic Snoqualmie Pass. You could also combine this drive with the Cascade Loop, the best road trip in Washington State!
There is so much to do in and around Leavenworth any time of year!
During Oktoberfest, all the microbreweries and wineries pull their tables into the streets for one fantastic party!
Even if you don’t want to participate in Oktoberfest, fall is a beautiful time of year to visit the town. The surrounding mountains are beautiful with fall foliage.
At Christmas time, the village is covered in lights, and every night there is a tree lighting ceremony complete with Santa in the center of town. You can even take a horse-drawn sleigh ride!
If you choose to visit during the summer, a beautiful river runs through town. You can enjoy it from either of the banks for white water rafting! There are also some of the state’s most beautiful hikes in the Leavenworth area.
Be sure to try some of the German food in town, including Bratwurst, pretzels, schnitzel, and noodles. You’ll also find quite a few local breweries and wineries in town!
No matter when you come, you’ll want to book accommodations well in advance. It’s a small town and books up quickly. You can choose from rustic cabins, great rentals, or cute little hotels in the center of town.
I love visiting Leavenworth in the winter! Walking through the main street with lights everywhere and the snowy mountains for a backdrop feels just like walking through a hallmark movie set! Honestly, it’s the most magical place I’ve ever visited! I love to grab a warm drink and stroll through the shops taking in all the festivities and the sounds and smells of Christmas!Chantelle
11. Lummi Island, Washington
Recommended by Katy, A Rambling Unicorn
Lummi Island is a tiny and remote island near Bellingham that is great for a quiet weekend getaway. At only 9.25 square miles in size, the island is so small that it doesn’t even have a gas station. But if a low-key weekend away from it all sounds appealing, then Lummi Island might be for you.
One of the best ways to get to know the island is on foot. There are several great Lummi Island hikes available that showcase the area’s natural beauty.
Baker Preserve Trail is the most popular one and features incredible views of Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. At 3.2 miles in length (roundtrip), it is short but steep with a great payout at the end.
Other gorgeous natural areas on the island include Otto Preserve and Curry Preserve. You can also spend your time kayaking, whale watching, or exploring some of the island’s few public beaches.
After working up an appetite outdoors, head to one of the island’s two restaurants. The Willows Inn is run by award-winning chef Blaine Wetzel and features locally-sourced ingredients.
Be sure to make reservations far in advance because this restaurant is nationally acclaimed. The Beach Store Café is a local joint serving a basic but tasty fare of burgers and pizza with a selection of local brews on tap.
I’ve visited Lummi Island twice to eat at Willows Inn and had an incredible dining experience both times. It is one of my all-time favorite restaurants – and this is saying something because I’ve eaten at 3-star Michelin restaurants around the world. Prospective diners should be aware of some recent bad press, however, along with a lawsuit filed by employees. The food is so good that I would eat there again anyway, especially since the lawsuit has been settled and the restaurant has taken steps to make improvements.Katy, A Rambling Unicorn
12. North Cascades National Park
Recommended by Michelle, The Wandering Queen
One of the best national parks to visit for epic hikes is North Cascades National Park. This park is incredible and has so many great weekend activities. It is located around 2 1/2 hours away, making it one of the best weekend getaways from Seattle and features the world-famous Diablo Lake.
There is a lake viewpoint for those who want to enjoy the drive and see the lake from the parking lot. It’s also a beautiful lake to kayak on a hot sunny day.
If you are a backpacker, you can even camp on one of the islands on the lake but make sure you get a permit.
Other great activities in the park include hiking some epic trails like Hidden Lake, Sahale Arm, Blue Lake, Maple Pass Loop, and much more! If you visit the park in the Fall, you might see the bright yellow larches.
In early October, people in Washington love to hike Maple Pass Loop to see the brightly colored trees. It is such a wonderful experience.
I love North Cascades National Park because the hikes are some of the best in Washington. This park has some pretty challenging trails, but the views are some of my favorite in this state. I also love taking photos at Diablo Lake because the water is a bright turquoise blue color. It is such a wonderful lake!Michelle, The Wandering Queen
13. Forks (in the Olympic Peninsula)
Recommended by Candice, CS Ginger
One of the best weekend getaways from Seattle is Forks and the Olympic Peninsula. There are so many fun things to do in Forks and the surrounding area. Forks sits near the Pacific coast and makes a great home base for exploring the outdoor recreational activities on the peninsula like hiking, kayaking, and surfing.
Forks is about 3.75 hours away from Seattle. You can take the ferry across the Pudget Sound or drive south through Tacoma and Olympia.
You can make a nice loop through the Olympic Peninsula by taking the ferry over to Forks and driving south through Olympia and Tacoma on the way back to Seattle.
One of the highlights of visiting Forks is visiting the Hoh Rainforest. It is one of four rainforests on the Olympic Peninsula but is by far the lushest and is the only one that is classified as a World Heritage Site and Biosphere Reserve. Two nice hiking trails go through the temperate rainforest.
There are lots of beautiful beaches within driving distance of downtown Forks. Ruby Beach is one of the most popular beaches on the coast. There are lots of fun rock formations to explore, and the beach is especially spectacular at sunset.
Other popular beaches in the area are Rialto Beach and Second Beach.
The Olympic Loop section of the Washington State Birding Trail also runs through Forks. There are about 200 varieties of birds you can see along this route.
14. Lake Chelan
Recommended by Kara Harms of whimsysoul.com
Lake Chelan is sometimes referred to as the Lake Tahoe of Washington State. It’s a large lake on the Eastern side of the Cascades but instead of evergreen forests, it’s flanked by vineyards. Visitors love to come here in the summer to get on the water by boating, kayaking, or swimming. The real fun hidden gem is Stehekin, a breathtakingly beautiful town tucked up in a channel on Lake Chelan. It takes about 2.5 hours via boat and makes an epic day trip of hiking, horseback riding, and visiting farms.
Back down in Lake Chelan, you can wine taste at vineyards with sweeping views of the lake, or wander the historic downtown to shop small boutiques. The best time to visit is the summer for water activities, or the fall to go leaf-peeping, but the winters and springs offer lower hotel rates and fewer crowds.
Personally, my favorite memory from our trip to Lake Chelan was sipping local wine while overlooking snow-covered vineyards with a backdrop of the Cascade Mountains. We drove over after doing all the Christmasy things in Leavenworth and this little lake town was the perfect way to end our Washington holiday trip.Kara Harms, Whimsy Soul
Final Thoughts on Best Weekend Getaways From Seattle
As you can see, Washington does not fail to deliver when it comes to providing great weekend getaways from Seattle. Which one is going on your bucket list next?