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The 15 Best Day Trips From Seattle to Take in 2023

The 15 Best Day Trips From Seattle to Take in 2023

While there’s plenty to do and see in the Emerald City, the surrounding area also offers rustic adventures and new cities to explore. Locals and tourists alike love these day trips from Seattle!

The 15 Best Day Trips From Seattle in 2023

The city of Seattle provides a beautiful place to explore, and the nearby areas won’t disappoint! Walk through the forests or scale mountains in one of the federally protected spots close to the city, or wander the streets of someplace new in some of Washington’s most charming towns.

Whether you stay close the Puget Sound to spend time on the water or head to a higher elevation to explore the mountains, these are some of the best day trips from Seattle you won’t want to miss!

1. Bainbridge Island

Image of Bainbridge, a great day trip from Seattle, pictured from the shore looking toward trees and downtown Seattle

Danita Delimont/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 35 minutes by ferry

Across Puget Sound from Seattle, Bainbridge Island has many places to explore. While you can drive to this location, the fastest route takes you across the sound by ferry. The island houses multiple parks and natural areas, including Bloedel Reserve.

The reserve sprawls across 150 acres of beautiful gardens and preserved local habitats. Other highlights of the vibrant island include incredible places to eat and shop and museums to experience art and learn more about the area.

2. Gig Harbor

Mount Rainier towers over Gig Harbor with sailboats on the water with clear skies overhead

GSD Photography/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 50 minutes by car

For a different view of Puget Sound, head to Gig Harbor to wander the historic waterfront. Scandinavian and Croatian immigrants settled in the area, bringing them new businesses.

Almost two dozen parks dot the city’s landscape. One of the most frequented is Skansie Brothers Park at the center of downtown, named for the fishermen brothers who lived and worked there.

One of the biggest draws to the city is spending time on the water. Charter a boat for a unique tour of the waterways, or grab a kayak to explore on your own!

3. Leavenworth

Night view of downtown Leavenworth Washington, seen on a snowy winter day, pictured as a featured day trip from Seattle


  • Travel Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes by car

If you’re craving a European vacation, but international travel isn’t feasible, consider heading to Leavenworth! The city purposefully converted its downtown to look like a Bavarian village.

The town focuses on tourism, so there are festivals year-round! Come to celebrate Oktoberfest by sampling regional food and drinks, or visit during the warmer months to take in production from Leavenworth Summer Theater.

The charming city is worth a visit at any time of year, but winter activities draw the most crowds. Plus, Leavenworth provides a great starting point for people who want to ski in the area!

Read Next: The Best Time to Go to Leavenworth, WA

4. Mount Baker Wilderness

Green trees on the side of Mount Baker's wilderness pictured as one of the best day trips from Seattle

Danita Delimont/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 3 hours and 15 minutes by car

If you want to go skiing in Washington, Mount Baker is one of the best options. Head to Mt. Baker Ski Area for some of the deepest snowiest in the state. The area holds the world record for snowfall in the 1998-1999 winter at 1,140 inches!

Explore the wilderness to wander the forests in the mountain’s shadow or hike through alpine meadows covered with wildflowers.

With more than a dozen trails, you could spend way more time here than just one day. The glacier-covered mountain is also a popular spot for climbing. If you’re an experienced climber, it’s an excellent place to check out!

5. Mount Rainier National Park

Featured for a roundup of the best day trips from Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park is seen from the lush green valley

Dan Lewis/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes by car

Another of Washington’s mountains that’s home to numerous glaciers, Mount Rainier National Park is a must-visit if you’re visiting Seattle. The towering peak draws visitors for hiking, climbing, and beautiful views.

Diverse wildflowers bloom in the park. Peak viewing periods last from mid-July through most of August.

Like other mountainous areas in the state, winter adventurers should be prepared for road closures in the park. However, sledding and winter camping are available if you can still access the park.

Read Next: The Best Time to Visit Mount Rainier in 2023

6. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument sign up close next to a cement walkway


  • Travel Time: 3 hours and 35 minutes by car

Visit the site of one of the most destructive volcanic eruptions in the United States to learn more about geology and view the infamous Mount St. Helens. The collapse of the mountain’s north side led to billions of dollars in damage and over 50 deaths.

Today, the volcano is closely monitored, ensuring the safety of visitors to Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

Some visitors even brave the trek to the crater’s rim. Miles of trails line the area around the mountain. The monument even attracts folks in the winter for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling.

7. North Cascades National Park

Man standing next to his tent on a mountain overlooking the valley below at dusk with an orange sky in North Cascades National Park, one of the best day trips to take from Seattle

Andrew Bertino/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes by car

Visitors come to North Cascades National Park for pristine waterways, towering mountains, and rugged wilderness. People explore the park by hiking, biking, and boating throughout the park.

Prime opportunities for wildlife views draw many visitors to the park. Some notable but hard-to-spot residents include gray wolves, wolverines, grizzly bears, and cougars.

The earliest settlers of this land were some of the first people to set foot on the North American continent. Visitor centers in the park provide great places to learn more about the area’s cultural history.

8. Olympic National Park

Moss-covered rocks in Olympic National Park, one of the best day trips from Seattle, as seen at dusk with an orange sky with still water between the rocks

Galyna Andrushko/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 2 hours and 40 minutes by car

Travel west of Seattle to experience another of Washington’s spectacular national parks. At Olympic National Park, you’re spoiled for choice when it comes to areas to explore.

Wander through the forests, hike mountain trails, or tidepool at this extensive park. The park spans a considerable distance, with some parts farther away than the listed travel times. Bear this in mind when making plans.

The park’s mountainous area will be the easiest to reach if you’re coming from Seattle. Here you can explore peaks, old-growth forests, and Lake Crescent.

Read Next: The Best & Worst Times to Visit Olympic National Park in 2023

9. San Juan Islands

White capped waves crash against the black rocks on the coast of the San Juan Islands with a lighthouse above them

Edmund Lowe Photography/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes by car and ferry

Unlike other day trips from Seattle taken by ferry, you’ll have to drive outside the city before getting on the boat to this destination. The temperate weather of the San Juan Islands draws visitors at all times of the year.

Whale watching is one of the biggest draws to the islands. It is also a popular spot for all types of boating, including kayaking.

Communities across the islands offer varied restaurants and shopping opportunities, including many artisan goods produced in the area. Vineyards have also recently been established on the islands, so leave room in the itinerary for wine tasting!

10. Skagit Valley

Every color and shade of tulip in rows in a field stretching on for as far as the eye can see in Skagit Valley, one of the best day trips from Seattle

Owen Whiting/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes by car

Skagit Valley offers access to many of the best aspects of trips around the Seattle area. There’s delicious food to sample, natural areas to explore, and museums to learn about history.

By far, spring is the most popular time to visit this area. That’s because of the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival! A scenic drive through the valley takes you through fields full of abundant color.

The valley grows more tulips than any other area in the United States! Plus, there are lots of local farms sourcing the farm-to-table food Skagit Valley is known for.

11. Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls in Washington, a top day trip from Seattle, as seen from the top of the hill looking out toward the falls and surrounding hillside

Sean Pavone/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 40 minutes by car

After Mount Rainier, Snoqualmie Falls is the most visited natural landmark in Washington. The waterfall plunges 268 feet in a marvelous display with several areas for watching the spectacular view.

The falls are part of a community of the same name, with museums to learn more about the area and restaurants to grab a bite to eat. Downtown Snoqualmie is only a mile walk from the falls.

Snoqualmie Falls bears great significance for the Snoqualmie people indigenous to the area. Recently, the tribe purchased land by the falls and continues to preserve the land.

12. Tacoma

Unique scene with little white homes below the cement bridge in Tacoma, a top trip from Seattle


  • Travel Time: 45 minutes by car

If you want to explore other urban areas on day trips from Seattle, Tacoma provides an intriguing choice. Washington’s third-largest city, the second-largest on Puget Sound, boasts inspiring views of Mount Rainier.

The thriving art scene creates opportunities to explore several museums. One must-see is the Museum of Glass, featuring work from Dale Chihuly, a Tacoma native.

People who enjoy history and architecture love touring the city’s historic properties, which include a fireboat that served the city for over fifty years. The site of the failed 1940 Tacoma Narrows Bridge also draws visitors.

13. Whidbey Island

Abandoned and rickety wooden pier on the rocky coast of Whidbey Island, a great day trip from Seattle

Gareth Janzen/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 1 hour and 15 minutes by car

Visitors find plenty of things to do on this island that stretches nearly 40 miles. One of the region’s most popular activities is whale watching. Migrating gray whales and orcas can often be seen off the coast.

While there are several communities to visit on the island, the main draw here is to more rugged areas, including multiple state parks. Deception Pass State Park is a great place to start, with old-growth forests and tide pools to explore.

14. Victoria, British Columbia

Quaint little harbor and the imposing Parliament building in Victoria, BC pictured on a nice day

Marc Bruxelle/Shutterstock

  • Travel Time: 2 hours and 45 minutes by ferry

Grab your passport and get ready for a ferry ride. This Seattle day trip takes you across the border to Vancouver Island in Canada. British Columbia’s capital is a perfect place to spend the day, regardless of your vacation preferences.

Explore the gorgeous green spaces that gave Victoria its nickname, City of gardens, or stay on the water for a whale tour.

The city draws history buffs to explore Victoria’s extensive Parliament Building and other landmarks and statues. Art galleries and museums are also available to learn more about the region and culture.

15. Yakima Valley

Gloomy day with clouds overhead in Yakima Valley, one of the best places to take a day trip to when in Seattle


  • Travel Time: 2 hours and 15 minutes by car

Yakima Valley provides a sunny destination with drier weather if you visit the Emerald City during the rainy season. The weather here also results in a spectacular climate for growing produce.

While the valley’s apple orchards are one of its most notable features, it also produces plenty of hops! Wineries, breweries, distilleries, and restaurants across the area serve the best of the region’s spirits and food.

Whether touring an apple orchard with the family or planning a romantic weekend getaway, this is an excellent destination for day trips from Seattle!

Things to Consider

If you’re planning day trips from Seattle, one of the most important things to consider is your wardrobe. Some of the locations are closer to the coast or higher in elevation. Plan ahead by dressing in layers.

This rule still applies during the summer, when you’re less likely to experience cold and rainy weather. The climate here varies, so check the weather report before heading out.

Even if the sky is cloudy, don’t skip the sunscreen, especially at higher elevations. In the often cloud-covered Pacific Northwest, people don’t think to protect their skin from the sun, but you can still get burned when the sky is overcast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Picture of the clock tower in Spokane pictured from across the river on a nice day in Washington


These are some of the most frequently asked questions about day trips from Seattle and our answers!

How far should you drive for a day trip?

How far you should drive for a day trip depends on how early you’re willing to wake up and how much time you want to spend driving. Remember to factor in the return trip too. Trips under three hours ensure more time at your destination and less time driving.

What is four hours away from Seattle?

If you’re ambitious enough, there are other locales to explore a little farther away, including many locations in Oregon, like the famous Tillamook Cheese Factory and the Columbia River Gorge.

How many days is enough in Seattle?

Three or four days provide enough time to explore the city, but those staying longer will still find amazing things to see and do. A week-long stay gives time to leisurely explore the city while leaving room for incredible day trips from Seattle.

What is the best month to go to Seattle?

July is the best month to visit Seattle and nearby areas. This month is the warmest, with the least amount of precipitation. While a bit of rain shouldn’t scare you off from a Seattle vacation, many of these day trips from Seattle are better with clear weather.

How far is Seattle to Canada by car?

A trip north to Vancouver, Canada, from Seattle takes just under three hours by car. However, the time varies depending on how long it takes to cross the border.

So, What Is the Best Day Trip From Seattle?

From rugged national parks with towering peaks to relaxing wine tastings, day trips from Seattle suit any traveler’s tastes. The best day trips happen because of proper research and planning. So what are you waiting for — book your trip to Seattle today!