10 Stunning Day Trips from Seattle (Beyond the Emerald City!)

View of Mount Rainier on a hazy day from Lake Tipsoo at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington

So you’re going to the Emerald City and thinking about enjoying some day trips from Seattle? You’re in luck! You’re in one of the most beautiful areas of west coast, the Pacific Northwest! There are plenty of incredible places within reach of Seattle to do on an ambitious day trip (or if you’re able to, spend more time as every single one of these Seattle day trips are amazing).

Visiting Seattle doesn’t mean you have to stay within the city limits, even though there are plenty of amazing and unique things to do in Seattle to fill up an entire trip or weekend in Seattle, you’re so close to so many other incredible places it would be a shame not to see more of Washington while you’re here.

From mountains, National Parks, Puget Sound, and islands, to fun filming locations for cult classic TV shows (wink, wink to those who already know what I’m talking about).

You better be sure to plan some extra time because you’re not going to want to miss any of these stunning day trips from Seattle! 

For more help planning your trip to Seattle check out more of our guides including what to do in Seattle for a first time visitor, how to spend a perfect day in Seattle, neighborhoods in Seattle to explore, and where to stay in Seattle by neighborhood.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links.

Seattle Day Trip Ideas

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualamie Falls Washington

An easy 45 minute drive day trip from Seattle is Snoqualmie Falls, one of the most popular and easiest day trips from Seattle. This gorgeous waterfall is a whopping 268 feet drop and is one of the most visited tourist attractions in the state of Washington with a whopping 1.5 million visitors a year!

Be sure to check out the views from both the upper and lower observation decks. You can either walk or drive down the lower observation deck for a closer look.

What’s nice about this stop is that it won’t require a full day, so you can easily combine visiting Snoqualmie Falls on your way to another one of our recommended Seattle day trips!

And if you’re a fan of Twin Peaks (more for you in a moment) you’ll also recognize these falls!

Day Trips from Seattle

Also, visiting Snoqualmie Falls is great for anyone and everyone as they have ADA-accessible viewing areas, gift shop, restrooms, and two observation areas.

The upper parking area is free, the lower parking area charges a small fee.

Twin Peaks Tour

Best Day trips from Seattle

For big fans of the original drama or the remake of Twin Peaks are going to love this stop. There are a few great filming locations just outside of the city and a perfect day trip from Seattle.

After visiting Snoqualmie Falls, another famous Twin Peaks filming location, you can go on the hunt for all the other filming locations from this cult classic television show from the early 90s.

One major stop would be Twede’s Cafe, the Double R Diner in the series located in North Bend. You can pose for photos here and on a clear day actually see the real twin peaks on the mountain above!

It would be unjust to not mention that this diner has been a classic well before Twin Peaks too, it’s been around since the 1940s. It’s changed ownership over the years, but has always remained a family-run cafe/diner.

The TV show also references their ‘damn good cherry pie’ which they also sell and ship nationwide on Goldbelly!

best day trips from seattle

Be sure to check out all the Twin Peaks filming locations in Seattle here.

North Cascades National Park

Lake Diablo Day Trips from Seattle

Just under a 3-hour drive from the city, North Cascades National Park is one of the best day trips from Seattle for nature lovers. Take a peek at the beautiful lakes, including the huge and never-ending Ross Lake, hike, and enjoy the gorgeous views.

Our favorite part would have been all the different waterfalls we passed as we were just driving through. There are over 300 glaciers and beautiful snow-capped mountains galore.

This is any nature lover paradise and is worth exploring yourself!

The drive alone is beautiful!

Note: be sure to bring food! There are zero options in the park and outside the park the restaurant selection is slim. We made a stop at a now closed restaurant, but it wasn’t great and it was one of two options!

In the North Cascades National Park, Diablo Lake is worth a visit on its own. This reservoir has unimaginable turquoise blue water making it one of the most photogenic places we have ever been in the US.

Stay at the bottom and kayak or paddleboard, be sure to bring your own! This is a popular spot for paddle sports as the lake is calm and its pretty protected from high winds down here making it an easier place to paddle around.

Or head up to the incredible viewpoint to overlook this majestic place.

Day Trips from Seattle

Be sure to also check out some of the amazing cabin rentals in Washington near here too to extend your day trip into a getaway in one of the most gorgeous places in the PNW!

Keep in mind that the road to access North Cascades National Park is closed in the winter. The roads are typically open from late May through late September (be sure to check before planning your day trip from Seattle to North Cascades National Park).

Also, there is no service in this area, so it’s a good idea to make your maps available offline before visiting!

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island Day Trips from Seattle

One of the closest islands to Seattle, only a 20-minute ferry ride, is Bainbridge Island. Located in the gorgeous Puget Sound there are local wineries, delicious restaurants, and cute shops to explore.

Easily enjoyable in a day trip from Seattle, this is the perfect place to go if you want to experience the local islands but don’t have a ton of time.

It’s also a super easy day trip from Seattle without a car too since the ferry is walk on. And without a car, you can wander around the town of Winslow by foot.

There are a few museums to check out in Winslow including the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and Bainbridge History Museum. There are also plenty of opportunities for shopping and dining in Winslow too.

And even if you’re visiting without a car, you can get to some great hiking areas like the Hawley Cove Trail.

If you’re looking to get back on the water, check out Sail Bainbridge for their sailing adventures around Puget Sound.

If you’re coming with a car, then you’ll have more options to explore Bainbridge Island including Bloedel Reserve, a wildlife sanctuary with gardens including a Japanese garden.

Whidbey Island

view of Deception Pass at Whidbey Island in Washington

Whidbey is the largest island from Seattle in Puget Sound and is easily a multi-day trip from Seattle but can be done in a day. Full disclaimer, we visited over a weekend as we stayed with friends while we were here who live in Coupeville.

We recommend picking from the many beaches on the island, hikes, or charming towns. If you’re looking for an incredible, but ambitious, day trip from Seattle, make your way up to Deception Pass for some of the most stunning views of the islets and sweeping views along this straight that runs between Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island.

Don’t miss eating all the seafood you can while you’re here, Whidbey Island is home to the famous Penn Cove mussels. Check out Front Street Grill in downtown Coupeville for what we consider the best mussels we’ve ever had – and we’ve had our fair share!

Whether you come for a day, camp, or stay at a hotel, you’re guaranteed a gorgeous PNW experience. You’ll want a car on this trip because there is just too much to see and would be impossible without. Check out our full guide to things to do on Whidbey Island so you don’t miss the best stops!

Vashon Island

view-of-Vashon-Island-in-Washington-a-great-day-trip-from-Seattle

Another island day trip from Seattle is Vashon Island, which has frequent ferries to the island from the Fauntleroy Terminal in West Seattle and is an easy 20ish-minute commute.

We recommend bringing a car or bicycle to explore the island, however, if you’re not in great cycling shape you may not enjoy the hills on Vashon by bicycle (I prefer e-biking myself). They do have rental places here too if you don’t have your own.

There are several wineries, breweries, cideries, and restaurants to enjoy on Vashon Island too.

Visit spots like the only tiny beach on the island, KVI Beach, which is a nice little picnic spot although it is small, the beach is roughly 78 acres.

Don’t miss Point Robinson Lighthouse, especially if you love lighthouses as much as we do! This is such a pretty one with a little house attached to the light.

Head to Jenson Point Park where you can rent kayaks and stand up paddle boards to wander around. It’s best to reserve these in advance though as they run out in the summer. They do accept same day reservations but usually there’s a minimum of a 30-minute notice/wait period.

For those looking to enjoy a hike, Fern Cove is a popular choice. If you’re lucky to be visiting on a clear day you’ll also be greeted with majestic Olympic Mountain and Puget Sound views.

For more ideas on how to spend your day trip from Seattle to Vashon Island, I really liked this blogger’s guide to all there is to see and do around Vashon Island.

Tip: the summer months are especially busy to visit Vashon Island as its a very popular day trip from Seattle. Plan on getting to the ferry terminal before 10 AM so you don’t end up spending your precious time waiting for a ferry stuck in line.

San Juan Islands

view-of-the-San-Juan-Islands-in-Washington

A little further north of the city, but still a day trip from Seattle are the San Juan Islands, a more ambitious but totally doable Seattle day trip. This is where you’ll want to go if you want to spot an orca, aka killer whale! Or, I should say if you ever wanted to spot on in the wild, this is where you’ll have the best chance from April through October.

To get to the San Juan Islands, you’ll need to drive to Anacortes Ferry Terminal (~90 minutes drive). You’ll want to arrive 30-60 minutes before your ferry time too. You’ll also need to make a reservation in advance to bring a car.

Sometimes the ferries are delayed, so it’s best not to plan and tours or anything with time constraints on the islands in case you have delays.

Or, if you want a truly unique experience you can charter a plane from Seattle with Kenmore Air to the San Juan Islands for your day trip!

There are a few islands you can visit including San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Lopez Island. You can easily turn this trip into a multi-day trip and hop around the islands enjoying the different lodging options and restaurants. You could easily spend a week here and still not see it all.

So in order to make the most out of a day trip to the San Juan Islands we recommend picking one island to explore in a day.

It’s best to check out what your day trip options look like to the individual San Juan Islands, their tourism website does a good job breaking down what you can see/do in a day along with tips for the ferry.

Visit Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier Day Trips from Seattle

If you’re lucky you’ll be able to see Mount Rainier from Seattle on a clear day. This gorgeous mountain is hard to miss when the visibility is clear enough.

Better yet you can visit Mount Rainier as a day trip from Seattle! Just under a 2.5-hour drive, there are plenty of day hikes to enjoy, you may have to check the National Park’s website to make sure which ones are open during which seasons as well as road conditions.

For day trippers, the best areas of Mount Rainer National Park to visit would be the Sunrise or Paradise Corridors (which both have visitor centers).

The Sunrise Corridor is only open in the summer months though, so keep that in mind when planning a visit! Both of the Paradise and Sunrise Corridors require a reservation in addition to the park entrance fee/national park pass during the summer season, you can find specific details on the National Park website on how to obtain your reservation.

When you visit you’ll be greeted with opportunities to see waterfalls, majestic lakes, and hiking opportunities!

One of our favorite hikes is the Tipsoo Lake from the Paradise Corridor in early October and the fall colors here were stunning! Not to mention, this hike isn’t really long at all and easily doable on a day trip from Seattle! This is also where you’ll find some of the best photo opportunities of Mount Rainier!

Since this isn’t a very long hike, if you’re looking to enjoy one a little bit longer that’s not difficult, you can also enjoy the Sheep Lake Trail, which can be done in under 2 hours going toward Sourdough Gap.

If you’re looking for more majestic views of Mount Rainer from the shoreside or more amazing day trips from Seattle, check out these amazing Washington beaches.

Leavenworth

Leavenworth Washington architecture

Just over 2 hours outside the city rests this quaint, Bavarian village nestled in the Washington mountains. Leavenworth is a fun day trip from Seattle that will make you feel like you’ve left the United States completely!

Enjoy shopping, local breweries, wineries, parks, camping, fishing, golfing, zip lining, and even lazy river tubing for an action packed getaway. You may want to plan more than one day for this adventure!

Bonus, if you come here during winter the place is literally a storybook village winter wonderland! There’s even a Nutcracker Museum with centuries old nutcrackers!

Be sure to also read our guide to all the best places to stay in Leavenworth!

Yakima Valley

Megan at Bonair Winery in Yakima Valley

Another amazing day trip from Seattle only 2.5 hours away is Yakima Valley. This area not only is the #1 hop region in the world (that’s right, beating Germany) but it also has a leading wine scene in the state of Washington with wineries to visit as well as a great food scene!

If you want nature, Yakima has got it! With activities like river rafting, hiking, fishing, scenic drives, camping, and amazing views of Mt. Rainer and Mt. Adams you can’t go wrong.

Whether you’re a beer lover, foodie, wine lover, or nature lover there’s something for everyone here.

You could even spend a whole weekend in Yakima Valley! We have been twice already!

Also, if you’re visiting in the first week of October watch out for their Fresh Hop Ale Festival, a special once a year event that takes place during hop harvest season. Even if you can’t attend the festival, you can find fresh hop ales (something very special to this time of year) on draft at many local breweries!

(For those who don’t know, fresh hop beers are brewed with freshly harvested hops during harvest season in September, where the hop flowers are taken off the bines and immediately brewed within 24-36 hours. The result is a more grassy, floral-tasting beer typically in the form of an IPA beer.)


Did we miss any great day trips from Seattle? Let us know in the comments below! We also have a guide to all the best houseboat rentals in Seattle for those who want to experience a truly unique Seattle experience during their trip!

Best Day Trips from Seattle