We understand why summertime road trips are popular–the sun is out, the weather is excellent, and there is so much adventure on the roads that exit Seattle, Washington!
From Seattle, you can take a journey to a peaceful island, the mountains, the forest, or perhaps a combination of these places. Seriously, the number of activities and adventures you can get into in this area is endless.
Okay great! So, what are some of the best road trips from Seattle? That’s exactly what we’ll cover in this post.
Get ready to get inspired because by the end of this post, you’re going to be planning out your very own road trip from Seattle!
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15 best road trips from Seattle, Washington
In a nutshell, here are some of the best road trips to take from Seattle:
- Edison, Washington
- Bellingham, Washington
- Mount Rainier National Park
- Bainbridge Island, Washington
- Olympic National Park
- Portland Japanese Garden, Oregan
- San Juan Island, Washinton
- Mount St. Helens
- North Cascades National Park
- Whidbey Island
- Port Townsend
- Mt. Baker National Forest
- Skagit Valley
- Cape Flattery
- Columbia River Gorge
Table of Contents
1. Bow-Edison Area, Washington
- Distance: 75 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to reach Edison: 1 hour, 10 minutes
The closest place on the list is Edison, which is also likely the tiniest and most charming destination too! Despite the size of the destination, a little morning trip up I-5 can (excitingly) turn into a day-long adventure.
In the prairie flats between the dramatic Cascade Range and the Pacific Ocean, just over 70 miles north of Seattle, lies Edison, Washington. In fact, it is hardly a town at all. Instead, it’s an unincorporated community tucked into an elbow of a lazy slough before emptying into the sea.
This tiny community is home to a fantastic bakery and art galleries, along with under-the-radar gourmet restaurants. Now, it’s even on the Skagit Farm to Pint Ale Trail thanks to the opening of the farm-to-table Terramar Brewery and Distillery.
You can start by getting a coffee at Tweets Bakery on the narrow main street, which is also known as Cains Court, to start your day. They also happen to make the best chocolate cake in town!
After that, have an exciting lunch at Mariposa Taqueria, which recently reopened after a vehicle accident prompted them to reconstruct their kitchen (long story short, it’s back in action and we are so happy about that).
After lunch, browse through stores like Hedgerow and The Lucky Dumpster, and then be sure to pick up shortbread to-go from Breadfarm, another top-notch bakery in Edison.
Beer enthusiasts must visit Terramar Brewstillery, which offers beer (obviously), cider, and various spirits. Finally, if you still feel like you need more alcohol, feel free to stop by Garden Path Fermentation on the way home. It’s only ten minutes from town and has some of the most fantastic beer, cider, mead, and wine in the area!
2. Bellingham, Washington
- Distance: 90 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Bellingham: 1 hour, 24 minutes
Another short, exciting road trip while still in Washington is to Bellingham. For many locals, this is a no-brainer because once you get there, you’ll have a bucket list of things to see and do! You’ll have the chance to go hiking and biking to exploring the local breweries.
In terms of hiking, some of the popular trails include the Interurban Trail, which is perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride, and the Whatcom Falls Park Trail, which is a great option for those looking for a more challenging hike.
Not into hiking? Not a problem! You can begin the day by going to the Mount Bakery Cafe in downtown Bellingham, open seven days a week.
After that, spend some time browsing the local stores or going for a trek in the adjacent Maritime Heritage Park, which has a variety of walking paths to enjoy.
Next, a trip to Bellingham wouldn’t be complete without seeing the city’s Historic Fairhaven District, which goes back to 1883 and is home to all the quaint boutiques, breweries, and eateries you’d want to find there (like Stones Throw Brewery and Village Books).
Finally, if you’re ready for further trekking, you might also want to make the trip to Larrabee State Park.
To round off the day, take a sunset drive on the 24-mile picturesque Chuckanut Drive, which never fails to provide breathtaking views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands.
3. Mount Rainier National Park
- Distance: 83 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Mount Rainer National Park: 1 hour, 35 minutes
One of the best and most epic road trips from Seattle is a trip to Mount Rainier National Park. To this day, this is one of my favorite adventures from Seattle!
Discover the beautiful Mount Rainier National Park, which received its national park status in 1899. The Longmire and Paradise regions may be accessed from the park’s four entrances, although the Nisqually entry at the southwest corner is the busiest.
From Seattle, Tacoma, or most other communities in western Washington, visiting Mt. Rainier is a simple day trip. Still, you can easily extend your vacation by camping overnight or staying at the Paradise Inn up the summit while having lunch and dinner at Wildberry Restaurant. (Order everything here, including the burger and the fresh fruit pie!)
If you’re opting for a day trip instead, you’ll easily be occupied with hiking the many trails available at the park.
There is much more to do at this national park–from wandering the wildflower meadows (when they are in bloom) to discovering the temperate rainforest at Carbon River, and hiking to Silver Falls at Ohanapecosh.
If you’re looking for the best time to visit, I’d recommend spring or summer when everything is open and accessible and the roads are clear of snow and road closures.
Planning a road trip during the colder months of the year? Even in the winter, the park is worth visiting! Snow sports enthusiasts of all skill levels can enjoy free snowshoe tours, for example.
4. Bainbridge Island, Washington
- Distance: 10 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Bainbridge Island: 1 hour, 30 minutes (52 minutes by ferry)
Bainbridge Island is best known for its charming small-town feel and its proximity to Seattle. The island is home to a number of great restaurants, cafes, shops, and parks, making it the perfect place to spend a day or even a weekend!
Bainbridge Island is especially popular with couples looking for a romantic getaway. From stargazing at Blakely Harbor Park to enjoying a picnic at Fort Ward State Park, you surely won’t be bored here.
Thousands of acres of gardens and parks, including the lovely Bloedel Reserve, can be found on Bainbridge Island. From there, you can explore Winslow’s shoreline or its quaint downtown village where you can discover dozens of local stores and restaurants.
For those looking to get a drink or two in, you can design your own tasting tour on Bainbridge Island! The island is home to many wineries, a brewery, and a distillery. For starters, many recommend the Bainbridge Brewery Alehouse.
In terms of food, you’ll also have a lot to choose from! Streamliner Diner is the spot for breakfast, while Via Rosa 11 (Italian) and Hi Life (Japanese bento and poke) serve up the best lunch/dinner in my opinion!
Overall, a day trip to Bainbridge Island can be incredible, but if you want to stay overnight or longer, consider the island’s many cottages and inns!
Where to stay overnight: The Eagle Harbor Inn
How to get to Bainbridge Island: Take the Bainbridge Island Ferry, which takes about 35 – 55 minutes from the Seattle side. Alternatively, it would take around 1.5 hours to travel around Puget Sound by car if you are looking for a more extended road trip.
Once you get onto the island, you won’t need to bother with renting a car because the town where the ferry drops passengers off is simple to explore on foot. However, bicycles can be rented if you want to continue your trip on wheels and explore the island’s more remote areas.
5. Olympic National Park
- Distance: 111 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Olympic National Park: 2 hours, 10 minutes
Another fantastic outdoor destination you can road trip to is Olympic National Park, which spans about a million acres and has practically every environment imaginable, from a moss-draped rainforest to rough coastlines. As a result, Olympic National Park is sometimes referred to as three parks in one!
One of the most popular attractions in the park is Hurricane Ridge, which offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains. The trail along the ridge is guaranteed to dazzle as you stroll along a trail that makes it seem like you’re level with the distant mountaintops.
Other popular places to visit include Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Hot Springs, and Hoh Rainforest. There are also several historic sites within the park, including the Hurricane Ridge Ski Area and the Elwha River Dam.
If the weather is favorable, you might be able to see some marine life at Kalaloch or Ruby Beach or go for a beautiful stroll down the Peabody Creek Trail, which departs from the park visitor center (check out the map here).
While you’re here, don’t miss a quick visit to nearby Port Angeles. Port Angeles is home to a number of interesting museums and galleries. For starters, the Clallam County Historical Society Museum is a great place to learn about the area’s history, and the Feiro Marine Life Center offers a fascinating look at the region’s marine life.
Olympic National Park is just a short stretch from Seattle across Puget Sound, but the path you drive will ultimately depend on what you want to see. Highway 101, which begins just outside of Olympia, may be used to make a loop around the whole park.
Keep in mind that there are no available highways that pass through the park, so a bit of pre-planning is required. To determine how far specific locations are apart, refer to the park’s mileage table (most can be accessed by Highway 101, which wraps around the Olympic Peninsula).
In terms of where to stay, the Kalaloch Lodge on the park’s Pacific Coast side makes a lovely rest stop for those making the complete loop!
6. Portland, Oregon
- Distance: 174 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Portland: 3 hours
Just under a 3-hour road trip from Seattle is one of my favorite destinations in all of the United States, Portland, Oregon!
Portland is a vibrant, bustling city in Oregon and is one of the greenest cities in the world. Portland prides itself on embracing culture, creativity, progressiveness, and weirdness, which makes this city so fun to explore. There are tons of quirky neighborhoods to explore, each with its own unique atmosphere and personality!
Take a walk through a few of them and you’ll find yourself in a world of microbreweries, apothecaries, independently owned bookstores, vintage shops, vegan restaurants, artisanal coffee shops, and dazzling murals.
The food truck scene is popping, as are the coffee and craft beer scenes. What more could you ask for? Could your belly be in a happier place?
The Portland Japanese Garden inside Washington Park is also a must-see destination! After seeing the entire garden, visit the International Rose Test Garden, which is situated next to it in the park. It features a waterfall and a teahouse.
If you’re ending your road trip in Portland, make sure you have at least three extra days to eat, drink, and explore the city of Portland!
Pro Tip: One of my favorite things to do here is to enjoy tax-free shopping while you can! That’s right, Oregon has no sales tax so take advantage of it while you’re in the state.
7. San Juan Island, Washington
- Distance from Seattle: 107 miles
- Drive time to San Juan Islands: 3 hours, 20 mins (includes a ferry from Anacortes)
The San Juan Islands are located in the northwest corner of Washington state and are known for their beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities. The islands are accessible by ferry from Anacortes, WA and there are plenty of beautiful places to visit on the islands including state parks, beaches, and hiking trails.
One of the major lavender farms in the nation is located on San Juan Island, making it one of our list’s most fragrant locations in the summer. Pelindaba Lavender Farm is a great place to experience the lovely lavender fields that bless the island just once a year!
If you’re going to be visiting Friday Harbor (which you totally should), do not miss the orca whale-watching tour from Friday Harbor! This area is considered the best place to view orca whales.
On the 4-hour whale-watching cruise, you’ll be able to get up close with the orca whales off the San Juan Islands, where the whales live about six months out of the year, from mid-April to October. Again, this is a not-to-be-missed experience!
While on the island, be sure to also check out Westcott Bay Shellfish Company, San Juan Islands Museum of Art, The Whale Museum, San Juan Island Brewing Co., and Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm. Those were a lot of recommendations, but I really think they can’t be missed during your exploration of the island!
8. Mount St. Helens, Washington
- Distance from Seattle: 148 miles
- Drive time to Mount St. Helens: 2 hours, 47 minutes
Mount St. Helens is a volcanic mountain located in the Cascade Range and is located about 150 miles south of Seattle. Mount St. Helens is most famous for its 1980 eruption, which was the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in U.S. history. The eruption killed 57 people and caused over $1 billion in damage!
You can witness the devastation firsthand as soon as you exit Interstate 5 and start walking toward the Johnston Ridge Observatory, where most travelers end up visiting at some point during their road trip.
What starts as a series of burned stumps is seen here (quite sad looking). But as you continue driving, you’ll witness new growth forests filling your drive with breathtaking scenery.
While Mt. St. Helens doesn’t have a national park surrounding it as Mt. Rainier does, it is still a significant site with lots of recreational options nearby.
For those interested in history, there are several museums and interpretive centers that tell the story of the 1980 eruption. And, of course, visitors can take in the spectacular views from the many lookout points.
If you’re looking to get a full-day hike in, consider the Mount Saint Helens Summit via Ptarmigan Trail, an 8.2-mile hike offering incredible views of the mountain and surrounding area. It is a strenuous hike, but it is well worth it for the views! Alternatively, for something a bit less strenuous, I recommend checking out Harry’s Ridge Trail, clocking in at 7.8 miles.
Mt. St. Helens is also home to Parkers Restaurant & Brewery for travelers to fill up on food and beer.
While you are there, you may want to take a trip inside the Ape Cave for a one-of-a-kind adventure. The Ape Cave Trail is a 2.4-mile tunnel created more than 2,000 years ago by molten lava from the volcano!
9. North Cascades National Park
- Distance: 107 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to North Cascades National Park: 1 hour, 50 minutes
North Cascades National Park is the last of the national parks in Washington. Luckily for you, this one’s also a super easy road trip from Seattle too!
This national park is located in the north-central part of the state, and it is known for its dramatic alpine scenery. It’s very reminiscent of the Swiss Alps. In fact, it’s often called “The American Alps”!
It’s easy to see why it got that name–the park is home to rugged mountains, glacier peaks, and evergreen forests surrounding clear blue lakes. And by blue, I mean really blue!
Among the most notable views in North Cascades is Diablo Lake. You absolutely cannot miss this large turquoise lake even if you tried–you’ll see it peeking up at you along Highway 20, the only highway through the park. Be sure to stop at one of the many viewpoints along the way to grab some photos of it!
Once in the park, visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. The park also offers opportunities for winter recreation, such as skiing and snowshoeing.
If you only have one day to spend in the North Cascades, the Maple Pass Loop Hike is the ultimate hike to do. While the 7.2-mile hike is a bit more challenging, with a 2000-foot elevation gain, it is well worth the experience.
For a more family-friendly trail, opt for the much shorter quarter-mile Washington Pass Overlook Trail!
All in all, North Cascades National Park is a beautiful place to explore, and it is a great destination for both adventure seekers and nature lovers.
10. Whidbey Island
- Distance: 35 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Whidbey Island: 1 hour, 22 minutes
Whidbey Island is a beautiful place to road trip to from Seattle, with plenty of activities to keep you busy. One popular activity is to explore the island’s many hiking trails, which wind through forests and along the rocky coastline.
For the ultimate island hike, opt for the 5.5 mile Ebey’s Landing hike. This hike has it all–emerald fields, coastal bluffs, a stop at a beach, and sweeping mountain views of Mt Baker, Mt Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains.
You can also visit one of the island’s many beaches, where you can sunbathe, swim, or go for a walk. There are also several charming towns on the island, where you can browse shops, grab a bite to eat, or simply relax and enjoy the view.
Whether you’re looking for an active vacation or a chance to relax and soak up some beautiful scenery, Whidbey Island is sure to keep you entertained.
11. Port Townsend
- Distance: 56 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Port Townsend: 2 hours
Situated on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, Port Townsend is a beautiful town with a rich history. Surrounded by water on three sides, it offers stunning views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
There are many interesting things to see and do in Port Townsend, such as visiting the Victorian Port Townsend Maritime Heritage Center, taking a walk through the historic uptown district, or exploring the beautiful Chetzemoka Park.
The town’s Victorian architecture is also a popular attraction, and its quaint streets are lined with art galleries, shops, and restaurants.
Outside of town, visitors can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in the area, including hiking, biking, and kayaking. There are also many beautiful beach areas to visit in Port Townsend, such as Fort Worden State Park, Discovery Bay, and Pt. Wilson.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Port Townsend is one of the most popular road trips from Seattle!
12. Mt. Baker National Forest
- Distance: 130 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to the Mt. Baker area: 2 hours, 40 minutes
If you’re looking to get in some hiking on your road trip from Seattle, do not miss a visit to the Mt. Baker area. Mt. Baker National Forest is an underrated forest area that is home to some of the best hikes in Washington!
Very similar to the likes of the French and Swiss Alps, the best hikes near Mt. Baker feature valleys drenched in wildflowers, snowy peaks, and alpine lakes.
Mt. Baker itself is an active volcano that last erupted in 1980. Most days, you’ll find it covered in snow, home to a number of glaciers, including the Easton Glacier, which is the largest glacier in the contiguous United States.
The best time to visit Mount Baker is in the summer and fall, when the weather is warm and the trails are open. July and August are the peak summer months when wildflowers are blooming, while late September through early October offer spectacular displays of fall foliage!
To get a good taste of what this area’s best known for, consider hiking the 6.5-mile Chain Lakes Loop Hike or the 7.5-mile Yellow Aster Butte out-and-back hike. Follow your hike up with a picnic at Picture Lake or Heather Meadows!
13. Skagit Valley
- Distance: 60 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Skagit Valley: 1 hour
Skagit Valley is located just about an hours’ drive from Seattle, making it the perfect road trip or weekend getaway for city dwellers. The Valley is made up of a bunch of towns spanning about 95 miles east to west and 24 miles north to south.
Every year, thousands of people flock to this region of Washington state to see the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
This ultra-picturesque festival takes place over the course of two weeks in April, when over three million tulips are in full bloom. The array of colors is simply breathtaking. Expect beautiful views of tulips as far as the eye can see!
In addition to the tulips, the area is also home to a variety of other flowers, such as daffodils and ranunculus. With its beautiful scenery and lovely weather, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is an event not to be missed.
Visitors can wander through fields of colorful flowers, watch artists at work, and enjoy live music. Other activities include field tours, wine tastings, and art exhibits.
When it’s not springtime, there’s still a lot to see up here! Towns like Mt. Vernon, Burlington, Anacortes, and La Conner are all popular spots to visit. Edison, WA (#1 on our list) is in this region too!
Beer loves can try the 14 breweries along the Skagit Ale Trail. Don’t know where to start? Try Farmstrong Brewing and Garden Path Fermentation!
14. Cape Flattery
- Distance: 160 miles from Seattle
- Drive time to Cape Flattery: 4 hours, 10 minutes
Cape Flattery is one of the most beautiful road trips from Seattle. It’s one of the farther road trips on this list, but the drive is so worth the effort!
Located on the Olympic Peninsula, Cape Flattery is the westernmost point in the contiguous United States.
Cape Flattery is one of the best places to see orcas, as they often congregate in the waters off the cape. By far the most popular hike here is the Cape Flattery Trail, offering unparalleled views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands.
Visitors can also climb to the top of Pillar Point, which offers panoramic views of the strait, the San Juan Islands, and Vancouver Island.
If hiking is not your thing, there are also plenty of opportunities for kayaking, fishing, bird watching, and exploring tide pools.
Along the drive from Seattle, be sure to stop and explore the coastal towns of Sequim and Port Angeles!
15. Columbia River Gorge
- Distance: 183 miles from Seattle (to the Washington boundary of the CRG)
- Drive time to Cape Flattery: 2 hours, 40 minutes
Stretching for over 80 miles across the Oregon-Washington border, the Columbia River Gorge features a variety of landscapes, including everflowing waterfalls, lush forests, and dramatic cliffs.
While most people tend to explore the Oregon side, on the Washington side of the river, there are a number of popular attractions to see.
First, there is Dog Mountain, known for its stunning wildflower display come spring. Second, there is Beacon Rock State Park, which offers beautiful views of the river and surrounding mountains.
Other can’t-miss attractions include Horsethief Lake State Park (a great place to go hiking and swimming), the Cape Horn Trail (offering stunning views of the river), and the Columbia Hills State Park (home to great hiking trails and historical relics of ancient tribal petroglyphs and old West wagon trains).
Looking to pair your day outdoors with a few beers? There are some excellent breweries on the Washington side of the Gorge, including Everybody’s Brewing in White Salmon, Walking Man in Stevenson and Amnesia in Washougal.
ARE YOU ROAD TRIP READY? YOUR QUICK CHECKLIST:
License and registration | This is a no-brainer, but always good to check you have all documents before it’s too late and you get too far away from home. Do NOT leave home without them. They are road trip essentials!
Spare Tire | In addition to carrying a spare tire with you, don’t forget to check your current tire conditions before you set off as well.
Jumper Cables / Car Jump Starter | A must-have for any road trip! If you’re looking to invest in something exponentially more powerful/convenient than simple jumper cables, get the NOCO Boost HD Car Battery Jump Starter Box. This tool was sent from heaven and serves as a car jump starter, portable power bank, LED flashlight, and 12-volt portable power–all in one!
iOttie car mount | This is my partner in crime on any road trip. It’s got an amazing grip and popping your phone in and out of the mount could not be easier. If you’re renting a rental car and you’re not sure if it has a navigation screen, bring a phone mount with you. The iOttie attaches by suction, so it’s easy to transport from car to car.
Roadside Emergency Kit | You never know what kind of car trouble you may encounter on the road. This convenient little kit contains 42 roadside emergency components, including jumper cables, an aluminum flashlight and batteries, 2-in-1 screwdriver, duct tape, poncho, cable ties, bandages, towelettes, and zipper-lock bags.
Trunk Organizer | With any road trip comes lots and lots of stuff to pack. Keep your road trip essentials organized with a trunk organizer. Not only will this make it so much easier to find what you need, but it will also lead to more space in your trunk for you to pack other necessities.
Portable Cooler | Coolers are a must for any road trip. Not only will you be able to keep beverages cold and refreshing, but you will also be able to keep perishables fresh. A portable hard cooler will allow you to pack picnic lunches, bring cheese and jams, and more.
And there you have it! We hope you were able to find the perfect road trip from Seattle for your next adventure!
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