Seattle can be an exciting place, but we all need a break from the city every once in awhile. The slow-moving traffic, huge crowds, and towering buildings can make us so much more anxious than when we spend even just a few hours out of the busy metropolitan area. If you’re seriously in need of time away from the chaos of Emerald City, look into some of these nearby trips for some peace and quiet.
1. Hop on a ferry to Bainbridge Island
Bainbridge is only about a half hour from Seattle, with lots of opportunities for outdoor activities like hiking and biking. Things out here move at a much slower pace, and will give you that deep fresh breath of air you’ve been looking for. Make a trip over to the stunningly-landscaped gardens of Bloedel Reserve, try a cold local brew from Bainbridge Island Brewing, and grab a bite to eat from the Harbour Public House on the waterfront.
2. See the famous Snoqualmie Falls
Famous from the show Twin Peaks, Snoqualmie Falls maintains this misty Northwest beauty you can only truly appreciate in person. The thundering falls has an upper and lower viewpoint that are easy to reach by taking a short trail (less than a mile long) with very minimal elevation.
3. Visit the Norway-themed town of Poulsbo
Taking a ferry to Bainbridge also puts you within driving distance of this charming Norway-themed town. Just over an hour from Seattle, the small Kitsap community has Scandinavian roots, with many downtown buildings resembling the architecture you’d see in Norway, several artistic murals, and an annual Viking Fest every May.
While you’re in town, we recommend stopping by Sluy’s Bakery for a fresh homemade pastry, and making your way back down to the waterfront for up-close views of the glistening Liberty Bay, dotted with local sailboats. Other great stops in town include the Poulsbohemian Coffeehouse, Liberty Bay Books, and Valholl Brewing.
4. Take the short mile-long trail to Franklin Falls (or Snow Lake, if you’re up for more of a challenge)
The trailheads for both Franklin Falls & Snow Lake are located within a short distance of each other, near Snoqualmie. For an easy-but-rewarding trip, take the mile-long hike to Franklin Falls, hidden in plain sight just beneath the roadway of I-90. The trail leads up to a rocky area under the falls, where you can feel the cool mist spraying off the plunging water.
Or, if you don’t feel like driving out of Seattle just for a short mile hike, try driving up the road just for a couple of minutes to reach the parking area & trailhead for Snow Lake. This more challenging route spans for about 7.2 miles round-trip, leading up switchbacks to a pristine alpine lake that’s worth the thigh-burning exercise. If you continue all the way down the trail you can walk along the shores of the lake, or sit on a nearby rock and enjoy your lunch with front-row views before turning around to head back.
5. Get to know Dash Point State Park
Dash Point sits between Seattle and Tacoma, with a stretch of beach on Puget Sound and miles of beautiful trails for hiking. The park also has places to set up tent if you’re looking to go camping, and picnic tables if you’re just looking for some fresh air while you enjoy your lunch outside.
6. Visit Whidbey Island
So you’ve already seen everything that Bainbridge has to offer? Try taking a ferry over to the beautiful Whidbey Island instead. It’s a wonderland for hiking and biking, with miles of sandy beaches and hiking trails through forest. We recommend taking the Bluff Trail at Ebeys Landing, stopping by the cozy small town restaurants in Coupeville, and experiencing a first-hand slice of history at Fort Casey State Park. If you have a little extra time, head down to the popular Deception Pass State Park and check out the iconic bridge that connects to Fidalgo Island.
7. Visit the lovely town of La Conner
An artsy seaside town, La Conner lies about an hour north of Seattle with small town charm and plenty to see and do. Every March they hold a famous Daffodil Festival, and by April tulips are blooming in the area for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. While you’re downtown, take a peek inside Nasty Jack Antiques, and visit the quaint Rainbow Bridge spanning the Swinomish Channel (leading to Fidalgo Island).
8. Take on the popular (but challenging) hike up Rattlesnake Ledge
Rattlesnake Ledge could very well be Washington’s most popular hike, but don’t assume it’s an easy trek by any means. The steep trail climbs for about 4 miles round-trip to a ledge with sweeping views of this brilliant turquoise lake down below.
Sometimes getting away from the city is all you really need. So tell us, what are some of your favorite day trips out of Seattle?