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11 Top-Rated Things to Do in Snoqualmie, WA

Written by Brad Lane
Mar 18, 2021

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The Snoqualmie Valley, 30 minutes east of Seattle, is a place of Pacific Northwest splendor. Large mountains surround the communities lining the Snoqualmie River, including Snoqualmie and its neighbor, North Bend. And 25 miles to the east is Snoqualmie Pass - an adventure-filled crest of the Cascades popular for year-round mountain activities.

Even with all the surrounding splendor, the number one natural attraction is near the town center at Snoqualmie Falls. This prominent 270-foot waterfall has made a permanent mark on the region's history, pop culture, and community. With viewing platforms, float trips, and a first-class resort near the spray, Snoqualmie Falls is worth a visit on its own.

Other quintessential nearby activities include climbing mountains, skiing winter slopes, and engaging with the railroad heritage spread throughout the town. And with its proximity to the Emerald City, Snoqualmie is a popular weekend getaway from Seattle or a savvy launching point for exploring the city.

Find your next reason to visit with our list of the top things to do in Snoqualmie, Washington.

Note: Some businesses may be temporarily closed due to recent global health and safety issues.

1. Feel the Spray of Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls tops the charts as one of Washington's best waterfalls. This outstanding 270-foot display of gravity has a long history of attracting people to the region. Well before Snoqualmie became a tourist destination, the falls provided a fertile meeting ground for native populations.

The falls are still a gathering spot today, with over a million tourists visiting the waterfall every year. Part of this popularity is thanks to its proximity to Seattle, less than a 30-mile drive away. But it's also the waterfall's stature that calls for attention, plummeting straight down amid a verdant landscape.

The Salish Lodge and Spa is next to the falls, adding a great view to the hotel's luxurious amenities. A free parking area and open-to-the-public interpretive trail are also available. This universally accessible pathway provides a great view of the waterfall and some potential mist if the water is running high.

Summer is when the largest crowds congregate at the falls. However, the springtime is an excellent time to visit, when snowmelt contributes to the largest flow.

2. Climb a Mountain

The summit of Mount Si
The summit of Mount Si

Several iconic hiking trails surround Snoqualmie. And with proximity to the Emerald City, it's also home to many of the best hikes near Seattle. With several options to choose from, some of the most rewarding hikes switchback up nearby mountains for towering views.

Rattlesnake Ledge is an excellent introduction to the area. This approximately four-mile round trip starts with a 20-mile drive to Rattlesnake Lake, east of North Bend. The route gains over 1,000 feet of elevation on the way up to the prominent escarpment known as Rattlesnake Ledge. It's a challenging but short hike with gratifying views.

The nearby Mount Si is also a popular hike, with over 100,000 pairs of boots treading the path each year. This mountain has a significant history in the native culture, and the trek has grown to be a rite of passage for anyone relocating to Seattle. The route climbs a switchbacking 3,000-plus-feet in its four-mile ascension, making for a challenging day hike.

But the real hiking challenge from Snoqualmie is Mailbox Peak. For years, the only way up this mountain was an unbelievably steep less-than-three-mile trail that gained 4,000 feet of elevation. For safety and environmental concerns, a new switchbacking trail gains the same elevation in approximately five miles - still offering a challenge to brag about.

3. Hop aboard History at the Northwest Railway Museum

Snoqualmie Depot
Snoqualmie Depot

The Northwest Railway Museum details the vital role trains had in developing the surrounding region. The museum has several locations spread throughout the town and offers scenic rides on a heritage route. Whether train enthusiast or not, the several immersive exhibits make it fun to dive into the locomotive past.

An excellent first stop is the Snoqualmie Depot in the center of town. Restorations have returned this 1890s depot to its original architectural grandeur. Interpretive information, souvenirs, and a bookshop now fill the interior. It's open seven days of the week with no charge for admission.

The Snoqualmie Depot is also where to hop aboard the Snoqualmie Valley Railroad. This scenic heritage line takes passengers 5.5 miles down the tracks to North Bend and through the Upper Snoqualmie Valley. It's a slow-paced pleasurable ride on a historic railroad coach, with scenic sights along the way, including the top of Snoqualmie Falls.

Farther southeast in town, the museum also operates the Train Shed Exhibit Hall. A 25,000-square-foot exhibit space houses this collection of train equipment and artifacts. It offers a more traditional museum visit. Different themes emerge at the Train Shed, each offering further insight into the railroad's influence on the area.

Official site: https://www.trainmuseum.org/

4. Ski at The Summit at Snoqualmie

The Summit at Snoqualmie
The Summit at Snoqualmie

Winter downhill endeavors at The Summit at Snoqualmie are a half-hour drive east of town. This popular ski spot receives an influx of Seattle visitors as the closest resort to the city. It also attracts downhill enthusiasts from across the state as one of Washington's best ski resorts.

But with four distinct ski areas covering a total of approximately 2,000 acres, there's plenty of room to make some turns. The four ski areas include Summit Central, Summit East, and Summit West. The fourth ski area, Alpental, caters to more advanced skiers on the other side of Interstate 90.

The Summit at Snoqualmie offers the full resort experience. The base of each mountain features places to get warm, like cafeterias, lodges, and restaurants. The mountain also hosts special events throughout the season, including live music and freeride competitions.

5. Partake in the Local Taste of Snoqualmie

The Seattle food scene spills into Snoqualmie with a wide array of fine dining and memorable restaurants. Several of the best places to eat in Snoqualmie are at the town center, near the historic Snoqualmie Depot. However, two of the best restaurants are to the north, next to Snoqualmie Falls, both within the Salish Lodge.

It should come as no surprise that this luxury resort also features delectable places to eat. And The Dining Room and The Attic at Salish Lodge deliver with locally sourced entrees and incredible views. Both restaurants feature a casual atmosphere, with The Attic having more laid-back vibes. The Dining Room is increasingly popular for special events like birthdays and anniversaries.

Other upscale dining options in Snoqualmie include Gianfranco Italian Bistro and the Woodman Lodge Steakhouse. For some multicultural menus, places like Caadxi Oaxaca and Aahaar an Indian Eatery offer authentic international flavors. A few other notable places to visit for a family dinner include Copperstone Family Spaghetti Restaurant and Got Rice Chinese Restaurant.

6. Float the Snoqualmie River

Snoqualmie River
Snoqualmie River

Floating the section of the Snoqualmie River beneath Snoqualmie Falls is a time-honored summer tradition. The most common float starts approximately a half-mile downriver from the falls at the Plum #1 River Access Point. It's a leisurely 3.3 miles from here to the Falls City Bridge, or approximately three hours of floating and enjoying the good life.

Masses from Seattle and the surrounding region float this river route throughout the summer. One of the most convenient ways to partake is utilizing the services offered by Fall City Floating. This small-town business's sole purpose is to shuttle river riders and provide tube rentals and sales.

7. Spend the Night at the Salish Lodge & Spa

Salish Lodge and Spa
Salish Lodge and Spa | Filipe Fortes / photo modified

For the ultimate Snoqualmie experience, book a few nights at the Salish Lodge. This upscale resort overlooks the rushing water of Snoqualmie Falls and offers an all-inclusive experience. Alongside cozy rooms with fireplaces, the resort features spa services, two delicious restaurants, and access to a local golf course. And all this on beautiful grounds next to Snoqualmie Falls.

Rooms at the Salish exude the same comfortable Pacific Northwest ambience of the lobby and public areas. The Dining Room and The Attic at Salish Lodge also share this aura alongside locally crafted ingredients and great views of the falls.

For bonus activities during the day, guests at the resort receive exclusive access to The Club at Snoqualmie Ridge. This professional 18-hole Jack Nicklaus course is a premier golf spot in the country. The lodge offers special packages that include a round of golf or a professional, private lesson.

The real pampering at the resort comes from The Spa at Salish Lodge. This relaxing space offers a stress-free environment the moment visitors walk through the doors. Alongside time spent in a soothing hot tub, the spa provides specialized massages for individuals or couples.

Address: 6501 Railroad Avenue, Snoqualmie, Washington

8. Cross-Country Ski Snoqualmie Pass

Cross-country skiing at Hyak Sno-Park
Cross-country skiing at Hyak Sno-Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Snoqualmie Pass, approximately 30 miles east on Interstate 90, transforms into a snowbound playground come winter. The area is home to The Summit at Snoqualmie ski resort, including four unique downhill areas. But what also attracts a steady crowd are the several cross-country ski and snowshoe trails.

The Summit at Snoqualmie itself features over 50 kilometers of Nordic skiing. The mountain also provides Nordic ski instruction for those new to the sport or those looking to improve their technique. Children ski for free in the Nordic area, and day passes are required for adults.

Outside of the resort's Nordic area, some of the best cross-country skiing stems from the state-sponsored Sno-Parks lining the interstate. These plowed trailheads access large, groomed trail systems in the national forest and require a Sno-Park permit. A few recommended Sno-Parks include Hyak, Cabin Creek, and Crystal Springs on the other side of Keechelus Lake.

9. Enjoy the View at Snoqualmie Point Park

Snoqualmie Point Park
Snoqualmie Point Park | Peter Stevens / photo modified

The view at Snoqualmie Point Park is well worth the short three-mile drive from the center of town. Upon reaching this eight-acre park, the horizon unfolds with prominent outlooks of the Cascade Mountains and the Snoqualmie Valley. Mount Si stands out from the park, as do farther mountains like Mount Rainier and Mount Baker on clear days.

Snoqualmie Point is a popular place for picnics, with tables and shelters throughout. Fans of the TV show Twin Peaks will recognize some of the picnic spots from seasons one and two. The park also features an open-air amphitheater that hosts music events throughout the summer.

Snoqualmie Point Park has two parking lots. The lower parking area is free to use, while the upper lot requires a Discover Pass. That's because the upper parking area is also the trailhead for the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail. This challenging 10.5-mile trail ends at Rattlesnake Lake and features several scenic viewpoints along the way.

10. Bask in the Holiday Spirit at Snoqualmie Winter Lights

The dark evenings of winter get a flash of light in Snoqualmie. Between Thanksgiving and beyond the New Year, the town hosts Snoqualmie Winter Lights, stretching from the Salish Lodge through downtown. This jolly holiday light trail offers a great family-friendly and free activity to enjoy in the winter.

The trail extends approximately two miles and comes across a dozen scenic light displays. The best way to see them all is a combination of driving and walking. Some of the area's best restaurants line the trail, offering a meal alongside the evening activity.

11. Day Trip to Seattle

Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier on a clear day
Seattle skyline and Mt. Rainier on a clear day

Snoqualmie is often a weekend retreat for Seattle residents. But for those traveling from out of state, Snoqualmie offers a great jumping-off point for sightseeing in the Emerald City. It's a 30-mile commute to Seattle attractions, like Pike Place Market and The Seattle Center, with bus routes available.

The proximity gives a lot of options for a Snoqualmie vacation. The city is primed for whatever cultural experience is desired. A few other recommended attractions to check out include the Olympic Sculpture Park and Chihuly Garden of Glass. Both of these eye-catching areas are easy to visit within a single day.

The city is also infused with beautiful natural space. Places like Discovery Park, one of Seattle's best beaches, offer multiple days of wildland to explore. And other spots of urban and natural ingenuity, like Chittenden Locks, provide fun side trips while exploring the city.

After a day of exploring crowded city streets, it's a relief to head back to Snoqualmie for a slightly slower pace. And in some cases, with more affordable places to spend the night, it's also a relief on the wallet.

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