15 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways from Seattle

Written by Brad Lane
Updated Jun 8, 2023
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A significant appeal of Seattle is the many possible weekend getaways within a short drive or ferry ride. From the towering peaks of the North Cascades to the tourist-friendly San Juan Islands, half the fun of visiting or living in Seattle is exploring these rich attractions outside the city.

Walking trail in Mount Rainier National Park
Walking trail in Mount Rainier National Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Whether planned months ahead of time or a last-minute weekend getaway, bucket-list destinations, like Olympic National Park, Deception Pass, and the Winthrop Valley, are within a relatively short commute.

Other national parks, scenic small towns, and isolated islands also beckon for weekend adventures from Seattle. And all of these outstanding places offer a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of the city. And for those looking to add a little spark to the daily routine, all of Seattle's top weekend getaways offer their own form of a romantic vacation.

Find the best places for your next two-day escape with my list of the top weekend getaways from Seattle.

1. San Juan Islands

Orcas Island, Turtle Mountain Preserve: Photo Copyright: Brad Lane
Orcas Island, Turtle Mountain Preserve: Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Exploring the San Juan Islands is a premier weekend getaway from Seattle, inviting a feeling of distant travel only a short ferry trip away. Common aspects of San Juan weekend trips include whale watching, fresh seafood, and some of the best smoldering sunsets in the country. And thanks to the scenic boat ride required to visit, and the distinct island vibes, it feels like you are truly getting away from Seattle.

The San Juan Islands are also a popular weekend getaway for couples. San Juan Island is the most populated island of the archipelago, home to the highly walkable and tourist-friendly Friday Harbor, where a charming downtown district greets visitors departing the ferry.

 Aerial image of Orcas Island
Aerial image of Orcas Island

Orcas Island also tends to be a popular destination, and it's excellent for those looking for a small community and plenty of chances to connect with nature. Specifically, head to Moran State Park on the island's east side. This top spot is home to one of the best campgrounds in Washington and the highest point of the archipelago, Mount Constitution, offering a life-changing view (especially come sunset).

Lopez Island is the third most-developed island that is easily reachable from Seattle by ferry. It offers quieter surroundings and a slower pace, with quaint cafes and cozy restaurants in Lopez Village.

2. Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier
Mount Rainier | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

On clear days, the impressive Mount Rainier is visible from Seattle on the southeast horizon. And visitors and residents can reach this crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest with a two-hour drive from the city. Seattle's two closest access points are the Southwest Nisqually Entrance and the Northwest Carbon River Entrance.

Mount Rainier is the tallest peak in the state and encompasses a landscape of old-growth forests and rushing waterfalls. It's also an environment packed full of hiking trails, campgrounds, and memorable adventures. The Skyline Trail, within the aptly named Paradise area of the park, tops the list of the best hiking trails, as does the surreal alpine valley at Spray Park near Mowich Lake.

Silver Falls, near Ohanapecosh Campground
Silver Falls, near Ohanapecosh Campground | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Campgrounds like the Ohanapecosh Campground are great for families, and backcountry sites, including the Ipsut Creek Campground, provide a more wilderness-based overnight experience. Several camping options are also available outside park gates in the forests surrounding Mount Rainer National Park. It helps to know the camping options at Mount Rainier before planning a trip.

For a bucket-list overnight experience on a weekend visit, the National Park Inn at Mount Rainier provides cozy suites and quick access to the park. Hotels and lodges surround the national park in gateway communities like Packwood and Ashford.

Official Site: https://www.nps.gov/mora/index.htm

3. Leavenworth

Leavenworth | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Leavenworth is a Bavarian-themed town complete with annual celebrations and high mountain backgrounds. It's along Highway 2 and opposite Stevens Pass from Seattle, approximately a 2.5-hour drive from the city. The town incorporates an unmistakable Bavarian motif, adding a certain old-world charm to its many attractions and things to do and blending well with its alpine surroundings.

The annual Oktoberfest is a trendy time to visit when the streets are lined with live polka music and lederhosen. Several other cultural celebrations and festivals occur in Leavenworth annually, typically every month. During December, the town comes under a new glow for its annual Christmas Lighting Festival and Village of Lights.

Outside of festivals, Leavenworth also provides a reason to visit with world-class mountain recreation surrounding the town. One of the first places to head is Icicle Gorge on the north side of the town, home to many of the best hiking trails in Leavenworth. This selection includes the world-famous Enchantments day hike or backpacking adventure – a reason for a weekend trip on its own.

The Enzian Inn provides an excellent and authentic place to spend the night in Leavenworth, no matter the time of year or reason for the visit. This Bavarian-themed hotel is right near all the action of the downtown Bavarian village.

4. Port Angeles or Port Townsend

Port Townsend
Port Townsend | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Olympic Peninsula of Washington provides many landscapes to explore and gateway towns to spend the night. Port Angeles and Port Townsend are two towns on the northeast corner of the peninsula, easily accessible from Seattle by ferry. Both towns have a distinctive charm and are great launching points for bigger weekend adventures.

Port Angeles is an excellent locale for those looking to dive deeper into Olympic National Park. It's home to the Olympic National Park Visitor Center and provides quick access to iconic places like Lake Crescent and Hurricane Ridge. This proximity to the national park makes Port Angeles a great place to rest between full days of adventure.

Port Townsend lighthouse
Port Townsend lighthouse

Port Townsend, 45 minutes east, is a charming Victorian seaport town with plenty of opportunities to walk, eat dinner, and stay the night at a stylish hotel. The city is also home to the stunning Fort Worden State Park, with campgrounds, hiking trails, seaside views, and music festivals throughout the year.

The Fountain Cafe is a great place to catch a bite to eat in Port Townsend, catering to all appetites and tastes. This type of local flavor, alongside its eye-catching architecture, help Port Angeles rank high as one of the best small towns in Washington.

5. Whidbey Island

Double Bluff Beach on Whidbey Island
Double Bluff Beach on Whidbey Island | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Whidbey Island is the largest island in Puget Sound and one of the most accessible from Seattle. It encompasses a wide variety of attractions and is primed for family weekend getaways with farm-fresh restaurants, art galleries, and miles of scenic shoreline throughout the island.

Whidbey also offers several ways to explore its wild surroundings. Fort Ebey State Park, near the island's center, provides excellent historical context and a decommissioned coastal fort with several hiking trails.

Deception Pass State Park is on the northern tip of Whidbey, connecting Fidalgo Island. It's one of the best state parks in Washington and has hundreds of campsites to pitch a tent or park an RV. Deception Pass also has abundant tide-pooling opportunities, hiking trails, and scenic vistas.

With leashed pets welcomed on the trails at Deception Pass State Park, and other off-leash areas on the island, Whidbey is an excellent option for a dog-friendly weekend getaway.

6. Bellingham

Kayakers on Bellingham Bay
Kayakers on Bellingham Bay | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Bellingham is 90 minutes north of Seattle, adjacent to the sea and the San Juan Islands. It's home to Western Washington University, infusing the community with a youthful spirit and vibrant cultural scene. The campus adds to the many reasons for a weekend visit with collegiate sports happenings, student celebrations, and a downtown district that caters to the younger crowds.

Bellingham is also big on the outdoors and is a frequent basecamp for Pacific Northwest adventures. The city is a gateway to Mount Baker and the North Cascades to the north. It's also home to the stunning Chuckanut Scenic Byway – a recommended route when driving from Seattle.


For a taste of the city's wild landscapes, the hiking trails at Whatcom Falls Park explore lush surroundings and cascading water features. And for more in-town and nearby adventures, check out our guide on Bellingham Hiking Trails and Bellingham Campgrounds.

7. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Mount St. Helens from the Johnston Ridge Observatory
Mount St. Helens from the Johnston Ridge Observatory | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, part of Gifford Pinchot National Forest, is accessible from Seattle with less than a three-hour drive. The closest access point is the Spirit Lake Memorial Byway, departing from Castle Rock and ending at the Johnston Ridge Observatory. This high-elevation observatory offers one of the best views of the crater left behind after the dramatic 1980 eruption.

There's so much to see and experience in the rebounding landscape surrounding Mount St. Helens, far more than a day trip could possibly explore. Spirit Lake Memorial Byway has several notable trailheads lining its route, including memorable hikes like Hummocks and Coldwater Lake. And the Boundary Trail, with a trailhead at Johnston Ridge Observatory, is worth a whole day of exploring on its own.

Hiking to the summit of Mount St. Helens
Hiking to the summit of Mount St. Helens | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

And this western portion of the mountain is only one area to explore. The south and east side of the national volcanic monument also have several trailheads and places to camp. The south side is home to the starting point for the most popular summit hike of St. Helens, the Climbers Bivouac Trailhead, offering an endeavor to plan the whole weekend around. Permits are required for the Mount St. Helens summit hike.

8. North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

North Cascades National Park is a scenic two-hour drive from Seattle. This extraordinary public land encompasses dramatic alpine landscapes and aquamarine lakes. The main route for exploration from Seattle is Highway 20, also known as the North Cascades Scenic Highway.

Many great places to visit line the North Cascades Scenic Highway, like Colonial Creek and Newhalem Campground – two of the best campgrounds in North Cascades National Park. Other must-see stops along the highway include Diablo Lake, Rainy Pass, and the Methow Valley.

Great places to spend the night are found throughout the Methow Valley, four hours from Seattle, within the charming towns of Winthrop, Twisp, and Mazama.

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/noca/index.htm

9. Victoria, British Columbia

Empress Hotel on Victoria's Inner Harbour
Empress Hotel on Victoria's Inner Harbour

Victoria is British Columbia's capital and one of Canada's most beautiful cities. This beautiful urban landscape is on the southern tip of Vancouver Island, accessible from Seattle with a two-hour-and-45-minute ferry ride on the Victoria Clipper. This scenic boat ride is part of the visiting experience, with rides offered every day of the year.

It can feel a tad overwhelming knowing what to do upon landing in Victoria. The Clipper drops passengers off in the busy downtown Inner Harbour, where the city's distinct vibe stands out, especially on sunny days. The architecture is mixed in Victoria with English influence, and the city gives off the immediate impression of European travel.

A few popular things to do on a weekend visit include visiting the Royal BC Museum, strolling through Beacon Hill Park, and touring the impressive Craigdarroch Castle. And The Butchart Gardens are a bit of a drive from the downtown area but are well worth the travel. This lovely landscaped space offers new flowers and attractions to appreciate throughout the year.

10. Yakima

Yakima River Canyon
Yakima River Canyon | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Yakima is southeast of Seattle and home to fertile soil and agricultural splendor. It's an easy two-hour drive and often a quick fix for a warm weekend getaway. The Yakima Greenway and Cowiche Canyon are fun places to visit and offer a great way to appreciate the sunnier weather, and the Yakima Area Arboretum provides a great picnic spot for a relaxing afternoon.

Keep an eye out for State Route 821 off Interstate 82 just past Ellensburg coming from Seattle. This scenic side route has a slower speed limit, but its views adjacent to the snaking Yakima River Canyon are worth slowing down for anyway. This is also a hot spot for river recreation throughout the extended summer.

Agricultural tours and tastings are popular in Yakima, and no visit is complete without a stop at a roadside fruit stand.

For more ideas on how to spend your time here, see my guide to things to do in Yakima.

11. Portland

Pittock Mansion
Pittock Mansion | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Portland is the largest city in Oregon, providing an urban vibe distinctly different from Seattle. This City of Roses is less than a three-hour drive from Seattle, on the other side of the Columbia River Gorge. This amazing river gorge is worth visiting on its own and is home to many of Oregon's best waterfalls.

A few iconic places to visit in Portland are the Portland Art Museum, Pittock Mansion, and Powell's City of Books. Washington Park is also a central spot for tourist and local traffic, home to signature attractions like the International Rose Test Garden, Hoyt Arboretum, the Oregon Zoo, and the Portland Japanese Garden.

Portland never sleeps, and great restaurants, shops, and unique coffee houses line each distinctive city neighborhood. Don't limit your adventures to the core downtown district of Portland. The city's east and west sides also provide cultural entertainment and beautiful city parks to spend the day.

12. Bainbridge Island

View of Seattle from Bainbridge Island
View of Seattle from Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island is across Puget Sound from Seattle and accessible by ferry. It features forest trails, cultural celebrations, and 360-degree postcard views. A worthy enough reason to visit is the charming downtown district you'll find the moment you step off the ferry. The nearby Bloedel Reserve is also highly recommended, featuring manicured gardens and a historic home overlooking the water.

View from Bainbridge Park Beach
View from Bainbridge Park Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

The Tillicum Village is another popular place to visit. By signing up for a Tillicum experience, visitors are provided with a cultural feast, celebration, and pre-arranged transportation back and forth from Seattle. For hiking and camping on Bainbridge, Manchester State Park is a popular option for day trips and weekend visits.

13. Vancouver, Washington

Salmon Run Bell Tower @ Esther Short Park
Salmon Run Bell Tower @ Esther Short Park | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Bordering the Columbia River in southern Washington, Vancouver provides a small-town feel with significant history lining the streets. The city is home to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, and much of the footprint of this early 19th-century fur trading post remains today.

Downtown Vancouver is filled with life, especially at Esther Short Park, where weekly farmers' markets occur. Heathman Lodge is a popular base camp for exploring Vancouver, and it also offers an affordable place to stay to explore Portland across the Columbia River.

14. Ellensburg


Filled with local restaurants, shops, and an abundance of city parks, Ellensburg provides a small-town getaway from the busy city streets of Seattle, less than two hours away. The academic institutions of Central Washington University add a certain collegiate culture to downtown Ellensburg, and an abundance of public art adds even more scenic appeal to the city.

Getting outside is easy in Ellensburg, especially at places like Irene Rinehart Park, featuring a boat launch and swimming access. The Kittitas County Historical Museum offers free admission for those interested in the region's history.

15. Vashon Island

Ferry departing for Vashon from Point Defiance
Ferry departing for Vashon from Point Defiance | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane

Vashon offers an easy island escape from Seattle with a 20-minute ferry ride. This quiet island is one of the largest in Puget Sound, and is actually two islands, and includes Maury Island, connected by an artificial land bridge. And while it's only a short trip away, the pace and overall vibe of the island make you feel miles away compared to the city.

Most Vashon visitors from Seattle board the ferry from the Fauntleroy neighborhood in southwest Seattle. This ferry ride takes 20 minutes and drops off on the north side of Vashon. The other option is a ferry ride from Point Defiance in Tacoma, arriving on the island's south end.

Ways to enjoy the island life on Vashon include farmers' markets, wooded hiking trails, and coastline adventures. The island has a small tourist center, where a few local stores and restaurants entice the wandering eye. For a memorable excursion on Vashon Island, head to Point Robinson Lighthouse on the eastern tip of Maury Island.

Map of Weekend Getaways from Seattle

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More to Explore from Seattle: Alongside some great weekend getaways surrounding the city, the best hiking trails and campgrounds near Seattle deliver even more to do at the end of the week. For some sand under your toes and water to swim in, the top-rated beaches in the Seattle area invite afternoon picnics and impromptu volleyball games.


Outdoor Attractions in Washington: The top-rated hiking trails in Washington explore many different environments, as do the best state and national parks. For extra fun explorations, check out the state's top-rated hot springs. Come wintertime, the best ski resorts in Washington deliver immense skiable terrain and an abundance of snow.