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20 Best Weekend Getaways in Washington State

Where else can you hike a glacier, go surfing in the Pacific Ocean, swim in the third deepest lake in the U.S., breathe the freshest forest air, visit the filming location of “Twilight“, hike into columnar formations with a waterfall, and stand up paddle board on a lake where the film “Sleepless in Seattle” put Washington State on the map, all within a four-hour drive? Washington is one of the most diverse states in America, offering all four seasons and many different climate zones, perfect for ultimate weekend getaways. We PNW-ers (Pacific Northwesterners) even have a proud Instagram hashtag #upperleftisbest. (For more awesome PNW adventures, follow my Instagram @cultural_foodies.)

I’m going on over five years living in Seattle after traveling abroad for half a year back in 2017 with my husband and having spent 11 years on Oahu, Hawaii. When Covid hit in 2020, my husband Sasha and I started making the most of traveling domestically, and spent nearly an entire year exploring all the wonderful adventures that our own backyard has to offer. Each weekend we went somewhere new, so, armed with all the best places to eat, beaches to explore, hikes to conquer, waterfalls to admire, and scenic drives not to miss, I present to you the best weekend getaways in Washington State!

20 BEST WEEKEND GETAWAYS IN WASHINGTON STATE
(in alphabetical order)

  1. Bainbridge Island & Poulsbo
  2. Bellingham & Skagit Valley
  3. Chelan
  4. Leavenworth & Wenatchee
  5. Mount Baker
  6. Mount Rainier National Park
  7. Mount Saint Helens
  8. North Cascades National Park, Winthrop & Twisp
  9. Olympia
  10. Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles & Sequim
  11. Portland, Oregon (I know this isn’t Washington, but it’s so close I couldn’t exclude it!)
  12. Port Townsend
  13. San Juan Islands
  14. Seattle
  15. Stevens Pass
  16. Vancouver, B.C., Canada (again, not Washington, but a staple weekend getaway (when the borders are open))
  17. Vantage & Frenchman Coulee
  18. Whidbey Island, Langley, Coupeville, Deception Pass, Anacortes & La Conner
  19. Woodinville
  20. Yakima

If you’ll be visiting Seattle, be sure to check out my other blog posts:

The Ultimate Guide – Things To Do In Seattle
Where To Eat In Seattle
Hiking in Washington State

Or if you’re planning on moving to Seattle, have a chuckle at my entertaining read on What It’s Really Like To Live in Seattle.

Bainbridge Island & Poulsbo

Just a 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle is the adorable town of Bainbridge Island, ready to greet you with chill island vibes and lots of smiles. Also great for a day trip because it’s so close; you can either walk, drive or bike onto the ferry. After exploring Bainbridge, drive another 25 minutes to the colorful Norwegian town of Poulsbo.

Best Time To Visit: Year Round
Drive / Ferry Time From Seattle: 30 minutes (ferry departs directly from downtown Seattle)
Best For: Quiet getaway from the city, Foodies, Culture, Art, Nature Walks
Read More: Day Trip to Bainbridge Island & Poulsbo

Bellingham

Bellingham is the town for adventure. Perfect for a romantic weekend getaway with your partner, or a day trip with your buddies or girlfriends to hike, mountain bike, sail, or drink beer, this foodie town is ready for you! Be sure to check out the adorable little Dutch town of Lynden, just 25 minutes North of Bellingham towards the Canada border. Sometimes Sasha and I joke that we would drive all the way up here from Seattle just for the tacos at Black Sheep on Holly.

Best Time To Visit: Summer
Drive Time From Seattle: 1.5 hours
Best For: Hiking, Mountain Biking, Foodies, Nature, Jumping Off Point for Visiting Vancouver, B.C. (less than one hours’ drive from the border)
Read More: A Weekend in Bellingham

Chelan

Lake Chelan is the third deepest lake in the United States (after Crater Lake in Oregon and Lake Tahoe in California.) Anything East of Seattle over the pass is far sunnier than its Western counterpart caught in the convergence zone. Get ready for endless lake life fun and days over 90 degrees F during the summer. If you’ve got the time, stay overnight in the tiny village of Stehekin, accessible only by foot or boat. Visit Rainbow Falls and Stehekin Bakery while you’re there.

Best Time To Visit: Summer
Drive Time From Seattle: 3 hr, 15 min
Best For: Wine, Lake, Water Activities, Hiking
Read More: Best Things To Do in Lake Chelan

Deception Pass & Anacortes

A drive for the senses will take you over Deception Pass where your knees may go a bit shaky and your hands start to sweat. Hike Lighthouse Point for beautiful coastal views (starts at Bowman Bay on Fidalgo Island). If you’re keen on mussels (the food variety, not the biceps – for that you’ll have to go to Venice Beach, California 😉), Coupeville (45 minutes from Anacortes) is known for harvesting them fresh. In fact, if you dine at a restaurant and ask where the mussels are from, chances are, they’ll point down the road. In Anacortes, the adorable small coastal town just 20 minutes from Deception Pass, don’t miss the Overgrown Ship Hulk. Check out the views of Mount Baker and the marina below from Car Sante Park.

Best Time To Visit: Summer, Fall
Drive Time From Seattle: 1 Hour, 15 Minutes
Best For: Scenic Drives, Sightseeing, Hiking, Seafood, Foodies, Beach Combing, Tide Pools

Leavenworth & Wenatchee

Did you know that you can escape to Bavaria in Washington State? Leavenworth is a fun weekend getaway because it actually feels a bit like you’re in Germany! Albeit a bit kitschy, it’s certainly something different. There are tons of hikes surrounding the area, along with the Wenatchee River for fun water sports during summer.

Best Time To Visit: Summer & Christmas (Leavenworth turns into a Christmas Fairytale in December! There’s even a Christmas train from Seattle to Leavenworth if you don’t want to drive.)
Drive Time From Seattle: 2 hr, 15 min
Best For: Kids, Hiking, Bratwurst, Rivers
Read More: Weekend Trip to a Bavarian Town in Leavenworth

Mount Baker

The Cascades region is Washington’s version of the Dolomites in Italy. With stunning wildflower hikes in the Spring and world class skiing in the winter, this area of Washington is great to visit during any time of the year. While you’re there, don’t miss Milano’s for authentic Mediterranean cuisine, and Wake ‘N Bakery for pastries and coffee on your way to Artist Point.

Best Time To Visit: Spring (wildflower hikes), Summer (all hikes), Fall (autumn colors), and Winter (skiing)
Drive Time From Seattle: 4 Hours
Best For: Hiking, Camping, Skiing, Nature
Read More: Hiking in Mount Baker

Mount Rainier National Park

Washington has three national parks, and Rainier is one of them. Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in our state, standing at an elevation of 14,411′ (4,803 meters). We Washingtonians have a saying when it’s a really nice and clear day, we say, “the mountain’s out!” – Mount Rainier is what we’re referring to, and it is indeed a sight to see, both far away and up close. It’s a great reference point to be able to tell where you are directions wise, as it’s visible from nearly the entire state.

Best Time To Visit: Spring (wildflower hikes), Summer (all hikes), Fall (autumn colors), and Winter (skiing)
Drive Time From Seattle: 2 Hours
Best For: Hiking, Camping, Skiing, Nature

North Cascades National Park

North Cascades is the Banff of Washington. With our very own turquoise Diablo Lake and autumn colors which make you feel like you’re in Maine, this area is worth the drive from Seattle, especially for a three-day weekend. On your way up, pull on your cowboy boots and head into the country western town of Winthrop and Twisp, great for cross country skiing and winter sports. Because this area is a bit higher in altitude, it’s excellent for Fall colors viewing in autumn, as you’ll see bright yellow larches and copper-orange maple trees.

Best Time To Visit: Spring (wildflower hikes), Summer (all hikes), Fall (autumn colors), and Winter (skiing)
Drive Time From Seattle: 2 Hours
Best For: Hiking, Camping, Snow Shoeing, Cross Country Skiing, Nature
Read More: Fall Colors in the North Cascades

Olympia

I would be remiss not to include our State’s Capital in the list of Washington getaways! Though Olympia is not necessarily a weekend getaway, it’s an easy one-hour drive from Seattle and great for a day trip to see new sights, from wildlife refuges to museums to lavender farms and country cider mills.

Best Time To Visit: Summer
Drive Time From Seattle: 1 Hour
Best For: Kids, Family Trips, Foodies, Sightseeing, Museums, Performing Arts

Olympic Peninsula, Port Angeles & Sequim

Long before the “Twilight” saga was released, the Olympic Peninsula was always Washington’s remote gem. It’s a bit of a journey to get out there, involving a drive and a ferry across Puget Sound, but once you arrive it’s clear why people love it. If you live in Seattle and want to escape the dreary days in winter, head on over to Sequim, the town in the rain shadow. Sequim is where you can find those beautiful lavender fields in the June and the Dungeness Spit, where the famous Dungeness crab comes from. Port Angeles is the jumping off point for exploring Olympic National Park and also where you can load up on all the delicious food before venturing into Hoh Rainforest, Rialto Beach and Lake Crescent. Sol Duc Hot Springs is another favorite.

Best Time To Visit: Summer
Drive / Ferry Time From Seattle: 2 – 3 Hours (depending on where in the Peninsula you’re going)
Best For: Hiking, Camping, Hot Springs, Nature, Birding, Beaches, Oysters
Read More: 14 Awesome Things To Do On The Olympic Peninsula

Portland, Oregon

I’m a Seattleite, but, dare I say it, Oregon is cooler than Seattle. *Gasp and Shock!* Perhaps I’m a bit jaded having lived in Seattle for over five years, but Portland is hands down my husband and my top favorite place to visit on a weekend (actually it’s probably a tie between Portland and Vancouver, B.C.) Heck, Portland’s even great for a day trip if the traffic’s not bad and you get an early start! Portland is the city for food – more specifically coffee, donuts and beer. It’s just got a more chill, laid back, mom-and-pop-shop feel to it, whereas Seattle feels larger and more corporate and tech-y. Portland is authentic, diverse and downright awesome.

*Local tip* – Skip Voodoo Donuts (it’s highly overrated) and head to Blue Star Donuts instead. You won’t be disappointed. And there are SO many more awesome, less crowded waterfalls than the famous Multnomah Falls, so don’t stop there! If you’re already IN Portland and have extra time, make a three-hour drive to Bend, Oregon. It’s one of our favorite adventure towns in the entire country.

Best Time To Visit: Late Spring, Summer
Drive Time From Seattle: 2.5 – 3.5 Hours (depending on that lovely Tacoma/Olympia traffic)
Best For: Hiking, Nature, Eclectic Experiences, Foodies, Beer, Coffee
Read More: A Foodie’s Weekend in Portland

Port Townsend

Great for that quaint, small town feel, filled with restaurants and unique boutique antique shops. There’s even an old military base called Fort Warden where you can stay in old bunkers converted into BnBs. You’ll take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and drive from there.

Best Time To Visit: Summer
Drive / Ferry Time From Seattle: 2 Hours
Best For: Romantic Getaway, Foodies, History, Fishing

San Juan Islands

Who knew there were so many islands in the PNW? Washington has their very own archipelago with stunning views of water all around. The San Juans are distinguished by the lively seaside town of Friday Harbor and is best known for orca whale sightings and kayaking.

Best Time To Visit: Summer
Drive / Ferry Time From Seattle: Approximately 4 Hours (you can drive to Anacortes and take the ferry, or take the Victoria Clipper from Seattle directly to the islands)
Best For: Romantic Getaway, Foodies, Sightseeing, Hiking, Whale Watching, Kayaking

Seattle

Most folks visiting Washington State usually either begin or end their trip in the city of Seattle, the metropolis formed by tech giants such as Amazon, Expedia and Microsoft (technically they’re Redmond). With the most cranes in the sky out of any other city, Seattle glistens at all hours of the day when sun (during the 5 months it decides to be out) dances off of the azure waters of Puget Sound, carrying passengers to and fro on ferries, and the iconic Space Needle, the icon of Seattle, jutting into the sky.

*Fun Fact* – I worked as the Tourism Development Sales Manager for the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass for two years before leaving the country to travel abroad. It was an incredible experience to promote travel and tourism to one of the most beautiful places in the world!

Best Time To Visit: Summer, Fall
Best For: Foodies, Sightseeing, Coffee, Technology, Museums, Music, Culture, Arts, Entertainment, Nightlife, Markets
Read More: The Ultimate Guide – Things To Do in Seattle
Where To Eat In Seattle

Stevens Pass

Stevens Pass is one of the closest ski areas to Seattle. In the summer it turns into a mountain biker’s paradise, and in the winter, you can hit the slopes. Be sure to stop by Sultan Bakery, pretty much the only place to grab decent food on the way up.

Best Time To Visit: Summer, Winter
Drive Time From Seattle: 1.5 – 2 Hours
Best For: Mountain Biking, Skiing

Vancouver, B.C., Canada

I love Vancouver so much and would live there over Seattle if citizenship wasn’t an issue. The famous Grouse Grind Trail is sure to kick your butt with a great workout, and reward you with incredible views. You’ll be beside yourself with giddiness when you discover Vancouver’s Chinatown and their many dim sum joints, dumplings, boba tea, and Chinese foot reflexology massage parlors. The people are friendly, the food is superb, the coffee rivals Seattle’s, and it’s pretty cool to say, “hey honey, tomorrow do you wanna drive to Canada?”

Best Time To Visit: Year Round
Drive Time From Seattle: 2.5 – 3.5 Hours (depending on border crossing)
Best For: Skiing, Sightseeing, Foodies, Romantic Getaways, Girls Trip, Guys Trip, Coffee, Boba Tea, Chinese Foot Reflexology, Nature, Hiking
Read More: Things To Do in Vancouver, B.C.

Vantage & Frenchman Coulee

Any town East of the pass will be guaranteed to have more sunshine than Seattle during those dreary grey winter months that seem to drone on and on. This is the perfect weekend getaway to switch up your environment completely, as it’s located in dry desert. You may be surprised to know that Washington isn’t just mossy, wet, rainy rainforests and trees; it’s also home to columnar formations, sand dunes and waterfalls in the desert! And Frenchman Coulee is where you can find all this. Perhaps what put this place on the map is the famous annual Dave Matthews Concerts at the Gorge. This is also a popular rock climbing location.

Best Time To Visit: Year Round
Drive Time From Seattle: 2.5 Hours
Best For: Rock Climbing, Hiking, Camping, Sun

Woodinville

I can’t even see this word without my mind conjuring up two things: biking and wine. Woodinville is only a half-hour drive from Seattle, but it’s a lovely place to have a romantic getaway with your boo, or a gal’s trip for wine tasting. One of my husband and my favorite days on a bike is to start from the Burke-Gilman Trail where we live in Ballard, and ride all the way to Woodinville, about 20 miles each way. Chateau Ste. Michelle is their most famous winery, and there are plenty of lodges to choose from (many with hot tubs) for those chilly evenings.

Best Time To Visit: Summer, Fall
Drive Time From Seattle: 30 Minutes
Best For: Biking, Wine, Romance

Yakima

Located in Central Washington, Yakima, like Chelan, is known for its wineries and apple orchards, producing around 70% of the United State’s apples! They’ve also got a ton of breweries and the foodie scene is really up and coming! During summer, there are a myriad selection of water activities, including rafting the Yakima Valley River Canyon.

Best Time To Visit: Year Round
Drive Time From Seattle: 2 Hours, 15 Minutes
Best For: Wine, Sun, Foodies, Kids, Family Trips, Water Sports, Hiking, Scenic Drives

I hope this gives you some new ideas for your next Washington weekend getaway!

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