Did you already finish the Best Things to Do IN Seattle? Then, you need to get OUT of Seattle and into the best surrounding areas. Here are the most important places to check out for repeat Seattle visitors or Seattle residents listed in priority order. After you finish the tourist hot spots, then go discover the mountains with the locals or hop on the ferries to the nearby islands as described below.
Above is a photo I took while on Naches Peak Loop in Mt. Rainier National Park.
1a. Mount Rainier National Park
(2-3 hrs away from Seattle, $$): The best National Park in Washington is Mt. Rainier National Park because you get to see Mt. Rainier, an active volcano, up close and personal with or without hiking. Like any National Park, Mt. Rainier is huge and does have an admission fee. During the right seasons (mostly summer months), it is abundant with wildflowers and offers amazing hikes. However, you don’t have to hike if you don’t want to. Many stunning views are accessible with a drive, especially in Sunrise and Paradise areas. But, if you want to hike, I recommend Skyline Trail Loop, Naches Peak Loop, Sheep Lake to Sourdough Gap, and Palisades Lakes trails. You can see my hiking photos and details here.
1b. Olympic National Park & La Push, WA
(3 hrs away from Seattle, $$): Want to see Washington’s only rainforest and luscious moss on trees? Olympic National Park is a huge park famous for greenery, mountains, wildlife, and water landscapes. Like any National Park, there is an admission fee. If you can handle a tough hike, definitely check out the Mount Storm King trail but for the more leisurely traveler, check out the easy Marymere Falls (the two trails share a parking lot). For both trails, you can go for a swim after. You can see my hiking photos and details here.
Additionally, there is a nearby town called La Push that showcases Pacific Northwest (PNW) beaches, pretty similar to Oregon’s Cannon beach with the huge rocks lining the ocean shores.
2a. Snoqualmie Falls & Salish Lodge
(1 hr away from Seattle, Free): Located in Snoqualmie, WA, this well-known, scenic 270-foot waterfall is surrounded by a 2-acre park, observation deck, & gift shop. If you have time and want to spend money, you can have brunch at Salish Lodge – think about doing a reservation just in case.
If need more waterfalls, Portland, Oregon hikes are best for that but here around Seattle, we have Wallace Falls State Park and Marymere Falls.
3a. Bainbridge Island & Bloedel Reserve
(1 hr away from Seattle, free but ferry required, $$): While it’s free to walk and roam around the island, but getting to the island means taking a ferry that does cost money. Walking on the ferry is pretty cheap like how taking a bus is cheap, but taking your car onto the ferry is kinda expensive. You don’t have to bring your car – Bainbridge island can be explored without one but, it is very nice and convenient to have a car. There isn’t too much Uber/Lyft available on the island but it’s doable. I recommend the Bainbridge Art Museum (no car needed) and visiting the Bloedel Reserve (car recommended).
($$): The Bloedel Reserve is a 150-acre forest garden created by Virginia and Prentice Bloedel, the vice-chairman of the lumber company MacMillan Bloedel Limited. It has a variety of gardens, including a Japanese one.
3b. San Juan Islands
(3 hrs away from Seattle, free but ferry required, $$): Walking around the San Juans is free but getting there requires from ferry costs. There are multiple islands that make up the San Juan Islands; the biggest islands are Orcas island, San Juan island, and Lopez island. All the islands are great for walking, biking, kayaking, hiking, relaxing, and exploring. I try to make at least 1 trip every year.
Orcas Island is the largest of the islands and on it you can explore Moran State Park and summit Mount Constitution (you can drive to the top). The viewpoint at the top is very nice.
San Juan island is home to llamas and lavender fields. It’s where Friday Harbor (a walkable downtown area) is and also where Roche Harbor is. Nearby Roche Harbor, there is the San Juan Island sculpture park and yummy donuts.
4a. Pacific Bonsai Museum
(Less than 1 hr away from Seattle, $$): Located in Federal Way, WA, this outdoor museum is beautifully set-up and filled with wonderful bonsai trees. It’s a treasure trove of all the different types of bonsai. Bonsai is just a tree in a pot.
4b. LeMay – America’s Car Museum & LeMay Collections at Marymount
(Less than 1 hr away from Seattle, $$): Both the LeMay Car Museum and the LeMay Collections are in Tacoma, WA but different parts of Tacoma. One is a car museum and the other is a smaller museum will excess cars that couldn’t fit into the main museum. Both are worth trip.
4c. Museum of Flight (<1 hr away) & Boeing Future of Flight (<1 hr away)
(Less than 1 hr away from Seattle, $$): Located in Tukwila, WA, The Museum of Flight is a museum about airplanes and space exploration. They have lots of exhibits, interactivity, and shows.
(Less than 1 hr away from Seattle, $$): Located in Everett, WA, the Boeing Future of Flight is a real Boeing factory and you can see airplanes in various stages of development in one of the largest buildings in the world (by volume).
5. Funko (1 hr away)
(Free): Located in Everett, WA, this fun store is filled with treasures on the outside of the store too! All the collectible plastic figurines are displayed here for fun and excitement. It’s covered in photo ops and built for adult and kids alike.
PARKS & GARDENS
6a. Deception Pass State Park (1.5 hrs away)
6b. Bellevue Botanical Gardens (<1 hr away)
6c. Marymoor Park (<1 hr away)
MORE NATIONAL SIGHTS
7a. Northern Cascades National Park (3 hrs away)
7b. Mount St. Helen National Monument (3 hrs away)
7c. Ebey Landing on Whidbey Island (1.5 hrs away)
8a. Leavenworth, WA (2.5 hrs away)
8b. Woodinville, WA (<1 hr away)
9a. Lake Chelan (3.5 hrs away)
9b. Rattlesnake Ridge
9c. Lake Colchuck
10a. Hama Hama Oyster Saloon (2 hrs away)
10b. Taylor Shellfish Farms (1.5 hrs away)
a. The Golf Club at Newcastle (<1 hr away)
b. Seattle Chocolates (<1 hr away)
($$): Located in Tukwila, WA, this chocolate factory
c. Boehms Candies (<1 hr away)
All listings available on the JoYo Seattle Map.
FIRST TIME TO SEATTLE?
Try the basics Best Things to Do in Seattle first.
Need more recommendations? Try all the Perfect Day Trips from Seattle.
Need hiking recommendations? Try all the Washington Day Hikes I’ve done and rated.
Did I miss something? Comment below!
JoYo Seattle Guide