The 5 Best Washington Weekend Getaways
Enjoy a long weekend in Washington...
With it's rugged coastline, dramatic mountains and lush forests, Washington State offers some of the best get-aways that you can get to without really leaving home. Suggested here are a variety of destinations that can be reached within a day's drive of most of the rest of the state, which makes them perfect for when you need a short weekend away from the usual hustle and bustle, or if you are looking for someplace easy for the whole family to take a trip.
I've been living in Seattle for several years now and have tried to get out and explore as much as I can. There's still lots to see, but here are five of my best suggestions for great weekend getaways in Washington. If you haven't checked out these spots yet, I'd like to recommend the picturesque Mount St Helens, taking a long weekend at the San Juan Islands, checking out Snoqualmie, exploring the Olympic Peninsula and even getting away to Walla Walla.
Mt St Helens all these years later
Mount St Helens
Located just about 100 miles south of Seattle and about 50 miles north of Portland, Mount St Helens is an active volcano, found in the southern region of the Cascade range. Famously it erupted in 1980, a blast that took over 1000 feet off the top of the volcano. Although several decades have passed, the area still bears many visible scars of the blast, and was used as one of the filming locations for the post-apocalyptic drama THE ROAD due to it being a ready-made site depicting environmental disaster.
The surrounding area is still a popular destination for hiking, rock climbing, river rafting and fishing (steelhead, rainbow trout, bass). For those with a more historical interest, several sites in the area were part of the Lewis and Clark expedition. Many state parks can be found in Skamania County, suitable for day use, or with camp grounds for those who wish a longer visit.
The main area has been turned into a Monument, meaning it has been sealed off and is being left to naturally recover and change following the natural disaster. The regrowth or damage you see is what the environment has done all by itself.
- Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Celebrating 29 Years of Scientific Research, Education and Recreation in one of Nature's Youngest and Most Dynamic Natural Landscapes.
- MountStHelens.com Information Resource Center & Visitor Guide
Mount St. Helens Information Resource Center: A collection of Links and information to lodging, restaurants, visitor centers, helicopter tours, permits, gifts, volcano cam, weather, hiking, at Mt. St. Helens Volcano.
Learn about Mt St Helens before you visit
The Olympic Peninsula
A lot of people not from Washington State make the mistake of thinking Seattle is on the coast. It's not, that's just Puget Sound faking you out. On the other side of the Sound is the Olympic Peninsula and the ocean is on the other side of that.
It's a pretty vast chunk of Washington and there's so much to explore here, you can probably fill up a couple of weekends. If you are coming from the Seattle area, it's nice to take the ferry across and skip the drive through Tacoma. For the outdoor inclined, the Olympic National Park is nearly all wilderness and a stunning escape from civilization.
In the summer, one of the best weekend getaways is to the Sequim Lavender Festival. You'll be hard-pressed to find a greater homage to the luscious and fragrant herb anywhere else. And speaking of homage, if you are a fan of the Twilight books, the Olympic Peninsula is where you'll find Forks, WA, the real-life location in which a good portion of the stories are set.
- Olympic National Park (U.S. National Park Service)
Here you will find Pacific Ocean beaches, rain forest valleys, glacier-capped peaks and a stunning variety of plants and animals. The heart of Olympic is wilderness; a primeval sanctuary for humans and wild creatures alike.
- Lavender Festival in Sequim Washington
The Pacific Northwest's Summer Event of the Senses the 5th Annual Celebrate Lavender Festival in sunny Sequim, Washington, on the Olympic Peninsula. Farm Tours, Demonstrations, Crafts. Third weekend in July.
- Forks Chamber of Commerce~Home~Home of Twilight
Forks, Washington, USA, is located in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula, between the Olympic mountains and the Pacific Ocean beaches.
Pack for just a Weekend
San Juan Islands
Accessible by ferry ride or seaplane, the San Juan Islands are a favorite area getaway. The trio of Lopez Island, Orca Island and San Juan Island are a great spot for a romantic weekend escape or a fun outing with activities for the whole family. Ferry departures are primarily from Anacortes, about 80 miles north of Seattle.
For those seeking beach and water activities, you'll find all the fishing, kayaking and boating you might want with plenty of beach availability. From late April through the end of September, there's also whale watching, featuring the resident orca whales.
The small island sizes make them extremely accessible by bike, so you can take your time and see everything up-close and personal while saving yourself a lot of parking hassle. Accommodations can range from hotels to bed-and-breakfasts to camping, so whatever your comfort level, you'll find just what you need.
- San Juan Islands Visitors Bureau
Official travel guide to planning a vacation to Lopez Island, Orcas Island, San Juan Island and Friday Harbor, in Washington State, near Seattle.
- San Juan Island Chamber of Commerce
The San Juan Islands are accessible to the public by water and air. The most common means of travel is by Washington State Ferry.
Just a short drive from the Seattle or Tacoma areas, Snoqualmie is a great place to take visiting relatives, take the kids for some fun and education or just a nice quiet break for yourself for a weekend.
Fans of the 90s hit television show Twin Peaks will recognize the Salish Lodge at first-glance. The hotel was used for the exterior shots of the Great Northern Hotel, home of the Horn clan in the iconic show, and the picturesque waterfall right out front is even more stunning in person than it was in the show's opening credits.
Railways buffs will have a blast in Snoqualmie, as it is home to the Northwest Railway Museum. The Victorian era depot is intact and seasonal excursion trains run locally.
- Welcome to the City of Snoqualmie Home Page
Only 25 miles from Seattle, you will find small town charm, historic landmarks, and scenic beauty blended with active community growth and world-class facilities.
- SnoqualmieFalls.com - The Official Snoqualmie Falls Web Site
More than 1.5 million visitors come to the Snoqualmie Falls every year. At the Falls, you will find a two-acre park, hiking trail, observation deck, gift shop, and the famous 270 waterfall.
- Northwest Railway Museum
This is the largest and most comprehensive railway museum in Washington State.
It may sound like a joke from an old Bugs Bunny cartoon, or an onion, but there's way more to Walla Walla than both of those! Located on the Eastern side of Washington State, this area offers a very different experience than the western seaboard.
Some of the best wine country in the state can be found in this region, making it a great area for spending a long weekend exploring. Wine was first grown in this region in the 1970s, and it became a certified viticultural area in 1984. Since then more than 100 wineries have established themselves in the Walla Walla Valley.
- Welcome to Walla Walla Wineries.com!
Plan your visit around a local event, or a specific winery - or list of wineries!