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The 5 Best Washington Weekend Getaways

Updated on August 31, 2014
relache profile image

Raye was born in New England, grew up in the Mid-Atlantic, spent college out West, and presently publishes Hubs from the Pacific Northwest.

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.

show route and directions
A markerMt Saint Helens, WA -
Mt St Helens, Gifford Pinchot, WA, USA
get directions

B markerOlympic Peninsula, WA -
Olympic Peninsula, WA, USA
get directions

C markerSnoqualmie, WA -
Snoqualmie, WA, USA
get directions

D markerSan Juan Islands -
San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor, WA 98250, USA
get directions

E markerWalla Walla, WA -
Walla Walla, WA, USA
get directions

Mt St Helens all these years later

Mt St Helens photographed shrouded by clouds on a summer afternoon in 2014.
Mt St Helens photographed shrouded by clouds on a summer afternoon in 2014. | Source

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.

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.

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.

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie

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.

Walla Walla

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.

Washington State Travel Commentary

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    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 2 years ago from Seattle, WA

      When you come back and be sure to comment and let us know if you tried anything here, or if you found anything new to check out!

    • traveleze profile image

      Lee John 2 years ago from Preston

      Thanks for the great hub! Id love to visit Washington one day and this hub has made me want to do it quicker rather than later lol thanks again

      Lee

    • PurpleHubs profile image

      Arun Kumar 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Wonderful Hub about Washington State. Well crafted.

    • WesternHistory profile image

      WesternHistory 5 years ago from California

      Thanks for your excellent hub. I understand that you can see quite a lot by taking one of the Washington State Ferries. While many use these to commute i would also think it a good side trip as part of a Washington state trip.

    • Eclectic Travel profile image

      Eclectic Travel 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Love Walla Walla! It's just too dang hot out there in the summertime, though.

    • liquidgranite profile image

      liquidgranite 5 years ago

      Nice selection!

    • Kathleen Cochran profile image

      Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      All good - but you've got to add Victoria, British Columbia. Just for Bouchard Gardens if nothing else. Lived 4 years at Ft. Lewis - great years!

    • danatheteacher profile image

      Dana Rock 6 years ago from Pacific Northwest

      Gorgeous!

    • relache profile image
      Author

      Raye 6 years ago from Seattle, WA

      I have a friend from Hawaii who was just in Seattle, and she found the cool weather and overcast a welcome respite from the summer heat and humidity of her home island.

    • stuff4you profile image

      stuff4you 6 years ago

      The only flaw I can think of with the Seattle region is its overcast. I live in MN and we have bad weather too but in different ways. WA is better than most states overall (I think) good hub.

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 6 years ago

      washington is such a beautiful place to go visit and to choose it for a weekend vacation is a great idea especially if you can take a camera and get nice pictures for the photo album

    • lender3212000 profile image

      lender3212000 6 years ago from Beverly Hills, CA

      Wow, what a great inspiration to take a trip! I've never been but it is definitely something I would love to do. Thanks for an excellent hub!

    • Om Paramapoonya profile image

      Om Paramapoonya 6 years ago

      I hope I'll have a chance to go to Snoqualmie (and learn how to pronounce it!) some day. Walla Walla also sounds like an awesome place. :)

    • ExVacationIdeas profile image

      ExVacationIdeas 6 years ago

      Great Ideas! - I never thought of washington state for a vacation - I will just have to check it out I guess!

    • profile image

      MaryRenee 6 years ago

      wonderful hub, so helpful! :)

    • profile image

      akycrawler 6 years ago

      Nice....

      Dont forget Lake Chelan! One of my best memories of the area was are weekly boat excursions to this wonderful glacier fed lake.

    • ladyjane1 profile image

      ladyjane1 6 years ago from Texas

      Nice hub. I agree about Washington state. I have a sister that lives on whidbey island and I have been there a few times. Very nice area. Cheers.

    • Lindsay Godfree profile image

      Lindsay Godfree 6 years ago from Arizona

      I love the Seattle area and really enjoyed reading this hub. Thanks for the ideas and travel tips!

    • ethel smith profile image

      Eileen Kersey 6 years ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Beautiful. If I ever get to visit.....

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 6 years ago from Texas

      Thanks for giving us a look at Washington State.

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 6 years ago from London, UK

      This is a wonderful hub. At least could see it from the pitures and read all about the information. I never thought it is that beautiful. Thank you so much for writing it.

    • profile image

      Duchess OBlunt 6 years ago

      I have been to Seattle and the Olympic National Park, but I have to say the next time I'm down that way, I want to look up the city of Snoqualmie!

      Nice snapshot of some of the great places the State of Washington has to offer.

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