6 Seattle Day Trips
One of the best things about living in Seattle is how close it is to so many incredible places! Being travelers on a budget, we LOVE taking cheap day trips around the PNW. We enjoy road trips to small towns, trying different restaurants and coffee shops, and exploring new parks. Here are 6 of our favorite Seattle day trip options, all within 3 hours or less from the city, perfect for your next weekend adventure!
Distance from Seattle: 2.5 hours
Leavenworth is by far our favorite little town in Washington. Not only is it Bavarian themed (so cool!), but it’s also nestled among the mountains and full of gorgeous scenery. We love spending a day here hiking, walking around town, and eating bratwursts.
- Leave Seattle early and head to Leavenworth
- Coffee at Argonaut (Our favorite! We go here every single trip…sometimes more than once!) or J5 Coffee (another popular option in town)
- Hike one of Leavenworth’s gorgeous trails! Some of our favorites:
- Enjoy a picnic lunch on your hike.
- Head back to the main street in Leavenworth and walk around the shops. We love Pine Hill Mercantile, Paprika, and Kris Kringl!
- Dinner at Munchen Haus and then grab drinks at Icicle Brewing.
- Head back home.
Distance from Seattle: 1.5 hours
The Bellingham area is filled with so many gems! From the cute little towns of Bow/Edison, the Fairhaven district, and downtown Bellingham to the beautiful scenery and hiking, it is the perfect day trip getaway from Seattle.
- Leave the Seattle area around 7:45 AM and drive towards Bellingham.
- On the way to Bellingham, take exit 231 to drive along the scenic Chuckanut Drive.
- Stop at the adorable Tweets Cafe in Bow/Edison, WA for coffee. (Warning: it’s cash only!)
- Head back onto Chuckanut Drive and stop for a hike (we suggest bringing a picnic lunch)! Some hike options:
- Oyster Dome Hike–6.5 miles, 1,865 ft elevation gain if you start off Chuckanut drive (there is another trailhead that is easier) *This hike is our top pick!*
- Fragrance Lake—5.5 miles, 950 ft elevation gain
- Chuckanut Mountain–6.1 miles, 1,945 ft elevation gain
- Not feeling a hike? Hang out at the beaches at Larrabee State Park, Washington’s first state park. We really like Clayton Beach (requires a quick 0.75 mile walk down to the beach) and the beach by the boat ramp. Both are less busy than the main one!
- After your hike, continue along Chuckanut Drive to the historic Fairhaven District. Spend a little bit of time walking around this cute area.
- Grab more coffee in downtown Bellingham. A few good options are Camber, Primer Coffee, and Black Drop Coffeehouse. Rather have a beer? Check out Kulshan Brewing Co. and Wander Brewing.
- Walk around downtown Bellingham and get dinner at one of the local spots. Brotha Dudes, Cafe Rumba, or Black Sheep are some good restaurants.
- After a jam packed day, head back to Seattle!
Distance from Seattle: 1 hour 15 minutes from Seattle to Langley (including the ferry), 1 hour 30 minutes from Deception Pass back to Seattle.
One thing that makes the Seattle area extra special are all of the islands! Driving your car onto a ferry is such a unique and fun experience (especially for us former Texans) and you immediately feel more relaxed the second you get off the boat. We have spent many days exploring Whidbey Island and love the mix of cute small towns with waterfront parks. Here’s our typical day trip formula for when we head to Whidbey!
- Take an early ferry from Mukilteo over to Whidbey Island.
- Have breakfast + coffee at Useless Bay Coffee Company or Mukilteo Coffee Roasters.
- Explore the cute town of Langley.
- Walk around Fort Casey State Park, a waterfront park with old bunkers, mounted guns, and lighthouse. Note: you need a Discover Pass to get into the park and you can get a day pass on site.
- Drive up to Coupeville and walk around the town. While you’re there, grab lunch at Christopher’s on Whidbey or The Cove Cafe and get ice cream at Kapaw’s Iskreme.
- Head up to Deception Pass State Park. Note: you need a Discover Pass to get into the park and you can get a day pass on site. Some of our suggested stops in the park:
- Make the quick and easy walk down to North Beach.
- Walk across the bridge. The views from the bridge are beautiful! There are places to park on either side of the bridge.
- Hike the Headlands/Rosario Head/Lighthouse trail. It’s 5.0 miles and only a 350 ft elevation gain. You get to walk down to beaches, on cliffs, and get more views of the bridge.
- Instead of taking the ferry, drive back home from Deception Pass.
Distance from Seattle: 2 hours 40 minutes–Note: 50 minutes of this includes time on the ferry.
This one is pushing it for a day trip, but we love it so much that we had to include it! Orcas Island is home to Eastsound, a cute little town with shops and restaurants, and a great state park, Moran State Park. We have mostly spent time camping on the island, but have also squeezed in a day trip. It’ll be a long day, but very beautiful and worth it!
- Take the early ferry (times change based on season, but we recommend one in the 7:00 hour). Note: You need to make a reservation for the ferry.
- Grab coffee and a delicious pastry from Brown Bear Baking. We love this coffee shop and bakery so much! They make everything from scratch and it all looks insanely delicious. We recommend grabbing something to-go for lunch as well.
- Walk around Eastsound for a little bit before heading to Moran State Park.
- At Moran State Park, hike the Mt. Constitution trail (6.7 miles, 1,833 ft elevation gain) for an awesome view of the San Juan Islands. You can also park halfway up Mount Constitution Road and take a trail to the top for less miles (see map here) or drive up to the top if you don’t feel like hiking.
- After Mt. Constitution, hike the quick, 0.8 mile trail (137 ft elevation gain) to Cascade Falls.
- Some other activity options on Orcas Island: whale watching (if visiting between May-September) or kayaking!
- Head back towards Eastsound and grab a quick dinner at Wild Island before taking the ferry home. Note: Wild Island is only open until 7 PM and closed on Sundays.
La Conner + Mount Erie
Distance from Seattle: 1.5 hours from Seattle to Mount Erie, 1-1.5 hours from La Conner to Seattle.
We visited La Conner shortly after we moved to Seattle. Adam planned us a surprise day trip to the area and it was so fun! The town, similar to many on this guide, is super cute and waterfront, and is near hiking.
- Start your morning with a hike up Mount Erie on Fidalgo Island. It’s 5.0 miles and 1,000 ft elevation gain with beautiful views of the Puget Sound and surrounding islands.
- After your hike, head to Calico Cupboard in La Conner for coffee and brunch (they serve breakfast all day!).
- Walk around the cute town of La Conner and explore the shops. Some cool shops include Nasty Jack’s Antiques and Handmade in La Conner.
- Walk over to the Rainbow Bridge, which just happens to look like the Pennybacker Bridge from our hometown of Austin, TX. There’s a little park near the bridge with cool views of the bridge and of the town.
- If you have time and it’s nice out, rent some kayaks from La Conner Kayak and explore the Skagit River.
- If you stay until dinner time, Anelia’s Kitchen and Stage and Coa Mexican Eatery are two good options!
- Head back home!
PS: If you visit La Conner during the spring, make sure to check out the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival!
Distance from Seattle: 35 minutes
Tacoma is Seattle’s underrated little sister with great museums, trendy coffee shops, beautiful waterfront parks, and so much more! Although it is so close to Seattle and makes for an easy day trip, Tacoma doesn’t get enough love!
- Leave Seattle after breakfast and head towards Tacoma.
- For a fun photo opp, check out the umbrella mural on 216 Puyallup Ave.
- Get a caffeine boost at Anthem Coffee & Tea, Bluebeard Coffee, or Lift Bridge Coffee.
- Visit the Chihuly Bridge of Glass (free!) and the free Chihuly installations at Union Station. If you’re a car fan, make sure to visit the LeMay – America’s Car Museum ($18).
- Grab lunch at Burger Seoul (burger food truck), Red Hot, or Dirty Oscar’s Annex. Want some dessert? Enjoy some delicious ice cream at Ice Cream Social afterwards!
- For beer drinkers, grab some post-lunch drinks at Odd Otter Brewing or 7 Seas Brewing.
- Wander around Point Defiance Park. We suggest checking out the Outside Loop Trail (4.3 miles) and Owen Beach. The park is also home to the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
- If you want stick around for dinner, check out Over the Moon Cafe or The Table.
- Head back home!