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Photo courtesy of Tom Dempsey.

Wednesday, April 20

Seattle Series: Seattle Day Trips

Seattle Day Trips

Quick getaways from Seattle to experience the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest is as easy as going north to the San Juan Islands, south to Mount Rainier National Park, or east to Snoqualmie Falls. Each site offers its own uniqueness to the Seattle experience.

San Juan Islands

An archipelago comprising of four main islands of the San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw islands, it is approximately an hour and a half drive to Anacortes, and an additional hour long ferry ride via the Washington State Ferries to the San Juan Islands. A faster route would be to take a seaplane via Kenmore Air.

Photo by Margret Maria Cordts
The more popular destinations are San Juan Island and Orcas Island, where your choices of experiencing nature include kayaking, whale watching, hiking, and biking. My preference is Orcas Island where the highest point of Mount Constitution at 2409 feet or 734 meters is located. You may hike, ride your mountain bike, or drive up to the summit. On a clear day, you can easily see Victoria in British Columbia. The view is awe inspiring.

One of my favorite activities is whale watching. My family went last summer on a whale watching tour from Orcas Island, and witnessed a "super pod" of whales, which is essentially a big block party of several residential pods of orca whales. It was the most exciting viewing of wildlife I have ever experienced. Not only did we see a lot of orca whales, but, we also saw seals and eagles. We went on a smaller boat on Outer Island Expedition, which allowed us to be nimble and get to the action faster.

Mount Rainier National Park

One of my favorite destinations is a two and a half hour drive from Seattle to Mt. Rainier. This permanent feature of Seattle is beautiful from downtown and its suburbs. But, up close, it is truly magnificent.

From Paradise, located on the south slope of the mountain, the view is simply breathtaking, especially on a sunny day where you can see the mountain peak. Paradise at 5,400 feet or 1,600 meters is the most popular destination by visitors to the mountain. It has a historic inn and restaurant, and numerous trails, including to the base camp of Camp Muir for serious mountaineers scaling the top of the mountain.

The ideal time to visit is during the summer months when the wild flowers are in bloom. One popular and fairly easy hike is Alta Vista Loop Trail where you can see a spectacular showcase of Nature's bouquet of flowers. If you prefer, a more challenging hike, I went on wonderful hike with family last summer on the Skyline Trail Loop Trail. We crossed creeks, played on the snow and saw beautiful waterfalls in shorts and t-shirts.

Snoqualmie Falls

Of the three day trips showcased, this is the easiest trip to make, and doesn't require an early start to your day. Located east of Seattle and a quick 45 minute drive, Snoqualmie Falls is known to many tv viewers of the cult series Twin Peaks. It is 268 feet or 82 meters, with a historic Salish Lodge and Spa which serves a wonderful Sunday brunch.

There is a trail that takes you to the base of the falls. I've been to the Falls at all seasons, and it is a lovely sight for vacationers who want to see the greenery and for the fresh air.

Helpful Links:

Washington State Ferries System
Kenmore Air

Whale Watching

Paradise Area Hiking

Alta Vista Loop Trail

Skyline Trail Loop Trail

Snoqualmie Falls


  1. great post I enjoy taking my family on day trips

  2. Its great to take some time with the family and recharge

  3. Thanks for posting Thach and Stacia. I agree that a little R&R with family is the best!