Seattle is an amazing city; there is always something to see and do! But there comes a time when you want to get out of the city and head off on a day trip filled with exciting places to visit and new sights to see. Luckily, there are so many places to visit for a day trip that are under two hours’ drive from Seattle. Close enough to get there and back again in a day but far away enough to feel like you’re away from the hustle and bustle!
The 10 best day trips from Seattle that are under two hours away are:
- Bainbridge Island
- Snoqualmie Falls
- Gig Harbor
- Mount Rainier National Park
- Vashon Island
- Blake Island Marine State Park
- Bloedel Reserve Botanical Gardens
10 Best Day Trips from Seattle Under 2 Hours Away
Whether you’re looking for something new to see or an outdoor adventure, there is something for everyone in under two hours’ drive from Seattle. The natural beauty surrounding Seattle is an obvious draw card, but don’t forget there are many quaint towns, other cities, and islands to visit.
Many of the day-trip destinations below are outdoors, so choosing the time of year to go will make all the difference between a great day out and one that is hampered by the weather. You’ll get the most out of your day trip if you do a little advance planning. Below we give you all the info you need to start!
Take Note: All day trips listed below are calculated from Downtown Seattle. Depending on where in the city you’re starting out from, these traveling times and distances could vary.
1. Bainbridge Island
Distance from Seattle: 10 miles. Travel time: 40 minutes (including ferry ride).
A trip to Bainbridge Island could be for sightseeing, a cultural trip to museums and landmarks, or the excitement of a ferry trip there. There is a lot to see and do on Bainbridge Island, and because it is so close to Seattle, you’ll want to plan more than one trip there.
Things to do on Bainbridge Island:
The natural attractions of Bainbridge Island are always a draw card for visitors: Lytle Beach on the south of the island is a great place to relax and swim, or head to Fort Ward Park to picnic or enjoy the scenery.
There are two great (and free!) museums within walking distance from the ferry terminal, the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art. Each museum has something unique; if you have the time, they are both well worth visiting. The Historical Museum is in the old schoolhouse and has a story of its own to tell, so be sure to soak it all up.
Walk along Winslow Way E to sample a variety of shops, restaurants, cafes, and wineries. There are different cuisines and budget options on offer, so whether you’re looking for a quick bite to eat between exploring other island attractions or whether you’re looking for a meal destination, you’ll find something there.
The best places to eat on Bainbridge Island:
Bainbridge locals and visitors alike love fish and chips from Proper Fish. There are also two great restaurants to try, Restaurant Marché and Harbor Public House. Finish it off with an ice cream from Mora!
If it’s a drink you’re looking for instead, then Pegasus Coffee or Steepology will give you a great cup of coffee or tea. For something a little harder, the Bainbridge Brewing Taproom is a must-visit brewery for excellent beer and cider.
Bainbridge Island budget:
The great thing about Bainbridge Island is that you can set the price tag for your day trip. If you take the ferry as a walk-on passenger, visit the free museums and take in the scenery, then the day will only cost you the price of a ferry ticket and what you eat. If you choose to take your car and adventure around the island, it will cost a little more, but on the whole, it is a great day out on a budget.
2. Snoqualmie Falls
Distance from Seattle: 29 miles. Travel time: 30 minutes.
A day trip to Snoqualmie Falls is one of the best outdoorsy day trips you can take near Seattle.
Things to do at Snoqualmie Falls:
The obvious attraction at Snoqualmie Falls is the waterfalls. Without a doubt, these are some of the best waterfalls in Washington, and because they are close to Seattle, the falls get as many as 1.5 million visitors every year. Their size and the majestic views accompanying the falls make them a sight worth seeing.
These 268-foot falls take a central role in the belief systems of the indigenous Snoqualmie Tribe. This has led to the area being listed in the National Register of Historic Places. There are great hiking trails in the area to take in other views and enjoy the natural beauty of the area; Mount Si and Rattlesnake Mountain are two favorites of regular visitors.
Also, the falls were the filming location for the 1990’s mystery TV series Twin Peaks. Fans of the series will love the falls and will recognize many of the surrounding locations.
The best places to eat in Snoqualmie:
On the topic of Twin Peaks, Twede’s Café is instantly recognizable from the series, and many people complete their trip to the falls with a visit to the café.
Snoqualmie Falls budget:
There are some small costs associated with a trip to Snoqualmie Falls, but overall it is a budget-friendly day trip.
3. Gig Harbor
Distance from Seattle: 44 miles. Travel time: 1 hour.
A day trip to Gig Harbor will be filled with beautiful sights and scenery, and it will you’re your senses. The small town has a maritime history, so you can enjoy a mix of cultural and sightseeing activities during the day.
Things to do in Gig Harbor:
Gig Harbor is fondly known as “The Maritime City” because of its location in the southern section of Puget Sound. The town still has deep roots in the surrounding water, and this is reflected in much of the town’s culture and history. The people are friendly and helpful and often keen for a conversation.
The parks in the area are also a big attraction for day-trippers, boasting an impressive 21 parks in the town. There will be one that you can relax in and enjoy.
When you’re there, make the most of the water activities on offer. Rent a kayak, standup paddleboard, or a boat to have a little fun on the water. If you prefer someone else to be the skipper, book a place on one of the cruises on offer, sit back, and enjoy the water and scenery.
For the romantics, there are also gondola rides available in the harbor. These aren’t just a novelty. The rides are authentic and beautiful in their own right.
Best places to eat in Gig Harbor:
The fish and chips at Tides Tavern are local favorites, and visitors to Gig Harbor will enjoy a beer from the Gig Harbor Brewing Company. There are also several other restaurant options in town.
Gig Harbor budget:
While you can visit Gig Harbor on a smaller budget, the water activities are what make the day trip memorable; renting kayaks, taking cruises, and gondola rides will add up, so this is a day trip with some costs involved. Do your research before you go, and book as much as you can in advance so that you’re not surprised by the cost in the moment.
4. Mount Rainier National Park
Distance from Seattle: +-80 miles. Travel time: 90 minutes to 2 hours, depending on which part of the park you intend to go to.
Mount Rainer National Park is a destination that attracts outdoors enthusiasts. The park has several great hiking trails and striking natural beauty.
Things to do in Mount Rainer National Park:
First-time visitors to the park are often recommended to start their adventures in the Paradise section so the park. This is because this area is filled with beautiful subalpine meadows and hiking routes for every level of hiker. The trails often lead to one of the many beautiful waterfalls.
In the summer, the fields are filled with wildflowers, and three waterfalls, in particular, come into their own: Narada Falls, Christine Falls, and Myrtle Falls.
Mount Rainer is an active volcano and stands over 14 000 feet tall. The glacier on the mountain is the watershed for five major rivers in the area and countless rivers and streams. This makes the experience of exploring this National Park one that you don’t get in many other places.
But remember, because of the glacier, the weather is cooler for longer, and the spring months are still very cold.
While Mount Rainer National Park is considered ‘wilderness’, there are three visitor centers in the area and a handful of developed areas in the park. There is also a museum to visit.
Best places to eat in Mount Rainer National Park:
Because of the size of the park, there are no recommended restaurants for this listing, but take a picnic or pack a hiking trail lunch!
Mount Rainer National Park budget:
The budget for a day trip to Mount Rainer National Park will depend on which part of the park you intend to visit, but the day out will be a budget-friendly trip. The distance of the park is at the top end of our two-hour limit, so remember to factor in the cost of gas.
5. Vashon Island
Distance from Seattle: 20 miles. Travel time: 1 hour & 15 minutes (including ferry ride).
Typically, people head to Vashon Island for relaxation and to ‘get away from it all’, but that doesn’t mean there are not a lot of exciting things to do on the island!
Things to do on Vashon Island:
Most people enjoy taking a day trip to the island because of its laid-back feeling. Being a little further out from Seattle than Bainbridge Island makes it more of an intentional destination but one that offers a more rural feeling. The ferry ride over to the island is the perfect transition from city life into the retreat at a slower pace.
The strawberry festival on the island is a big attraction to many people, but the island also boasts the magnificent Point Robinson lighthouse and many places to buy fresh produce and local crafts.
The walk out to the lighthouse is recommended for all first-time visitors, and at the correct time of year, you can also go whale-spotting and see bald eagles and seals.
A visit to Dragon’s Head Cider is also worthwhile when you’re on the island. Their cider is often rated in Washington as some of the best in the state. The secret is that it is made from fruit grown on the island. The cider garden is dog-friendly and kid-friendly, but be warned, they don’t serve food! You are welcome to bring your own with you, though!
Best places to eat on Vashon Island:
May Kitchen is the stand-out restaurant on the island, serving Thai food and a friendly vibe; it is a great place. There are other restaurants if Thai food is not for you, and there are many places and farm stalls to pick up snacks as you travel around the island.
Vashon Island budget:
The main costs involved with a trip to Vashon Island are the ferry ride over and what it will cost for your food and any fresh produce you buy at the many farm stalls. How much you spend on this will vary, but the overall budget is moderate.
Distance from Seattle: 80 miles. Travel time: 1 hour & 30 minutes.
A day trip to Anacortes will ideally involve some water sports and outdoor activities. If you are planning a day trip out, be ready for adventure.
Things to do in Anacortes:
Anacortes is a vibey Fidalgo Island port city. Because of the water and natural beauty surrounding the city, many people visit for the water-sports and wildlife viewing. Whichever you are there for, there is certainly enough to see and do to keep you occupied the entire time you are there.
The island is accessible by car, so there is no need to take a ferry to the city, but there are options to take a ferry or boat over if you would like to start the day trip on the water.
Because of the area’s outstanding natural beauty, wildlife lovers will be able to go wildlife watching to their heart’s content: whale watching is a big attraction for many, with the ability to see orcas, humpback whales, and gray whales on one of the whale watching charters. Other charters will take you fishing.
Hikers, cyclists, and joggers can head over to Tommy Thompson Trails for some exercise fun with great views of Mount Baker along the way.
Best places to eat in Anacortes:
A’Town Bistro and Adrift Restaurant are known for a good lunch stop, and Mad Hatter’s Ice Cream makes a perfect dessert to top it all off.
The distance from Seattle means you will need to consider the cost of gas to get there, and because most of the activities in Anacortes are chartered or involve some cost, the day trip is a moderate to expensive one.
Distance from Seattle: 34 miles. Travel time: 40 minutes.
A day trip to Tacoma is one that will be filled with city sights and sounds. There are museums and other interesting cultural activities to do while you’re there that you can’t get in Seattle, which is what people enjoy a day trip there.
Things to do in Tacoma:
Tacoma ranks as one of the largest cities in Washington State, so you will always have something to do. Whether you are looking for museums, a zoo, or one of the many restaurants on offer in the city, you will find entertainment and fun.
Two places stand out in the city; The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and the Chihuly Museum of Glass.
The Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is a great day out to see some spectacular animals. From turtles to wolves to sloths, you will spend hours looking at the world from an animal’s perspective. Because there are so many different animals at the zoo, make sure you give yourself a lot of time to see them all!
The Chihuly Museum of Glass is like nothing else you have ever seen. With glass artwork seamlessly integrated into all kinds of settings, you will be blown away by the variety, color, and shapes of everything on offer. You won’t believe your eyes, and you’ll leave with great photos and memories.
Best places to eat in Tacoma:
Being a large city, there are hundreds of restaurants, food trucks, and eateries to choose from, but if you are looking for some of the top-rated restaurants in the city, Marzano’s Restaurant and the Olive Branch Café are highly recommended by locals and visitors.
As with all cities, there are ways to visit and see them on a budget, but because most of the activities in the city come with a price tag attached, the day trip will be a moderately expensive one.
Distance from Seattle: 20 miles. Travel time: 30 minutes.
Woodinville is not only a quaint town just north of Seattle, but it also has some of the state’s best wine-tasting rooms. A day trip here will leave your taste buds buzzing.
Things to do in Woodinville:
The main attraction is wine tasting and interesting information on viticulture.
Some of the best wine-tasting rooms to visit and experience in Woodinville are Chateau Ste Michelle,
DeLille Cellars, and Quiddity. There are over 100 wine-tasting rooms in the area, so if one of these is not on your list, you are certain to find another!
Chateau Ste Michelle also hosts live music nights and other events.
Best places to eat in Woodinville:
If you are looking for a place to eat after the wine tasting, then the Barking Frog and The Herbfarm Restaurant are recommended.
The budget needed for a trip to Woodinville will depend largely on the wine-tasting rooms you choose to visit. The top wine-tasting rooms are very upscale, but there are equally a number of excellent but reasonably priced tasting rooms. On the whole, a trip to Woodinville comes at a moderate expense.
9. Blake Island Marine State Park
Distance from Seattle: 15 miles. Travel time: 1 hour (including ferry ride).
Blake Island is an outdoor reserve getaway! It is only accessible by boat and is a tranquil day trip getaway.
Things to do at Blake Island Marine State Park:
This state park offers five miles of beaches, fishing, scuba diving, walking and hiking trails, bike trails, kayaking, and other water sports. The island is only accessible by private boat.
The park spans a total of 472 acres with approximately 655 acres of saltwater bedland too. The island offers everything outdoors and more.
Where to eat at Blake Island Marine State Park:
Longhouse Café is the only place to eat on Blake Island, but bring along your own lunch or picnic if you are heading out to the trails.
Blake Island Marine State Park budget:
This is a budget outdoor option for a great day trip from Seattle.
10. Bloedel Reserve Botanical Gardens
Distance from Seattle: 17 miles. Travel time: 1 hour & 25 minutes (including ferry ride).
A day trip to Bloedel Reserve Botanical Garden is a relaxing nature experience everyone should experience. The botanical gardens span 150 acres and are home to diverse habitats.
Things to do at Bloedel Reserve Botanical Gardens:
The garden is an internationally famous one that is home to a variety of habitats and landscapes. If you are looking for variety and beauty in a botanical garden, then this is the one for you: woodlands stand side-by-side with landscaped gardens and other natural features.
You can look forward to experiencing a Japanese Garden, a tranquil Reflection Pool, a Moss Garden to wander through, and the founders’ former estate home to visit.
The primary activity at the gardens is walking through the different landscape areas and picnicking.
Best places to eat at Bloedel Reserve Botanical Gardens:
The best places to eat are not on the reserve, but there are several great restaurants on Bainbridge Island.
Bloedel Reserve Botanical Gardens budget:
The Reserve charges an admission fee, but if you are already on the island, the cost is not high for the beauty and tranquillity of the gardens.
Whatever you are looking for in a day trip that is under two hours from Seattle, there is certainly something to do and see. From epic hiking trails in State Parks to wine tasting just north of the city, keep exploring the beauty and culture surrounding Seattle!