From the waters of Puget Sound to the forest of the Cascades and the backwoods of Snohomish County, a new adventure awaits at every turn just a few miles out of Seattle. If it’s got to be a staycation, it should be one with an enjoyable drive, not just an exciting destination. Meander through Seattle’s scenic countryside and make a pit stop or two on the city’s most stunning drives.
Seattle to Ferry to Bainbridge Island
450 Winslow Way East
Bainbridge Island, WA 98110
Distance: 10 miles one way plus ferry boat trip
Seattle wouldn’t be Seattle without its sparkling, watery roadway. Take in a ton of riverscape without driving far by visiting Bainbridge Island via the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry’s 35 minutes of serene scenery. Step out of your car to experience the sun glistening off the water, the seagulls dancing back and forth, and a unique view of the island itself. On the other side, choose from 58 parks on 53 miles of Seattle’s unmatched coastline. The island is also home of seven independent wineries. Step out and stretch your legs on a walking tour of four of the wineries all located on Winslow Way East. The Island Vinters Tasting Room gives you the opportunity to try wine from three wineries in one stop. Each winery holds different hours for its tasting rooms, so you’ll want to visit the Bainbridge Wineries’ website for locations, times and more information.
I-90 to 18 East to Snoqualmie Falls
6501 Railroad Ave. Southeast
Snoqualmie, WA 98024
Distance: 29 miles one way
Hours: dusk to dawn
Whether you feel like a day trip or something a little longer, you can’t beat the roads to Snoqualmie Falls. Past I-90, turn left onto 18 East for splendid sights, huge rock formations and looming trees. Travel down Snoqualmie Parkway and turn left onto Railroad Avenue Southeast. The two-acre Snoqualmie Falls park features an observation deck, gift shop and, of course, the 270-foot waterfall. From the free parking lot to the observation deck is only 200 feet and wheelchair accessible. For a night or weekend of pampering, stay at The Salish Lodge & Spa located nearby and enjoy a four-course breakfast before you hit the road.
WA 520 to I 405 to U.S. 2 to Wallace Falls and North Cascades
Wallace Falls State Park
14503 Wallace Lake Rd.
Gold Bar, WA 98251
Distance: 47 miles one-way
Price: $57 to $67 for a cabin/$30 annual Discover Pass (required to enter park)/$10 one day
Hours: daily – 8 a.m. to dusk
The trip from WA 520 and then I 405 may resemble your morning commute, but that all changes when you find U.S. 2 toward Gold Bar. This drive really takes you away from it all, right into Wallace Falls State Park. To get the best view of the 265-foot waterfall, take one of the park’s well-marked trails. One trail is about a mile longer than the other, but easier to walk. Either trail will bring you to fantastic views of the lower, middle and upper waterfall. The hike takes about three hours. If you’d rather just drive up picturesque Highway 2 to view the North Cascades, stop off at Zeke’s Drive In for a great burger, tasty fries and a cold ice cream shake.
Related: Best Out of Town Road Trips
Seward Park to the Washington Park Arboretum
Washington Park Arboretum
2300 Arboretum Dr. East
Seattle, WA 98112
Distance: 15 miles one-way
Hours: daily – 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For a uniquely Seattle-esque scenic drive, travel from Seward Park to the Washington Park Arboretum alongside Lake Washington — the second largest natural lake in Washington — with an incredible view of Mount Rainier in the distance. This route also makes for a great bike ride too. With exception of the Japanese Garden, the entire grounds of Arboretum may be viewed free of charge. The site features 230 acres of gardens, natural areas and wetland.
Distance: 16 miles one way, includes a ferry boat ride
Hours: Sun – 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Wed to Sat – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Vashon Island provides you with a quiet, restful drive in the heart of an artistic community. After enjoying a short trip on the sea aboard the Fauntleroy-Vashon Island ferry, travel down the Vashon Highway to see the Point Robinson Lighthouse, the Vashon Farmers Market and a variety of galleries and art dealers including the Silverwood Gallery. Silverwood is known for its variety of often eclectic art, friendliness and comfort. Vashon Island is also an excellent place for birding.
Related: Best of the Pike Place Market
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Jeffrey Totey is a freelance writer living in Seattle. He has a love for the arts and is a student of pop culture. He covers stories about the performing arts, theater, museums, cultural events, movies and more in the greater Seattle area. His work can be found at Examiner.com.