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6 Fun Day Trips From Seattle

If you have a day to spare, consider venturing beyond town to these destinations.

U.S. News & World Report

6 Fun Day Trips From Seattle

Mount Rainier

The enchanting Mount Rainier National Park is worth the two-hour drive from Seattle. (Deby Dixon)

Sure, Seattle is a destination unto itself. But if you have a day to spare, there are a lot of great spots to explore beyond the city. Here are six destinations well worth taking a day trip for.

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Hundreds of acres of fields come alive with color every April during the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. Visitors can mark the occasion by taking a driving tour through the valley's 15-mile triangle of tulip gardens or by participating in one of the many local events that celebrate the blooms.

"Everything's like rainbows," says Tracie Kahikina, head concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, who attended the festival last spring. She recommends making the 90-minute drive to the valley from Seattle before it starts getting too warm and flowers start opening. She adds, "It's really a pretty drive seeing the mountains, and then if you drive inward about 15 minutes, you go to the cute town of La Conner, with boutiques and shopping and some restaurants."

The festival has events in Mount Vernon, Burlington, Sedro-Woolley, La Conner and Anacortes.

San Juan Island

(Michael Bertrand)

The waters surrounding San Juan Island are among the best in the country for seeing whales in the wild – especially orcas. Come between May and September to improve your chances.

Alexis Beeton, chief concierge at the Kimpton Hotel Monaco Seattle, says, "San Juan Island has a winery, as well as Mona the Camel," a beloved animal that calls the island home. "It's really a magnificent time."

Plan on an hour-and-a-half drive from Seattle to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal, then an hour crossing before getting to the islands. If you can fly there, it makes a day trip doable.

Victoria, British Columbia

(Courtesy of Tourism Victoria)

"Victoria, British Columbia, is only a 45-minute seaplane ride up from harbor to harbor," says Chuck Watts, head concierge at Hyatt at Olive 8. "You can also take the Victoria Clipper, a three-hour boat ride up there. Victoria's famous for its old-world charm, and it's very clean."

Century-old landmarks like the Fairmont Empress hotel and The Butchart Gardens should not be missed. Beer enthusiasts can sample Victoria's vibrant craft beer scene on the guided Hoppy Hour Ride by The Pedaler.

"If guests have time, they can do excellent whale watching from right there at Victoria Harbour," Watts says.

Mount Rainier National Park

(Deby Dixon)

Catch a glimpse of an active volcano and a host of mountain glaciers at Mount Rainier National Park, about a two-hour drive from Seattle.

"It's a place you can go to stop and smell the wildflowers, you can listen to the cascading waterfalls, the rivers and just play in the snow," says Watts, who notes the park is one of his favorite day trips.

Olympic National Park

"If you're into nature, the Olympic Peninsula is another great day trip," Kahikina says. "It's a little bit further – three hours [by car] – but a very pretty area to view."

Among the public lands on the peninsula is Olympic National Park, whose nearly 1 million acres include the Hoh Rain Forest, beach lands and more.

Lara Dennis, concierge at Kimpton Alexis Hotel Seattle, says, at the national park "you see those giant Sitka trees, Hurricane Ridge gets you those gorgeous mountain views, and, of course, there are companies that will take you out there if it seems a little too adventurous to do it on your own." She recommends Evergreen Escapes. "They are such a cool tour group – very focused on the natural scenery of the area."

Snoqualmie

From Seattle, it takes less than an hour to drive to the charming town of Snoqualmie, perfect for a romantic getaway.

"Views from the top and bottom of the 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls are just outstanding," says Isaac Tarin, concierge at Hotel Andra.

Feeling peckish? Tarin recommends the country breakfast at the upscale Salish Lodge & Spa, which overlooks the falls. "If you like honey, you need to try the local-farmed honey the lodge uses in their cooking and for their breakfast biscuit. Also, don't miss their delicious honey beer."

To experience more of what Seattle has to offer, check out the U.S. News Travel guide.

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