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Best Day Trips from Seattle

U.S. News Best Vacations Badge

Seattle enjoys the perfect placement in the middle of some of the Pacific Northwest's best geography. In just a couple hours' time, travelers can easily reach some of Washington's most noteworthy landscapes, including scenic beaches, captivating mountain ranges and some of the USA's best national parks. U.S. News weighed these factors, as well as traveler sentiment and expert opinion, to come up with the Best Day Trips from Seattle. Got a favorite? Vote below to influence next year's ranking list. 

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#1 Tacoma

#1 in Best Day Trips from Seattle

A relatively quick, 35-mile jaunt down the I-5 freeway, Tacoma is probably the easiest day trip for Seattle visitors. Like Seattle, Tacoma offers a hearty mix of cultural and outdoor offerings. In particular, day trippers will delight in the 760-acre Point Defiance Park, which offers scenic, lush trails. Other popular attractions include the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum.

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#2 Snoqualmie Valley

#2 in Best Day Trips from Seattle

If you're all about getting lost in the outdoors, you'll find solace in Snoqualmie Valley. The valley, which lies about an hour east of Seattle, offers scenic areas, natural wonders and hiking trails galore. Snoqualmie Falls in the town of Snoqualmie is considered to be one of Washington's most popular attractions and Snoqualmie Pass, which cuts right through the Cascade Mountains, is a prime ski spot come winter.

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#3 Mount Rainier National Park

#3 in Best Day Trips from Seattle

This stunning national park is situated less than 70 miles south of Seattle, putting America's most glaciated peak in the contiguous USA within easy reach for day trippers. While you may not be able to do some serious hiking in just one day, the park offers loads of day hikes that can take between 20 minutes and five hours to complete, including the leafy Grove of the Patriarchs loop and the popular Skyline Trail, which takes you right up Mount Rainier. Read More »

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#4 Olympic National Park

#4 in Best Day Trips from Seattle

Olympic National Park is an exceptional day trip from Seattle, with driving time clocking in at about four hours round-trip. This national park offers a host of diverse scenery, with peaks to climb, rainforests to walk through and beaches to explore. The park is huge (more than 900,000 acres), so choose what you want to see before you go. Olympic National Forest and Lake Cushman, two top attractions, sit closer to Seattle at the eastern border of the park. Read More »

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#5 Bainbridge Island

#5 in Best Day Trips from Seattle

A quick ferry ride across Elliott Bay, Bainbridge Island offers a remote, outdoor experience without being too far from the city. This sleepy island is blanketed in verdant forests and lined with rocky beaches that offer beautiful views of the surrounding bay or the Seattle skyline. In addition to taking in the scenery, you can visit cultural spots such as the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art and the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial.

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#6 Leavenworth

#6 in Best Day Trips from Seattle

Leavenworth is small town USA at its finest. The only catch? It's German. Situated about 120 miles east of Seattle, Leavenworth mimics a Bavarian village, complete with traditional architecture and restaurants serving German beer. The town is also a gateway to local wineries and the nearby mountains, which are great for skiing. However, the best time to visit this town is around Christmas, when the town is lit up and European-style markets are in full swing.

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Mount St. Helens

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Mount St. Helens

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