Are you considering extensive Washington state travel but are unfamiliar with the Northwest? With so many choices, the thoughts of where to spend your valuable vacation time can be daunting Jan is a native -- we have traveled extensively in Washington and the Pacific Northwest. Below, we offer you a few suggestions for a more extended stay.
Three nights in each destination will serve you well. That gives two full days for exploring the area and attractions in each spot. Not overly generous, but enough for a taste. You’ll just have to come back again!
If flying to this great part of the country, you might not be ready to hit the road to come to Leavenworth (an approximately 2 ½ hour drive from Sea-Tac International Airport) straight away. No worries; Seattle is a fun city with sports, museums, shopping, a great downtown, parks, and restaurants.
Seattle Aquarium – Puget Sound is teaming with life! The aquarium offers a hands-on marine experience that will teach you more about this area and its ecosystem. seattleaquarium.org
Safeco Field Tour – If you are a baseball fan, here is your chance to tour one of the foremost baseball facilities ever built. Included in this tour are areas of the ballpark that are not normally open to the public, such as the Press Box, Private Suites, Field, Dugouts and Visitors Clubhouse. Click here for more information.
Washington State Ferries – For tourists, the Washington State Ferries are an attraction. For those of us who live in Washington, it is a means of transportation. Click here for more information.
Museum of Flight - The Museum holds one of the largest and most comprehensive air and space collections in the United States, containing millions of rare photographs and negatives, a world-class library, tens of thousands of artifacts, and over 150 rare aircraft and space vehicles.
If time allows, be sure and book the Space Shuttle Trainer Tour. This is a 30 minute tour whic will give you a rare look at the Space Shuttle Trainer Crew Compartment. You will receive a safety briefing and history overview and then you'll step aboard the Space Shuttle Trainer where our Astronauts trained for every Space Shuttle mission. Tours are limited to 6 participants. Click here for more information.
Pike Place Market – This year-round farmer’s market was established in 1907 to connect citizens and farmers. The market continues this tradition by showcasing
owner-operated bakeries, fish markets and butcher shops, produce stands, specialty food stores, the work of 225 craftspeople, 200 unique shops and more than 80 restaurants. Click here for more information.
Kerry Park (on Queen Anne Hill) – This is not only the perfect spot for a photo of the Seattle skyline, the waterfront and island ferry traffic but it’s the perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny spring day or warm summer night. To gather your fare, a stop by the Dahlia Bakery will do nicely (2001-4th Avenue, Seattle 98121).
The Seattle Center – Some highlights are Chihuly Garden and Glass, the Space Needle and the EMP Museum=Music+SiFi+Pop Culture. Click here for more information.
Hiram Chittenden Locks - The locks, built in 1911 (nicknamed the Ballard Locks for the city that surrounds it), provides a link for boats between the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of the Ship Canal, which connects eastward to Lake Union and Lake Washington. Argosy Tours offers a 2-1/2 hour “Locks Tour” that takes you through the salt water of Puget Sound and the fresh water of Lake Union via the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. This is a wonderful way to spend a sunny afternoon. You’ll learn about Seattle’s fishing communities, the Deadliest Catch boats, the Sleepless in Seattle floating home community and Gas Works Park. Click here for more information.
Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour – This history focused, guided tour takes visitors through the ruins of the Great Seattle Fire and subterranean passages that were once the main roadways and storefronts but are now hidden. Click here for more information.
San Juan, Orcas, Lopez and Shaw Islands -- Say farewell to worry and stress. The vibe here is mellow and as temperate as the climate. From tales of early Coast Salish settlements and Captain Vancouver’s explorations, to a near international war started over the death of a pig, there is plenty of history to discover in the San Juan Islands. You will find quiet villages with cozy inns and excellent restaurants. Activities include sea kayaking, whale watching, hiking and miles and miles of bicycling routes. Click here for more information.
Port Angeles and Port Townsend have some wonderful Victorian bed and breakfasts. From Port Angeles, you can day hike in Olympic National Park, drive to Hurricane Ridge, or take the ferry to Victoria, BC, Canada (don’t forget your passport).
Mount Rainier National Park
-- Mt. Rainier is breathtaking to be sure! Due to its close proximity to the I-5 corridor (Tacoma and Seattle) 3.4 million people also have easy access to the park each year. Because this is a National Park, it is more tightly regulated than the National Forests. When making your plans to visit, keep in mind that it rains here a fair amount of the time, so you often can't see the mountain at all.
Treehouse Point -- You may have seen the Animal Planet show featuring Tree Houses built by
Pete Nelson. Treehousee Point offers unique accommodations in one of many tree houses on forested property near Fall City, Washington. Click here for more information.
Olympic National Park -- With nearly one million acres, Olympic National Park encompasses several distinctly different ecosystems and protects a rich mosaic of natural and cultural beauty. Rivers flow from glacier-capped peaks through valleys of old-growth forests, waves crashed against a shoreline rich with life, and only trails traverse the vast interior of this internationally recognized wilderness. Click here for more information.
Roslyn, Washington -- Roslyn is where the exteriors were filmed for the quirky 1990s TV series Northern Exposure, set in fictional Cicely, Alaska. The concurrent use of nearby towns North Bend and Snoqualmie by the even-more-quirky series Twin Peaks created a brief Golden Age of television weirdness for municipalities in Washington State (the series ran from 1990-95). Roslyn still offers a few places that Northern Exposure fans would recognize, such as the Roslyn's Cafe camel mural, Ruth-Anne's store, the KBHR radio station, and the weather-beaten vistas of Main Street from the show's opening credits.
Hardcore fans will notice that the cafe mural has been restored to its original "Roslyn Cafe" after its modification, left for a time during the series' run to make it "Roslyn's Cafe."
Hungry? Visit the historic Brick Saloon. Grab a Burger and homemade chips at the historic Brick Saloon.
North Bend, Washington
Twedes Café was a filming Location for the early 90’s TV show, Twin Peaks. Here you will find food that is made from scratch, their famous cherry pie and a great cup of coffee.
Are you a fan? Perhaps you would like to plan your trip around the Twin Peak Fest.
Snoqualmie Falls -- Snoqualmie Falls is one of Washington State’s most recognizable and popular scenic attractions. Its close proximity to Interstate 90 enables more than 1.5 million people visit the falls each year. While the water going over the falls varies with the season, the falls are beautiful anytime.
Cascade Loop -- The North Cascades Highway and the Methow Valley State Route 20 is the northernmost route across the Cascade Mountain Range in Washington and is commonly referred to as the North Cascades Highway. It is also part of the 440-mile driving tour through the Cascades known as the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway. This circle passes through the North Cascades National Park, the wildlife-filled Methow Valley, past glacier-fed Lake Chelan, and then winds along the semi-arid Columbia River Valley to Leavenworth. Stops at the North Cascades National Park Complex, the Diablo Lake overlook, Rainy Pass, and Washington Pass are a must. Click here for more information and to request your free travel guide.
Lake Chelan -- If you are touring the North Cascades Highway on your way to Leavenworth, you may want to plan stay a night at Lake Chelan. Get an early start in the morning. Grab a cup of coffee and take the Lady of the Lake Boat Tour. Lake Chelan is a glacier-carved lake and is the third deepest lake in the country. Tours travel more than 50 miles up the lake to the remote community of Stehekin. Stehekin is a pleasant little village accessible only by boat or seaplane. The layover here, before your return trip, is perfect for an impromptu picnic. Click here for more information.
Leavenworth -- Tucked in the Icicle Valley among the Central Cascades, Run of the River Inn & Refuge is approximately two hours from the I-5 corridor and 2 ½ hours from Sea-Tac airport. Originally a logging town, Leavenworth was redesigned as a Bavarian themed town in the late 1960s and has been a favorite vacation spot for people from all over the country and even the world, ever since. There is more to do and see in and around this area, than you can possibly pack into a two or three day stay. Activities include scenic drives and hikes, bicycling, hiking, rafting, tubing, golfing, fishing, all types of skiing and snowshoeing. Wine tasting is a great way to spend the afternoon or you may prefer to relax on your deck swing while reading a great book. Click here for more information.