Where to go around W. Wash?
June 7, 2011 9:44 PM   Subscribe

Day Trip Suggestions around Seattle? Info on the coast and San Juans for this weekend.

I'm in Seattle and I am looking for viable day trip suggestions around the area along with what to visit.

One of my plans is to visit either the coastal beaches or the San Juans this weekend with a group of people (20+). Does anyone have any suggestions on which one would be better along with what to do there?
posted by touareg to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (9 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Both the coastal beaches and the San Juans are a bit far for a day trip. I would actually not suggest either unless you plan to stay overnight (I can't quite tell if that's what you mean to do).

WRT the coastal beaches, be aware they are quite remote and the towns are very small and, at least in the 90's were pretty unappealing. Kalaloch is the place to go if you are staying overnight. Otherwise, I think the San Juans are a MUCH nicer trip, but they are farther than you think they are. The ferries from Anacortes get crowded - people wait for hours. And Anacortes is a bit of a drive from Seattle, about an hour if I'm remembering correctly. If you go, go to either Orcas Island or San Juan Island. San Juan is a little more built up/touristy, Orcas is more wilderness. Both are beautiful, and worth the trip, but again, I wouldn't suggest trying to do it as a day trip. Really.

Better day trip suggestions are the following:

1. Mt Ranier. Unfortunately you're about two weeks to early for the roads up to be open. Buuut for any future readers, it's awesome, go.

2. Since you seem interested in seeing the water/beaches, I would suggest instead taking the ferry to Whidbey Island. There is an old fort there you can explore, picnic at, walk around the the beaches. Check out Deception Pass. You want to make a loop by taking the ferry to Clinton, drive up the island to Deception Pass, cross the bridge back to mainland and return to Seattle that way.

Hope that helps. I would skip the coastal ocean and either do my suggestion of Whidbey or the San Juans.
posted by annie o at 9:56 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks! Yeah the plan was to leave early in the morning (8/9am) and be back late at night. Would the San Juans be possible then (How long is the wait at the ferry?)?
posted by touareg at 10:00 PM on June 7, 2011

Ok, so this is the trip to Anacortes, where the ferries leave from. Google says it takes 1 1/2 hours (sounds about right). This is the ferry schedule - note that the last morning ferry is at 9:30 am. The travel time is 1 hour. I would add 45min-2hours waiting for the ferry. Leaving the island could also be problematic.

If you really want to do it, I would go as walk ons to Friday Harbor, leave the car in a lot in Anacortes. That way you are guaranteed to get on the ferry you want. I believe there a numerous bike rental places in Friday Harbor, and you can actually see a lot (all?) of the island on a bike in a few hours. Apparently the last ferry is as late at 10:30pm, so you might be able to pull this off if you leave the car on the mainland.
posted by annie o at 10:21 PM on June 7, 2011

Here are some of our favorite day trips from Seattle:

1) Drive north on I-5 and take Exit 231 to get on Chuckanut Drive - it's a beautiful, truly a taste of the Northwest. Continue north on Chuckanut to Larrabee State Park, located just outside of Bellingham. Have a picnic and explore the park - it's on the Sound and is gorgeous. Afterward, head a little further north toward Bellingham and have a late lunch/early dinner in Fairhaven. Perfect!

2) Take the Seattle to Bainbridge Ferry OR drive to Port Townsend (via Tacoma/SR 16) and visit Fort Worden State Park (see here and here). Fort Worden is a former United States Army installation built for the protection of Puget Sound. It was active from 1902 to 1953. Today you can roam around the old Fort grounds and check out the coastal artillery batteries. The movies An Officer and a Gentleman and The Ring were filmed here too. After checking out the Fort, head back into Port Townsend to explore a bit before heading back. A fun trip!

3) Leavenworth. Head north on I-5 to HWY 2 East and you'll arrive at this quaint Bavarian-themed town. Park the car, walk around the small village of a town, grab a beer and brat in the beer garden, and enjoy the sights, sounds, and people. It's a fun little excursion, just be wary that it is touristy.

Hope this helps! Enjoy!
posted by karizma at 10:31 PM on June 7, 2011 [2 favorites]

Victoria, BC – you can take the Victoria Clipper or even better, and surprisingly cheap, Kenmore Air flights from the Lake Union seaport there (or one way by air and sea each). Now is the time to visit Butchart Gardens for all kinds of gorgeousness! Then, have cocktails and dessert at the fantastic Bengal Lounge.

There's Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula, where you will find absolutely gorgeous views and hiking and still be back at the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal for dinner and in Seattle before midnight.

There are lots more incredible places to visit (e.g. Hoh Rainforest – like out of a fairy tale) if you're willing to bring a tent and camp out for a night. I personally think there's not that much fun to be had in the San Juan islands.
posted by halogen at 10:59 PM on June 7, 2011 [1 favorite]

Yes, if you are determined to go to the islands, fly or go as a ferry walk-on. You can rent a car or moped or bike on SJI and Orcas, and there is also taxi service. But unless you have time for a long hike or some boating, a one-day trip is really not worth it.

I'd agree with the Whidbey suggestion and halogen's idea.
posted by jgirl at 4:49 AM on June 8, 2011

The Olympic Rain Forest is one of my favorite places on Earth. If Hoh is too far, it seems like you could ferry to Bainbridge Island, then drive up to Sol Duc in a long day. Sol Duc Falls and Deer Lake are easy short hikes, and the rain forest is absolutely worth seeing.

Also, you could ferry to Victoria BC, which is a really lovely town. We went bar-hopping there many many years ago, and had an absolutely wonderful afternoon.
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:56 AM on June 8, 2011

Whale watching!
posted by JesseBikman at 11:34 AM on June 8, 2011

I am going to hop in here and disagree with annieo. Summer days are loooooooong. Getting an early start (7 or 8 instead of 9) should minimize your ferry wait for say, edmonds - kingston, which is the best way to get to the north part of the coast. from the other side of the ferry it's 2 and 1/2 hrs to Forks (alas twilight country), and you've got 10 hrs of daylight left to catch a low tide, beach comb, hike the hoh rainforest, etc.. The ferry ride over is a fun thing in itself, and crescent lake (mentioned above) is on the way.
do the drive in reverse or make a loop south to olympia and come back up I-5.

San Juan's are less an option unless sitting in ferry lines is your idea of a fun day. Logistically it just takes too long to get up to anacortes to have any chance of missing the long lines.

Mt. St. Helen's is open and very accessible. awesome scenery and a resident elk herd make for great pics.

Mt. Baker is fun if you like to snowshoe high country. go to the ski area.

Snow levels are low and lingering, so a lot of the more popular hiking trails are out until late this summer.
posted by OHenryPacey at 3:17 PM on June 8, 2011

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