Low-exertion day trips/weekends from Seattle?
June 29, 2012 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Low-exertion day trips/weekends from Seattle?

We're in Seattle for a bit, and would like to get out this weekend and see what else is around. We love nature and hiking and so on, but my husband is having asthma problems and is afraid to do anything really physical. My original plan for the weekend was the Hoh rainforest. So, my question: are there any interesting places within a day of Seattle that don't require miles of hiking?

We do have a car and a middle-class budget. Oh, also, not fans of Twilight. Thought about touring Forks ironically, but... I just can't.
posted by hishtafel to Travel & Transportation around Washington (17 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Hoh rainforest actually has a really nice very accessible trail called the Hall of Mosses trail which is not very long (less than a mile) and almost no climb and is also spectacularly beautiful. So if you're still considering this, it might be a good compromise unless the weather is really hot/unforgiving. Sequim also has the Dungeness Wildlife Refuge which has mild walking and a lot of nice natural things to look at. There is also the world's largest sand spit! There may be stairs going down to the spit, so I'd check that out beforehand, but you can do a nice loop and then come back via the ferry and get to see a lot of really lovely things without too much exertion.
posted by jessamyn at 12:54 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If cities count as interesting places, too, do a weekend trip to Vancouver. Lots to see there, and it's closer than many people think, ~3 hours drive.
posted by aimedwander at 1:00 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Drive to Bellingham, take the Anacortes Ferry to Sidney, overnight in Victoria, take the Coho to Port Angeles, drive back (via the Washington State Ferry System) to Seattle. Victoria is a paradise for walkers, and Sidney has about 12 independent bookstores.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:08 PM on June 29, 2012 [2 favorites]

Best answer: What about a whale watching tour? Looks like this one is booked tomorrow, but might have some availability Sunday, plus there are other games in town (probably cheaper ones, too). I was going to recommend driving up to Deception Pass anyway, but that trip would take you through the pass on a boat, plus you'd get up to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands for a few hours.

Dungeness Spit is really nice and also has the advantage of being in the rainshadow, so I have been known to go there when the weather looks terrible everywhere else (as it does this weekend). There is quite the set of stairs to get down onto the spit though, I can confirm.
posted by adiabat at 1:08 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Snoqualmie Falls is the kind of spectacular whole-river-going-off-a-cliff straight drop waterfall you'd expect to find way up in the mountains, located an unreasonably short drive from Seattle. It's a hundred paved yards from the parking lot to the cliff edge. If you're feeling good there's a short trail down to the river and up a boardwalk, for a nice look from below, but it's a steep slope coming back up.
posted by Mars Saxman at 1:20 PM on June 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Hurricane Ridge is nice, with as much or as little hiking as you like.

Grove of the Patriarchs is a nice, easy 1.5 mile hike in Mt. Rainier National Park. You could drive up to the Sunrise visitors center after that, and it would make a lovely day.

On preview, seconding a whale watching tour. Island Adventures is a top notch organization.

There is always Leavenworth.
posted by Balonious Assault at 1:22 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Go up to Port Townsend and look at some cute houses and browse some art galleries.
posted by matildaben at 1:31 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Not on the peninsula, you have:
Snoqualmie Falls.
Yakima Valley Wineries, specifically Red Mountain.

+1 for Leavenworth, Hurricane Ridge and the Dungeness Spit.
posted by jeffamaphone at 1:52 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Mt. St. Helens Johnston Ridge observatory

Orca-watching in the San Juans (various tour companies have boats that leave from Friday Harbor, Anacortes, Pt. Townsend, etc.)

Ozette Lake - Beach Loop involves a few miles of walking, but all on nice flat boardwalks.

Columbia Gorge: Mary Hill Museum, Crown Point, Multnomah Falls. And, of course, Stonehenge.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:15 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: It's too far for a day trip, but for a weekend you might consider going out to the San Juan Islands. It would enable you to be out in the northwest waters without much exertion: the ferry ride is glorious, the beaches peaceful and wild, and on Orcas Island you can actually drive to the top of Mount Constitution for a view out and over.

For a day trip, you could always take a ferry to Bainbridge Island and wander the Bloedel Reserve.

A couple folks above mention ferries - yes! Ferry rides are magic out there, a wonderful way to get out on the water. Highly, highly, highly recommended.
posted by marlys at 2:16 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Deception Pass. It's gorgeous.
posted by karizma at 2:25 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Great suggestions. Come on out to Port Townsend, you'll love it.

You can take the PS Express to Friday Harbor and whale watching, but it leaves around 9 am, so you'll need to get an early start. There are three local ciderys with tasting rooms and July 7 is the 2nd annual Cider Days festival here in PT.

The Hoh is great and the Hall of Mosses is quite gentile, but it's too much for a day trip. At least 5 hours of driving each way. Were you thinking of spending the night? Hurricane Ridge is a much better choice if you intend to return to Seattle on the same day.

The Ozette-Cape Alava-Sand Point loop is 9 miles, so hardly a good choice someone worried about exerting themselves.

posted by humboldt32 at 2:56 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Another vote for Leavenworth! The fish hatchery is public and a great place to take a leisurely walk and birdwatch.
posted by trunk muffins at 4:47 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Take the North Cascades Pass and come visit the Methow Valley!
posted by in the methow at 6:33 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Drive up to Anacortes and hop on a ferry to Orcas Island, or one of the other San Juans. You can go on a whale watch from there. You will definitely feel like you are in a different place.
posted by eelgrassman at 9:15 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: Snoqualmie Falls is still worth visiting, but the trail down to the bottom of the falls is closed this year because of work on the nearby hydroelectric facility. You can still walk along the paths/viewpoints above the falls.
posted by mbrubeck at 10:47 PM on June 29, 2012

Best answer: On our first visit to the Hoh Rain Forest, we didn't do any hiking at all. We drove slowly along the roads and really enjoyed it. As others have mentioned, the short trails near the visitor center are not challenging, and offer a variety of fauna. This rain forest is unique and so very beautiful. If this is your only opportunity, don't miss it.
If you can get a reservation at nearby Kalaloch Lodge, you can sit on a beautiful bluff over the Pacific. The Lodge restaurant is quite good, and you can reserve a table with a view.
Be aware that the Hoh rainforest is a long drive from Seattle.

There are many great suggestions in this thread.
If your budget allows, you might consider a sea-plane tour of Puget Sound.
posted by valannc at 11:24 PM on June 29, 2012

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