Out and About: Seattle Scenic Drives

It’s not always all about the destination. Sure, Seattle’s a great city with a ton of stuff to do, but take a look at this and you’ll see there’s a lot to appreciate within easy driving distance.

Seattle to Portland

Why not take a treat yourself to a staycation and spend some time in these two cities? As you start your journey in Seattle, you’ll cross the world’s longest floating bridge by taking the I-90 bridge over Lake Washington. The Snoqualmie Pass is one of the highlights of this road trip, so take I-90 to I-82. Snoqualmie Pass Weather will tell you everything you need to know about driving conditions. Then I-82 to 97 for the spectacular scenery of Satus Pass, with its pine forest and Central Washington desert. Take the US-97 to I-84 and you’ll get amazing views of the Columbia River as you arrive in Portland.


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A Day at Rialto Beach

Hop on the ferry to Bainbridge Island (it takes 30 minutes), take the 305 and 104, and you’ll ultimately reach US-101. Keep heading west until you get to Rialto beach. Detailed directions can be found here. There are other routes, but this loop is by far the most appealing. Beautiful scenery, lots of pretty rest stops, and little congestion: perfect. The 149-mile drive will take no more than four hours.


Snoqualmie Falls

No article on road trips around Seattle would be complete without a mention of the breathtaking Snoqualmie Falls. It’s just a 29-mile drive to the two-acre Snoqualmie Falls park if you take the I-90 and 18 East. The I-90 is one of the easiest scenic mountain drives in the country, although you might need snow chains depending on the time of year. The park is relatively small, so leaves you with plenty to time to continue on I-90 to Olallie State Park with the ever-popular Twin Falls and Weeks Falls.


Island Hopping

Leaving Seattle on the 1-5 North, follow these directions to get to the Clinton – Mukilteo ferry, and then onwards to Whidbey Island. This 34-mile journey should take no longer than 1.5 hours. Whidbey Island is gorgeous all year round. Then, drive the length of the island, stopping off in the towns of Langley and Coupeville for a well-earned coffee and shopping break!

Keep driving north and you’ll get to Deception Pass State Park, a 4,134-acre park with unbeatable views, old-growth forests, sand dunes, mountains, islands and abundant wildlife. A definite highlight of this road trip is Deception Pass Bridge, one of the state’s most photographed sites (and only for the brave!). It’s just a 15-minute drive from Fidalgo Island to Anacortes. If time is on your side, you’ll find these itineraries for exploring Anacortes useful.


scenic drives near seattle

Rainy Day Seattle

We’re known for copious amounts of rain in Seattle, but don’t let that stop you! Go north on I-405 to I-90, then east on I-90 over Snoqualmie into Ellensburg. Here, take the I-82 towards Yakima and head for the Yakama Nation Heritage Center. Take in some culture before you hit the road again.

You’ll travel back in time to the Old West as you take the US-97 over Satus Pass. Go west on SR-14 and you’ll come across something you’re not expecting – a museum, Maryhill Museum of Art to be precise. It’s well worth a visit, but you’ll have to drag yourself away to take US-30 to the magnificent Bridge of the Gods and the beautiful Cascade Locks.

Go west on the Historic Columbia Gorge Highway to the junction of I-84 and I-205. Head to the I-205, then take the I-5 back to Seattle. This road trip will take about seven or eight hours depending on traffic conditions.

Seattleites, what’s your favorite drive? Share your top road trip routes with us on Twitter or Facebook!

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