There’s nothing more I love than a good weekend road trip with my husband H. Busting out our old high school CD case and singing along to all the classic jams. (The original NOW! That’s What I Call Music CD is my personal favorite.) Sitting in the passenger seat and not being able to move my legs because they are covered by an overabundance of water bottles and snacks that would last anyone weeks. (You can never be over prepared.) It’s the journey, not the destination people!
But I digress. We are lucky to live in Seattle where there are so many unique and beautiful places to visit that are within a short driving distance. Now that the countdown clock is ticking towards our move date to Ohio, I am hurrying to book trips to some of our favorite places. Here’s a list of our top five favorite Northwest weekend road trips:
The drive alone from Seattle to Whistler is half the adventure, as Highway 99 takes you along a beautiful stretch called the Sea-to-Sky Highway. Just a four-hour drive north from Seattle (assuming low wait times at the border), Whistler is home to one of the largest ski resorts in North America and was the venue of the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. There are two main mountains, Whistler and Blackcomb, that are connected by the Peak 2 Peak Gondola. If you’re a beginner skier like me, spend your day skiing Whistler mountain and hop the gondola over to Blackcomb for a lunch break. Read my full review of our recent Whistler weekend here, including recommendations on where to stay.
4. Vancouver, BC
Did you know Vancouver, BC is only a two hour and 30 minute drive north from Seattle? With the Canadian exchange rate currently tilted in our favor, Vancouver is fantastic city to visit for shopping, dining, and beautiful scenery. For a foodie experience, check out Granville Island Public Market. In the afternoon, rent bikes and ride the perimeter of Stanley Park. For dinner, the hip district of Yaletown is loaded with restaurants, breweries, and distilleries. You’ll notice a number of high-end lofts above the restaurants, I love doing imaginary real estate window shopping (that’s a thing, right?).
3. Leavenworth, WA
Gorgeous mountains? Check. Quaint Bavarian-themed town? Check. Fun activities all year round? Triple check. Leavenworth is located in the Cascade mountains, just two and half hours east of Seattle. In the winter, it is known for its Christmas festival and tree lighting ceremony that happens every weekend. You can cross-country ski in the area, or a short drive up the mountain will take you to Steven’s Pass. In the summer, it’s all about hiking followed by a river tube to end your day. Check out the outdoor Munchen Haus for German sausages and beer. Despite being an outdoor restaurant, it is open year round (and always has a line, even in 8 degrees!).
2. Whidbey Island, WA
Whidbey Island is the largest island in Washington, and is ranked the fourth longest and fourth largest island in the contiguous United States (I know you were wondering!). It is home to Ebey’s Landing, a wonderful hike that hugs the coast of the island and gives incredible views to the Olympic Mountains. The island contains a handful of charming towns, my favorites being Langley and Coupeville. After the hike, dine at Christopher’s in Coupeville and order the seafood salad – it is heavenly! From Seattle, you can access the southern tip of the island by ferry, while the northern end is accessible by the Deception Pass bridge.
1. Orcas Island, WA
If you truly want to get away from it all, Orcas Island is the perfect refuge. Only accessible by ferry or boat, most people take the car ferry from Anacortes to the island. From there, take your car for a ride through the island’s scenic forests and waterfront to Eastsound. If you want to stay in-town, the Outlook Inn is the perfect location. If you want more of a remote resort feel, the Rosario Resort and Spa is just up the road and offers pools and recreational activities. Hiking highlights include Mt. Constitution, the highest point on the island, and Cascade Lake, a quaint lake where you can swim or paddleboat. For breakfast, go to Brown Bear Bakery for delicious pastries and strong coffee. For dinner, New Leaf Cafe at the Outlook Inn is a favorite. Looking for beer? Island Hoppin’ Brewery has you covered.
Have you been to any of these places? What are your favorite spots? Would love to hear!