Explore for a day or two or three.
Staying in Seattle Southside puts you in the perfect position to explore the Pacific Northwest. Whether you want to head down to Mt. Rainier or take light rail up to Seattle’s famous sites, your central location will make it easy to check everything off your must-see list.
Unveiled at the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle is a great way to start off your Seattle adventure. A trip to Seattle wouldn’t be complete without an elevator ride to its observation deck. This iconic landmark offers 360° panoramic views of the city, plenty of picture taking opportunities and an exquisite rotating restaurant.
Next, head to Pike Place Market, one of the oldest public farmers markets in the United States. Snack your way through the booths. Take a selfie in front of the legendary (and rather unsanitary) Gum Wall. Sample some of Seattle’s finest cheese at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese. Get a latte at the very first Starbucks. And witness the iconic tossing of the fish at the Pike Place Fish Market.
End the day at Elliott’s Oyster House on the waterfront. Enjoy views of the Seattle Great Wheel and the coming and goings of ferryboats. And don’t forget, getting back to home base is easy: just hop on the light rail.
California has Napa Valley. Western Washington has Woodinville. Only 28 miles northeast of Seattle Southside, Woodinville is home to more than 130 wineries and tasting rooms. Among the must-visit wineries are DeLille Cellars, EFESTĒ, Cascade Cliffs, Chateau Ste. Michelle, and Novelty Hill Januik.
Prefer beer? Redhook Brewery is famous for their $1 tour that runs one hour and includes five samples of beer, a souvenir tasting glass, a walk through the brewery, a Redhook history lesson and an explanation of how they brew their ales.
For whiskey fans, Woodinville Whiskey Co. offers tastings and whiskey kits for purchase.
Woodinville is a great destination for a fun day trip, but please remember to taste responsibly. There are several tour and shuttle companies that provide driving services for visitors. Call the Visitor Center at 206-575-2489 for more information.
Mount Rainier National Park
You probably saw it when you flew (or drove) in, and yes, it’s snow-covered year round, but visiting Mount Rainier National Park is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It’s about a two-hour drive from Seattle Southside, and it’s most definitely worth it. (If you’re not up for making the drive yourself, Customized Tours, Tours Northwest or Totally Seattle Tours can help you out.) The majestic views from Paradise and Sunrise will leave a lasting impression on any visitor, and the trail offerings are suitable for all hikers, from beginners to seasoned veterans. Pack a sack lunch or dine at one of the visitor centers. And be sure to bring plenty of drinking water.
When you get back to Seattle Southside, enjoy a well-earned meal at Copperleaf Restaurant & Bar. Nestled on 11 acres of restored wetlands and attached to the Cedarbrook Lodge, this eco-friendly, intimate dining venue is perfect for a romantic dinner.
Just a short drive south of Seattle Southside sits the port city of Tacoma, the third largest city in the state. Good times abound at Point Defiance Park, where you’ll find amazing views of south Puget Sound, plenty of great trails and the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.
If you’re looking to step back into the mid-nineteenth century, check out the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, also located inside the park. Outside the park, you’ll find plenty of local and world-class attractions.
If you’ve visited the Space Needle in recent years, you no doubt marveled at the neighboring exhibit, Chihuly Garden and Glass. Tacoma’s Museum of Glass celebrates Mr. Chihuly’s work on an even grander scale and includes a working hot shop.
Tacoma is also home to the Washington State History Museum, which features several permanent exhibits celebrating the history of our state from the Stone Age to the women’s suffrage movement.
After a day of exploring parks and museums, check out a local favorite: The Brown & Haley Almond Roca Factory Store. Celebrating 100 years of Almond Roca deliciousness, the factory store is known to give plenty of samples and great deals on sweets (like 99¢ per bag).
Bainbridge Island, west of Seattle in the Puget Sound, is known for its outstanding natural beauty, rustic character and small-town charm. Walk on the Washington State Ferries from Pier 52 and get to the island in 35 minutes. As you cross Elliott Bay, you’ll witness spectacular views of Seattle’s skyline.
Upon arrival, hop on the bus for a robust tour of the island. The North Loop bus takes you to many stops, including downtown Winslow, a charming town with shops and eateries; and the Bloedel Reserve, a 150-acre wildlife sanctuary and anterior estate with a Japanese garden, a rhododendron glen and a variety of native plants and famous Northwest evergreens, as well as the popular “frog rock.”
The South Loop brings you past Coppertop, a distillery, brewery, winery and café; Bainbridge Gardens nursery and garden center; The Grand Forest; and Battle Point Park, which offers picnic areas, a playground and a running track. Additional stops include the Island Center, Pleasant Beach Village, Fort Ward Park, the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial and downtown’s Winslow Way.
San Juan Island
Washington’s stunning San Juan Islands include Orcas Island, Lopez Island, Shaw Island and, of course, San Juan Island.
San Juan Island makes for a perfect family getaway. While its relatively small (with not a street light in sight), it has much to offer, from whale watching to riding scooters to sniffing your way through the Pelindaba Lavender Farm.
Roche Harbor located on the north end of the island features historic architecture, like Hotel de Haro, which has stood since 1886. Most of the restaurants on the island serve Northwestern cuisine with an emphasis on fresh, local seafood. The island also features plenty of outdoor fun for the kids, including biking, kayaking, an outdoor sculpture park, the American Camp historical park (with a large bunny population) and even a zipline.