As the Pacific Northwest reawakens for spring, Seattleites are filled with inspiration to hit the open road and explore their vibrant surroundings. Mountain hikes, millions of tulips in bloom, and island towns with a bounty of quaint boutiques and wineries await just a short drive from the Emerald City.
Here are a few of our favorite seasonal daytrips, complete with relaxed itineraries curated by our team at The Woodmark:
Photo: Daniel Ramirez; Bainbridge Island
A quick, 35-minute ferry ride from the Seattle waterfront will get you to Bainbridge Island. The charming, rural outpost in the heart of the Puget Sound abounds with scenic park paths, artisan wineries, and eye-catching shop windows. Lush greenery climbs the towns’ buildings and hangs over roadways, while the harbor shelters boats from gentle waves.
With the Cascade Mountain Range to the east and the Olympic Mountains to the west, outdoor enthusiasts will find all parts of the island inundated with captivating natural beauty. Start your day with a visit to Bloedel Reserve or Bainbridge Gardens, then take in some of the island’s many historical and cultural sites. We like Bainbridge Island Historical Museum and the Museum of Art.
Step into the historic Harbour Public House for a midday meal—where fresh seafood, like pan-fried oysters, pairs perfectly with vibrant water views.
Photo: Rolling Bay Winery
After lunch, choose your libation: Bainbridge Island Brewing offers exceptional flagship drafts like the Kommuter Kolsch and the Eagle Harbor IPA, while Eleven Winery and Rolling Bay Winery are said to have some of the best artisan wines around. (There are seven wineries total on the island, and on April 22 and 23, you can check out the Wine on the Rock: Wine & Cheese event for spectacular paired wine and cheese tastings.) There’s also Bainbridge Organic Distillers, a distillery that uses pure Washington grain to craft the state’s first organic vodka, gin, and whiskey.
In the late afternoon, head back to downtown Winslow near your return ferry to wander in and out of boutiques and unwind for a while in the waterfront park. The gourmet dining scene is worth a visit in itself, with standouts like Restaurant Marché (trout meunière, pan-roasted duck breast) and Hitchcock Restaurant (rillettes de tête de porc, celeriac and bosc pear soup) attracting diners from across the state.
One of the most highly acclaimed eateries is actually an ice cream and sorbet parlor, but these desserts are like nothing you have had before. Mora Iced Creamery makes ice cream elegant with memorable flavors like green tea, sabayon, and maraschino cherries cream – the perfect way to wrap up your day on the island.
You don’t have to travel all the way to Holland for a walk through the tulip fields. Just 90 minutes north of Seattle, seemingly endless acres of blooms are the highlight of the month-long Skagit Valley Tulip Festival each April.
The festival got its start in the ‘80s when the local Chamber of Commerce noticed that visitors were appearing by the thousands to see the tulips in bloom. What began as a three-day celebration gradually expanded to include 30 days of art shows, exquisite galas, concerts, parades, and tours of local agriculture operations including shellfish and cheese.
At the center of it all, the tulips scattered throughout Skagit Valley are still the greatest spring attraction – and they should be your first stop when you arrive in Skagit Valley. Spend some time admiring the vibrant florals of RoozenGaarde/Washington Bulbe Co. and Tulip Town, then head to the nearby festivities in town.
No matter what time of the month you visit, you are sure to find an abundance of spring attractions, including physical events like color runs and 20-, 40-, and 60-mile bike rides. But we recommend planning your trip around the festival’s two signature events: the Downtown Mount Vernon Street Fair (April 21 – 23) and the Kiwanis Salmon Barbecue (April 1 – 23).
The Street Fair hosts hundreds of arts and crafts vendors selling artwork, photography, jewelry, and clothing, along with live entertainment and local bites. After a stroll through the fair, partake in the daily Salmon Barbecue for succulent wild salmon grilled over Alder with classic, Northwest fixings.
Photo: NPS Photo; Mount Rainier
An entirely different world from the bustling city awaits 90 minutes southeast of Seattle – and you can see your destination before you even depart.
One of the most famous landmarks in Washington, the towering Mount Rainier eclipses the horizon from the city. The active volcano sits among more than 230,000 acres of beautiful terrain laced with hiking trails, climbing spots, and places perfect for picnic lunches. From temperate rainforests to subalpine meadows speckled with wildflowers, the question is not so much what there is to see as what you want to see.
Without the crowds of summer, spring may be the best time for a daytrip to Mount Rainier National Park. Pack a lunch and head to the Carbon River area of the park for a few leisurely hikes suitable for all family members, or visit the Ohanapecosh area for a moderately difficult spring hike with spectacular sights. You can choose any of the designated picnic areas for a well-deserved break during your hike.
The short Rainforest Nature Loop Trail near the Carbon River entrance takes you through and lush forest and across bogs on boardwalks. (You can also continue your hike via the more moderate Boundary Trail, which reaches lovely waterfalls at 1.3 miles.) Then for a longer hike (that is still family-friendly), head to Melmont Ghost Town by following an abandoned railroad grade through the wilderness. Your destination is an old coal mining town that will take you back to the days of the early 1900s.
Photo: NPS Photo; Christine Falls
In the Ohanapecosh area, the Lower Eastside Trail opens in the spring, and you can hike as many miles as nature allows depending on the weather. See immense waterfalls created by the melting snow, and keep an eye out for early wildflowers such as stream violets and salmonberry.
For visitors who wish to stay overnight in the park, camping permits are available.
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Upon your arrival at The Woodmark, speak to our front desk team for additional insider tips and directions. You can also call 425.822.3700.Featured Photo: Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2016 Photo Contest Entrant
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