Northwest

8 Wonderful Weekend Getaways in Washington State Surrounded By Nature and a Bit of Bavaria

This collection of 8 weekend getaways in Washington state shows you the best of the region from mountains to ocean views and a bit of Bavaria.

It’s a foggy morning in Edmonds, a walkable beach town on the Puget Sound just 15 miles north of Seattle. I’m balancing on a driftwood log, sipping from the vanilla latte in my hand. At the water’s edge, my husband is skipping rocks. The ferry is docked next to us, gently swaying on the waves. A bald eagle soars overhead, searching for his next meal. Kayakers, scuba divers, and paddle boarders are enjoying the Puget Sound in front of us, sharing the water with friendly harbor seals.

If it were a clear and sunny day, we’d have a gorgeous, panoramic view of the Olympic Mountains. But in typical Seattle fashion, the weather is grey and drizzly. It’s no big deal, though. The “rain” here is hardly rain at all. It’s usually light and gentle and often clears up by the afternoon, so I just pull up the hood of my jacket — no umbrella needed.

After a leisurely walk along the beach, we make our way up to Edmonds’ cute little downtown. We browse the bookstores and boutiques for a while before grabbing lunch at Salt & Iron, a charming oyster & steakhouse that serves a delicious menu made from fresh, local ingredients. My husband loves their burger (served with herbed fries and a delicious aioli dipping sauce), and I’m craving the made-from-scratch seafood chowder. It seems just right for a chill day in the Northwest.

Here in Washington, it’s easy to find beautiful nature, amazing food, and something fun to do, whether you’re craving outdoor adventure or indoors relaxation. The landscape is incredibly diverse and magnificent, which means there’s quite a variety of places to visit within the state. We’re blessed with idyllic islands, evergreen forests, rugged mountains, pebbly beaches, wine country, twisting rivers, and much more to satisfy a number of weekend getaways in Washington.

Spokane

Aaron Theisen, Visit Spokane

There’s more to Washington than the west coast. I grew up in Spokane and recently moved back, so call me biased, but I think Spokane is the most underestimated city in Washington. There are outdoor activities for every season, amazing restaurants, and lots of fun events for both kids and adults. If you have never been to Spokane or haven’t visited in a while, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised by all it has to offer.

The gem of downtown Spokane is Riverfront Park, a 100-acre urban park with views of upper Spokane Falls — especially spectacular in spring when all the snow is melting. It’s a beautiful park to walk around in, and it’s fun for kids too, with a giant Red Wagon that’s also a playground, a carousel, gondola rides to get a better view of the falls, a metal goat that eats garbage, and a new outdoor ice skating ribbon. After you walk around the park a bit, grab a cup of coffee at Indaba (try the lemon vanilla latte), then check out Atticus next door for unique gifts, books, and souvenirs.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Spokane

629 Hotels
View Destination

The Historic Davenport: A Spokane Landmark

Anchor your Spokane stay at this local, century-old landmark. Try out the indoor/outdoor pool with whirlpool and dine at one of the on-site restaurants — Peacock Room Lounge, Palm Court Grill, and Davenport Lobby.

The Historic Davenport, Autograph Collection

Top rated
Spokane
9.2 Excellent (2283 reviews)

Friday Harbor

Toccara Best

If you’re craving more of a relaxing escape with a slower pace of life and an abundance of natural beauty, I can’t think of a better place than the San Juan Islands. Located between the Washington coast and Vancouver Island, this collection of approximately 172 islands is my favorite weekend getaway. You have to take a ferry to get there, which is part of the experience itself (make sure to keep an eye out for orca whales!). As you travel through tree-covered islands and sparkling blue water, with the sun on your face and the wind whipping through your hair, you’ll feel your stresses melt away.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Friday Harbor

282 Hotels
View Destination

Bird Rock: In the Heart of Friday Harbor

Just steps from the ferry, you’re at the Bird Rock Hotel on Friday Harbor. This boutique property exudes comfort and charm in each of its 15 unique rooms.

Hotel Bird Rock

Top rated
Friday Harbor
8.7 Excellent (293 reviews)

Olympic Peninsula

Olympic Peninsula Visitor Bureau

The Olympic Peninsula is a must-see for any Washingtonian. Surrounded by water, riddled with waterfalls, filled with giant trees, and home to the majestic Olympic Mountains, it’s an area that feels ruggedly wild and awe-inspiring. You’ll need more than one weekend to take it all in, so don’t overpack your itinerary — just pick a few things you thoroughly enjoy and plan on coming back again.

On the coast, I highly recommend visiting Kalaloch and Ruby Beach. You’ll find sea stacks, tidepools, driftwood lined beaches, and spectacular sunsets. Eat at the Creekside Restaurant in the Kalaloch Lodge for fresh local food and a lovely ocean view. If you’re a Twilight fan, you might want to travel north to Forks and La Push Beach. There isn’t much in Forks besides the Twilight connection, but La Push is gorgeous in its own right and a popular spot for surfing. You can also continue on to Cape Flattery, the most northwestern point of the continental U.S.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Kalaloch

11 Hotels
View Destination

Kalaloch Lodge: The Only Coastal Lodging in Olympic National Park

If you’re interested in visiting Olympic National Park & forest, then it doesn’t get much better than a stay at Kalaloch Lodge — the only coastal lodging in the park.

Kalaloch Lodge

Top rated
Kalaloch
8.5 Excellent (637 reviews)

Bellingham

Photo courtesy of Brandon Sawaya

Bellingham is a charming college town on the coast, close to the Canadian border. Historic Fairhaven is full of old brick buildings that now hold restaurants, coffee shops, bars, and cute boutiques. If you’re there at lunchtime, try Fairhaven Pizza and Sirena’s Gelato. On the waterfront, grab a coffee at The Woods in Boulevard Park where there’s also a public beach and a playground for kids. Then take a relaxing walk along the boardwalk, where you’ll get a fantastic view of Bellingham Bay.

If you’re there on a clear day, you will not regret driving to nearby Artist Point, which boasts spectacular 360-degree views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker. Don’t forget your camera! Artist Point is also the starting point for several hikes, so you can make a full day of it if you wish.

Being a college town, Bellingham has a number of cheap-but-good eateries. For a delicious breakfast in a quirky environment, try Homeskillet. It’s not fancy (and the clowns in the bathroom are more than a little creepy), but the food is great and the portions are huge. For classic burgers and shakes in a ’50s style drive-in, hit local favorite Boomer’s. And for amazing sandwiches and alfajores (South American cookies), go to Old World Deli.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Bellingham

404 Hotels
View Destination

Fairhaven Village Inn: Take in the Views from the Terrace

The Fairhaven Village is nicely situated near some of the region’s top sights, like the Sehome Hill Arboretum and The Upfront Theatre. Book one of their 22 rooms and plan to spend some time out on their terrace, admiring the view.

Fairhaven Village Inn

Top rated
Bellingham
9.1 Excellent (496 reviews)

Leavenworth

Photo courtesy of Shane Wilder, Icicle TV

Leavenworth is a gorgeous alpine village right in the middle of the state, nestled in the heart of the Cascade Mountains. Town leaders remade Leavenworth into a Bavarian-style village in the 1960s to attract tourists — and it worked. No matter the season, visitors flock to this charming town to eat, shop, explore the beautiful surroundings, and participate in local events.

Winter is my favorite time to visit, a time when Leavenworth truly sparkles –literally, with falling snow and over half a million Christmas lights. There’s skiing, snowshoeing, sleigh rides, and the annual Christmas Lighting Festival, which turns the town into a winter wonderland. Make sure to check out the Nutcracker Museum and visit the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, too.

There’s still plenty to do the rest of the year, as well, including river tubing, paddleboarding, mountain biking, horseback riding, wine tasting, and lots of great hiking. Near Leavenworth is Colchuck Lake, an eight-mile roundtrip hike that rewards you with a gorgeous alpine lake set between two of Washington’s tallest peaks. In the fall, the groves of larches turn golden yellow, which is spectacular against the aquamarine water. Colchuck Lake is also the gateway to the fabled Enchantments (in order to stay overnight there, you have to enter a lottery and win one of the few, coveted permits).

When it comes to dining, most of the restaurants are, fittingly, Bavarian-themed. Munchen Haus serves up German brats and brews in a fun, outdoor atmosphere. Bavarian Bakery is your stop for warm pretzels, strudels, and danishes. But if you’re craving something more refined, Watershed Cafe is a great farm to table place with locally-sourced fine dining.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Leavenworth

1165 Hotels
View Destination

The Bavarian lodge: Germany In Washington

1/2

Willkommen The Bavarian Lodge to Germany in the Pacific Northwest! gives guests a taste of life in Lederhosen with their lodge-style surroundings and well-appointed rooms, including private balconies, patios, and family rooms.

The Bavarian Lodge

Top rated
Leavenworth
9.6 Excellent (1729 reviews)

Whidbey Island

Photo courtesy of Jack Penland, Whidbey and Camano Islands Tourism

It’s only an hour and a half drive from Seattle to Whidbey Island, and you can travel by bridge or by ferry. (I would take the bridge on the way there and the ferry on the way back, to get the full experience.)

By bridge, you’ll cross over Deception Pass, which is stunningly magnificent and dizzyingly high. Park for free on either side of the bridge and walk across so you can really take in the view before you continue on your drive. If you have extra time, Bowman Bay is right there and also fun to explore (keep an eye out for seals, bald eagles, and more).

On Whidbey Island, I recommend staying in charming, coastal Coupeville. Historic buildings, beautiful views, and a picturesque wharf that holds a cafe and marine mammal exhibit. What’s not to love? Stroll around town and you’ll find a number of boutiques, art studios, galleries, and restaurants (try Front Street Grill for seafood and burgers, Knead & Feed for sandwiches and baked goods, and Kapaw’s Iskreme for inexpensive and delicious ice cream).

Just south of Coupeville is Fort Casey Historical State Park where there’s a lighthouse, old gun batteries, and panoramic views of the Puget Sound and surrounding mountains. It’s interesting to walk around and learn about the history of the fort. There’s also a huge grassy area for picnics, frisbee tossing, and kite flying. Definitely worth a visit. Further south is Double Bluff State Park, which features gorgeous views and a sandy beach shadowed by tall bluffs. It’s also close to Langley, a walkable beach town with local shops and restaurants to explore. When you’re ready to head back, the ferry leaves from nearby Clinton.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Whidbey Island

4 Hotels
View Destination

Anchorage Inn: A Coastal Charmer

Guests with a taste for the past will enjoy this bed and breakfast housed in a Victorian-style inn. Nearby to the historic town of Coupeville, head out to the coast and enjoy views of the waves crashing against the shore.

Anchorage Inn

Coupeville
9.4 Excellent (110 reviews)

Cle Elum

Cle Elum is located at the foot of the Cascade Mountains where natural beauty abounds. With mountains, forests, and scenic lakes surrounding it, Cle Elum is a popular starting point for hiking, backpacking, and all kinds of outdoor adventures. There’s something for everyone, no matter what your style is.

For those seeking family-friendly relaxation, drive to Lake Easton State Park where there are beaches for swimming, grills for barbecuing, and playgrounds for kids to play on. If you’re up for something more rigorous, take a backpacking trip to Tuck & Robin Lakes where you’ll find pristine alpine lakes and mountain goats roaming about. It’s 16 miles roundtrip with 2,900 feet of elevation gain. It’s not easy, but the destination is well worth it.

Fancy something a bit more, well, fancy? Head to Suncadia Resort. With more than 6,000 acres of forested landscape, a golf course, a spa, fine dining, miles of trails, and activities for all ages, it’s upscale and wild at the same time. Keep an eye out for elk. They’re a common sight around here.

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Cle Elum

547 Hotels
View Destination

Suncadia Resort: Surrounded By Nature

1/4

Welcome to cabin life at Suncadia Resort. Here, you’re completely surrounded by the great outdoors. Where you’re planning a romantic or a family getaway, you’ll want to make use of the back patio equipped with everything you need for a BBQ picnic or to roast some marshmallows over an open fire.

Suncadia Resort

Cle Elum
8.4 Very good (679 reviews)

Seattle

Photo courtesy of Alabastro Photography

A vibrant city surrounded by mountains, water, and evergreen forests, there’s a reason Seattle is nicknamed the Emerald City. There’s so much to see and do from the outdoors to exploring the city’s (many) coffee shops, restaurants, museums, and indie boutiques. Let’s start downtown, shall we?

Downtown Seattle is situated right on the Puget Sound, and it’s a great place to start your visit. There’s the iconic Space Needle piercing the sky (take a glass elevator to the observation deck for a 360-degree-view of the surrounding area), bustling Pike Place Market (where you can get cheap bouquets of fresh flowers, dodge flying fish, and take a photo at the famous gum wall), and a giant Ferris wheel right on the waterfront. There’s also the Olympic Sculpture Park (free), the Seattle Aquarium (kid-friendly), and several great museums. (I especially recommend Chihuly Garden and Glass –it’s beautiful and unique.)

Hotels & Vacation Rentals - Seattle

6640 Hotels
View Destination

Kimpton Palladian Hotel: Under The Space Needle

1/4

The Kimpton Palladian Hotel is relatively new to the Seattle hotel scene and it’s quite the swanky addition at that. The Palladian’s 97 rooms are just a short jaunt away from the must-visits of any Seattle visitor, like the Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, and no shortage of the city’s top restaurants and shops.

Kimpton Palladian Hotel

Top rated
Seattle
8.7 Excellent (1126 reviews)

Feature image courtesy of Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism