Nicknamed the Emerald City because of the evergreen landscape which surrounds it, travellers can have the best of both worlds in Seattle. Spend a long weekend exploring the city before swapping the skyline for a mountain, forest or epic Pacific Ocean landscape. Whatever the interest of travellers, Seattle’s borders have them covered.
San Juan Island
Across the water from Seattle are the San Juan Islands, an archipelago of 172 different islands, one of the biggest of which is the San Juan Island. Accessible via a ferry from downtown Seattle, San Juan Island offers a picturesque harbour, sweeping fields with livestock and beautiful vineyards where visitors can sample a variety of different wines. With historic lighthouses and sweeping fields of lavender, the Island is an ideal spot for those looking to relax, unwind and enjoy slow travel.
Entirely surrounded by salt water and famed for its outstanding natural beauty, rustic character and close proximity to the city, Bainbridge Island is a popular destination for day trippers. Travellers can wander around the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, visit one of the six wineries, or try watersports such as kayaking, canoeing and paddle boarding. Bainbridge Island also has a fantastic gastronomy offering, with everything from farm-to-fork restaurants to local coffee roasters.
Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest
Just an hour outside of Seattle, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest is an incredible landscape where visitors are fully immersed in nature. Located on the west side of the Cascades between the Canadian border and Mt. Rainier National Park, the historical site boasts breathtaking greenery, magical mountain meadows and views that reflect a painting. The year-round recreational opportunities are endless but summer is a particularly good time to visit, offering opportunities for hiking, fishing, river rafting and bird watching. There are also a number of campgrounds for adventurous travellers looking to sleep beneath the stars.
Hoh Rain Forest: Olympic National Park
Located within the Olympic National Park peninsula opposite Seattle, Hoh Rain Forest is one of the largest temperate rain forests in the US. Tucked away from highways and commercial flight paths, Hoh Rain Forest is the quietest spot in all of North America, meeting the criteria of having a noise-free interval of at least 15 minutes. The beautiful rainforest is home to towering trees adorned with moss and ferns, and multiple trails which explore its green landscape, making it a great place to switch off.
Mount Rainier National Park
For a quintessential Pacific Northwest experience, a day trip to Mt. Rainier National Park offers some of the best opportunities for adventure, exploration and learning, all just a two-hour drive from the city. Set sights on the stunning mountain teamed with gorgeous valleys, waterfalls and subalpine meadows. At 14,410ft, Mt. Rainier has more than 130 trails to explore on foot, ranging from easy to challenging, but all with scenic views.
North Cascades National Park
A 2.5-hour drive from the city centre, North Cascades National Park is home to more than a third of the glaciers in the lower 48 US states. With towering summits and broad lakes, the park boasts accessible waterfall hikes, alpine meadows and a range of furry wildlife. On the west side sits Ross Lake and Diablo Lake, with waters of turquoise blue and beautiful views whilst east is home to the green wilderness of Okanogan National Forest. Winding through the park are trails to trek which journey through ageing forests and magical meadows. Here, visitors can spot the chirping wildlife, including chipmunks, marmots and pikas.