Washington State, not to be confused with the capital of the United States, is little visited by European travelers. It’s true that Seattle, the State’s largest city, is quite far away, nestled just south of the Canadian border and slightly east of the Pacific Ocean. But Seattle’s charm is undeniable, its relaxed atmosphere and surrounding wilderness making it a wonderful place for a change of scenery. The city is surrounded by spectacular parks with incredible landscapes – most notably Mount Rainier, Mount Olympus, and Mount St Helens – a little paradise comprised of mountains, fjords, beaches, lakes, and forests. Spending a few weeks exploring the city and its surroundings is barely enough time to take it all in, but a few days will at least allow you the time to see a few of the city’s treasures. Seattle could easily be added to your next trip to the Rockies, or as a short two-hour side trip from Vancouver.
Day 1 – Seattle
Two days in the city are a great way to begin your tour. There are several great neighborhoods where you can stay. The central neighborhoods are right on the water, settled between the port and the expressway. Pike Place Market is touristy but very beautiful and centrally located. Many high-end hotels can be found in the Downtown Financial District. These are less charming but are very centrally located. A bit further out from the city center is Pioneer Square, with its interesting architecture and historical significance. For Bed & Breakfast lovers, try one of Capitol Hill’s Victorian style houses overlooking the bay. Traffic is tolerable in the city-center, but the public transportation system is well developed and a majority of the city can be visited on foot.
You don’t really need a car if you’re planning on spending your time around the city center.
Day 2 – Seattle
If you only have time to visit one place in Seattle, Pike Place Market is a must. Located on the water, surrounded by the snowy peaks along the Olympus peninsula, this market is an ode to the city’s diverse culinary facets. Whole spices from around the world, local products, seafood, fresh vegetables, breads and patisseries…a multicultural meal awaits.
From here, take a short walk to Pioneer Square, the heart of the city. Also located on the water, this district, loved for its neo-Renaissance architecture, offers a beautiful setting for casual strolls downs its café lined streets. Climb to the top of the famous Space Needle for an incredible view of the city.
For art and culture lovers, there’s the Seattle Art Museum, the Seattle Asian Art Museum, the Olympic Sculpture Park, the Museum of History and Industry, or the EMP Museum, to name just a few of this city’s diverse, rich offerings.
Day 3 – Seattle/Olympus National Park
After spending a few days eying the mountains from afar, you cannot help but feel called to explore them. Though Seattle offers many parks to choose from, Olympus National Park (located on its namesake peninsula) offers a combination of land and sea, beaches and mountains. A variety of options exist to visit this beautiful location, but we recommend a counter-clockwise loop through the park. From Seattle, rent a car early in the morning and head north. Take the three and a half hour drive to Hurricane Ridge, just outside the small town of Port Angeles. Several trailheads are located at the welcome center offering spectacular views of the mountains, including the omnipresent Mount Olympus, towering at 432 meters (1417 feet) high. Feeling more adventurous? Try the High Ridge Trail. Short but steep, climb your way to Sunrise point for an unparalleled view of the Juan de Fuca all the way to the Canadian border. Spend the night at a Bed & Breakfast or a seaside hotel in Port Angeles.
Day 4 – Olympus National Park/Seattle
A long drive today, but the landscape alone is worth every minute. From Port Angeles, a short half hour drive will take you along Lake Crescent all the way to King Ranger Station. From the parking lot you’ll find multiple trailheads leading you through temporal forests to deep, blue lakes. Continue on to Forks via the Hoh Temporal Forest. If you’re up for it, take the 29km (18 mi) hike to the awe-inspiring Meadows glacier, gracing its climbers with impressive views of Mount Olympus. Back in the car, continue to the Pacific Ocean to explore the gorgeous Ruby Beach and surrounding sandy banks. Even though the water isn’t particularly warm in this region, it’s still worth taking a dip!
From hear you’ll drive another three and a half hours back to Seattle, taking in the beautiful views of Mount Rainier.
Of course, these short few days just scratch the surface of everything this region has to offer! Don’t hesitate to contact one of our specialists to create your personalized, custom tour!
Par Johann Chabert
Translated by Julie RotharmelGo back