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On the road from Seattle
Seattle certainly has something for everyone — but it’d be a mistake to stay within city limits during your trip to the Emerald City. After all, Seattle is lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the Pacific Northwest’s most incredible destinations, from the snow-capped volcanoes of the Cascades to the idyllic San Juan Islands to the impressive wilderness of Olympic National Park. What’s a short extension when there’s this much natural beauty to discover on your doorstep?
Just as the Rocky Mountains are an essential part of Denver’s personality, Seattle simply wouldn’t be the same without the Cascades in the distance. Stretching from British Columbia to California, the volcanic Cascade Range is part of the Ring of Fire (and includes famous peaks like Mr. Rainier and the explosive Mt. Saint Helens). Go for an energising trip-within-a-trip to discover one of the greater Seattle area’s finest geographical virtues, with time to explore lush forests, go for challenging hikes, and snuggle up in cosy cabins at the end.
The San Juan Islands
A lush archipelago of islands located in the middle of Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands - with their quaint villages, scenic hiking trails, and rich tide pool ecosystems - epitomise the easy charm of Pacific Northwest life. Though the archipelago comprises a whopping 172 islands and reefs, Washington State Ferries helps you narrow down the options by connecting you with four of the most prominent: San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and Shaw Island. No matter which you choose, the San Juan Islands are one of the area’s most mellow retreats.
British Columbia, Canada
Northerly Seattle is a stone’s throw away from the Canadian border, which means visiting the U.S.’s friendly neighbour to the north is a must during your Pacific Northwest getaway. Hire a car and discover a taste of what British Columbia has to offer by heading out on a road trip along the Sea to Sky Highway. With incredible views at every turn, the landscape here is also home to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities in all of North America.
Olympic National Park
Located on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula - and less than three hours from Seattle - Olympic National Park captures all the glorious diversity of the Pacific Northwest in one million-acre tract of land. Spanning the glaciated peaks of the Olympic Mountains, temperate rainforests, and rugged coastlines, it promises a vast array of natural beauty. Go camping and backpacking, paddle along its waterways, and spot wildlife from elk and mountain goats to black bears and orca whales. Board a float plane from Seattle for an extra dose of adventure.
One of the most popular excursions from Seattle is only a 35-minute ferry journey away. Follow locals to the beloved Bainbridge Island. Once you disembark, wander the tasteful bakeries and boutiques of Winslow before venturing into Bainbridge’s wild heart. The Bloedel Reserve treats visitors to formal gardens as well as wild woodland trails, and provides a rejuvenating break from the hustle and bustle of city life.
Alaska features some of the most stunning coastline in the United States - and while it may not sound like it’s a hop, skip, and a jump from Seattle, it’s closer than you might think. Nearly 1 million visitors hop aboard direct cruise ships from Seattle each year. The average Alaskan journey includes a week of iceberg-admiring, whale-spotting, and other Arctic adventuring, so be sure to build in extra time in your trip to make the most of this wild frontier.