Post summary: Going over tips and places to visit on your next road trip from Seattle!
Washington state is a state that you definitely need to add to your bucket list!
Fun fact! I actually worked at a summer camp as a boat driver in Washington one summer during college.
Unfortunately, I did not really take advantage of the beauty of this state and now am kicking myself in the butt for it. I took a few road trips to Seattle while I worked in Washington, but that’s it.
Now, I am having to plan multiple trips back to Washington because there is just too much to see.
In this article, I am going to give you my jam packed, most recent 4-day itinerary for visiting Washington! This article gives you all the details on how to go on the ultimate road trip from Seattle.
This itinerary is a mix of both outdoor adventure and city experience. Be prepared for lots of fun and beauty!
If you can, I highly recommend visiting in the Fall. The colors are stunning. Maybe I just say that because I live in San Diego and don’t see Fall colors that often, but regardless the scenery is beautiful!
So, let’s get to it!
WASHINGTON ITINERARY TRIPS
My mom and I visited Washington in Fall (October) of 2020. We flew in on a Thursday night, so that we could have a full four days in Washington.
Plan to fly into the Seattle-Tacoma International airport and pick up a rental car directly from the airport. We rented a Jeep Wrangler and I highly recommend renting something equivalent or similar.
The weather in Washington can quickly change. We were met with all types of weather: sun, rain, high winds, muddy roads, bumpy roads and even snow.
So, having the option to turn on all wheel drive was a must for us.
Always be checking the weather as you may need to rearrange your trip based on the forecasted weather. Pack clothes for all weather types as well!
Considering you will be driving through lots of remote areas, I recommend downloading your directions ahead of time or while you have service before heading out on your first adventure.
DAY 1: EXPLORE MT. RAINIER NATIONAL PARK
Fly into Seattle the night before your 4 days in Washington starts and grab a hotel near the airport.
If you are anything like me, you like to save as much money as you can while on vacation. I recommend heading to a local grocery store and stocking up on some food for the week.
We personally went to Fred Meyer’s for our food and other necessities. See below for a list of the food we purchased.
Looking for easy meals to make while camping or on vacation?
Day 1 will be jam-packed! Head out early in the morning to Mt. Rainier National Park. This is about a 2.5-hour drive. I recommend waking up early to allow for the maximum amount of time while in the park.
Now, I have seen and backpacked through multiple National Parks in my lifetime, and Mt. Rainier has to be on the top of my list! It is stunning and a must-see when visiting!
Mt. Rainier National Park actually still has an active volcano!
Begin your morning by doing the Nisqually Vista Trail. This is a great trail for anyone! It is well paved, offers incredible views of Mt Rainier, and is great for the whole family.
The Nisqually Vista Trail is about one-mile long and is rated easy.
From the Nisqually Trail parking lot, head just up the street to the Paradise parking lot. From here you will have TONS of hiking options.
(There is a visitor’s center here as well, but due to COVID it was closed)
We chose to hike to Myrtle Falls. Again, this is a fairly easy hike. From the falls, you can choose to continue on to other trails or turn around.
We chose to turn around and head to Reflections Lake.
Make a pit stop at Refelctions Lake before hiking up the Pinnacle Peak Trail. This trail is located directly across form Reflections Lake and I highly recommend this hike.
The Pinnacle Peak Trail is about 3.2 miles and is strenuous with exposed parts of the trail however, when you reach the top, or the end of the maintained trail, you will be blessed with views of both Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helen!
Plan for this hike to take around 3 hours depending on how long you spend at the top.
Tip: Bring lunch with you and eat it at the top! My favorite meal is the Chili Mac n’ Beef by Mtnhouse.
After your hike, you will probably be tired like us haha, so start making your way towards your hotel for the night.
If it is on your way, make a little pit stop at Narada Falls. It is a short hike to the bottom of the falls with options to continue hiking if you are up for it!
We attempted to find a good spot for sunset, but unfortunately were not able to. We were told Cougar Rock was a good spot, but I would have to disagree.
Food options are limited near the park, but we had a delicious dinner at the cutest spot about 10 minutes from our hotel.
Check out Paradise Village Restaraunt. I got a burger and my mom got the Salmon and they were both delicious. They also let me taste their chicken dumpling vegetable soup and it was to die for.
For lodging arrangements, we grabbed a little studio at the *Gateway Inn for the night. It is located literally right outside the entrance to the park. It is an older place, but we felt safe and clean and it was affordable for being so close to the park!
***Our itinerary unfortunately got flipped upside down due to weather. We were actually going to do this whole itinerary in the opposite direction.
So, just be aware that some of the hotels are backtracking a little bit as we did have our trip perfectly planned out, but had to make some last minute switches.
If you are able to find a hotel inside the park itself this may suit you better. Due to COVID all the hotels within the park were closed when we visited.
DAY 2: MT. RAINIER TO LEAVENWORTH
Mt. Rainier National Park has so many different hikes to offer, so make sure to check out a map prior to choosing what you do!
Day two unfortunately consisted of a lot of rain for us. 🙁
Something I am continually learning is that trips don’t always go accorindg to plan. I have had to learn how to adjust the itinerary and still have a great time!
We headed up to Tipsoo Lake as this is supposed to have some epic views, but of course due to the rain we could barely even see the lake in front of us.
We had plans to do the Fremont Fire Lookout Hike, but decided to pass for safety reasons and headed on towards our next stop. Leavenworth.
It is about a 3hr 30 min drive from Gateway Inn (our previous nights stay) to Leavenworth. (very little service along the way)
Enjoy the rest of your day exploring Leavenworth! Trust me you won’t want to miss this town! It is a cute little german inspired town.
We were actually there during Oktoberfest which was quite fun to see people all dressed up!
Spend the afternoon walking into the different shops and make sure to do some beer and brawt tasting while there!
A few shops that I recommend visiting are: The Gingerbread house, Kris Kringle store, and the olive oil and vinegar tasting room.
Aaannnndd if you are up for it! Get all dressed up and get your photo taken at studio 1890. This was the perfect rainy day activity! We laughed our little booties off.
If the weather allows for it, then I recommend watching sunset form the town of Leavenworth before heading back to your hotel.
***Because we visited Leavenworth during Oktoberfest the hotel prices skyrocketed. We chose to stay in the town of Wenatchee about 20 minutes outside of Leavenworth.
DAY 3: HIKING IN LEAVENWORTH
On this road trip from Seattle, I was personally most excited for this day! I had seen some epic photos on Instagram of visiting the Enchantment Lakes in Leavenworth, Washington.
We had originally planned to hike to Lake Colchuck, but a few factors had changed our decision.
The weather forecast did not look good, the hike was rated strenuous and I was with my mom, so we decided to visit Lake Stuart instead.
I mean, I haven’t seen Lake Colchuck, but Lake Stuart was quite beautiful and felt pretty epic to me.
Lake Colchuck and Lake Stuart both start out at the same trailhead and split off in two different directions about 2.2 miles in.
Lake Stuart trail is 8.7 miles long and is considered to be a moderate hike. Here is a great guide to hiking this trail.
Also, Lake Colchuck is the more popular trail and I am sure it gets crowded. We saw a lot of people doing that hike. We only saw 3 other people when we arrived at Lake Stuart.
One day it is a dream of mine to do the complete Enchantments thru-hike.
Some tips for visiting either Lake:
-The best times to hike this trail are from June to October due to snow. (It actually snowed on us here)
-Get to the parking lot early. We got one of the last spots and arrived at 830am
-Try to visit on a weekday. Weekends are extremely crowded
-It is a bumpy, unpaved, dirt road to the top. (I was nervous even in my Jeep Wrangler)
-Pack warm clothes as a lot of this hike is shaded and it is colder in the higher elevations
-Pay the $5 parking fee when you arrive. You will get ticketed
-Pack enough snacks and water as this is a long hike with elevation gain
Plan for this hike to take around 6 hours. After your hike, begin your 2.5 hour drive back towards Seattle.
Sleep in Seattle!
DAY 4: EXPLORE SEATTLE
Finish off your Seattle road trip by making a full circle and returning back to Seattle.
Book your flight to depart at night, so that you can spend the day exploring Seattle.
I personally love visiting the “touristy” locations when I go places, so of course we hit up all the spots.
Begin your morning by eating a super delicious and healthy breakfast at Bacco Cafe.
Then walk right down to the Pike’s Place Market! Enjoy looking at all the booths and the views of the water! Maybe grab a coffee to walk around with? 🙂
Once you are done, head over to the space needle. We personally bought the combo tickets for the Space Needle and the Chihuly Glass museum.
Plan to spend about 2 hours in total visiting these places.
We ended our time in Seattle by grabbing a delicious salad from Homegrown (recommended by multiple people) and going to Gas Works park.
FINAL THOUGHTS FROM YOUR OUTDOOR LOVING GIRL
Road tripping from Seattle is easy and I hope this article made it even easier for you to plan your next trip!
I would love to go back and backpack the Enchantments trail in Washington one day!
Have you ever been to Washington? I’d love to know your favorite spots!
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