Posted July 24th, 2016, 04:11 PM
Last edited by Sequim88; July 24th, 2016 at 04:12 PM
If you are treating Seattle (and vicinity) as a "destination" and have 2-3 days and a car here are some "out and about" places and things to do that will expose a lot more local flavor. All within a day's drive of Seattle. In no particular order.
On clear days it sits there about 60 miles SE of downtown Seattle in majestic view. Iconic. Many like to visit it up close. There two major options for destination - Paradise and Sunrise.
- This is the major destination at Mt. Rainier National Park and has the main visitor center. Thus it can be crowded, especially on nice weekends. It is the most accessible for mobility challenged visitors with some paved trails. The view of "the mountain" (as locals call it) is close up but also partially hidden by ridges in front of it.
The hike to Panorama Point and the Nisqually Glacier overlook overcomes this. The drive from Seattle is about 103 miles and in good traffic about three hours.
- This is the lesser known and smaller visitor center on the east side of the mountain. Much less crowded and the view from just a little farther away is more spectacular than from Paradise.
There are a number of great hikes from Sunrise including the Mount Fremont Lookout trail. Lots of Marmots to view around Frozen Lake. About 95 miles from Seattle but 3-1/2 hours. Also nearby that side is Crystal Mountain where the ski gondola operates in the summer for spectacular views of the mountain. CM Gondola
- Super locals gem tucked in to the NW corner of the park. For outdoor enthusiasts on a clear day this can be a highlight of your whole trip by taking the hike to Eunice Lake and the Tolmie Peak lookout tower. Along the way a short s(few hundred yards) side trip to Ipsut Pass is rewarded by a breath taking view of the Carbon River valley. Nearing the lake there is a pretty waterfall just off the trail. All the way to Tolmie Peak is an all day hike r/t so pack a lunch (and pack out the garbage). Take some DEET bug spray for biting flies. View from lookout:
About 63 miles from Seattle and 1-1/2 hours in good traffic. Caution for rental cars - the last few miles are unpaved which might not be allowed in the contract.
- On the road to Paradise at the Kautz Creek trailhead is the trail to one of the taller waterfalls in the USA at 462 feet. Bonus - several smaller waterfalls along the way. Details.
Mountain Loop Highway
A beautiful day trip into the edge of the Cascade Mountains. From Granite Falls to Barlow Pass the road is paved. Views of snowcapped peaks and waterfalls along the South Fork of the Stillaguamish river. The pavement ends at the pass and Monte Cristo trailhead. Monte Cristo was a gold boom town high in the Cascades that eventually busted and became a ghost town. Closed for several years for mine tailing remediation it has re-opened this year. 4.5 mile hike each way. The Mt. Loop is unpaved from the pass towards Darrington - one lane road with traffic both directions (with pull outs). Not suitable for rental cars which can turn around at the pass.
Mt. Saint Helens
A three hour (in good traffic and not on Fridays) 154 mile drive from Seattle. Site of the 1980 massive landslide and eruption. Fascinating to observe the recovery of plants and animals over the years after the destruction. Great place for a picnic lunch on sunny days - kids have a ball feeding the Gray Jays. Don't be dismayed of there is a low deck of clouds in the morning as long as afternoon forecast is for clear. The road to the visitor center will climb above the clouds.
Scenic Beach State Park
A little known gem on the Kitsap Peninsula with great views of the Olympic Mountains across Hood Canal. Also a great excuse to take the Bremerton ferry from Seattle and cruise through scenic Rich Passage. If you can't get all the way to Hurricane Ridge the Scenic Beach is a fair alternative that it often overlooked.
Historic Aircraft Collections at Paine Field
There are a couple very good historic aircraft collections in the Everett area at Paine Field where Boeing has its huge aircraft assembly plant. While the plant tour and the Future of Flight center are located there and get all the attention at the same airport are two collections of historic aircraft. At the center of the west side of the field off of SR-525 (Mukilteo Speedway) is the Historic Flight Collection
. At the south end of the field is the Paul Allen's Flying Heritage Collection
which mainly focuses on WWII planes from many countries as well as a few tanks and a V2 rocket. In another area they have some modern planes including the White Knight that carried Spaceship One to launch altitude.
NW Trek Wildlife Park
Near Eatonville (on the way to Mt. Rainier) is a great open air wildlife park featuring animals of the Pacific NW. NWT
HAL - Oosterdam - June 11, 2017, Alaska
RCCL - Mariner of the Seas - May 2012 - TA Miami to Rome
RCCL - Serenade of the Seas February 12, 2011 - So. Caribbean
RCCL - Brilliance of the Seas- April 13, 2008 TA Miami to London
HAL - Veendam - June 16, 2002, Alaska
At the moment I have half a mind to go look for the rest