Seattle, the metropolis of the Northwest, is for many the most liveable city in the entire U.S. The Space Needle, Pike Place Market, and the Pioneer Historic District are inviting you. But wait, there is plenty of nature, too. Two national parks are right in Seattle’s backyard. Mt. Rainier, a sleeping volcano, and Olympic National Park, a wild mixture of rain forest, beaches, mountain meadows, and glaciers, are just a short distance away. But there is more to Washington – famous Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, in the moment a not so sleepy giant, the breathtaking Columbia River Gorge, Washington’s wine country and majestic mountain ranges. 

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Why We Love It

Explore Olympic National Park, where ecological and geological extremes coexist.

Visit Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Memorial where life is sprouting anew amidst the surreal moonscape of lava and ash.

Discover Mt Rainier National Park, where wildflowers give way to snowfields.

Want to know more?


Day by day Itinerary

Best of Washington

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Day 1


From Microsoft to Elliott Bay, Amazon to Issaquah, King County is a mix of gorgeous scenery and high technology. It's a place where people kayak to work, or take a ferry, or ride their bike, or just walk. Exercise and stunning natural surroundings dance in sync with relaxing and one-of-a-kind architecture. Awaken to the sun casting its rays down from the east, and delight as it burns behind the Olympic Mountains and into Puget Sound at dusk. Seattle may be known as the "Emerald City," but King County is the gem of the Pacific Northwest.

As there is so much to explore in Seattle, we highly recommend spending a few extra days in the city if time allows.

Day 2

Seattle – Port Angeles/Olympic National Park

Leaving the city behind, you're on your way to another world, barely connected by land to the major cities of Puget Sound. Driving west, you can't help but stare ahead to the jagged beauty of the Olympic Mountains.

You can reach the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas by several different routes: take a car ferry from Seattle or drive around through Tacoma or Olympia. The scenic Olympic Loop circumnavigates Olympic National Park and provides access to the entire peninsula region. When you take the ferry from downtown Seattle, you cross Elliott Bay and land in picturesque Kitsap County. Time permitting you can visit Olympic National Park and drive 17 miles up Hurricane Ridge Road. (B)

Day 3

Port Angeles – Olympic National Park – Lake Quinault

The vast and roadless Olympic National Park combined with Olympic National Forest, totals more than 2 million acres of protected nature. Ecological and geological extremes coexist in proximity. Whether you're equipped to scale the sharpest peak, or simply seek the peace of a groomed path to a waterfall in the forest, you must explore it for yourself. Deer and bear are plentiful, and the Roosevelt elk population is the largest anywhere. Bald eagles ride the skies and salmon fight their way upstream from the Pacific.


Lake Quinault is a deep, clear lake located on the southwestern side of Olympic National Park. The lake is 8.5 miles long and plunges more than 1000 feet at its deepest point. The valleys that cradle Lake Quinault, the Quinault Rain Forest and the Hoh Rain Forest are truly the "Valleys of the Rain Forest Giants".

With annual rainfall averages up to 400 inches, trees grow to record sizes providing some of the country’s largest trees in the Quinault Rain Forest. These Giants include the Western Red Cedar, Sitka Spruce, Coastal Douglas-fir, Alaskan Cedar, Western Hemlock and Mountain Hemlock.


Day 4

Lake Quinault – Kelso

The Cranberry Coast Scenic Byway traversing Washington’s southwest coast reveals a landscape rooted in human history and its relationship to the natural environment. From the ancient living tribal culture of the Shoalwater Bay Indians to the unique community-based industries built around the harvest of cranberries, salmon, oysters, clams, and timber, the communities of the byway embody a colorful history of hardy souls surviving in a wild land.

Cross over into Oregon to Astoria - with Victorian-era homes etched into hills overlooking the Columbia River, this picturesque settlement (the oldest west of the Rockies) is a port city with Scandinavian flavor.
Then journey through history while following in the footsteps of the Lewis & Clark Expedition. From the crashing waves of the Pacific to the flowing waters of the Columbia, retrace the Corp's adventures while having one of your own. Perhaps you’ll see wildlife and scenery you’ve never witnessed before, just like Lewis and Clark.

Day 5

Kelso – Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument – Kelso

The May 18, 1980, eruption of this volcano provided an opportunity to see the Earth recreating itself. Years later, one can witness firsthand the land being reborn, sprouting anew through the still surreal moonscape of lava and ash. You can see whole forests blown over by the force of the blast.

Take some time to visit the west side via Hwy 504, stopping at the Mount St. Helens Forest Learning Center for an hour for great exhibits. Continue to the road-end to Johnston Ridge Observatory and see the new exhibits and movie there and the awesome closeup view of the volcano.  

If you have time take a short hike across the hummocks or Truman Trail near Coldwater Lake.


Day 6

Kelso – Columbia River Gorge - The Dalles

Stretching along the Columbia River this Scenic Byway travels back through time beginning from six to seventeen million years ago with a series of massive basalt flows that covered much of the northwest. Etched by water, weather, and time, the unique flora and fauna and dramatic rock cliffs of toady are attributed to these ancient flows.

Much later, the “Gorge” became the home and pathway of Native Americans to the Pacific Ocean. In 1805-06 the Gorge became the gateway and near undoing of the Lewis and Clark Expedition’s search for the Pacific Ocean. The success of Lewis and Clark in reaching the Pacific opened the doors for white settlement and the Northwest as you see today.

Day 7

The Dalles – Toppenish - Yakima

Continue along the Columbia River, then north to the town of Toppenish. Just south of it you can visit Fort Simcoe, an old army fort. While in Toppenish you’ll want to make time to wander its streets, adorned with old fashioned streetlamps, while admiring the over 70 painted outdoor, historical murals. The mural project depicts the many men and women who have made lasting contributions to the city. The murals can be viewed year-round, and from May through September, visitors can ride on a horse-drawn wagon for a narrated tour. Toppenish is also home to the Toppenish Wildlife Refuge - a national reserve where you can view many waterfowl.

Visit the Yakama Nation Museum which opened in 1980 and is one of the oldest Native American Museums in the United States. With more than 3,000 farms in the Yakima Valley, the agricultural abundance comes to life in Yakima where taprooms, tasting rooms and restaurants deliver from-the-source dining and craft beverage experiences. This is true farm-to-table and farm-to-glass dining and sipping!

On your way to Yakima, you can detour through the wine country of Rattlesnake Hills. While the City of Yakima has gone through many changes throughout its history, this quaint section of downtown remains largely the same as the day it was first built. Carefully renovated to match historic streetscape elements, this delightful corner of downtown is packed with wineries, coffee shops, boutiques, and cafes. (B)

Day 8

Yakima – Mt. Rainier - Seattle

Today another beautiful national park awaits your visit - Mt. Rainier! Many people don't realize that Mt. Rainier has a vertical rise comparable to that of Mt. Everest.  Maintained trails amid wildflowers eventually give way to snowfields, then glaciers on the way toward the summit.


The evening will find you at Seattle Tacoma International Airport, where you’ll spend the night before flying back home. One more chance to pay Seattle a quick visit, maybe for a sumptuous goodbye dinner to celebrate the end of a great trip! (B)

Day 9


Check out, drop off your rental vehicle and make your way home.

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