Your guide to
In this guide, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about the state’s adventures, geography, and food so you can plan the perfect weekend getaway in Washington tate.
Thinking of heading to Washington for a weekend getaway? You’ll discover a variety of things to see and do in Washington: viewing orcas from a sea kayak, hiking among glacial volcanic peaks, and tasting wine in the sunshine. In this guide, we’ll be breaking down everything you need to know about the state's adventures, geography, and food so you can plan the perfect weekend getaway in Washington.
Washington State is located in the upper northwest region of the United States. As part of the Pacific Northwest, Washington is known for its lush vegetation and majestic mountains. The state can be broken up into six distinct geographic regions:
The Olympic Mountains stand in Washington’s northwest corner, which is bordered by the Pacific Ocean in the west. This area contains dense rain forests, and is protected by Olympic National Park.
The Coast Range area is in Washington’s southwest corner, and includes forested hills and beaches along the coastline.
East of the Coast Range is the Puget Sound Lowlands, which hosts flattened hills, river valleys, harbors, and the state’s major cities.
Further east you’ll find the towering Cascade Mountains, which include Mt. Rainier and Mt. Saint Helens.
The Columbia Plateau spreads across the south-central portion of the state. It’s home to steep, dry canyons called coulees and patches of dry lava called scablands.
Lastly, a portion of the Rocky Mountains sit in the northeast portion of the state along the Canadian border.
Not sure which area of Washington State you want to visit? Keep on reading for the best weekend getaways in Washington.
The answer to the question “when is the best time to visit Washington?” is a simple one: anytime is a good time to visit; It all depends on what you want to experience. In the summer you'll be able to access the high alpine that’s normally covered in snow, exploring hidden lakes and rocky ridges. July and August in Washington State are also the most reliably rainless months, and thus also the most popular time to visit.
In the fall you’ll find golden larch trees and various foliage across the state. September is a surprisingly great month to visit as early fall still remains mostly sunny and dry. In the winter, you’ll find amazing skiing and riding, as well as snowshoeing and cross country skiing. In the spring, the Columbia River Gorge comes alive with raging waterfalls and early wildflowers.
There’s endless things to do in Washington State for the outdoor enthusiast. Whether you’re renting a car and road tripping across the state or spending time in one spot, you won’t be hard pressed to find incredible views and experiences.
No matter if it’s the rainforest or the high alpine, you’ll find a breathtaking hiking trail in Washington that suits your skill level! Some of the bucket-list hiking trails perfect for a weekend getaway are: The Maple Pass Loop in the North Cascades, The Skyline Trail in Mt. Rainier National Park, Lake Ann in the Mt. Baker Wilderness, Rialto Beach and Hole on the Wall on the coast, Choluck Lake in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness, and the Hoh Rainforest Loop in the Olympics.
Between the ocean, lakes, and rivers, there are many places to kayak in Washington State. Our favorite spots to do so are the Olympic Peninsula, the San Juan Islands, and Lake Crescent.
Planning a winter getaway? Some of Washington’s best snowshoe trails become even more majestic when blanketed in snow. Head to Artist Point in the Mount Baker Wilderness, Hurricane Hill in the Olympics, Mazama Ridge in Mt. Rainier National Park, and June Lake in Marble Mountain Sno-Park near Mt. Saint Helens.
Experiencing Washington on two wheels is always a great way to go. For road bikers, get the most scenic views on the Olympic Discovery Trail, San Juan Island, the Centennial Trail by Spokane. For mountain biking, head to the Methow Valley in the North Cascades, Duthie Hill Park in Issaquah, and Ape Canyon at Mt. Saint Helens.
Washington is home to many ski resorts, the most popular of which are Mt. Baker Ski Area, Crystal Mountain, Snoqualmie, and Steven’s Pass. Not ready for downhill skiing? The Methow Valley and Winthrop are meccas for cross country skiing.
Washington has numerous fun towns and cities, the primary of course being Seattle! If you’re flying in or out of here, take a day to experience it. For a quaint, european-style town, head to Leaventhworth at the base of the enchantments. Sequim, next to Olympic National Park, is famous for its lavender production, with the title of the “Lavender Capital of North America.” Or, head east to Walla Walla, which is home to over 100 wineries.
Now that you know when to visit the state and some of the things you can do, let’s talk about the best places for a weekend getaway in Washington.
Yes, Washington State has its own archipelago, and it’s one of the best places to visit in Washington. Say farewell to stress and say hello to the mellow islands vibe that exists on the San Juan Islands. The three most popular islands are San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Lopez Island. On each you’ll find a temperate year-round climate. They boast great whale watching, local wineries, scenic byways, farm to table dining, hiking, and more.
Smack dab in the center of Washington State sits a town that’ll transport you to Germany. The town’s Bavarian theme is undeniably charming (albeit a little kitschy). But there is much more to Leavenworth than lederhosen, pretzels, and Christmas lighting festivals if you know where to look. Leavenworth is known as the gateway to the Enchantments, which house bucket list hikes for many outdoor enthusiasts.
The Columbia River Gorge separates Oregon and Washington states and provides an incredible area to hike and explore. The canyon is famous for its early spring wildflower blooms, as well as its hundreds of waterfalls. You’ll likely have seen photos of the famous Multnomah Falls, a 611-foot tall, awe-inspiring cascade of water.
Ascending to 14,410 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier stands as an iconic feature in the Washington landscape. On a clear day, you can see it from Seattle, and it’s undeniably one of the best places to visit in Washington. From meadows of wildflowers, to old-growth forest, to beautiful rivers and incredible mountain views, Mount Rainier National Park is truly a nature lover's dream.
In the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State, forest, coastal, and mountain ecosystems combine to create a spectacular wilderness area. Hike within the lush hoh rainforest, atop high mountain ridges, or along the beach at sunset. Few places in the world allow you to experience all of this in one day.
An undoubtedly hidden gem of Washington State is the Mt. Baker Wilderness Area. It’s the third highest mountain in Washington, and aside from being a great ski resort, it offers incredible views and hikes. Head to Artist Point for incredible views of the mountain and neighboring Mt. Shuksan, which some say is the prettiest mountain in Washington. Most of these mountain views are easily accessible, meaning you don’t need to hike for hours in order to see them.
In the northern part of Washington State, you can explore jagged peaks crowned by more than 300 glaciers in the North Cascades. You’ll get a more remote taste of wilderness out here, making it a hiker’s paradise full of ridge lines, mountain goats, and stunningly blue lakes.
Mount St. Helens is an active stratovolcano! During an 1980 eruption the portion of the mountain face was removed by a huge debris avalanche, leaving a horseshoe-shaped crater. It’s a beautiful sight to take in, especially when the summer wildflowers are out.
When it comes to a weekend getaway in Washington, the place you’re staying is important! Thankfully, there are a number of unique and vacation rentals.
This unique Washington State getaway lets you channel your inner Lord of the Rings! This Hobbit style cottage in Washington promises an otherworldly stay for two, and their dog.
Have you ever imagined what it would feel like to live like Batman? Now you don't have to wonder anymore because you can rent out this actual cavern with modern amenities, an underground hot tub, and a waterfall.
Located in the gorgeous valley of Walla Walla, the Bryant Barn is tucked away amongst countless vineyards. The barn sleeps six, with the unique feature of an actual wine barrel that’s converted into a cozy hideout.
You may be surprised to learn that Washington has its own desert. Have the complete weekend getaway experience in one of these yurts, which have no phone or television. You can enjoy nature from your private patio deck, or watch the stars at night through the skylight on top of the bed. You can stay here on our Eastern Washington Trip.
Perched high in the trees is the Hansel Creek Treehouse. You’ll also be within walking distance to the Alpine Lakes Wilderness trailhead, making this a perfect place to stay in Washington if you’re looking for outdoor adventure.
The first lighthouse built on the Puget Sound is Point No Point, where you can rent out the keeper’s cabin. The unique geographic location of the light station gives you the opportunity to enjoy unsurpassed panoramic views of Puget Sound's many islands, Mount Baker, the Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier.
No weekend getaway in Washington is complete without good eats. Here are some of the best places to eat in Washington.
There aren't many other restaurants in Washington with such mesmerizing views as this place at Crystal Mountain Resort. A short ride up a gondola, be sure to grab a spot out on the patio and enjoy the breathtaking outlook of Mount Rainier and the Cascades.
As the saying goes, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Head to the Maple Counter Cafe in Walla Walla for one of the best breakfasts around. Ask for their fluffy Strawberry Granola Pancakes or a French-baked omelette.
The Bavarian sausages, fresh pretzels with cheese, and local brews from Icicle Brewing Company make stopping by Munchen Haus in Leavenworth a must. Load up their fire-grilled dogs with dozens of toppings and condiments, including several types of mustard and their famous apple-cider kraut.
Nestled inside a converted house in Winthrop with an Old West theme, Arrowleaf Bistro is a charming restaurant specializing in New American fare. Try the Methow Valley lamb, which is prepared differently to reflect the seasons, or the house-made tagliatelle pasta with wild mushrooms, garlic confit, cream, Parmigiano-Reggiano and upland cress.
When longtime Pike Place Market fish thrower Dan Bugge bought popular dining spot Matt's in the Market, he turned his love of seafood into a full-fledged restaurant. It goes without saying that everything is intensely local at Matt’s and the shellfish is no exception, all sourced from coastal farms.
As you can see, Washington State makes for an incredible weekend getaway. From the coast, to the mountains to the rainforest to the high desert, there’s endless possibilities for outdoor adventure with family and friends. We hope this guide helps you in planning your trip. If you want the help of experts, don’t hesitate to explore AdventureTripr. Our online platform makes finding adventures simple, and we customize every experience to your exact needs. Happy adventuring!