Our recent visit to the Seattle area spanned just 3.5 days which isn’t a whole lot of time to visit all the major landmarks. From gorgeous city views to rainforests, beaches and glaciers from the local national parks, this area of the country surely won’t disappoint. Below is the itinerary we used to experience both Seattle and Olympic National Park over a long weekend.
Olympic National Park (1.5 days)
Olympic is just 2.5 hrs west of the Seattle-Tacoma Airport, located right outside the town of Port Angeles. Olympic is known for having an amazingly diverse ecosystem of snow capped mountains, rainforests and 73 miles of rugged shoreline along the Pacific Ocean.
As an alternative to Olympic, you can also visit Mount Rainier or North Cascades National Parks, both of which are 2 hours from Seattle.
Just 45 minutes from downtown Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge provides you with 360 degree views of the Olympic Mountain Range. You can capture these views from the Hurricane Ridge visitor center or stroll down one of the 8 hiking trails from the top of the mountain.
On your drive from Hurricane Ridge to the Hoh Rainforest, you’ll pass right by Crescent Lake, a turquoise blue and green lake nestled between the forest mountains.
Just under a 1 mile loop, the Hall of Mosses is one of the most popular hikes in the Hoh Rainforest. This leisurely hike takes you past some of the lushest vegetation in all of America. Be sure to keep your eyes out for Elk wandering through the forest.
About 45 minutes from the Hoh Rainforest you’ll reach the park’s western most point at Ruby Beach. This beach is known for its sea stacks and large amount of driftwood carried down from Cedar Creek.
Seattle (2 days)
The drive from Ruby Beach back to Seattle takes you along the southern end of Olympic with travel time just under 3.5 hours. Once you arrive in Seattle, park your car somewhere near the Space Needle as there are a handful of sights and activities to enjoy all within walking distance.
Probably Seattle’s largest attraction, the Space Needle takes you up 520 ft to its 360 degree observation deck for just $24.
As America’s largest open air market, Pike Place is a hot spot for shopping, buying fresh produce and sampling Seattle’s local cuisines. Be sure to hang out by the Pike Place Fish Co. and you might catch a glimpse of their famous fish throwing.
Seattle Great Wheel
Just down the street from Pike Place is the Seattle Great Wheel; a large ferris wheel at the end of Pier 57. For $9 you can enjoy the waterfront ride with epic views of downtown Seattle.
Sunset at Kerry Park
While the Space Needle and Seattle Great Wheel are two great spots to catch the sunset, I would highly recommend heading to the suburbs and posting up at Kerry Park. Situated at the top of a hill, Kerry Park gives you an incredible view of the Seattle skyline with Mount Rainier as a backdrop.
Things to note
- Traffic in Seattle and Tacoma can be brutal any time of day – plan accordingly.
- Hotels in downtown Seattle can be a bit pricey for what you get. Airbnb is a great alternative when looking for a place to stay, especially in the suburbs. Not only can this be a more cost effective solution, but some of the smaller towns outside of the city are quite nice. Here’s the one we stayed at and would highly recommend it. New to Airbnb? Sign up using my link to get $40 off your first stay 🙂
- Even if you’re visiting one of the national parks in late spring, it’s quite common for some of the roads to be closed from the winter’s heavy snow. Be sure to check road and trail conditions before going.