Thinking about taking that escapade into the wild and experiencing the best of Washington has in store? Washington State bursts with lots of attractions for locals as well as visitors. It’s an outdoor recreation haven packed with plenty of interesting places to explore, from beachcombing, extreme adventure to wine tasting. So to help you out, we’ve created a sampling of the best Washington road trip destinations.
With its 29 officially designated State and National Scenic Byways, you’re never going to run out of interesting ideas for a road trip in Washington State. We have selected some of the best road trip destinations we believe you and your crew will love to explore.
- 1 Mount Baker Highway – Campsites, Spectacular Views & More!
- 2 Mount Rainier National Park – Several Outdoor Adventures
- 3 La Conner Town – Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
- 4 Deception Pass State Park – Most Photographed Spots
- 5 North Cascades Highway – Best Hikes
- 6 Anacortes Town – Best Whale Watching
- 7 Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula
- 8 The Cascade Loop – Natural Diversity & More!
- 9 Wrapping Up Washington Road Trip
Mount Baker Highway – Campsites, Spectacular Views & More!
If running on a tight schedule and would like a destination to explore for only a single day, Mount Baker Highway is a splendid choice. That doesn’t mean you can’t spend days there. There are lots of great campsites for those planning to spend 2 days or more at this scenic spot.
This road trip follows the Highway 542 east route starting at Bellingham, running through a couple of rural setups before entering into the forest between Mount Baker and Snoqualmie, then heading north. This destination offers a spectacular view throughout the year, but you can experience the best out of this trip if you get to visit during summer.
The color of the landscape here during fall is just breathtaking and ideal for hiking. As you go by, somewhere along the way, the hiking gets longer and more intense from shorter and easier. Virtually everything around Mount Baker Highway is stunning, so don’t forget to pack up your HD camera.
Mount Rainier National Park – Several Outdoor Adventures
Even though there aren’t any connecting roads looping around this Mount Rainier National Park, it’s still possible to put together an amazing road trip that will feature most of the park’s major regions such as Ohanapecosh, Paradise, Longmire, and Sunrise.
What’s more amazing about this trip is that you’ll be able to view the mountain’s summit from various sides, plus the surrounding scenery is stunning throughout the year. There are also plenty of stops along this route where you can take a view or a hike.
What’s more, you can also head to the historic structure or the park’s visitor center and enjoy the lots of activities there for two to three days. In fact, you’re going to feel like you are running out of time to explore all the sceneries in this park.
You can choose to spend your nights by hoisting a tent in many of the campsites around or visit the historic lodges located at Paradise and Longmire.
La Conner Town – Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
This is a great choice of a road trip to make your Washington State escapade memorable. This trip commences at Seattle, where you’ll then head straight north to I-5, then 534 west, and finally into the beautiful La Conner town.
La Conner is a beautiful old mill town surrounded by an easy to trek downtown area with lots of magnificent water views. Most of the buildings here, which include homes and shops, were built as early as the 1890s yet still maintain that perfect glare. This makes it one of the most unique Washington road trip destinations.
While at La Conner, you’ll get to enjoy the famous Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, usually held annually in April and attracts multitudes of people from various places around the country. Yet still, you can visit La Conner any time of the year that you please, it’s magnificent throughout the entire year!
There’s a booming art scene in La Conner that you’re going to love, and will need at least an hour to peruse through the amazing art galleries displaying authentic craftsmanship. Later on, you can hike further along the recently constructed boardwalk running from Morris street to the Commercial street, which provides a spectacular view of the boat docks and the river.
This place has a couple of dining options available, and also include a brewery. Take a stop at Calico Cupboard and enjoy various bakeries including the Mount Baker sized cinnamon rolls available in different flavors such as apple and bacon-filled.
Deception Pass State Park – Most Photographed Spots
If you’d like to experience a little bit of touch from the past, Deception Pass State Park is just the trip you need. The park is just on your route from La Conner town; hence you can make your trip worthwhile and more memorable by including Deception State Park in your La Conner road trip.
Just after exiting La Conner town, move to the north via the Reservation Road till you hit Route 20, then follow the road signs and you’ll find yourself at Deception Pass State Park. The park is mostly famous due to Deception Pass Bridge, a designated National Scenic Monument listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The bridge, built from arched steel spanning the Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands is particularly famous and is probably among the most photographed in Washington State. Visitors to the park can park their vehicles on the sides of the bridge then trek across to capture the scenic views of the turbulent waters and Pacific shoreline below.
North Cascades Highway – Best Hikes
North Cascades Highway is a section of Cascade Loop and contains all the pieces that make a road trip to this place memorable. This road trip uses the State Route 20 starting from Sedro-Wooley lying on the western side of Cascade Mountain Range, to ‘Twisp found on the east.
Along this route, you can take a stop to experience the pleasure of the float trip along Skagit River. And if you can start your trip early enough during the year, you’ll get to see the ever-majestic bald eagles migrating.
Then you can take a couple of hours at Newhalem to enjoy the amazing forest hikes and access the Diablo Lake boat tours from Skagit Tour. You’re also going to be amazed by the visitor center at North Cascades National Park. To find out about the hikes in details, check out our dedicated hiking sampling.
The mountain pass drive will take you past beautiful and extremely picturesque gorge, Ross and Diablo Lakes. These lakes portray a magnificent blue-green appeal that’s worth viewing and capturing photos. Take eastern part of North Cascades Highway and navigate through the Methow Valley and Winthrop, a town featuring the Old-West style.
This region has got quite a handful of recreation activities and amenities for its visitors. When planning your trip, avoid the winter periods, usually between November and May as North Cascades Highway is usually closed.
Anacortes Town – Best Whale Watching
Have you or any of your crew members ever experienced a spectacular whale watching escapade? If not yet, then Anacortes should be part of your Washington State road trip to-do-list. The town, in addition to its splendid attractions, also houses some of the largest whale-watching fleets in the world.
The whale watching tours run daily and have plenty of beautiful aquatic animals to view other than whales, such as seals, orcas, sea lions, and porpoises. Also, you’ll get to view the stunning scenery of Puget Sound.
Lots of other activities to experience here include watching the construction of big boats at the town’s far end and shopping for antiques at the stores. The list of fun activities to indulge in is almost endless and you can easily be overwhelmed.
Olympic National Park and the Olympic Peninsula
This road trip uses the Highway 101 route around 300 miles and will take you around the Olympic National Park and Olympic Peninsula. If you take side routes apart from the highway, you’ll get to view some of the most attractive destinations such as Dungeness Spit, Cape Flattery, and Port Townsend.
On this trip, you definitely don’t want to miss exploring some of the places in Olympic National Park, such as Hoh Rain Forest to the southeast of Forks and Hurricane Ridge lying on Port Angeles’ southern bit. In a few days, you will be done with this road trip. But since there are lots of places to visit and activities to do, it can last up to weeks to satisfactorily experience the pleasure.
This road trip is perhaps among those trips in Washington State you’d want to take over and over because every time you’ll have something new to explore. Also this is one of the best Washington road trip destinations for wildlife watching.
The Cascade Loop – Natural Diversity & More!
The diversity present in Washington State is absolutely amazing; from the mountain forests to rugged coasts to the pastoral farmlands. And this road trip to Cascade Loop will give you an experience of all these, plus lots more.
The Cascade Loop road trip is 440 miles long and uses Highway 2, running via Leavenworth all the way to Wenatchee. Here, you’ll then head north, follow Highway 97 and pass through Chelan just before veering eastwards.
Cascade Loop will then take you through the Methow Valley, and get you back over the Cascade Mountains using the North Cascades Highway. This huge loop trip will then pass through the Skagit Valley, and along the Whidbey Island. Each of these places present breath-taking views of the landscape that are fun in their own way.
Methow Valley is one of the best honeymoon spots in the western US, to find out more such spots in Washington, check out our dedicated couple travel sampling.
You’ll get the most out of this trip if you make a couple of stops along the way to explore the landscape. If possible, add a night to each stop to get the most, and for that be sure to carry your camping gear with you.
Wrapping Up Washington Road Trip
Washington State is among the many states in the US that have got a variety of attractive features worth exploring. And to your surprise, you will notice that a single day or two won’t be enough to satisfy your thirst for adventure. So, plan your trips during that time of the year that you got lots of time to spare.
Hope our sampling of Washington road trip destinations helps you plan an amazing vacation. To have the experience of a lifetime, book your vacation rentals at RentalTrader.com. If you need any more information, fill our web form or give us a call, we’ll be happy to help you.