One of my favorite States in America, Washington has something to offer to everyone. From the scenic mountains where you can hike, camp, swim in the alpine lakes, or just stare in awe at. To the wine regions scattered throughout the state where you can visit vineyards or taste from multiple tasting rooms throughout the towns and cities in Washington. There’s water to take a boat out, there’s the city to explore, and there are quaint little towns waiting to be discovered.
You could spend weeks in Washington alone and still have much left to explore. It’s the kind of place where you can drive a few miles in any direction and feel like you’re in a new state. You can drive north to Canada, south to Oregon, or even take the Clipper to Vancouver Island! And while there’s so much to do and see around Washington, staying in the state allows you to experience the same beauty that you would if you left the state.
WEDNESDAY – Depart from home, arrival into Seattle, WA
Leave Wednesday to travel to Washington for an expected arrival in on Wednesday. If you plan on arriving in Washington via air, the airport that services Seattle is the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA), located a mere 15-miles south of the city. While you could rent a car from the airport in Seattle, I wouldn’t recommend it quite yet. Instead get an Uber or a Lyft for a more expensive, but faster ride into the city. (If you’re new to Uber use my code vi9bs for $2 off your first three rides. Or if you’re new to Lyft use my code KYLEE45415 for $5 in ride credit).
If you’re looking to save a bit of money an even cheaper option would be taking the Link light rail from the airport to the city. While the Link doesn’t stop everywhere… it moves from north to south (and vice versa) hitting the major neighborhoods such as Pioneer Square, downtown, and Capitol Hill. You can always get closer to your desired destination and get an Uber or Lyft from there. Rides vary depending on where you get on and off the light rail but expect to pay anywhere from $2-$3. Click here for a good resource on using the Link.
For flight options, I tend to use Kayak to compare prices.
Ready to book? For hotel options compare rates at TripAdvisor or Booking.com. If you prefer an Airbnb (perhaps a houseboat on Lake Union?), use my referral code for a $55 credit (first-time users only).
Wondering where to stay? My favorite neighborhoods to stay in Seattle (due to proximity and activities) include downtown, Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, Fremont, South Lake Union, and Belltown.
THURSDAY – Seattle
Highlights of Seattle day 1 – Check out the tourist hot spots
No trip to Seattle would be complete without checking some of the tourist hot spots off of your list. And although the following things mentioned are crowded and considered “touristy” for a reason… I still think that they are worth the visit while you’re in town.
Start your morning at Pike Place Market, which opens at 9 am every day. Begin at the bubblegum wall, make your way to Ghost Alley Espresso for a coffee, before venturing up to the crowded market. For a complete guide to visiting America’s oldest consistently run market (opening in 1907), check out this post here.
After you’ve gotten your fill of Pike Place head towards Belltown to check out the Seattle Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass museum. Both within walking distance from one another, if you plan to visit both make sure to get a combined ticket for a cheaper rate.
Before sunset head to a park to watch the sun fall behind the city. The two best places for sunset include Kerry Park and Gas Works Park. Perhaps you found some goodies from Pike Place Market for a sunset picnic? (If you’re going full picnic mode Gas Works is better than Kerry Park).
FRIDAY – Seattle
Highlights of Seattle day 2 – Spend the day in Woodinville
Day two in Seattle skip the busy city life, get an Uber/Lyft and escape 20-miles north to the wine town of Woodinville. However, before getting started on drinking wine, head to the Capitol Hill neighborhood for pastries at the famed Bakery Nouveau. Bakery Nouveau is known for its flaky croissants, delicate pastries, and savory sandwiches. Don’t be surprised if you show up and there’s a line out the door!
Once you’ve had your fill of breakfast make your way to Woodinville. A majority of the wine tasting rooms close early around 5 pm so it’s best to start early. While Woodinville is filled with tasting rooms offering quality Washington wines, there are only a few vineyards located here. If you’re looking for a vineyard experience head to Chateau Ste. Michelle and buy a bottle of wine to take outside on the terrace. (If you happen to be at Chateau Ste. Michelle on Saturday instead of Friday check out their summer concert series).
Some of my other favorite finds in Woodinville include Columbia Valley Winery (located across the street walking distance from Chateau Ste. Michelle), Alexandria Nicole Cellars, and Village Wines for food. (Alexandria Nicole and Village wines are walking distance from each other).
SATURDAY – Seattle
Highlights of Seattle day 3 – Explore the nearby mountains
Transportation: Now is the time I’d recommend renting a car. You’ll need it to get out of the city if you want to hike as well as day-tripping to Leavenworth. I recommend renting a car from the airport.
While there are tons of hikes to do around Seattle, my favorite is the Lena Lake trail hike. This is because it’s relatively easy so even beginner hikers can participate, or if you’re more advanced you have the option to continue to Upper Lena Lake. Most importantly, however, is that you can make a day trip out of this by stopping at Hama Hama Oyster. For more details on Lena Lake and Hama Hama Oyster read this guide.
Other hikes around Seattle that draw attention include Rattlesnake Ledge, Mailbox Peak Trail, Snow Lake, Mount Pilchuck, and more. My favorite resource for checking the distance and difficulty of each hike is AllTrails.
SUNDAY – Depart Seattle, arrive in Leavenworth, WA
Highlights of Leavenworth day 1 – Explore the quaint town
Leavenworth is a small Bavarian town located in the Cascade Mountains, bursting with charm and character! With local shops selling kitsch goodies, to restaurants with traditional German food, beer steins, and architecture resembling that of Germany; Leavenworth is a must-see while you’re in Washington. Only a two(ish) hour drive east of Seattle will bring you to Leavenworth. With no real ties to Germany, Leavenworth was hit hard by the Great Depression causing many businesses to go out of business. By the ’60s the people realized they had to do something to draw tourists in or risk the town being gone forever so they decided to make it into a German town! To this day Leavenworth now sees two million visitors per year.
With all that being said, Leavenworth is a very small town. You could definitely see it all in one day as you make your way from shop to shop on the main street in town. I would recommend stopping for a stein and giant pretzel at Rhein Haus as you galavant through town!
MONDAY – Depart Leavenworth, arrive in Seattle, WA
Highlights of Seattle day 4 – Spend time in North Seattle
Spend the last two days of your “8-day vacay” seeing more of what Seattle has to offer outside of the tourist hot spots. One of the best areas to get out of the city and experience a different side of Seattle is north. Here you’ll find Ballard, Fremont, and more quirky neighborhoods to spend the day in.
Begin the day north of Queen Anne in the hip neighborhood of Fremont. Here you can expect to find boutique shopping, some of the best restaurants Seattle offers, trolls under bridges, and more! It’s an easily walkable neighborhood that is best seen on foot. For a guide on what to see and do in while you’re in Fremont, check out this post.
After spending time in Fremont head northwest to explore the Ballard neighborhood. Rent one of the bikes that line the streets of Seattle (choose from LimeBike or JUMP), and electrically bike the 3-mile distance between neighborhoods. Ballard shows a grungy, laid back Seattle compared to some of its counterparts. Here you’ll find loads of breweries (best explored on a bike), and just like Fremont, you can find boutiques, restaurants, and parks. Some of the draws to Ballard include the breweries (there are 11 in 5-miles), the Ballard Sunday Farmers Market, and relaxing with a bonfire at Golden Gardens Park.
TUESDAY – Seattle
Highlights of Seattle day 5 – Take the ferry to West Seattle
On your last day in Seattle opt for something a bit different – water transportation! If you’re up for a longer trip getting you further away from the city, take the 30-minute ferry north to Bainbridge Island. Here you’ll find more wine tasting rooms and restaurants as you pop in and out of stores on the main street in town.
If you prefer to stay in the city and still want to experience the ferry, instead opt for taking the West Seattle ferry. The ride is a short 5-10 minutes, taking you across the bay and offering fantastic views of the Seattle skyline as you pull away. You will then be dropped off in West Seattle with Marination Mai Kai – a Hawaiian, Korean fusion restaurant to your right. (If you’re hungry definitely opt for lunch here!). From Marination, you can hop on a free shuttle that will take you to Alki Beach. Please note that spending the day at Alki is only pleasant weather permitting.
WEDNESDAY – Depart Seattle, fly home
Depart from Seattle on Wednesday just in time to clock in for your shift Thursday! And just like that, your “8 Day Vacay” visiting the beautiful state of Washington has come to an end.
If this is your first time hearing about the “8 Day Vacay” and would like some background information, please click here.