4 Must-See Washington Destinations to Explore this Summer

Living in Washington is honestly such a dream. I mean, think about how fortunate we Washingtonians are to live in a place where there are so many mountains, beaches, forests, and lakes to go out and explore. It can be difficult to find the time (or transportation) to escape from Seattle and go to these places during the academic year. (But I mean summer is the best time to go, anyway!). Depending on where you want to go and what you want to see, here are some top-choice Washington destinations to explore this summer.

If you want to see stunning mountain views....

The Skyline Trail at Mount Rainier National Park

No offense to Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Baker, or Mt. Adams fans, but it’s no secret that Mount Rainier is the mountain of Washington. As father-of-the-National-Parks John Muir once said, “Of all the fire-mountains which, like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.” As someone from a town that is situated on the “Road to Rainier Scenic Byway,” and as someone who grew up with an always killer view of the mountain, I can confidently say that the view from Rainier Vista on the UW campus unfortunately just doesn’t cut it. It simply cannot compare to getting up-close to Washington’s greatest geographical feature. The Skyline Trail in the Paradise area of the National Park offers a stunning up-close view of the mountain. Along the 5.5 mile loop and 1700 foot elevation gain, one is able to experience a wide variety of sights, from wildflower meadows to snowfields, or from the Nisqually Glacier to the Tatoosh Peaks.

If you like lush, green forests...

The Hoh Rainforest at Olympic National Park

Did you know that the Hoh Rainforest at Olympic National park is like, an actual rainforest? The place gets as much as 14 feet (!) of rain per year (Seattle gets only about 37 inches per year, for reference). This heavy rainfall results in a lush, green canopy that has an immersive effect as you wander along the trail. The whole scene looks like something straight out of Twilight. There are two easy, short, nature trails: the Hall of Mosses Trail (.8 miles), and the Spruce Nature Trail (1.2 miles). Or if you’re feeling more ambitious, or just want to escape further into the forest, embark on the 17.3 mile Hoh River trail.

If the beach is more your thing...

Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park

There are many picturesque, idyllic beaches along the Washington coast. From the northernmost point of Cape Flattery and all the way down south to Cape Disappointment, each sandy spot along the coast boasts its own unique features. But if one could only choose a single beach to visit this summer, Rialto Beach at Olympic National Park is a good option. The beach's four mile round trip Hole-in-the-Wall hike allows one to view wildlife, tide pools, sea stacks, and some very unique rock formations.

If you seek a serene lake scene...

Lake Serene at Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

The Lake Serene trail is a 7.2 mile round trip trail that positions you at one of Washington’s greatest alpine lakes. One nice thing about the trail is that you have the option to take a little one mile (round trip) detour and visit the impressive Bride Veil Falls. After cooling down from the summer heat in the waterfall’s mist, continue on the trail to Lake Serene. Now the final 1.5 miles of the hike is where things get a bit challenging as you gain 1300 feet in elevation. But it’s worth it once you reach the lake. Once there, perch up on the rocky shores, relax, take in the views, and bask in Lake Serene’s peacefulness and, well, serenity.