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Five Seattle-Area Weekend Trip Destinations

By some miracle, we’ve made it through the month of January, as week 5 of winter quarter is right around the corner and we approach the halfway point. My choice of taking 17 credits this quarter, without any supply of nice weather or even an ounce of sun in Seattle, often has me daydreaming about short weekend getaways, either by taking my car on a 48-hour road trip or hopping on the Link down to Sea-Tac airport. Although most of ideas of mine are fleeting and don’t make it outside of my thoughts into reality, the trips I hope to invest in soon offer a bit of respite from the college chaos, since I’m encouraged to take a well-deserved break to soak in some novel surroundings. Whether you’re ready to get out of the city with some best buds, or maybe want to try your hands at a refreshing solo trip, here are five exciting weekend destinations that you can reasonably reach outside of Seattle. 

1. Bellingham, Washington: 89 miles from Seattle via I-5

If you’re a Washington native, you already know where I’m going with this—the town of Bellingham, just south of the United States-Canada border, is renowned for being the unofficial outdoorswoman’s heaven, as its proximity to hiking, kayaking, boating, and every outdoor activity makes it a renowned hangout spot for those who enjoy Washington’s best natural features. Be sure to check out the famous Chuckanut Drive, an opportune moment for peaking views of blue waters and the San Juan Islands. Then, if you’ve had your fun in Bellingham’s glory and want a change of pace in a city other than Seattle, take your car up to Vancouver, B.C. for the weekend, a quick 50 miles north of Bellingham.

2. Port Townsend, Washington: 56 miles from Seattle via Washington State Ferry and Highway 104

A smaller town than Bellingham, but just as equally charming in amenities and activities, Port Townsend has the potential to provide you with a relaxing couple of days to reflect and find a comfortable solitude away from the hustle and bustle of Seattle, if that’s the vibe you’re seeking. Not only will you see Washington’s finest mountains from the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry route on your journey there, but you’ll be overjoyed to pass through a myriad of quaint little towns that may be able to offer you with some Instagram-worthy shots (P.S., check out the hidden town of Port Gamble on your way there if you love that small-town kick!) 

3. Hood River, Oregon: 265 miles from Seattle via I-90 and US-97

Odds are you have a “been there done that” mentality with Portland, but if you’re still willing to venture down into our neighboring state of Oregon, humble yet still as beautiful as our state, look no further than the town of Hood River on the Columbia. With a plethora of outdoor opportunities in nearby state parks, but not quite as far of a trek as the city of Bend, Hood River offers a cute and classy selection of authentic cafes, farms, wineries, and small businesses sure to delight any weekend traveler. Feel free to avoid the banal I-5 drive on your way back and take the Washington route of Highway 97, which offers a picturesque version of eastern Washington’s unique ruggedness. 

4. Manzanita, Oregon: 213 miles from Seattle via I-5 and US-101

Again, sidestepping the idea of a Portland trip, (or not, up to you!) if sights of the ocean are your end goal, the town of Manzanita, one of my all-time favorite Pacific Northwest destinations, is hard to beat. Driving down U.S. Highway 101 along the coast of the Pacific Ocean greeting the two states is already a worthwhile weekend activity, but the destination of Manzanita is quick to greet you with breathtaking beaches for miles of walking, exploring, and just about anything imaginable that allows you to let go of the craziness of life, even for a few moments. If you can’t wait to get more of your beach on, the towns further down Highway 101 surely don’t disappoint either. 

5. Point Reyes National Seashore, California: 2 hour flight to San Francisco International Airport 

This last destination requires quite a bit more driving time than the other four and hence is probably best achieved by flying—but, trust me, this is a trip you need to put on your bucket list ASAP. A bit west of Napa Valley wine country, but not quite in the realm of San Francisco-San Jose, the hidden treasure of Point Reyes is one unlike anything you’ll experience in the city under your piles of homework. Through its hiking through lush green meadows, crashing serene blue waves on the beach, and elephant seals who offer you a happy hello, sometimes it helps just to get out of your own head for a while—and the scenery of Point Reyes gives you that change. And hey, we all love a great excuse to ditch our Friday classes.  

Hailey Hummel

Washington '23

Hailey is a current junior at the University of Washington, majoring in Public Health—Global Health (with departmental honors), and minoring in Law, Societies, and Justice. She loves hiking, traveling around the state of Washington and the world, making art, playing piano, taking pictures, and spending time with her friends.
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