If you're like me, a solid dose of nature is a necessary part of your week. I spend my nine-to-five in the city, so by the time the weekend rolls around, I'm pining for some greens and blues. Lucky for us Seattleites, there are so many exciting adventures under two hours away. From islands to alpine lakes, here are my favorite city escapes.
I'll never get tired of this state park's rocky cliffs, sandy beaches, wildlife, and churning green waters. Two beautiful bridges connect Whidbey Island to the mainland – walk the bridge to spot otters, seals, and the occasional whale 180 feet below, hike to Lighthouse Point for spectacular views, roast marshmallows over a fire on North Beach, or go for a paddle on Cranberry Lake. There's so much to explore!
Pro tip: Make it a loop by driving down Whidbey Island and hopping on the Clinton Ferry.
A bit of a drive, Hurricane Ridge is on the Olympic Peninsula, just outside of Port Angeles. You can drive to the top year-round and the views are STUNNING. There's not a summer hike or winter snowshoe where you're not surrounded by the Olympic Mountains' majestic peaks. Keep an eye out for marmots and deer (and even black bears if you're lucky).
3) Twin Falls
Recognize the name? A murder mystery TV series was named after these falls. This North Bend hike is short but sweet (about 2.6 miles round-trip) and the falls are way bigger than I expected. It's a great year-round outdoor adventure for anyone needing some quality time with Mother Nature.
Franklin Falls is a local favorite. It's a short hike in the summer (2 miles round trip), but the road often closes in the winter, adding 3+ miles to the hike depending on the time of year, so make sure to do your research before you go. However, winter offers some pretty spectacular scenery, and you might even catch a few ice climbers working their way up the frozen falls!
It begins at a beautiful lake dotted with tree trunks, which most people breeze past to get to the trailhead. I think it's totally underrated. Because this popular spot is so close to Seattle (about 45 minutes away), you'll find yourself sharing this trail with all walks of life. But the view is killer, and a couple pieces of candied salmon from Wild Salmon Fisherman's Market make the hike that much sweeter.
A 15-minute ferry ride transports passengers back to the 20th century, and the town wouldn't have it any other way. It's a beautiful escape from bustling city life – visitors can sip on locally roasted Vashon Island Coffee, sit Sound-side at the lighthouse in Point Robinson Park, and lick up a pint of small-batch ice cream from Glass Bottle Creamery.
Pro tip: Drive to the south end of the island and catch the ferry to Tacoma to turn your day jaunt into a sightseeing loop.
7) Walk on the Ferry to Bainbridge Island
Those who visit Bainbridge get to experience a Washington ferry, visit an island, and taste their pick of quality cuisine, all in the same day. For just $8 round-trip, travelers can walk on the Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry for an afternoon in Winslow where wineries, scissor-cut pizza, brews, waterfront dining, and more await. Check out the Museum of Art for a glimpse at locals' creativity at work, the Harbour Public House (21+) for marina-front eats in a converted home, the Blackbird Bakery for delicious pastries, and Mora Ice Cream for 48-plus hand-churned ice cream flavors (yum!). Yes, I love my food – not sorry!
8) Snow Lake
Get a taste of the Alpine Lake Wilderness with a dip in Snow Lake. This 7.2-mile, round-trip hike starts at Snoqualmie's Alpental Ski Area and walks you through forest and a boulder field before your first glimpse of the glorious, crystal clear lake. A 400-foot drop will bring you to its shore, but don't stop there – hike to where the trail forks for epic views of the surrounding mountains and a series of short waterfalls. It's easily one of my favorite Washington hikes.