It seems hard to believe, but summer is already dwindling to an end and fall, which always feels like the busiest season, is just around the corner. If you’re still aching for one last getaway, it’s not too late: you can get from Seattle to any of the destinations below – and back – on less than a single tank of gas in the Honda Civic.
Olympic National Park
Just over 100 miles from downtown Seattle is Olympic National Park, beloved across the country for its majestic vistas and remarkable biodiversity. Because the nearly 1 million acres of park encompass three distinct ecosystems, Olympic National Park offers visitors a wealth of natural wonders to see and explore.
Drive your Civic along Hurricane Ridge, a 17-mile stretch of road that winds through dense forests and ice-crusted alpine peaks, or hike through the Ho Rain Forest. This temperate rain forest is lushly blanketed coniferous and deciduous greenery. As you walk trails along the Ho River, try to spot native fauna like the banana slug and Roosevelt elk.
There’s tons more you can do at Olympic National Park, so it’s a good idea to do your homework to pick out the sites and activities (boating, rock climbing) that most appeal to you and the other members of your expedition.
This tiny, artsy town less than 75-miles north of Seattle makes for an ideal day trip. Enjoy picturesque views of the San Juan Islands then stop by one of the town’s fabulous eateries for a late breakfast or early lunch. The Rhody Café serves up local food with fun surprises, while bakery Breadfarm is widely known for its delicious Samish River Potato Bread and yummy sweets. Want something with a little kick? Try the Sour Cherry Lemon Bread for a unique treat.
Visit artist collective The Lucky Dumpster to explore upcycled art and furnishings with a contemporary rustic flair or tour one of several local galleries like i.e. or Smith & Vallee. Bring your binoculars to watch some of the area’s birds flitter around and before you head home, buy some locally grown food like blueberries, cheeses or shellfish to bring with you.
Head south of the city for about 40-miles to visit Lakewold Gardens, a historic garden estate in Lakewood, Washington. The estate is surrounded by grounds designed in part by famous landscape architect Thomas Church, known for introducing the aesthetic of Modernism to landscape design.
The Lakewold grounds feature over 900 rhododendrons, 30 Japanese maples and several Champion Trees of Washington State – trees that are registered as the largest of their species in the entire state. Lakewold has several gardens including a Rock Garden; a Waterfall garden with streams, waterfalls and orchids; a Rose Garden and a Fern Display Garden. For those who appreciate the wonders of nature and the art of garden design, Lakewold is an ideal day trip.
Around 80-miles southeast of Seattle is Cle Elum, Washington: the perfect place to enjoy outdoor activities on and around the Cle Elum River. Go for a horseback ride on mountain trails, go kayaking or whitewater rafting on the river or take in the beauty of the basalt columns that frame the roadways.
After your adventures, grab some sweets at the Cle Elum Bakery, now over 100-years old and better than ever, or sit down to a hearty meal at The Cottage Café and Fireside Lounge. In a rush? You can also stop by Stella’s for one of the best sandwiches in Washington.
If you plan your trip carefully, you can visit during one of the many fun events Cle Elum has planned this summer including a couple of car shows, a Reined Cow Horse Show, a Horsemanship Clinic and a fun ride.
With so many wonderful places to visit within a short drive of Seattle, it’s easy to fit in a final summer adventure before fall arrives. Best of all, the fuel-efficient Honda Civic can get you there and back one less than a single tank of gas.