You know what's fun? Vacation. Your Instagram feed is probably packed with people going on fancy trips to sunny locations, but if your vacation time and cash flow aren't so plentiful, fear not: a quick trip to the Kitsap Peninsula will actually give you all the weird and wonderful vacation staples you need (sans, you know, a tan) without leaving you broke.
Most cheap vacations in the Pacific Northwest include sleeping outdoors. True camping - I mean tents and stuff - gets a little soggy this time of year, so it's not always the best option. But take note, weekend warriors: the Washington State Parks Department has you covered. You know you need to reserve a campsite around these parts, but tent-phobic vacationers - that's me, for the record - need to check out the cabin options. In the winter months a heated cabin that can comfortably sleep five - one on a top bunk, two on a bottom bunk, and two on a futon - runs under $60 (plus the cost of a Discover Pass, which is good for the year). It's heated, it has a mini fridge and microwave, and it has electricity. Sold. Kitsap Memorial State Park is a perfect place to make home base - it'll take you under two hours to get there from Seattle.
Within striking distance of the park you'll find any number of weird and wonderful attractions, from bigger towns like Poulsbo to teeny tiny ones like Port Ludlow. Port Angeles is also less than an hour away.
The real stars of the show, though, are Port Gamble and Port Townsend. Both are old - think before-we-were-a-state old - and both are jam-packed with cool Washington history, cute places to meander, pretty boats and more. They're each within 40 minutes of the park.
Port Gamble - around 20 minutes away - has a historic section, which consists of basically one block of authentic houses, one of the state's oldest cemeteries, a killer view of Hood Canal, and around a dozen shops to check out. The best part, though, is the Port Gamble General Store. The attached restaurant is delicious (just say "yes" to the fry bread at lunch) and the store itself, though packed with the sort of gift shop fare you'd find anywhere, has the world's best upstairs. It's been turned into a mini museum full of cool shells, crustaceans, and corals - some collected over a century ago - in truly entertaining arrangements. (Olive shells in tiny martini glasses? Delightful.)
Port Townsend is another 20 minutes out, and it's a little bigger. You'll find beautiful boats at Point Hudson - it's honestly worth strolling around for an hour or two just to take a look - and you'll want to check out the boat shop at Northwest Maritime Center for an even closer look at some gorgeous vessels undergoing a little touch-up. The Hudson Point Café's brunch is the perfect mid-morning break.
And you know the best part of vacationing nearby on the cheap? Getting home is easy -- and it takes under two hours.