in partnership
Image: Iron Goat Trail, Libby Wills

Skip the Hotel, These PNW Day Trips Will Make Your Summer the Best Yet

As the weather warms I can’t help but turn my calendar to the months of June, July, and August.

Summer is here and I’m not so mad about it. Ice cream all day, 4th of July festivities, cut flower gardening, camp for my kids - it’s all the good stuff smashed into three wonderful months. Hello, summer!

Summer also means I’m antsy for a little getaway, but man, hotel stays are spendy! Especially if you’re like me with a handful of kids, a grandma, and extended family that likes to tag along on adventures.

Luckily, amazing day trips are totally an option in the PNW. Day trips are the perfect balance between adventure and budget-conscious living. Who’s with me? Are you ready to plan some amazing day trips for the coming summer months?

As Disney Pixar’s film Up so aptly put it, “Adventure is out there!” Here’s where to find it in day trip form.

Grand Coulee Dam
Constructed during the Great Depression, Grand Coulee Dam is a concrete gravity dam on the Columbia River. During the summer months they have extended hours and you can even catch their spectacular laser show if you don’t mind a late drive home.

Olympic Game Farm
Done the Aquarium? Point Defiance? Woodland? Cougar Mountain? Northwest Trek? Well, it’s time you make your way to the Olympic Game Farm on the Peninsula in Sequim. You’ll see animals up close, like way up close! I haven’t been yet, but countless folks have told me it’s a must do so it’s definitely on our summer bucket list.

Mt. Erie
Want a spectacular view without the effort of hiking 1200+ feet? Drive to the top of Mt. Erie in Anacortes and you’ll fall in love with the endless views. Take a picnic if you’d like or stop by our favorite Anacortes eatery, Rock Fish Grill.

The Coastline at Gearhart
Gosh. I can’t believe I’m going to share my favorite, hidden beach! Nestled between Astoria and Seaside/Cannon Beach on the Oregon Coast, Gearhart is a serene town with quiet beaches. If you’ve got your heart set on waves and the ocean’s roar, make Gearhart you destination. Add nearby Hug Point to your route. A hug there makes for a cute photo!

Molalla Train Park
If you have kids or just love trains, plan a Portland day trip on a Sunday and catch a FREE ride at the Molalla Train Park.

Pendleton Woolen Mill Store
We all love Pendleton products, right? Well, what if I told you that there is a store with remnants and notions galore sold by the pound? If you have a crafty bone in your body, you won’t want to miss these deals!

Iron Goat Trail
Last year for our anniversary, my husband and I hiked Oyster Dome. This year, I have Iron Goat Trail on my radar, it comes highly recommended! At 6 miles round trip Iron Goat Trail is the perfect outdoor adventure - a little nature with time for a meal on the way to or from. Don’t forget your Northwest Forest Pass.

Westport Winery Garden Resort
Arrive for brunch then migrate through the gardens and on to wine tasting. Official tours happen on Saturdays and Sundays at 1pm. Bottoms up! The marionberry Riesling is calling my name...

High Trek Adventures
Ropes courses and ziplines just 20 minutes from Seattle - hallelujah! With three ziplines and 60 challenges you could probably spend all day here! High Trek has fun for ages four to adult. Enjoy your time in the sky!