Call us old-fashioned, but my husband and I truly love to hop in the car and go on a drive. Windows down, coffee in hand, nowhere to go but forward. It’s a peaceful way to spend a bit of the weekend.
Drives are a great opportunity to visit without the distractions of home and, perhaps best of all, heading yonder towards wide open spaces is the perfect way to experience our amazing state.
On a scenic drive you see everything slower and more detailed. You see what’s between here and there. You catch scenery that will darn near take your breath away.
Be sure to pack an assortment of snacks - or at least map out a pastry shop or a good burger joint along your route - and make sure you have a solid navigator next to you! Fill up on gas and then, take off on a new adventure!
We've gathered up eleven amazing drives in both Western and Eastern Washington, some that cross from one to the other. Get ready for a slow weekend on the road; Washington’s best scenic drives are waiting for you!
A Peninsula Adventure
The 350 miles of the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway outline the entire peninsula of northwest Washington. Along this route you’ll witness rain forests and coastal beaches, not to mention Olympic National Park. It might not be doable in a day, but you can sure make a long weekend of it and really immerse yourself in a beautiful part of the state.
Via the Fabulous Ferry
Did you know that Washington State Ferries is the largest ferry system in the country? If you haven’t yet experienced a ferry ride, you must! The ferry out of Anacortes will take you to the picturesque San Juan Islands Scenic Byway! Book a reservation (highly recommended) and plan to explore Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, and Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island or the winding roads between Eastsound, Olga, and Doe Bay on Orcas Island.
The Most Northwest
Hop on the Strait of Juan de Fuca/ Hwy 112 Scenic Byway and there you’ll find yourself at the most northwestern point of the contiguous United States. Well, once you reach Cape Flattery. Isn’t that a bucket list worthy destination drive?
On the Way to Bellingham
If you only think of Western Washington University when you think of Bellingham, think again. Map yourself to Chuckanut Drive and enjoy the meandering route along Chuckanut Mountain and Samish Bay. If hunger strikes, don’t miss The Filling Station.
Hello Mount Baker
Washington is full of gorgeous mountain loops, but I’m partial to Mount Baker Scenic Byway. On this road you’ll follow the Nooksack River and fall in love with old-growth trees, waterfalls, and depending on the time of year, perhaps the dreaminess of gentle snowfall.
Three In One
The Cascade Loop Byway totals 440 miles across Western and Eastern Washington. Within this loop you’ll find three shorter scenic paths: Stevens Pass Greenway, North Cascades Highway, and Whidbey Scenic Isle Way. Each one leads to the other and you can start wherever you’d like on the loop.
Mountain View Magic
The Chinook Pass Scenic Byway offers perfect peeks of Mount Rainier’s peaks. You’ll get to check out classic Enumclaw along the way too.
Full of History
Eastern Washington’s Okanogan Trail is an 83 mile byway that follows part of a historic Native American trade route. Pick up audiobook about the Cariboo Trail and learn while you drive in their footsteps.
Our Own “Grand Canyon”
The 150 mile byway surrounding Grand Coulee, called the Coulee Corridor, twists and turns through canyons that will leave you in absolute awe. It’s like Washington has its own version of Arizona’s Grand Canyon.
With Sips of Wine Along the Way
Head to the Tri-Cities and you’ll find hundreds (yes, hundreds!) of wineries within an hour circumference of Kennewick, Pasco, and Richland. The Lewis and Clark Trail actually loops to the east of the Tri-Cities and is a perfect path to follow.Obviously you shouldn’t drink and drive, but you can definitely stop for a glass here and there while catching the sweeping views of the beautiful vineyards of Washington’s southeastern region.
The Heart of the Palouse
The Palouse Scenic Byway will give you a glimpse of Washington’s amazing agriculture. You’ll also have the chance to catch Washington’s official waterfall - Palouse Falls.