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1 Week Travel Guide to Washington State

Growing up in the Seattle area, I often took for granted this amazing corner of the world, and all of the beautiful places right at my doorstep. However, since growing up and moving away, I can now appreciate the incredible beauty that Washington State has to offer.


Here are all of my top recommendations for a one week travel guide in the Evergreen State, as told by a Seattle native.



 

Days One and Two: Seattle


Pike Place Market: Starting off with one of the most iconic spots in Seattle, Pike Place Market is bright, buzzing, and cultural. From the local artisans to the beautiful flower stalls, and the famous flying fish, there's always something to see or do here. Also, make sure to come hungry, because the local food vendors are great - don't miss Piroshky Piroshky and the Beecher's mac and cheese! If you're really a big foodie, there are also options to book a chef-guided food tour around the market, as well.



Space Needle: You can't go to Seattle without going up the Space Needle. Built in 1962 for the World's Fair, the Space Needle is the most recognizable building in the Seattle skyline, and you can take an elevator up to the viewing deck for one of the best views of the city! The deck also has portions of glass floor that you can see through, and rotates around so that you have truly 360 degree views.



Chihuly Gardens: I love going to the Chihuly Gardens. The gallery is a display of beautiful glassblown art, and it's a great option for a rainy or grey day in Seattle (of which there are quite a few!) Save money by combining Chihuly with a Space Needle visit in one ticket.



Air & Space Museum: This is one of my favorites! Located close to the Boeing headquarters, the Museum of Flight is home to loads of old airplanes that you can walk through, and learn more about the history of flight in relation to America and Seattle specifically. Also, the flight simulators are super cool, and well worth a ride.


Kerry Park: One of the hands-down best views of the city, Kerry Park is a must-see for spectacular city views. It's the spot they use in the opening credits of 10 Things I Hate About You, and in Frasier, which should tell you all you need to know. Parking is limited in the area, but you can find on-street if you come at off-peak times.



Gasworks Park: Gasworks is one of those really quintessentially quirky Seattle places that I didn't fully appreciate until I'd moved away and come back. The park is the location of the former Seattle Gas Light Company gasification plant, and has huge metal structures mixed with stunning views across Lake Union and Seattle. It's located not far from Fremont Brewing as well, which is a great place to pick up some local beers, and you can even head to see the infamous Fremont Troll under the bridge afterwards!


Day Three: Islands


Whale Watching: One of the best things to do in the Pacific Northwest is to go whale watching! Orcas are pretty common in and around the Seattle area, so spending a day seeing these incredible creatures in the wild is definitely recommended, if you have the time. Many of these whale watching excursions leave from further north than the city, but this one is the only half day whale watching tour that leaves right from Seattle.


Bainbridge Island: It's hard to pick just one island to recommend, but Bainbridge is super cute, and only a quick ferry away, in comparison to the San Juan island further North (which are well worth a visit if you're spending more than a week in Washington). To get to Bainbridge, you need to take the ferry over (about a 35 minute journey), and land in the island's small port. The island is great for wineries, pretty driftwood beaches and nature reserves, so spend a day here soaking up nature and a whole lotta vino.



Days Four and Five: The Enchantments


The Enchantments: Taking a two hour road trip from the Seattle area, you'll end up in The Enchantments, one of the most beautiful parts of Washington State. If you're a hiking enthusiast, this is definitely the place for you - it's full of alpine lakes, rocky peaks, and loads of trails to explore. One of my favorite hikes is Colchuck Lake - a very popular spot now, but not too over-crowded as long as you go early (I'm talking starting out pre-sunrise), and midweek. After hiking all morning, it's lovely to sit by the lake and dip your toes in the freezing lake! There are loads of trails in this area, catering to all abilities, so there will be beautiful hikes for everybody.



Leavenworth: Definitely one of the stranger towns in Washington, Leavenworth is a German Bavarian village set in the middle of Washington State, and the entire town really leans into this theme - even their Starbucks is Bavarian! The great thing about Leavenworth is that you can get fairly authentic Bavarian food and steins after a long day of hiking. It's also a beautiful place to walk around!



Day Six: Mount Rainier National Park


I grew up hiking and picnicking around Mount Rainier, and this remains one of the most personally special places in Washington State to me to this day. If you only have a day to explore this beautiful National Park, I would recommend the Mount Fremont Lookout Trail from Sunrise, or Tolmie Peak Trail for the views. It's hard to go wrong with hiking spots here! Again, this is a place that you could extend days spent exploring the area if you're sticking around for a longer trip. Alternatively, if you don't want to rent a car to visit the National Park, you have the option of booking small guided group trips, as well, for a day of hiking.




Day Seven: Seattle Area


For the last day, I would recommend sticking around the Seattle area again, as it's likely any flights would be out of SeaTac airport. Depending on the time of year, I would recommend a few different things, but the below are some top choices!


Woodinville Wine Tasting: In case you've not had enough of Washington's amazing vineyards, the nearby Woodinville is renowned for its many incredible wineries. Because of the close proximity of these wineries, it's possible to do a bit of a wine crawl. I won't say we made it to five wineries in one day, but... I also won't say we didn't.


Washington State Fair: State fairs are a uniquely American experience, and Washington State's is massive. As a kid, I would get excited for autumn, because I knew it meant a trip to the Puyallup fair to see massive prize pumpkins, ride the rollercoasters, and eat massive, delicious elephant ears! The fair is well worth a visit if you find yourself with a spare day with decent weather in the Autumn.


Hibulb Cultural Center: It's important to acknowledge the immense impact the local Native American culture has had on the Seattle area, and there are loads of great Native American cultural centres within an easy distance of the city. I loved the Tulalip Hibulb Cultural Center, and the art and history on display in this museum is a powerful reminder of the history of the region.


 

If you haven't been convinced to visit Washington State yet, I don't know what else to say! Although I know I'm biased, I think it's one of the most unique and beautiful states in the USA - and this blog post just brushes the surface of the places to visit!


Make sure to follow along with all of my adventures over at @elise.abroad on Instagram!

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