36 Hours in the PNW: The rumors are true. The Pacific Northwest is lush and green, filled with fresh foods, stunning views, and endless natural charm! Let’s be clear – only 36 hours was hardly enough time to take you in, Seattle. Still, we’re eager to tell you all about our favorite spots in a state that seems to have it all. Here are some of the best things you can do in the Seattle area on a short, low budget trip.
1) Get by Water!
The first thing that captivated us about Seattle was the ocean and mountains contrast. The minute you park your car downtown and head for the water, you’re faced with gorgeous, snow-capped peaks. And these fellas behind us (photo above) are only scratching the surface.
Once we took a sailboat around the harbor, we got to take in Mount Rainier in all its glory. We couldn’t believe our eyes the first time we saw it. Massive- The snowy peak is actually an impressive stratovolcano, towering behind the Seattle skyline at 14,410 feet. 14,410 feet! It’s also considered one of the most dangerous active volcanoes in the world.
With views of volcanoes, snowy peaks, and incredible sea-life, it’s clear that getting by the water is the best thing you can do in Seattle. From Newport to Portland to Seattle, we’ve loved getting out on the water and taking in new cities from a different perspective. This time around, we booked a last minute Seattle Sailboat Cruise on AIRBNB and it was worth every penny.
If you’re ever in town, we recommend booking this Sailing Excursion. Get ready to depart Seattle’s historic central waterfront at Pier 56 and take a big heaping breath of salty ocean air. It’s fun and affordable for any budget!
2) Explore Pike Place
Pike Place Market was high on our list and we were not disappointed. This historic, Seattle market is one of the oldest continuously run markets in the USA! Hundreds of mom-and-pop vendors line the market from end to end. Baked goods, colorful flowers, and fresh seafood are just a few of the memorable things you can find here. Most stands are willing to give you a free sample when you stroll on by. It’s like Costco – but better!
While every single stand at this spot rocks, the seafood deserves special recognition- no surprise here. We tried the best smoked salmon of our lives at one of the little stands along Pike Place. And we witnessed a massive salmon fly from the hands of one fishmonger to another. You just can’t go wrong here!
3) Hike Rattlesnake Ledge
Okay, we’re not going to lie. This was one beautiful hike but it was a mistake in 85+ degree weather. Yeah, 85-degree weather! In Seattle! In May! It’s also worth mentioning that we aren’t really hikers. More like “drive-to-the-pretty-place-and-hop-off” kinda people. But this small adventure on Rattlesnake Ridge forced us to wipe the sweat off our foreheads and appreciate the stunning greenery and mountains of the PNW.
The hike was about 4 miles roundtrip to the top and back and the walk was filled with great pups of all breeds and sizes. After a sweaty hike to the ledge (and several stops along the way), we were taken aback by the view. The pics barely do it justice. Miles and miles of beautiful evergreen trees as far as the eye can see and towering mountains sprawl in every direction. The lake below is a beautiful shade of turquoise that makes you kinda wish you could just dive right in. It was well worth the trek up.
4) Take in Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie Falls is another outdoor must for your trip! It’s worth mentioning that renting a car is kinda necessary for this one. We kinda stumbled onto it on our way back from Rattlesnake Ledge and were taken away by this massive waterfall, casually chilling in the middle of town. It’s got loads of history and significance for the local community:
Snoqualmie is the English pronunciation of “sah-KOH-koh” or “Sdob-dwahibbluh,” a Salish word meaning moon. As a spiritual place, it gave birth to many legends. One tells of “S’Beow” (the beaver), who climbed into the sky to bring trees and fire down to earth. The Native Americans who roamed the valley were known as people of the moon.
We recommend taking a short hike to the base of this incredible waterfall. You can dip your toes in the river but be warned – freshwater in the PNW is freezing. It’s sourced directly from glaciers atop nearby mountains and feels like an actual ice bath. The local families didn’t seem to mind it, though!
5) Drive Down Country Roads
Last but not least, a trip around the Seattle countryside is incomplete without driving through some of its lovely country roads. While there are many scenic routes in any direction from Seattle, we chose to drive East, towards the Rattlesnake Mountain Area. If you peep a map of Seattle, you’ll notice that there are mountains everywhere!
We stopped a few miles outside Fall City, Washington and parked our Jeep beside the Snoqualmie River. There’s a ton of cool Natural Areas around here – Chinook Bend and Tolt River Park are just a few of them! It was the perfect area to take in Washington State’s endless beauty one last time before heading to the airport. And…it required a brief stop at a local classic, Scott’s Dairy Freeze, for a few ice cream cones.
Because doesn’t every great trip deserve to end with some sugary sweetness?