Summertime is wonderful in the Pacific Northwest. We experience many hours of daylight, blue skies, sunshine, and beautiful scenery. Here are some ideas for summer day- trips and weekenders-- short trips to places you can visit in a day or stay overnight and make it a mini-vacation.... a "weekender"!
Let's start with the San Juan Islands:
Friday Harbor is a great place to visit on San Juan Island. There are cute shops, whale watching boats, kayak rentals, and more, all within walking distance of the ferry landing. There are many
great B&B's (Bed & Breakfast Inns), if you plan to spend the night. You can also explore the island by car or by shuttle bus and visit the lavender farm, Alpaca farm, or perhaps try zip-lining!
Getting there: You can get to the San Juan Islands by taking a Washington State Ferry from Anacortes (1 hour and 45 minutes drive north of Seattle). You can either drive your car on the ferry or park your car in the lot and walk-on the ferry. In the summer, the car lines can be really long, so leave plenty of extra time if you plan to drive on the ferry.
If you walk-on, you won't have to wait in line with the cars, so it's less worry about getting on the ferry, but remember that you won't have a car when you get to the islands, so you'll need to plan to walk, bike, or take taxis when you get there! You can bring your bike on the ferry, if you like.
If you want to splurge and have a fun adventure, you can take a Kenmore Air float plane to the islands. It leaves from Lake Union and lands right at the dock on San Juan or Orcas Island, in just 45 minutes. It's the fastest way to get to the islands, and it's a really cool experience!
You can find more information about all of the islands here:
Link to ferry info: http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/
Link to Kenmore Air float planes: http://www.kenmoreair.com/
Just across the water from the San Juan Islands is another fabulous place for a day-trip or a weekender: Victoria, BC in Canada.
I absolutely love visiting Victoria. It's a like getting a small taste of Europe, right here in North America. Victoria is the capital city of British Columbia, and there is quite a bit of British influence. The architecture is beautiful, and the old streets feel very European. You can even have a "proper English Tea" in the afternoon at the historic Empress Hotel at the center of Victoria harbor.
There are so many things to do in Victoria: museums, shopping, dining, whale-watching tours, kayak rentals, harbor tours, street performers, and more.
You don't need a car in Victoria because most things are walking distance from the inner harbor and there is excellent public transportation if you'd like to make an excursion to Craigdarroch Castle or the famous Butchart Gardens.
Here are some photos of charming Victoria:
Getting there: The fastest and easiest way to get to Victoria is on the Victoria Clipper. It's a passenger ferry that leaves from downtown Seattle and gets you directly to the Inner Harbor of
Victoria in 3 hours: http://www.clippervacations.com/clipper-ferry/.
You can also take a Kenmore Air float plane directly to Victoria.
Or, if you prefer to have your car in Victoria, you can take a Washington State ferry from Anacortes to Sydney, BC, then drive 30 minutes south to Victoria.
If you are not a U.S. citizen or Greencard holder, you might need a Visa from the Canadian consulate to visit Victoria. You can find more information about whether you need a travel visa here:
Canadian Consulate in Seattle: http://www.canadainternational.gc.ca/seattle/index.aspx?view=d
Below are several more links to fun summer weekenders and day-trips:
Of course there are many, many wonderful places to visit all around the Puget Sound area. I've only listed a few. Please feel free to share your favorites with us!