Washington is truly at its best in fall.
Though I may be bias as a fully-fledged autumnophile (probably not a real word), I just love this time of year when the state bursts with colour, cultural festivals and fresh produce. And fresh hop IPAs.
Fall is also the perfect time for weekend getaways. Travellers can take advantage of fewer crowds (and fewer kids!), calmer attractions, cheaper prices and beautifully crisp weather.
Without further ado, here’s my pick of ten fantastic fall weekend getaways in Washington State.
Camping in North Cascades National Park
Crisp autumn evenings are perfect for sipping red wine beside a campfire, especially after a day of hiking through Washington’s spectacular North Cascades National Park.
Cascade Pass, Blue Lake and the Maple Pass Loop are just some of the fantastic moderate hikes that offer views of beautiful foliage, deep red maple vines, vibrant golden larches and striking glaciers.
I love camping at Colonial Creek near Diablo Lake. Fewer tent sites are open in off season, but they are located right beside the creek and are totally free.
Fall in the mountains can bring unpredictable weather, so pack a waterproof jacket and your warmest clothes.
If you have an extended weekend break, why not drive and camp along the Cascade Loop?
Small town charm in Anacortes
While I live in Anacortes full time, I eagerly recommend my adopted town as a weekend getaway – particularly to those in search of some serious small town charm.
Located on Fidalgo Island, Anacortes is about a 90 minute drive from Seattle and two hours from Vancouver.
The area boasts so much natural beauty. Hike to the top of Mt Eerie or explore the trails through famous Deception Pass State Park. Picnic with the best sunset views at Washington Park. Take to the water with Anacortes Kayak Tours or rent a bike and cycle the Tommy Thompson Trail – keep your eye out for seals along the way!
Those looking for less physical activity can visit the Saturday Farmers Market, grab a latte from ACME Coffee, then wander between art galleries and antique stores along Commercial Avenue. Consider timing your visit for the Art Walk on the first Friday of each month, where art galleries and stores open from 6-9pm to debut the latest exhibitions!
Anacortes’ dining scene won’t disappoint either. Sample local brews at Bastion Brewing or Rockfish, feast on fantastic seafood at Adrift, indulge in fine wine and cheese at A-Town Bistro. The best breakfast in town is at Dad’s Diner – try the smoked brisket hash or Mexican French toast.
My comprehensive weekend guide to Anacortes is coming soon, complete with dining, cultural, hiking and accommodation recommendations! Come back soon and check it out!
Seattle City Break
Seattle is such an exciting cultural and foodie city. I love to spend a weekend here any chance I get.
Check out some improv comedy, pair dinner with a burlesque show at The Pink Door, or catch a band at The Crocodile or Showbox. Shop at weekend farmers markets, wander the aisles of Elliott Bay Bookstore. Get arty at The Frye, Chihuly Garden and Glass or the Asian Art Museum.
Spend your time hopping between the city’s best cafes, breweries and cocktail lounges. Smith Tower’s speakeasy-inspired Temperance Bar is getting rave reviews for the cocktails and the views! And Radiator Whiskey never fails to impress, especially if you’re partial to barrel aged cocktails. Get a group together and pre-order the pigs head!
San Juan Island
Escape to one of the world’s best islands and book a weekend on San Juan Island.
The stunning ferry ride from Anacortes is only just the beginning of the beauty you’ll find on San Juan. Spend a day driving around the island’s key landmarks, including the American & English camps, Roche Harbor, Sculpture Park and vineyards. Fall is a great time to spot orcas from Lime Kiln Point. Or you can take a whale watching cruise instead.
Friday Harbor is the hub of the island, boasting many great B&Bs, wine and dining options.
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Orcas Island for natural beauty
For those more interested in an island camping and hiking experience, I’d recommend trading San Juan for nearby Orcas Island.
Moran State Park has many camping options, which are first-come-first-serve in off season. Visitors are spoiled for choice when it comes to hiking trails. My personal favourite is the challenging but rewarding hike up Mt Constitution for some of the best views in the Puget Sound.
The small village of Eastsound has many cafes and restaurants, including local brewing Island Hoppin’ – just in case you crave a break from camp cooking.
World class dining on Lummi Island
For the ultimate indulgence and dining experience, book an evening at world renowned Willows Inn.
Located on the tiny, laid back Lummi Island near Bellingham (it’s just 9 square miles!) which is accessible by a five minute long car ferry ride.
Described as eating your way through an art gallery, the seasonal pre fixe menu at Willows Inn includes up to 20 courses. All ingredients are either grown on the on-site farm, or sourced locally. Head chef Blaine Wetzel, previously from Noma in Copenhagen, has established the inn as one of the Pacific Northwest’s premier dining experiences – and some say one of the best restaurants in the country. Reservations are absolutely necessary, with priority given to those staying in the onsite accommodations.
Lummi Island isn’t exactly bustling with things to do, but it’s perfect for a retreat, a bike ride, and enjoying the spectacular views of the Salish Sea – perhaps with a bottle of wine picked up from the Artisan Wine Club.
Photo credit: Willows Inn
Usually chasing waterfalls requires a lengthy hike and some good old-fashioned camping. But at Snoqualmie Falls, you can pair your waterfall visit with a spa treatment and stay at Salish Lodge.
Perfect for a romantic weekend getaway, Salish Lodge perches right above the dramatic falls.
Originally built in 1916, the lodge has been totally renovated and offers all the modern amenities: stylishly appointed rooms, spa treatments and fine dining. And steps away are some amazing walking trails that lead to the best views of the waterfall.
All just a short 30 minute drive from Seattle? Yes please!
Photo credit: Salish Lodge
Wine in Woodinville
You don’t have to travel east of the Cascades for a wine weekend. While Yakima Valley may take the limelight when it comes to Washington’s wine escapes, those short on time should check out beautiful and impressive Woodinville.
Just 30 minutes from downtown Seattle, Woodinville is home to over 90 wineries – along with a number of breweries, cideries and distilleries. In fact, the Warehouse District is home to more artisan winemakers per square foot than any wine region in the world!
October’s events include the Harvest Festival, and Halloween celebrations at Chateau Ste Michelle, one of the area’s most popular wine destinations.
Rent an Airbnb or stay at one of the many luxurious bed & breakfasts. For a real splurge, dine at the famous Herbfarm – the restaurant offers a nine course dinner that changes daily!
Photo credit: Woodinville Media Group/Richard Duval
Hang out in a treehouse
Possibly the coolest accommodation in all of Washington – I am dying to spend an evening at Treehouse Point.
It’s a perfect retreat for nature loving couples. There are six treehouses on the property, each uniquely decorated with art and vintage furniture. I can imagine curling up with a book and enjoying the solitude of the surrounding forest.
Those in search of activities will find farmers markets, hiking trails and more nearby. Plus I’ve been told massage and yoga are available on premises too.
Photo credit: Treehouse Point
Explore the capital, Olympia
I visited Olympia earlier this month and now have a total crush on Washington’s cool capital city.
The best sights are easily explorable in a weekend, but the amount of fantastic breweries, cafes, cocktail bars and restaurants will have you wishing for a few extra meal times. Embrace civic pride and tour the Legislature Building, then stroll through farmers markets, waterfront parks and Japanese gardens.
What are your favourite fall weekend getaways in Washington? Where will you be travelling to next?
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