Now is the perfect time for spring weekend escapes in Washington State.
The days are getting warmer and longer, but many destinations are yet to see the busy crowds of summer break. One thing is for certain, spring is a beautiful time to explore.
However, my suggestions will have you destined for warmer areas. Less snow, more sand between your toes, flowers in the fields and the beautiful great outdoors. Best yet, all of these spring escape ideas are totally achievable in a weekend. The most amazing places in Washington State can be experienced without cashing in your precious vacation days.
La Conner is a quaint waterfront town with a bustling food and art scene, less than 90 minutes’ drive north of Seattle. Spring is a beautiful time to visit as the Skagit Valley bursts into colour for March’s Daffodil Festival and April’s Tulip Festival.
After visiting the flower fields, return to La Conner to stroll along the boardwalk, look for hidden treasures at Nasty Jack’s antiques, go wine tasting or see the latest exhibition at the Museum of Northwest Art (free entry!).
Grab a craft beer at La Conner Brewery before discovering the fantastic dining scene in town. Some of my favourites are Nell Thorn (fantastic farm-to-table dining with water views), Oyster & Thistle (upscale pub fare with a French influence) or Anelia’s Kitchen (delicious authentic Polish food).
Take in Seattle’s impressive skyline from the ferry, and disembark just 35 minutes later in Bainbridge Island for a charming spring escape.
Just across the Puget Sound you’ll experience the slower pace of island life. And typical of a Washington getaway location, it’s got outstanding natural beauty and plenty of character.
Explore Winslow’s walkable downtown and shopping district. Drop in at some local favourites including Blackbird Bakery, Mora Iced Creamery, Pegasus Coffee and Hitchcock Delicatessen. Café Nola and Harbor Public House are delicious dinner options to boot.
There are seven artisan wineries, a brewery and a distillery on the island. But if you’re short on time and can only choose one, head to Bainbridge Organic Distillers for a shot of the whiskey that won ‘Best Craft Whiskey of 2016’! A taste will set you back $35, however off-island a sample can cost up to $150.
Aside from the superb food and wine scene, Bainbridge Island is bursting with beautiful places to explore. The Bloedel Reserve spans 150 acres, and the walking trail weaves its way through 12 distinct gardens, a reflection pool and French chateau style Bloedel House. Alternatively, hike in Gazzam Lake Preserve or walk the Eagle Harbor Waterfront Trail which stretches through downtown and the marina.
If you need more, visit Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, the Japanese American Exclusion Memorial or the Saturday Farmer’s Market which kicks off on April 1st. You could even rent a kayak or SUP to explore the island from the water!
Mt St Helens
Awe in the power of nature at Mount St Helens National Volcanic Monument.
The deadly 1980 eruption devastated the landscape, but this still-active volcano is a beauty to behold. And it’s an easy 2.5 hour drive south of Seattle if accessing the park from its main west entrance on Route 504. The west entrance offers some of the best views of the crater, blast zone and Toutle River Valley.
Mt St Helens will be snow-capped throughout spring, however the impact of the eruption can be seen to this day. Recovering vegetation is only in its infancy, and the geology is raw: I found it fascinating to see the earliest stages of rivers being carved into the earth from snow melts and run off.
From the Johnston Ridge Observatory, visitors can explore several viewpoints, read more about the eruption in the learning centre and get out on the hiking trails. There are trails for every level: a short paved loop offers informational displays at lookout points, while the eight-mile Harry’s Ridge trail winds closer to the volcanic crater.
Other interesting areas to explore include Coldwater Lake and the Hummocks Trail, where you walk past hills that were pieces of earth blasted off the volcano’s former summit during the eruption.
Those really adventurous may wish to summit Mt St Helens – though you’ll need to get a permit and consult the National Parks Service to help plan for this strenuous full day hike.
Lopez Island is a small rural island in the San Juan archipelago, accessible via a 45 minute ferry ride from Anacortes. It’s the perfect destination for cyclists and is a nature-lovers dream, striking a beautiful contrast between lush green farmland and clifftop coastal walks.
And sometime in April, highly anticipated restaurant Ursa Minor will open its doors! Well known Seattle chef Nick Coffey will be showcasing local produce – and many are already drawing comparisons to the acclaimed Willows Inn on Lummi Island.
There are so many parks to explore, and all offer beautiful coastal views and shoreline walking trails. Visit Shark Reef Sanctuary for sightings of seals and sea lions, and try to spot orcas from Iceberg Point.
There is some B&B style accommodation in Lopez Village, but I think the best vistas are achieved by camping. Try Spencer Spit State Park or Odlin Country Park to bliss out by the water.
For the ultimate spring weekend escape, stop at the local winery (or their tasting room in the village), Lopez Island Creamery and Vortex for fresh juice or coffee.
Anacortes, Fidalgo Island
Spring is the perfect time to visit Anacortes. This small foodie town host its annual Spring Wine Festival on Saturday April 8th. A ticket includes unlimited wine samples from 30 wineries, food pairings, cheese and chocolate samples. Is that not the perfect excuse for a weekend away?
If you can handle more wine after the festival, pop into newly opened Salt & Vine: a dedicated wine, cheese and charcuterie bar in downtown. Or change paces and drink local beer alongside live music at Bastion Brewing Co. Of course, if you arrive in town on Friday, the First Friday Art Walk is a must do!
Spring is also great time to hike Fidalgo Island’s many trails: the best can be found at Washington Park, Sares Head, Cranberry Lake, Whistle Lake or on the SHIP Trail. Rent bikes from Skagit Cycle and ride the Tommy Thompson Trail. Take in the views from Cap Sante Lookout and sunset at Washington Park.
On the way home, take a quick detour off Highway 20 to see Skagit Valley’s stunning tulip fields.
Now’s the time to enjoy some sunshine in the Emerald City before the crazy crowds of summer hit.
Spring is a great time for a city escape or staycation, with so many events scheduled in Seattle! Dine out during Seattle Restaurant Week, enjoy unique craft beers and whiskey at the Scotch and Beer Fest, or get a team together for the Seattle Urban Trek.
Early April is the best time to see the famous cherry blossoms at the University of Washington. Be sure to take a side trip to the delicious U District Farmers Market and stop in at Morsel for a biscuit sandwich to rule them all.
The Sounders season has kicked off, so grab a ticket and arrive at Occidental Park in Pioneer Square an hour before kick-off to join the march.
Photo credit: Camano Island Inn
Get away and relax on Camano Island, where you may just have the beach all to yourself! Located in the north of the Puget Sound, about 50 miles north of Seattle, Camano Island has the convenience of being able to drive straight onto the island.
For a truly sweet weekend stay at Camano Island Inn. It’s a beautiful boutique property on the water with luxury rooms and fabulous onsite dining. I’ve been dreaming of booking a suite here – one with a hot tub on the deck of course – to watch the sunset over the Saratoga Passage from the comfort of my room. Splurge on a spa treatment and stroll the private beach!
If on a tighter budget, rent a waterfront cabin at Cama Beach or bring your tent for a camping weekend.
Those wanting to do more than relax can explore the two parks on the island – Cama Beach State Park and Camano Island State Park – and hope to see whales that are often spotted in these waters. Hire a rowboat from the Center for Wooden Boats or aim for great heights on the island’s very own zip line.
Photo credit: Sasquatch! Festival
Music lovers converge over Memorial Day Weekend for the epic Sasquatch Festival. Set at the spectacular Gorge Amphitheatre, there is probably no more picturesque a spot for a gig! This year’s lineup includes big names like Frank Ocean, The Shins, MGMT and Catfish and the Bottlemen.
Those attending the full three days can book from a range of campsites – I can’t think of a better way to spend the holiday weekend.
On the way to the festival be sure to take in the views at Wild Horse Monument, Echo Basin and Frenchman Coulee. This area really shows off the beauty that lies in Eastern Washington – and what a stark contrast it is to the green forest and woods of the west coast!
What are your favourite spring weekend escapes in Washington State?
Would you like to visit any of the destinations I mentioned above?
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