Winter in Washington can feel like an opportunity to cozy up inside, shop online, and binge on cheesy holiday Netflix and Still Liquor spiked eggnog. And it is. And you should. But, it's also a perfect opportunity for an impromptu daycation! There's nothing that thaws the Seattle winter freeze like the excitement of a spontaneous day trip!
There is some incredible hiking you can do this time of year! Sure, you might need to wear something that looks like a stand-up sleeping bag, but you'll be warm and ready to explore! Or, you can always hold out for those lovely winter days that are above 50 degrees and require fewer layers.
Whether you want to escape the city bustle to lose yourself in a forest hike, taste freshly fermented cider on a farm, or fulfill your childhood fantasy of playing in a real-life treehouse, our list has got you covered!
Snowshoe in Washington's Bavarian winter playground
Time from Seattle: 2.5 hoursWhere: Leavenworth, WA
Leavenworth is the holiday capital of the state, period. There's literally no competition. This rural town is like that neighbor who, every year, while other neighbors might wrap an old string of lights around their porch or slap a red bow on their mailbox, turns his house into a 2,000 square foot Nite Bright on full blast, blinding anyone who dares look at the 1,000-watt jewel tones ignited in a blaze of holiday spirit — for 30 minutes, until it drains the power of the entire neighborhood and someone calls the police.
The good thing about Leavenworth is that it's a freestanding town, and they have private power sources, so they plan ahead to make sure the lights stay on and bright! Their city's own website says that "Leavenworth in winter is just like living in a Snowglobe." If Will Ferrell's character in Elf could create a town, this is what he'd create.
Snowshoeing is just one of the many exciting winter activities here. It's like skiing, but much slower, and much easier. Try this unique, age-old sport in a true winter wonderland.
Taste wine inside a "winter snow globe!"
Time from Seattle: 2.5 hoursWhere: Leavenworth
While you're thinking about a trip to Leavenworth, why not considering hitting up some of their top-rated wineries? Leavenworth represents some of the best wine in Washington. A snow globe with great wine: the perfect melding of childhood and adult dreams!
Explore Mt. Rainier National Park
Time from Seattle: 45 minutesWhere: Mt. Rainier National Park
Mt. Rainier National Park is one of Washington's greatest attractions, and seeing it in the winter is almost like stepping through the wardrobe to Narnia if you visit on one of the frostiest days! Well, the frosty days that aren't frosty enough to shut down the access roads, that is. Be sure to check weather updates before heading out the door for this one.
Taste mind-blowingly delicious cider at Finnriver
Time from Seattle: 1.75 hoursWhere: Finnriver Farm and Cidery in Chimacum, WA
Visit one of Washington's best cideries in the beautiful farm town of Chimacum. Taste through the cidery's latest and greatest concoctions inside their adorable, ambient tasting room.
They describe their selections as "contemporary ciders infused with seasonal ingredients," and they offer a certain crisp bite that's hard to find in competing brands.
Check out their events calendar to catch live music while sipping sumptuous cider.
Explore North Cascades National Park
Time from Seattle: 1.5 hoursWhere: Sedro Wooley, WA
See Washington's raw natural beauty on full display during this stunning hike. This wild, protected landscape is home to wolves and grizzly bears, as well as over 200 species of birds. Hike to Diablo Lake and take a break to pose in front of an Instagram-worthy backdrop. You're going to want to do a carousel for this one!
Check out these real-life treehouses
Time from Seattle: 45 minutesWhere: Issaquah, WA
These hidden gems at Treehouse Point are some of the most photo-worthy spots in the state, and they're less than an hour from Seattle! Live your inner child's fantasy as you explore treehouses suspended in a dense forest.
This magical place will reawaken your imagination and sense of play — and get you some amaaaazing new pics for the 'gram!
If you feel like a tour isn't nearly enough time here, then you can just rent your own treehouse for the night! Yes, that's right: The dream can continue! If you're looking to extend your day trip to a stay trip, you can book your very own personal treehouse to stay the night.
Relax on a festive winter sleigh ride
Time from Seattle: 2.5 hoursWhere: Where do you think? (Okay, you're right--it is Leavenworth!)
What winter snow globe would be complete without a sleigh ride? Not this one, my friend! Nope, Leavenworth has a thriving sleigh ride industry! Ride through the snow as if in a fairytale — staring at some gorgeous horse's steely buns as he or she dashes through the powder!
Visit an organic distillery on Bainbridge Island
Time from Seattle: 1 hourWhere: Bainbridge Organic Distillers
Enjoy breathtaking views of the Puget Sound as you ride the ferry to Bainbridge Island to visit this unique distillery. You can pick your poison between vodka, gin, or whiskey for a tasting. Sip through the selection while you're there and grab your favorite bottle to take back to the city for a nightcap!
See majestic snow geese in the Skagit Flats
Time from Seattle: 2 hours Where: Skagit Wildlife Area
This annual gathering gives new meaning to the term "snowbirds." Instead of peacing out of chilly Washington to spend the winter sipping piña coladas on a beach in Florida, these geese like to spend the cold season on the Skagit Flats. Over 50,000 of the birds flock here every year, making it an awe-inspiring vision.
Hit the slopes at Stevens Pass
Time from Seattle: 2.25 hoursWhere: Stevens Pass Mountain Resort
Play in the snow like a kid again! Stevens Pass opens December 12th this year, welcoming visitors to enjoy this winter wonderland to come ski or snowboard down fresh, long-awaited powder.
Soak up the serenity of a beach hike on Dungeness Spit
Time from Seattle: 2.5 hoursWhere: Sequim, WA
Escape to this isolated, old AF lighthouse, and enjoy some peace and quiet away from the city grind! This 11-mile round trip hike begins in the forest and takes you right into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. At the end of the long, narrow spit, you can rest with a snack lunch at a 150-year-old lighthouse.
The bad news is that you're not allowed to bring your adorable dog, but the good news is that you won't step in anyone else's dog poo while you're there!
Bundle up for a winter hike on Baker River Trail
Time from Seattle: 2.75 hoursWhere: Whatcom County, WA
This stunning rainforest hike is especially striking in the winter, with Mt. Baker more visible through trees with fallen leaves. The sounds of the river roar through the dense forest, bringing a meditative serenity to the adventure.
Explore old wooden bridges, lush northwest greenery, and even camp overnight if you'd like to turn this day trip into a nature staycation.
Cozy up at a beach bonfire with beer and fresh seafood
Time from Seattle: 2 hoursWhere: Hama Hama Oyster Saloon in Liliwaup, WA
Hama Hama is best known for its oysters, and you can get them, along with other fresh seafood, right on the beach they came from.
They're open only from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. — the perfect hours for a day trip! Call ahead to see if they'll have a beach fire going, as they often do in the winter.
Shuck fresh oysters off the beach at Illahee State Park
Time from Seattle: 1.25 hours Where: Bremerton
If you want more options for oysters, hop on the ferry to visit this gorgeous state park and get your limit of some of the best oysters in the world, right off the beach. If you like them raw, bring your shucking knife and gulp a few down right then and there, or save them for a more decadent preparation at home later. Be sure to purchase a recreational shellfish license prior to your trip.
Peruse the brews in Bremerton
Time from Seattle: 1 hourWhere: Bremerton, WA
While you're in Bremerton loading up on nature's most-loved aphrodisiac at the beach, why not check out a popular manmade one at the local craft breweries? Seattle is packed with some incredible beer makers, but Bremerton offers a selection of quality craft brew with charming small-town vibes. Lovecraft and Der Blokken are both between the ferry and Illahee State Park, giving a perfect opportunity for a leisurely tasting tour en route.
Go on a spooky ghost tour in Port Townsend
Time from Seattle: 2.25 hoursWhere: City of Port Townsend
If you're not ready to give up the ghosts now that Halloween is over, you can search for them in this old Victorian town. For years, residents have reported strange sightings and creepy experiences that have led some people to consider this one of the most haunted cities in the US. Choose from one of five different tours to explore this otherworldly locale and see if you meet one of the ghosts of its Christmas past.
Day trip to Edmonds
Time from Seattle: 30 minutesWhere: City of Edmonds, WA
This quaint destination has everything you'd want for a small-town day trip. You can kick the day off at a local caffeine hub like Walnut Street Coffee, then learn about the town history at a homey bookstore or museum, stop for lunch at a chic but approachable lounge, then end the trip at one of their newest hotspots: a gin distillery. You'll be sure to come home with warm about this charming beachfront town!
Visit America's Car Museum
Time from Seattle: 45 minutesWhere: Tacoma, WA
Drive to historic Tacoma to visit a unique museum showcasing the highlights of America's automobile history. See cars that defined a generation of car lovers, and track the changes that led us to where we are in today's car production. We often forget how new the invention of the car is, and seeing this relatively fresh history laid out serves as not just a reminder of how sexy the early Mustangs were — or of how much we all loved that scene in Grease where they were playing with the cars and singing about it in figure-hugging t-shirts — but also of how far we've come in such a short time.
Indulge in a 4-course breakfast at the Salish Lodge
Time from Seattle: 45 minutesWhere: Salish Lodge and Spa
Enjoy a decadent meal while taking in views of Snoqualmie Falls and the Snoqualmie River. This incredible experience can be part of a stay at the lodge, but it can also be one of those crazy mornings when you wake up at 5 a.m., can't get back to sleep for the life of you, and you think to yourself, Hmm, what would I even do if I got up right now?
This time, the answer to that question isn't the dishes that you've been ignoring for three days or the laundry that's now encrusted to the wicker basket it's in, and it's not making a thoughtful list of your inadequacies that are in most urgent need of repair — it's much simpler and far more appealing at 5 a.m. It's pancakes and champagne. And famous steel-cut oats.
They said they're famous on their website. So, you can literally see what fame tastes like for the price of a 4-course meal at a swanky resort. Fame is usually way more expensive than that — and allows far fewer carbs. So, eat up!
Time from Seattle. 1.5 hoursWhere: City of Bellingham, WA
Bellingham is a beautiful coastal city that's home to a wide variety of attractions, including the SPARK Museum of Electrical Convention, gorgeous natural landscapes, and a deep and rich regional history.