Find Wine, Whales, and Water Adventures in Washington’s Scenic Puget Sound
Whether an oenophile or mushroom hunter, you’ll find plenty of delights on a weekend jaunt around one of the Pacific Northwest’s most beautiful regions
There’s no denying the natural beauty of Washington’s Puget Sound region, with its serene waters and lush evergreen forests against the backdrop of towering mountains freshly dusted with snow. As Seattle’s population is booming, people are moving to the region in droves. Whether you’re one of the Sound’s 68,740 new residents from the last year or planning your summer travel itinerary, use this abbreviated road trip as your guide to the Pacific Northwest haven.
Great Eats in Seattle
For Puget Sound newbies, we’ll begin in the Emerald City. With a stop at Pike Place Market being inevitable and you’ll likely fill up on Mee Sum Pastry hum bow (a filled bun or bread-like dumpling), piroshkies from Piroshky Piroshky, or Beecher’s mac n’ cheese, don’t miss a chance to have an entirely vegan dinner at Harvest Beat, guaranteed to satisfy herbivores and omnivores alike. Nestled in Seattle’s Wallingford neighborhood, the cozy restaurant offers a prix-fixe menu that the chef changes seasonally. Enjoy your dinner paired with wine or a non-alcoholic concoction (how does an Elderflower yuzu sparkling elixir sound?), and find solace knowing your dining experience is sure to be sustainable—even the coffee is walked over from Pangaea Roasters in glass containers to eliminate transportation waste.
Wine Tasting in Woodinville
As you head just half an hour out of the city you’ll find Woodville, WA, in the heart of an ever-growing wine country with more than 100 wineries and tasting rooms. Almost all of the area’s wineries grow their grapes on the opposite side of the Cascade Mountain Range in Eastern Washington’s Columbia Valley. Take some time to transition out of the hustle and bustle of the city by making a stop at EFESTĒ, Chateau Ste. Michelle, or Novelty Hill Januik for a walk-in wine tasting—all starting at $15 per person.
Tulips Galore in La Conner
If you happen to be on the abovementioned wine-tasting adventure in April, add some time for a detour one hour north to the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. The festival is held every year throughout the month of April when visitors can witness millions of stunning tulips in bloom as far as the eye can see. There are plenty of events (like the Rexville Grange Art Show) taking place in Skagit Valley during that time to keep you occupied once you’ve driven along the fields. And don’t forget to grab a mouth-watering ice cream cone from Snow Goose Produce.
Whale Sightings in Anacortes
A stone’s throw from Skagit Valley is the coastal enclave of Anacortes, where you can go whale watching with Island Adventures—a leader in responsible wildlife viewing since 1996 and a member of the Pacific Whale Watch Association, committed to whale conservation. Begin your 4-5 hour adventure at Island Adventures’ flagship location where you’ll get to witness orcas in the wild, with potential guest appearances by humpback, minke, and gray whales. Tours are $99 for adults, $69 for children (ages 3-17) and $1 for infants, but get $20 off for each paying passenger in your group when booking more than 30 days in advance.
Beach Camping at Deception Pass
You can’t tour the Puget Sound without making a stop at Washington’s most visited state park, Deception Pass. Spread over 3,854 acres with miles of Puget Sound beachfront, this marine camping park also includes three freshwater lakes. During your visit be sure to hike Lighthouse Point—a 2.4 mile, quintessential Pacific Northwest hike through woodlands and along shorelines, with breathtaking views. Fair warning: Deception Pass Bridge has been under restoration since the spring of 2019, so expect more traffic than usual. Visitors to the park will need to pay for either a $10 day-pass or $30 annual Discover Pass, but if you don’t have time for a hike, simply driving over the bridge will provide jaw-dropping views, all for free.
Island Hopping in the San Juans
Take a drive along the San Juan Island Scenic Byway, a beautiful marine highway lining the magical isles of San Juan and Orcas. For the best views of the islands, however, you must get in the water. Paddle the San Juans and experience the Puget Sound region with Outdoor Odyssey’s day tour ($109). Can’t get enough of the isles? Stick around with Outdoor Odyssey’s three day Northwest Craft Beer Tasting and Kayak Tour ($699). And in case water isn’t your speed, take a six-day bike tour of the San Juans and Vancouver Island with Lifecycle Adventures ($2,300).
Nostalgic Nights on Whidbey Island
After expending all of your energy in the San Juans, a restful movie night will be well deserved. But be sure to grab some layers and blankets as you’ll be staying outside. Blue Fox Drive-In Theater on Whidbey Island is open weekends (Friday-Sunday) to provide a memorable outdoor movie experience. The theater shows two movies every night with the first beginning at 6pm (box office opens at 4pm). Be sure to get there early to snag the best spot (in the middle on the highest bump). Admission is $6.50 (cash) or $7 (card) for ages 11 and older, $1 (cash) $1.50 (card) for ages 5-10, and free for children under five.
Bunker Mazes by the Sea in Coupeville
If time permits, spend an afternoon in Coupeville, Washington—a seaside town just 10 minutes south of Blue Fox Drive-In Theater. Dine on fresh Penn Cove mussels at Front Street Grill then head across the street for a scoop from Kapaw’s Iskreme. Top off your day by flying a kite or venturing through the maze of catacomb-like bunkers and batteries at Fort Casey Historical State Park. The 999-acre marine camping park was a fortification placed to defend the entrance to the Puget Sound at the turn of the 20th century. If you don’t feel like leaving, feel free to pitch a tent. Make your camping reservation today.
Mushroom Hunting in Hood Canal
From Coupeville, hop on the ferry to the quaint town of Port Townsend where you can take some time to look around before getting on the 101 toward Hood Canal. The greater Puget Sound area is a mushroom hunter’s dream and Hood Canal is a mushroom sanctuary. A hike along Dosewallips State Park’s Steam Donkey Trail is sure to provide fungi in the fall and winter; the 3.5-mile trek on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is a must for chanterelle lovers.
Old-School Burger Experience in Seattle
Circling back to Seattle, your Puget Sound adventure isn’t complete without a meal at urban diner Dick’s. Ever since the restaurant opened in the Wallingford District back in 1954, it has been a Seattle staple, serving up fresh—never frozen—beef on locally made buns. As you munch on a Dick’s Deluxe burger, take in the natural beauty of the Puget Sound region and set a reminder to put your foraged mushrooms in the fridge.