5 Mini Vacations you can take no matter where you live in Washington
Anyone else ready for Spring Break? We definitely are.
Spring Break is always an exciting time of year. The kids get a week off from school, you may get some time off from work, and, depending on your custody agreement, you may get a chance to spend some quality time with your kids.
Some of you may have a big spring break vacation planned already. You may be headed off to Hawaii, Florida or other exotic locales. But sometimes, lack of money and time can make it difficult to travel far for a vacation. But, you probably still want to take some time away to relax and have a good time, right?
Luckily, Washington has tons of places to visit for a long weekend getaway. And, there are activities to suit you, whether you’re more inclined to stay inside or venture outdoors. For those of you planning to stay in Washington for Spring Break, here are 5 awesome vacations you can take no matter where you live in our great state.
- San Juan Islands
Driving Time from Seattle: 3 hours, 49 minutes
Driving Time from Tacoma: 4 hours, 28 minutes
Driving Time from Spokane: 8 hours, 14 minutes
The San Juan Islands are one of Washington’s most beautiful places. The area attracts many visitors per year, and it offers unique views and activities.
Within the San Juan Islands, there are many islands to visit, such as Orcas, Lopez and Whidbey Island. Each has a ton of great activities to do whether you’re more suited to outdoor or indoor activities. You have to take multiple ferries to get around, but it’s worth it to see the amazing views of the water from the islands.
For those of you more inclined to stay inside, each of the islands has a few towns with plenty to do. It’s worth visiting Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. You should also check out Coupeville and Langley on Whidbey Island. These towns are filled with shopping, museums, fine dining, and great views.
For those of you outdoor seekers, the San Juan Islands have plenty of parks to check out. Be sure to check out Moran State Park, Deception Pass State Park, San Juan Island National Historic Park, and Fort Ebey State Park. The islands are known for wildlife viewing, camping, hiking, boating, and whale watching as well. And, if you remember to bring your passport, you can take the ferry over to Victoria and see the world-famous gardens there.
If you’re looking for a place to stay, the famous Hotel De Haro is a hotel in Friday Harbor. It is one of Washington’s oldest hotels, built in 1888. It is allegedly haunted though, so it’s not for the faint of heart.
Come check out the San Juan Islands this spring if you’re looking to travel somewhere with a good mix of indoor and outdoor activities.
- Port Townsend/Port Angeles
Driving Time from Seattle: 2 hours
Driving Time from Tacoma: 1 hour, 34 minutes
Driving Time from Spokane: 6 hours, 22 minutes
Port Townsend and Port Angeles are two small towns in the northern part of the peninsula. Both towns are known for their history, and Port Townsend is known for its Victorian architecture. Around these two areas, there’s plenty to do for both indoor and outdoor types.
Port Townsend has a lot of great antique shops and restaurants. The town is worth spending an afternoon in, at least to see the Victorian-style houses built in the 1800s. It’s also worth it to see some of the museums they have there like the Rothschild House and the Port Townsend Marine Science Center . Port Angeles has sweeping views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and some great restaurants overlooking it.
Both towns are also close to Olympic National Park. If camping is more your style, the national park has plenty of camping areas. Lake Crescent is a beautiful lake with camping areas surrounding it. The Sol Duc Valley is also another great place to go hiking and camp in.
If you prefer staying indoors, check out Port Townsend’s own haunted Manresa Castle, or the Olympic Lodge in Olympic National Park. The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is also worth checking out for its access to Hot Springs.
If you feel like driving 3 hours west, the small town of Neah Bay has the Makah Cultural and Research center. The museum interprets and houses 300-500 year old artifacts recovered from the Ozette Archaeological Site.
There’s a lot to do in this area of Washington, whatever your interests are suited towards. It’s definitely worth spending more than a weekend here if you can spare the time.
- Colville National Forest
Driving time from Seattle: 5 hours, 50 minutes
Driving time from Tacoma: 6 hours, 11 minutes
Driving time from Spokane: 1 hour, 26 minutes
Colville National Forest is one of Washington’s most underrated gems. The 1.1 million acre forest has mountains, rivers, and wildlife such as grizzly bears, black bears, Canadian lynxes and the last remaining herd of caribou in the lower 48 states.
Two major sites you should visit in the forest are Little Pend Oreille National Wildlife Refuge and Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area. Lake Roosevelt Recreation Area has boating, camping, hunting and historical sites, while Little Pend Oreille Wildlife Refuge has many different species of protected animals.
Going out here is not for those who like to stay inside though. There’s not much to do indoors, and there are limited cabins available. If you’re going out here, you’ll have to rough it. Some cool campsites are the Little Twin Lakes Campground and Lake Thomas Campground. The campgrounds are located on scenic lakes, and provide easy access to multiple hiking trails.
Take a trip out to the Colville National Forest this spring if you’re looking for some peaceful, quiet time with friends or family. Just be prepared to rough it if you do.
- Soap Lake
Driving Time from Tacoma: 3 hours, 15 minutes
Driving time from Spokane: 2 hours
Driving time from Seattle: 3 hours
Soap Lake is another rare Washington gem that many locals don’t know about. Soap Lake is different from your average lake because of its mineral-enriched waters. Foam forms on the beaches of Soap Lake which is where its namesake comes from. When you swim in Soap Lake, a thin layer of oil transfers onto your skin. This layer of oil comes from the minerals in the lake. The mineral-enriched waters also allow you to float with very little effort. There is sulfuric mud in the lake that locals put on their skin called ‘miracle mud’. It apparently soothes aches and pains. The lake may be too cold to swim in during this time of year, but a trip to see this unique lake would still be fun.
In the early 1900s, Soap Lake was a booming tourist town. Health resorts and spas sprung up all around the lake. Eventually, these businesses died off and now the town is home to a small Russian and Eastern European population.
Though the town of Soap Lake is small, there is a lot to see in this area. Soap Lake has health resorts, various spas, flea markets and antique shops. The area’s Russian influence also means there are some Russian restaurants and bakeries. Nearby Lakeview also has a golf course, called the Lakeview Golf Course.
There’s only one campground near Soap Lake, called Smokium Campground so if you want to go camping, Soap Lake may not be the best option for you. The campground will likely be crowded with other tourists when you visit. But, the Inn at Soap Lake is a great place to stay as an alternative.
Soap Lake is one of the very few lakes in the world of this kind. Taking a trip to this unique lake would be an experience you’d never forget.
- Walla Walla
Driving time from Seattle: 4 hours, 30 minutes
Driving time from Spokane: 3 hours
Driving time from Tacoma: 4 hours, 45 minutes
Walla Walla is a small town in Southeastern Washington to escape to for a weekend getaway. The area is best known for its vineyards. There are 120 wineries in the region and the region is known for growing unique varietals of wine. In downtown Walla Walla alone, there are 34 tasting rooms within walking distance of each other, so you don’t have to worry about driving if you want to try them all out. You can tour vineyards, go to the tasting rooms, or take a wine tour that includes a mix of both. The possibilities for drinking wine are endless.
Besides wine tasting, there are 4 historical museums and world-class restaurants. For those of you who like to bike, there are multiple cycling trails outside of Walla Walla. There’s also a golf course in the area that was rated one of the top new golf courses in the country by Golf Magazine.
For those of you looking to go camping, Walla Walla won’t offer much. You’ll have to go outside of Walla Walla for camping. But for those of you who are more into staying inside, Walla Walla offers plenty of unique hotels and bed and breakfasts.
Walla Walla is a perfect town to escape to for a weekend, or even a whole week if you want to try out all the vineyards. It’ll take you at least a week to get through all of them, that’s for sure.
The best part of all these places is that they’re so close to us. They are easily accessible by car no matter where you live in Washington. If you can spare a day or two off work, grab some friends or family and head to one of these places for some quality time together. You won’t be sorry you did.