Top things to do:
- Get outside and hike to secluded glacier lakes.
- Visit a tasting room at a winery after a long day of hiking.
- Check out the iconic Seattle sights and visit the surrounding islands.
There is so much to see in the great pacific northwest, our goal is to give you the highlights to make the most of a long weekend for those short on time.
This itinerary will allow you to check off some crystal clear lakes in the Cascades, Mount Rainer National Park, major city sights in Seattle and a visit to one of the nearby islands, Bainbridge. We love to save the city sightseeing and wine tastings towards the back half of the trip, but it certainly can be done in reverse! We’re just firm believers that all the adventurous activities should be done when the excitement and adrenaline is flowing upon landing at your destination.
As with any trip that includes hiking, parking at the trailheads is typically limited and fills up quick. The hikes we did are no exception, so if you want to save yourself the stress of finding parking and effort of adding additional miles to reach the trailhead, arriving earlier is always better. Also make sure you are informed of the necessary permits required for these areas, most of which can be purchased beforehand online.
the Ultimate Long Weekend itinerary to washington
Day One: Lake Serene, Bridal Veil Falls, and Wineries
With that in mind, when you fly into Seattle, head north to Woodinville where you are a quick 30-minute drive to the first hike we’d recommend, Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls. We got there at 7am ready to rock as this was substituting our morning workout routine. You can easily get up to the lake in under 2 hours and once at the top, you can see where this lake gets its name. Such a peaceful area to stop and enjoy breakfast before heading back.
For those who want to stay an extra night in Woodinville, many of the wineries have tasting rooms here, so you can head back to your hotel and walk around town sampling wine. You will notice that these aren’t your typical tasting rooms overlooking vast fields of grapes. That’s because most of the actual wineries are at least 2 hours east of Seattle, but many have brought tasting rooms here to appeal to day trips from Seattle. If you are looking to stay at an actual winery, check out the accommodations at Cave B Estates.
Day One: Colchuck Lake
Since we were limited on time this trip, we decided to push forward towards the Bavarian village of Leavenworth. With enough energy in our legs, we embarked on our second hike of the day, Colchuck Lake via Stuart Lake Trail. This is part of the popular Enchantments Trail, but if you want just a taste or can’t score a permit, we recommend this out and back hike which is where the trail starts (or finishes). The scenery around Colchuck Lake is more dramatic than Lake Serene, but that’s the idea as we build up!
If you’re lucky, try to book a night or two at the gorgeous NaMu Lodge. But if you’re last minute planning and find yourself stuck with no vacancy in Leavenworth, we suggest driving south to Hotel Roslyn. Most rooms are equipped with a kitchenette which allows you to make dinner and prep a few lunches in your room. This is one of our favorite things to do since eating out every night starts to add up and isn’t the healthiest option!
Day Two: Marmot Lake and Jade Lake
On your last day in the Cascades, head to Marmot Lake to Jade Lake. Ironically, this was a last minute audible the night before after speaking with a friend. Fair warning, it is 21 miles out and back, which makes for a long day. The trail head begins after a bumpy 12-mile drive on an unpaved road making for a slow dusty journey. Many hikers make this an overnight trek to camp at either Marmot or Jade Lake. (Although at this stage in our life we prefer a hot shower, chilled glass of wine and plush down pillow at the end of our days!) Getting up to Marmot Lake is a significant portion of the hike, but you are shortchanging yourself if you don’t finish the last leg to Jade Lake. Scrambling your way over the hill and catching that first glimpse of the lake is worth every ounce of pain it takes to get there, and swimming in a secluded lake at 4200 feet doesn’t happen every day. (At least for us New Yorkers)
Day Three: Rainier National Park
If you still have some energy left in the tank, start to make your way back west towards Seattle and stay near Snoqualmie or North Bend to allow you to spend the morning in Mount Rainier National Park. Like every national park, get there early! The line of cars at the park entrance the day we arrived was backed up miles down the road, so we made another quick change in plans and decided to view the park from Crystal Peak Trail. The trailhead is right off the highway with accessible parking and is not terribly difficult, but will give some phenomenal views of Mount Rainier along with five other surrounding summits, even stretching across state lines to Mount Hood in Oregon.
Day 4: Seattle
With our feet bloodied and blistered from 3 days of nonstop hiking, it was finally time for some Seattle city sights. Drive back to Seattle and get a good night’s rest so you have the energy you need to check out the iconic fish market at Pike Place and grab a coffee at the original Starbucks across the street. If your budget can allow it, stay at the Four Seasons which is a stone’s throw from the market, has an incredible infinity pool and a 5-star restaurant. We decided to take advantage of a Fine Hotels & Resorts Deal with our Amex Platinum and stayed a few blocks away at the Loews. We were a given an upgrade to one bedroom suite with some incredible harbor views.
After you’ve had your fill of downtown sightseeing, head to the ferry terminal in the early afternoon and take a quick boat ride over to Bainbridge Island. Uber, Lyft and public transportation are available to shuttle you around to the various wineries. Make sure you check out the Eleven Winery as they were super helpful explaining the different wines to us novices, and the backyard outdoor seating is so refreshing we honestly could’ve been content drinking boxed wine. Sign up for the wine club to get your tasting comped. The wines they send you are well worth it!
We happened to be traveling during the pandemic, so we didn’t have the chance to check out any restaurants in Seattle, but our go to sight for any restaurant recommendation is always the hit list on the infatuation!
Washington may not get the same notoriety for its hiking and wines as northern California, but the abundance of off the beaten trail hikes let you enjoy the scenery without much of the crowds and their wines are giving California a run for their money!
Check us out at @twoticketstoanywhere on Instagram for all your travel inspiration. We travel near and far to find the best adventures, beaches, and unique lodging and would love to share our experiences with you.