Seattle is one of the gems of the Pacific Northwest. Not only are there gorgeous mountains and endless trails to explore nearby, but there's also Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east, creating easy access to water. The state-run and private ferry systems in Seattle are efficient and affordable ways to take in some fresh air and discover the many island destinations nearby. On most ferries, you can load up your car or bike to take with you.
From downtown Seattle, you can catch a couple of different ferries to West Seattle, the largest and oldest of the city's neighborhoods. Around one-fifth of all Seattle residents live here. It sits on a peninsula that extends into Puget Sound and is a laidback community with a passion for environmentalism. West Seattle connects to the rest of the city via a bridge, but a ferry ride offers a unique perspective of the area. Visit the beachfront community of Alki for amazing views of the Seattle skyline, Puget Sound, and Elliott Bay.
If you're seeking the ideal day trip, opt for the 35-minute ferry ride to Bainbridge Island. You don't need a car to access this community since most of the popular spots are accessible on foot from the terminal in Eagle Harbor. Wineries, coffee houses, distilleries, cafes, and a wide variety of cuisine options make it the perfect locale for foodies. While you're here, visit the Bloedel Reserve, one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in the country. During the Christmas season, this charming community is famous for its decorative yuletide cheer.
Lush forests, abundant wildlife, and breathtaking scenic beauty make up this unique locale, the San Juan Islands, a four-hour ferry ride from Seattle. Here, you'll find everything you need to satisfy your wanderlust, along with some pampering and self-care opportunities. There are spas, delicious culinary options, museums, and festivals to enjoy. Visit an alpaca farm on the isle of San Juan, hike through Moran State Park on Orcas, or experience a barn dance or a local art exhibition on Lopez Island.
Just a 20-minute ferry ride from Seattle, you'll find the mellow-vibed Vashon Island. The artsy, calming atmosphere here makes for a perfect day trip, but you may love it so much you'll want to spend the night in one of its intriguing and comfy options for accommodations or exploring the island on a bicycle. If you're seeking beautiful beaches, Vashon Island may become your new favorite destination. Great food tops off the reasons why it's such a popular place. There's a diverse collection of eateries here serving locally sourced ingredients with lots of vegetarian options.
Relax on an hour-long water excursion from Seattle to Bremerton, one of Washington's most beautiful cities. If you prefer a shorter trip, you can opt for a 30-minute fast ferry ride. The city rests on the Kitsap Peninsula, overlooking Puget Sound. Take a stroll through the arts district, visit a lavender farm, or explore the Harborside Fountain Park. You can even take a five-mile hike to the top of Green Mountain, the second-highest point on the peninsula.
This waterfront community has the distinction of being the first city in Kitsap County and is about an hour-long ferry ride from Seattle. If you're a lover of antiques, gift shops, and delicious food, you may have found your home away from home here. It's a beautiful town, with walking paths, cafes, pubs, a marina, free concerts, parades, a dog park, and lots of military history. Through mid-October, enjoy the Port Orchard Farmers Market. Or, enjoy perusing the Port Orchard Public Market year-round. If you're in Bremerton, you can take a quick 10-minute ferry from there to this friendly town.
Board a ferry and land on Vancouver Island in just under three hours, whereas traveling by bus would take closer to nine. Three different ferry services bring visitors here, but they're super-busy in the summer, so reservations are a necessity. If you take the Clipper, you'll land in Victoria, on the southern end of the island, and from there, prepare for the wonders of the area's natural surroundings. Wildlife cruises, seaplane tours, waterfall hikes, wine tours, and even a grizzly bear expedition await you.
Imagine 475 acres of hiking trails, spectacular views of the Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier, and beachfront campgrounds where you can spend the night under a starlit sky. Reach Blake Island State Park via ferry from Seattle during specific seasons of the year. Choose a fast ferry that takes you there in less than 30 minutes, or join a tour for an extended experience.
It's the longest island in the continental U.S., a place where gorgeous natural settings surround you. The ferry leaves just north of Seattle in Mukilteo, then docks at Clinton, Whidbey Island's gateway community, where you'll discover a charming array of locally-owned shops and cafes, a local winery, vineyards, and several family farms that you can visit. Explore Fort Ebey State Park or one of the four lakes around the island. Art lovers shouldn't miss the Price Sculpture Forest near Coupeville, 16 woodland acres where art meets nature.
Unplug and rewind on the tiny island of Guemes. Here, there's no such thing as the hustle and bustle. Instead of giant grocery stores, you'll find nostalgic general stores where you can shop for snacks and other items. Guemes Island has its own ferry system. Catch a bus or train from Seattle to Anacortes and ferry from there. If you're seeking a serene hike, try the Guemes Mountain Trail, a two-mile, moderate-level trek through a Douglas fir and red cedar forest. Boating, fishing, and crabbing are also popular outdoor activities here.