The Ultimate 5 to 7 Days in Washington State Itinerary

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by Audrey Webster

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If you have 5 to 7 days in Washington State, you’ll be hard-pressed to fit in everything the state has to offer its visitors. Seattle is an eclectic mix of old and new while being surrounded by national parks, Alpine mountains, and lush forests. Our Washington State itinerary features the highlights as well as some lesser-known destinations to guide you off the beaten path. 

In this article, we’ll cover how to arrive in Washington, getting around the state, and how many days are ideal to visit its must-see spots. Let’s get started. 

How Many Days in Washington?

Washington State may not look huge on a map, but it’s chock-full of places to visit. From unique cities to beautiful natural spaces, you could spend any amount of time exploring the state.

With 5 days in Washington State, you can visit Seattle and do a loop to the west or east of the city. To the west, you’ll explore the Olympic Peninsula. To the east, you’ll explore Mount Rainier and North Cascades National Parks. 

If you have 7 days, you’ll also start and end your itinerary in Seattle. You can plan one loop to the east or west of the city and go at a more leisurely pace or create a route that’s a figure 8 to include both. 

In both itineraries, you’re starting in Seattle and heading toward a national park. If you want to explore the Cascade Mountain Range, head east. If you want to explore rainforests and beaches, head for Olympic NP. 

Trail in Olympic National Park
Trail in Olympic NP

Getting To & Around Washington

If you’re flying into Washington from out of state, you’ll land at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA). Without traffic, it’s about a 20-minute drive from the airport into the city center. Getting around Seattle is fairly easy without a car. Hiring a rideshare or taking public transportation are both viable options. 

When it comes time to venture beyond the city, you’ll want a car as it’s essential to make this a Washington road trip itinerary. There is no way to get between the destinations on our itinerary without driving yourself.

You can browse to compare options for car hire. Alternatively, check out Outdoorsy if you prefer to rent an RV or campervan for this trip.

Because so much of the itinerary is exploring national parks and other natural spaces, having a car at your disposal means you can check out the sights at your leisure and prioritize visiting parts of the state that are of interest to you. 

Driving to North Cascades National Park
Driving to North Cascades NP

5-7 Day Washington State Itinerary

Feel free to mix and match the destinations in the itinerary below. Choose where you go and how you do it based on your personal travel preferences, but use this sample itinerary as a helpful guide. 

Day 1 – Seattle

Your trip will begin and end in Seattle. Take this first day to get settled into your trip. If you flew in from a different time zone, you might experience jet lag. Allow yourself time to rest, adjust, and get excited for the rest of your travels. 

Ideally, you have at least one full day to explore Seattle. If you have a little more time to spare in your itinerary, you could easily spend two to four days checking out the city. If you’ve never visited before, make sure to hit a few of the highlights.

Pike Place Market along the waterfront is a great spot for coffee, seafood, and wandering around the market. Check out the massive array of fresh seafood, produce, flowers, and crafts from local arts all on display in the market. There are multiple layers, so make sure to set aside enough time to explore.

The Space Needle, Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum, and the Museum of Pop Culture are all great ways to spend an afternoon. If you plan to visit several attractions then you can consider buying the Seattle CityPass.

You’ll spend the first two nights of your trip in Seattle. Budget one day to see the city and a second day for a trip out to Mount Rainier. 

Seattle Skyline
Seattle Skyline

Where to Stay in Seattle

The Mediterranean Inn – This centrally-located hotel is perfect for seeing all the sites in Seattle. They have private parking, 24-hour reception, a lovely terrace and countless great rooms on offer.

Inn at the Market – Located at the iconic Pike Place Market, this hotel has a range of gorgeous rooms to choose from along with amenities like an on-site bar, a panoramic terrace and numerous restaurants.

HotelHotel Hostel – Budget travelers and backpackers in Seattle will like this highly-rated hostel. There are several rooms to choose from, clean facilities and a good location for seeing the city.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more hotels in Seattle!

Day 2 – Mount Rainier National Park

If you got a clear day in Seattle, you might have seen a towering mountain in the background. Some of the city’s most iconic images are those with the Space Needle and Mount Rainier. As the tallest mountain in the Cascades, Mount Rainier is an impressive sight any time of the year.

The drive from Seattle to Mount Rainier is just shy of two hours long and it’s one of the best places to visit in the state. 

First head to Paradise. From here, you can decide how you want to spend your day in the park. With only one day to explore Mount Rainier, it’s best to choose a medium-length hike as well as stopping at a few overlooks.

The Skyline Trail, Naches Peak Loop and Grove of the Patriarchs are some popular hiking trails. Reflection Lake, Myrtle Falls, and the Mount Fremont Fire Lookout are also great spots to add to your itinerary. 

At the end of your day, head back to Seattle for one last night in the city before heading toward North Cascades National Park. 

Paradise Overlook in Mount Rainier
Paradise Overlook in Mount Rainier

Day 3 – Leavenworth

Begin making your way toward Leavenworth on the third day of your trip to Washington State. The drive from Seattle to Leavenworth is about two hours, depending on traffic.

Leavenworth is a charming town to visit at every season. This Bavarian-themed small mountain town is popular among visitors to the state. That said, if you’re visiting during summer, expect to run into crowds. 

While in town, check out the Nutcracker museum, say hello to reindeer, walk along Front Street, and try beer from a local brewer.

Leavenworth is a great place to call home for two nights while you explore the area. If you want to visit the Enchantments and hike to Colchuck Lake, Leavenworth is a great spot to kick off your visit. Snoqualmie Falls is another iconic stop to your itinerary. 

Plan to spend one day enjoying Leavenworth and nearby landmarks. Tomorrow, you’re taking a day trip to North Cascades National Park

German style houses in Leavenworth
German style houses in Leavenworth

Where to Stay in Leavenworth

Bavarian Lodge – This Bavarian-style hotel is a perfect base in Leavenworth. They have a swimming pool, plenty of different room choices and an on-site restaurant and bar for guests to enjoy.

Obertal Inn – Located in the center of Leavenworth, this hotel has several comfortable rooms and some cottages available. There is breakfast daily along with free, on-site parking available for guests.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Leavenworth hotels!

Day 4 – North Cascades National Park

To make the day trip from Leavenworth to North Cascades NP, you’ll want to get an early start. The drive is about three hours to the park from Leavenworth.

Make sure you pack solid hiking shoes, sunscreen, extra layers, bug spray, and water for your trip. We recommend packing a day bag with everything you need for the day, so you can spend your time in the park fully exploring it. 

Similar to Mount Rainier NP, consider choosing one medium-length hike and visiting a few overlooks. Drive along the North Cascades highway where you’ll find several trailheads for famous hikes as well as viewpoints.

Make sure you stop at Diablo Lake Vista Point—an iconic blue-green lake formed from melting glaciers and colored by a powdery silt. Washington Pass Overlook and Ross Lake Overlook are two great stops, as is the Maple Pass Loop walk.

After you’ve wrapped up your day in North Cascades, head back down to Leavenworth for a well-earned dinner in town. 

Diablo Lake in North Cascades National Park
Diablo Lake

Day 5 – Tacoma

If you have one week in Washington State, kick off day five of your Washington road trip by driving from Leavenworth to Tacoma. If you only have five days for your visit, drive from Leavenworth back to Seattle.

The drive to Tacoma takes about two and a half hours from Leavenworth. Tacoma sits between the Cascades and the Olympic Peninsula, so it’s a good stopping-over point.

During your stay, visit Point Defiance Park, the Museum of Glass, and the Washington State History Museum. Olympia, the state’s capital, sits southwest of Tacoma and could also be a fun stop to make. 

Alternatively, you could dedicate most of your fifth day to travel, driving from Leavenworth to Port Angeles. Expect total drive time to be between three and four hours.

Urban Garden in Point Defiance Park
Urban Garden in Point Defiance Park

Where to Stay in Port Angeles

Emerald Valley Inn – This cosy hotel in Port Angeles makes a great option close to Olympic NP. They offer plenty of comfy rooms, free parking and an on-site restaurant.

Olympic Lodge – This beautiful lodge is an excellent luxury choice in Port Angeles. Well-located for exploring the Olympic Peninsula, they have a swimming pool, fitness center and free parking.

Private Rental – Staying in a private vacation rental is a good option in Port Angeles. There are lots of properties – such as this cosy cottage with a garden – that can suit all kinds of visitors and travel types.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Port Angeles hotels!

Day 6 – Port Angeles 

Port Angeles is a small town on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula. It’s where you’ll stay for the next two nights of your trip while exploring Olympic NP and Forest. 

In Port Angeles, walk along the city pier, visit the fine arts center, explore the Feiro Marine Life Center, or taste wine at a couple of the town’s local wine cellars.

Ideally, spend half a day getting to know the town then spend the other half checking out the area around it. Lake Crescent and Salt Creek Recreation Area are two great options. 

If you want to take an afternoon day trip to a hot spring, consider Olympic Hot Springs. For visitors during the colder months, the hot springs provide a relaxing warm retreat from the chilly weather. 

Lake Crescent on a sunny day
Lake Crescent

Day 7 – Olympic National Park

Travel time from Port Angeles to Olympic National Park will depend on where you’re heading in the park, but expect to drive no more than one to two hours. Olympic NP is a unique collection of landscapes all rolled into one.

Here you’ll find rainforests, coastlines, and mountains all within the peninsula and it’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a huge park to cover, so plan to spend at least one full day exploring the park. If you have some extra time to spare, it’s worth it to spend two or three days. 

Make sure you pack comfortable hiking shoes, water, extra layers, rain jackets, and warm clothes to change into after hiking just in case you find yourself caught in the rain. Start your day with a drive or hike to the top of Hurricane Ridge.

If you can rise early enough, it’s a perfect spot to watch the sunrise. Once the sun has risen, head to one or two of the park’s waterfalls. Madison Falls, Marymere Falls, and Sol Duc Falls are all great options. To save time, plan to visit one or two. 

Your next stop should be Rialto Beach. Hike the 4-mile long trail along the beach to catch views of some of the park’s most iconic coastline. If you want to continue exploring the beaches, head for La Push. Here you’ll find three beaches: First Beach, Second Beach, and Third Beach. Each has their own hiking trail or you can simply relax on the sand. 

Finally, you can’t leave Olympic NP without visiting the Hoh Rainforest. This lush green rainforest is an impressive contrast to the mountains where you watched the sunrise. If you’re pressed for time, hike the Hall of Mosses Trail. It’s less than one mile and an easy walk.

The Spruce Nature Trail is another good option. Once you’ve wrapped up your day in the park, head back to Port Angeles for a good night’s rest before heading back to Seattle and concluding your Washington State road trip. 

Beautiful Rialto Beach
Beautiful Rialto Beach

Have More Time?

If you have more than seven days for your Washington State road trip, consider spending even more time at any of the parks listed in this itinerary. However, if you’d rather see more of the state, consider taking a detour from North Cascades NP and head for the Mount Baker area. Visit Heybrook Lookout and hike the Skyline Divide. 

You could also pay a visit to the San Juan Islands located near Seattle or drive south to Mount St. Helens. Stop at the volcano’s visitor center to learn about its rich and tumultuous history before heading out on a hike to explore the area around the mountain. 

Any of these extra stops are great if you have one to two weeks in Washington State. 

Ferry to San Juan Islands
Ferry to San Juan Islands

The state of Washington is full of amazing ways to spend your time. This sample itinerary can help guide your own trip planning. No matter how you structure your Washington State road trip, it will be one to make you want to return for more. 

Are you planning a trip to Washington State? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

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Audrey Webster is a writer for The World Was Here First. She is an Oregon native who has visited countries across the globe and currently spends her weekends exploring the Pacific Northwest and surrounding states. Her approach to traveling combines exploring famous tourist sites and wandering off the beaten path to discover new destinations.

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