With its warm summer weather and incomparably beautiful landscapes, the state of Washington makes for an ideal getaway destination. Among the state’s panoramic splendors are idyllic islands, gorgeous ocean beaches, sapphire-blue lakes, and emerald-green forests. Stay at one of numerous Washington vacation rentals to easily enjoy scenic spots perfect for hiking, cycling, boating, water sports, and many other activities. Take a look at the top places to take a summer vacation in Washington.
1. Friday Harbor
Beautiful Friday Harbor lies on the eastern side of San Juan Island in the San Juan Island archipelago in northwestern Washington. In summer, take advantage of clear blue skies and sunny weather to explore the island coastlines with Crystal Sea Kayaking. Alternatively, San Juan Excursions and Wildlife Cruises takes you out to sea on a comfortable yacht to observe orcas, humpback whales, harbor seals, and porpoises. To tour the island, rent an electric bike or moped from Susie’s Mopeds. Stroll around this pleasant rustic town and enjoy the friendly shops, the Whale Museum, and the San Juan Historical Museum.
2. Oak Harbor
Oak Harbor is the largest city on Whidbey Island, which sits near the entrance to Puget Sound in northwestern Washington. The island is accessible by land by way of Deception Pass Bridge on its northern end or by ferry from Mukilteo just north of Seattle. Lovely state parks surrounding the city provide a wealth of recreational opportunities. For instance, Deception Pass State Park to the north has pristine hiking trails, excellent bird watching, and several lakes for fishing. Joseph Whidbey State Park to the west offers a long beach with a splendid view that’s perfect for beachcombing and surf fishing. Fort Ebey State Park to the southwest not only offers a beautiful beach and hiking trails, but also the historic remains of World War II coastal defenses. Oak Harbor’s welcoming Main Street near the waterfront has art galleries, restaurants, boutiques, and other specialty shops. Don’t miss the fun outdoor Farmer’s Market, which takes place every week during the summer.
The city of Seattle offers abundant opportunities for outdoor family fun during the summer. For instance, Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood has a historic lighthouse, miles of trails through meadows and forested areas, and spectacular views from bluffs overlooking Puget Sound. In Golden Gates Park in the Ballard neighborhood, observe starfish, sea anemones, and sea cucumbers in the fascinating multicolored tide pools. Rent bicycles from Pedal Anywhere, and tour the beautiful 27-mile Burke-Gilman Trail through north Seattle. Don’t miss a visit to the award-winning Woodland Park Zoo. The outstanding special summer event in Seattle is Seafair, a month-long nautical celebration with pirate landings, boat festivals, concerts, parades, and seafood feasts.
Vacation rentals in the quaint Scandinavian city of Poulsbo lie near beautiful Liberty Bay, a peaceful body of water in the midst of Puget Sound. Visit the Sons of Norway for outstanding ethnic meals on the outdoor deck overlooking the waterfront. Observe seals and marine birds as you stroll along the boardwalk circling the bay. Poulsbo’s Fish Park on the Liberty Bay estuary offers over a mile of lovely nature trails. Northwest Boat Rentals on Front Street offers power boats, sailboats, and canoes to help you explore the nearby waters. Special annual summer events in Poulsbo include the Poulsbo Arts Festival and the Scandinavian St. Hans Mid-Sommerfest, which features a pirate parade, folk dancing, and traditional Norwegian cuisine.
5. Port Angeles
Port Angeles sits at the north end of the Olympic Peninsula on the scenic Strait of Juan de Fuca. As the seat of park headquarters, the city serves as the gateway to majestic Olympic National Park. Adventures Through Kayaking offers sea kayaking tours of Freshwater Bay on the strait and mountain bike tours on the Adventure Route section of the Olympic Discovery Trail through Olympic Peninsula forests. Off the western edge of downtown Port Angeles is a sandy spit known as Ediz Hook, where you can observe a lighthouse, beach comb for sea glass, and observe sea otters, seals, and other wildlife. Don’t miss the annual summer Port Angeles Maritime Festival.
6. Long Beach
Located in the southeast corner of Washington on a 28-mile stretch of lovely white sand beach, the city of Long Beach offers summer fun such as swimming, sunbathing, beachcombing, and water sports. Scookum Surf Co. offers surfing lessons and surfboard rentals. Enjoy a guided horseback ride along the beach with West Coast Horse Rides. Cape Disappointment State Park at the end of Long Beach Peninsula provides two scenic lighthouses, the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, and miles of trails through marshes, tidelands, and old growth forest. Long Beach is home to the World Kite Museum and the Washington State International Kite Festival, which takes place every year in August.
The picturesque city of Leavenworth lies on the eastern side of the Cascade Mountains in central Washington. Modeled after a Bavarian Village, the downtown area of the city features one-of-a-kind shops that sell wooden toys, eclectic hats, chocolate treats, arts and crafts, and many other unique items. Tour the city in a horse-drawn carriage with Leavenworth Carriage Company. Test your mountain biking skill at the Leavenworth Bike Pump Park. River Rider offers family-friendly tubing and rafting adventures on the nearby Wenatchee River. At Waterfront Park near downtown, stroll along the riverside paths, and observe eagles, osprey, warblers, and other species of birds.
The city of Chelan sits at the southeastern end of Lake Chelan in the foothills of the majestic Cascade Mountains in central Washington. Explore the sapphire-blue lake with rental jet skis or a pontoon boat from Shoreline Watercraft and Boat Rentals. Soar over the water on a parasailing experience with Chelan Parasail and Watersports. The area around Chelan is renowned as a wine region, and Chelan Electric Bikes takes you on a fun tasting tour of the best wineries. The Lake Chelan Bach Fest, which takes place every summer, offers 10 days of free classical, jazz, and pop music concerts.
The city of Pasco is in south-central Washington near the confluence of the Columbia River and Snake River. The scenic 23-mile Sacagawea Heritage Trail runs along the majestic Columbia River and is perfect for walking, jogging, and cycling. Sun Willows Golf Course offers 18 holes of play in a picturesque location. The nearby McNary National Wildlife Refuge has lovely nature trails and bird blinds where you can observe peregrine falcons, golden eagles, bald eagles, and many species of songbirds. Chuck’s Guide Services leads you to the best places on the rivers to angle for bass, sturgeon, Chinook salmon, and walleye.
The city of Clarkston lies in southeastern Washington on the border with Idaho. It is a gateway to Hell’s Canyon, the deepest gorge in North America. Beamers Hells Canyon Tours takes you on jet boats to Hells Canyon National Recreation Area and other spots on the Snake River. The service also offers steelhead, sturgeon, and bass fishing expeditions. The Saddle Creek Trail provides a great opportunity to hike through a diversity of landscapes.
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