What to see and do: Portland to Seattle

What to see and do: Portland to Seattle

A friend is planning a family trip where they will fly into Portland and out of Seattle. They want to see many of the amazing national parks in the Pacific Northwest and asked for additional must-sees while they are out there. Below are my suggestions!

First, here’s the general route I recommend. You can read through our camping recommendations in this post.


While we were there the boys went to an amazing day camp – Trackers Earth. That and visiting friends took up most of our week, but we made it to Powell’s Books and Voodoo Doughnuts. Pok Pok (local chain) was pretty yum. 

Mt. Rainier

It’s so big it has its own weather system. It snowed on us on the west side but was clear on the right. The Grove of the Patriarchs was a pretty spectacular walk.

Olympic National Park

The road to access the Hoh Rainforest was closed when we went, so we ended up bouncing through a few beaches near La Push. Definitely read Twilight before you or after you go so you can feel like you’re there again. I wouldn’t recommend the book or series on literary merit, but the setting of the teenage vampire love saga took me right back to those forests and beaches!

Sequim, WA

Lavender farms near Sequim WA – pretty cool. We were there right after harvest, but I bet they are a sight to see/smell when in bloom. 

Cascades National Park

We did a day trip to this place but it was covered in smoke (late July/Aug). But… if we could have seen, it might have been like Sound of Music amazing. We hiked Sauk Mountain, just west of the North Cascades park entrance. It’s a doozy of a trail but amazing.


Walking in the city in a day – here’s my list.

We also went up the needle and the Chihuly museum because my parents were with us (higher tourist budget than normal for us). Both were pretty cool.

Ferries in general

  • Ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor – I loved this. Here is an art gallery hop we did at Friday Harbor.
  • In general, keep in mind ferries. They are awesome and you could ferry into Seattle from Bainbridge and then back and then ferry up to Camano Island/Anacortes from Port Townsend instead of going south around Seattle and save yourself a lot of driving time!
  • If you ferry to Victoria, BC from Port Townsend, be sure to rent a pickle boat (water taxi) to explore the city. So fun!

IMHO: Wait on Whales

Regarding whales – we didn’t do any whale watching tours up in the PNW. It’s pretty steeply priced (and long for our littlest ones!). If that’s a major bucket list for you, I would highly recommend seeking them out in Baja, Mexico on a different trip. We didn’t just see them – we got to touch them!

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