One of the most relaxing and inspiring things to do in the Pacific Northwest is take a scenic drive. With mountains, ocean, forests, and valleys, Washington State abounds with picturesque views. We’ve compiled a list of some of the top scenic travel routes in Washington. So fill up your tank, cue up your favorite road trip playlist, and get ready for an adventure you won’t forget!
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway – Forks to Port Angeles
Enjoy this gorgeous 2 hour drive, which runs west to east along Highway 101, starting near the beautiful town of Forks and ending in picture-perfect Port Angeles. Start your drive at the famous Ruby Beach and enjoy the ocean and marine life at this photogenic seaside spot. Then hop on the 101 and you’ll wind through some of the most beautiful parts of Olympic National Park. You’ll roll the windows down and breathe in the fresh air from all of the verdant, lush trees in the rainforest. Along the way, you’ll see the beautiful Lake Crescent which makes the perfect picnic break. You can also stop for a short hike to see waterfalls at Marymere Falls. End your road trip in Port Angeles, a town sitting snugly between the water and the Olympic Mountains, gently surrounded by evergreens. For a magnificent place to stay with stunning oceanfront views and luxurious rooms, look no further than Colette’s Bed and Breakfast.
Recommended music playlist: Indie
The Beginning of the Lewis and Clark Trail
For a historic route that includes beautiful views in the Southeast part of the state, follow the first ¼ of the Lewis and Clark Trail in Washington from Clarkston to Walla Walla. Start your trip at Lewis Clark Valley, and be stunned by the rivers, canyon, and gorges. Take a tour of Hells Canyon, the deepest river gorge on our continent. Travel westward and then south on Highway 12, follow the historic path of Lewis and Clark through Eastern Washington’s high desert and then wine region. Find yourself delighted upon nearing Walla Walla, with fertile agricultural land, rolling hills and acres of beautiful wineries. The Inn at Blackberry Creek is a cozy, beautiful spot in Walla Walla that will be the perfect ending spot for this roadtrip. A restored vintage farmhouse, secluded just away from downtown in a peaceful spot nestled between gardens and a creek, you will find yourself at home in both comfort and splendor.
Recommended music playlist: Country
Yakima to Olympia
The route from Yakima to Olympia is a great way to see some of the best hits of the state and is about 4 and a half hours long. The first part follows the prominent Chinook Pass Scenic Byway which has it all; lush forest, rapid rivers, and mountain views. You’ll be singing happily and snapping photographs left and right as you drive along the two-lane road that passes the northeast part of Mount Rainier. You and your road trip crew could stop at Tipsoo Lake, and be awed by the gorgeous reflected views of the mountain in the water as well as the whimsical wildflowers. You’ll also enjoy views of Skookum Falls, a 250 foot waterfall wonder. Continue west until you find yourself driving into the wonderful state capitol, Olympia. This quaint downtown is adjacent to the stunning capitol buildings and the town is always bustling with exciting energy.
Recommended music playlist: Folk
Pacific Coast Scenic Byway – Long Beach
Imagine you’re riding along the ocean, windows down, hair tousled in the sea-swept wind. You can experience this while driving a three hour stretch from north to south along the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway. Start your trek along the water at the natural wonder of the Tree of Life, one of many epic hidden attractions on Washington’s Olympic peninsula. Continue south and enjoy US101 as it winds through the rainforest and old-growth trees of the Olympic National Forest. Then you’re back to the seaside again and soon to arrive at Aberdeen, a quaint seaport town that marks the halfway point of your drive. Continuing on, your last leg will include plenty of ocean views. You’ll end your sweet road travels at the beautiful Long Beach Peninsula, a spot peppered with beach towns. Just when you think the day can’t get any better, you’ll find even more joy and beauty at Boreas Inn. Nestled in a secluded spot on Long Beach, this B&B has absolutely everything – from luxurious rooms to ocean views to private dune paths.
Recommended music playlist: Surf
Seattle to Port Townsend
Our last trip takes you from the big city to a quieter gem surrounded by natural beauty. This two hour north and slightly westbound trip will take you on quite the adventure. Don’t worry about buckling up your seatbelt as you take the scenic Bainbridge ferry across the water from Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Then drive almost the entire length of this gorgeous island, indulging in water and mountain views. You’ll be driving along the Kitsap Peninsula, which has many towns and alluring stops along the way including Poulsbo, affectionately called “Little Norway” for it’s quaint, European-style downtown. Carry on with the music blasting as you continue through the beauty and arrive at Port Townsend. Upon arriving, you’ll be in awe of the beautiful Victorian architecture, the mountain vistas, and all of the surrounding water. End this roadtrip with a stay at the historic Blue Gull Inn. You’ll drive along the historic Port Townsend streets until you find this baby blue house with rocking chairs on the sweeping front porch. Walking in, you’ll never want to leave this cozy 1868 house with gorgeous rooms and views.
Recommended music playlist: Alternative rock
Ready to strap on your seatbelts and head out on one of Washington’s scenic travel routes? Find an amazing inn listed above, and many more with Washington INNSiders. Happy roadtripping!