Day trips—or long-weekend escapes—fan out from Seattle in every direction. The San Juan Islands, the Olympic Peninsula, and the great swaths of mid-state wilderness get the most photo ops, but there are plenty of adventures that don't require traveling on ferries or bumping along Forest Service roads.
Up and down I–5 you'll find most of the state's major cities: the ports of Tacoma,
Olympia, and Bellingham may feel more like overgrown towns, but each has enough cultural and outdoorsy attractions to warrant an overnight.
Slightly farther afield you'll find smaller towns with some very specific draws: Poulsbo's proud Norwegian heritage, Puyallup's traditional state fair, Port Gamble's painstakingly preserved mill-town vibe, Everett's enthusiasm for all things flight-related, whether crafted by Boeing or not, and North Bend and Snoqualmie's breathtaking alpine scenery and friendly feel. And south of Mt. Rainier, towns like Packwood and Ashford in the Cascades offer rugged scenery and jumping-off points for visiting both Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.
Encompassing so many distinct geographical areas like the Kitsap Peninsula and the western fringe of the Skagit Valley, exploring this part of the state can bring you from industrial areas to tulip fields in one day. From naval warships to thundering falls, there's a lot to see within two hours of Seattle.