The Ultimate 6-Day Washington Road Trip
Washington is one of the few places where you can spend the morning among alpine peaks and the afternoon at the ocean’s edge, and I just did a 6-day road trip to see as much of this adventurous state as I possibly could. On my list? Seattle, of course, Olympic National Park, and Mt. Rainier. Read on for where to eat, sleep, and activities to do at all three, along with a detailed itinerary to experience these gorgeous places for yourself!
Let’s dive into a quick day-by-day overview of my Washington road trip before diving into the details. More on where to eat (as a vegetarian), stay, and adventure below!
What I’ll Cover in my Washington Road Trip:
- My 6-day Washington road trip itinerary breakdown
- Things to do in Seattle
- Where to stay in Seattle
- Where to eat and drink in Seattle
- Olympic National Park
- Things to do in Olympic National Park
- Where to stay by Olympic National Park
- Where to eat in Olympic National Park
- Mount Rainier National Park
- Things to Do in Mt. Rainier National Park
- Where to Stay by Mt. Rainier National Park
- Where to Eat by Mt. Rainier National Park
Day 0 of the Washington Road Trip:
Arrive in Seattle! Settle in, and take it easy. You’ll have plenty of time to explore!
Day 1 of the Washington Road Trip:
I tried to cram all the go-to touristy things into one day, and although I could have spent more time walking around and enjoying the local flavor, I don’t think it’s necessary to feel like you’ve seen the city.
- 8:30 am – Order Biscuit Bitch and explore Pike Place Market
- 12:00 pm – Visit Chihuly Garden of Glass.
- 1:45 pm – Go up in the Space Needle
- 5:15 pm – Spend the evening in Capitol Hill for dinner at Plum Bistro, ice cream at Frankie and Jo’s, entertainment at Elliot Bay Bookstore, and drinks at Wildrose.
Day 2 of the Washington Road Trip:
Travel day! You’ll get to drive on a Washington State Ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Swing by Blackbird Bakery in Winslow for a pastry and coffee before making the 2-hour drive to Olympic National Park!
- 9 am – Grab breakfast at Sunlight Cafe
- 10:30 am – Get photos by the gum wall, walk by the water, and visit all the local shops
- 12 pm – Eat lunch at El Borracho in Pike Place
- 2 pm – Pick up a rental car and head to the ferry. Olympic National Park, here I come!
- 4 pm – Take a Washington State Ferry across Puget Sound.
- 7 pm – Check into your Port Angeles hotel and order to-go at Fortune Star Chinese restaurant
Day 3 of the Washington Road Trip:
I literally crammed everything into day 3. Looking back, I truly don’t know how I fit it all in.
Pro tip: I would recommend swapping the Hoh Rainforest (today) with Sol Duc (day 4) for easier travel. Try to arrive at Hurricane Ridge before 9 am to avoid long lines and overflow parking!
- 7:30 a.m. – Leave the hotel and head for Hurricane Ridge
- 9:00 a.m. – Arrive at Hurricane Hill and start the hike
- 11:30 a.m. – Stop by Hurricane Hill Visitor’s Center and then head back down the mountain and drive west
- 1:30 p.m. – Stop at Lake Crescent for a dip in crystal blue water!
- 2:30 p.m. – Arrive at Sol Duc Hot Springs and relax!
- 7:00 p.m. – Go to Forks for dinner at Pacific Pizza
- 9:00 p.m. – Head to Rialto Beach to watch the sunset (Note that the sun sets really late on the West Coast in the summer).
Day 4 of the Washington Road Trip:
This was 90% a travel day because I drove over 7 hours, but we made sure to schedule in some fun too!
- 8:00 a.m. – Leave the hotel and drive south to the Hoh Rainforest
- 9:00 a.m. – Arrive at the Hoh Rainforest. Hike the Hall of Mosses and Spruce Nature Trail
- 1:00 p.m. – Drive south and stop at Ruby Beach for sea stacks and the ocean’s wild ways.
- 2:00 p.m. – Drive southeast all the way to Mt. Rainier
- 6:00 p.m. – Arrive at Mt. Rainier and check into our hotel
- 7:00 p.m. – Get dinner at Cruiser’s Pizza
Day 5 of the Washington Road Trip:
I thought I’d wake up early so that I could have ample time to explore Washington’s famous volcano, which actually ended up being a huge mistake. The fog was so thick for most of the morning that I couldn’t see a thing and I still would’ve had plenty of time if I had started later.
- 8:40 a.m. – Arrive at Mount Rainier
- 9:30 a.m. – Hike the Skyline Trail
- 2:00 p.m. – Visitor’s Center
- 3:00 p.m. – Reflection Lake
- 5:00 p.m. – Eat at White Pass Taqueria
Day 6 of the Washington Road Trip:
The final day of my Washington road trip was mostly a travel day since my flight was in the early evening.
- 9:00 a.m.: Leave the hotel and drive back to Seattle
- 10:40 a.m.: Stop at the Original Pancake House
- 1:00 p.m.: Return the rental car and take public transportation to the airport
Things to do in Seattle:
- Pike Place
- Pike Place is an adorable historic indoor/outdoor market that’s open seven days a week! I would budget a minimum of two hours to see everything without feeling rushed, and then a little more time if you want to grab lunch while inside. I visited Pike Place twice and it didn’t get old. Don’t forget to head down to Post Alley to contribute to the gum wall. Rachel’s Ginger Beer makes bomb Moscow mules (Guava Moscow Mule anyone?), and Old Stove Brewery has some of the best views around!
- Chihuly Garden of Glass
- This museum is also indoor/outdoor and features all of Chihuly’s glass sculptures. It’s far more beautiful than I expected. I only went because you can get joint tickets for the Space Needle and the museum, but I’m super glad I did. It took about an hour tops to walk through, and you could get plenty of cute Instagram-worthy photos inside.
Things to do continued…
- Space Needle
- Make reservations in advance because they do sell out! I spent over two hours there, and I’m not the type of person who spends hours on a photoshoot. The view from the top was tremendous, and there was no time limit. Professional photographers take your photo for free, and there are selfie cameras available too. Hit up the bar while you’re at it for a bougie drink with a view! The price is a little steep, but it’s definitely worth the cost.
- Elliot Bay Bookstore
- This store is absolutely adorable. It has a wooden, log cabin vibe, and has literally any book you can possibly imagine. There’s a lot of driving on the next part of the itinerary, so it’s the perfect place to stock up before leaving civilization.
- Wildrose is one of just 21 lesbian bars left in the entire United States, so if you’re a queer woman it’s a must-go-to. It was very fun, especially in the early hours of the night, although it died down mostly by 10 pm. Maybe a COVID thing?
Where to Stay in Seattle:
- Palihotel Seattle ($212.57/night)*
- The Palihotel is just one block away from Pike Place Market – the location is on point. It was so nice to be able to get up and go out in the morning without stressing about needing to pack enough for the entire day. The rooms were a bit small but the staff was fantastic and I would absolutely stay there again.
Where to Eat and Drink in Seattle:
- Biscuit Bitch
- This tiny breakfast shop is famous for its homemade biscuit-style breakfast sandwiches. The secret’s out! It was a 1.5-hour wait, so plan ahead. They have Morningstar breakfast sausages for vegetarians. It was overall solid but not worth the hype.
- Sunlight Cafe
- Sunlight cafe was a little out of the way (I had to call an Uber) but it was worth it. It’s a vegetarian restaurant, and for breakfast, I got a tofu scramble and a waffle. The scramble was made with full pieces of tofu rather than the mush it normally is. So good. Easily one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
- Plum Bistro
- Located in Capitol Hill (Cap Hill), this dinner spot is organic and vegan. It was a little bit on the pricey side, but definitely worth it for the delicious eats.
- El Borracho
- If you’re in Pike’s Place area, you have to stop here for tacos and drinks. They make all plant-based tacos, and serve some of the most delicious margaritas! It was a great quick stop in our day with very cute outdoor seating.
- Frankie and Jo’s
- Yet another great plant-based option, Frankie and Jo’s serves the earthiest vegan ice cream I’ve ever tasted. You should make sure you prepare yourself for a unique experience going in, but it’s certainly worth the taste.
Olympic National Park
Things to do in Olympic National Park:
- Hurricane Hill Trail in Hurricane Ridge
- Hurricane Hill is about a 5-mile out-and-back hike. Most of the trail is paved, although there are trails that run parallel that is slightly more hilly, and you walk on dirt, so it’s a bit of a choose your own adventure. The views were completely incredible throughout the entire thing, and the top was certainly worth the climb. I’d recommend you bring bug spray–I forgot mine and wound up with 15 itchy bites.
- Hall of Mosses Trail in Hoh Rainforest
- The Hall of Mosses was probably the most beautifully green place I’ve ever seen. The trees were huge, and everything felt perfectly untouched. It felt incredible especially given that yesterday, I’d been 5,500 feet in the air, and now we were 500ft above sea level in a temperate rainforest. It was very short (less than two miles), with almost no elevation gain–a nice change of pace from the Hurricane Hill Hike and the ones we’re about to do at Mt. Rainier!
- Spruce Nature Trail in Hoh Rainforest
- This trail was a slight detour near the Hall of Mosses that took us down to the river. It was so nice to get my feet wet, but overall it was nothing special if you’ve already done the Hall of Mosses. It only added an additional mile, however, so it was fun to do to add a little more to your day.
Things to do continued…
- Sol Duc Hot Springs
- If you’re looking for authentic hot springs submerged in nature in natural in-ground pools, this might not be the place for you, but I still had a wonderful time! It’s the perfect place to relax after a long hike–the spring water is natural, the four manmade holding pools are not. One pool is the temperature you’d expect from your everyday swimming pool while the three collect hot water from their underground springs. Note: The water is HOT. Sessions are 1.5 hours and I had to spend about half the time not actually in the water or I would have sweated to death. This was fun if you have the time, but not a must-see event.
- Ruby Beach and Rialto Beach
- Both of these beaches are gorgeous. There’s no sand, only rocks, so you have to sit on driftwood or else embrace the rocky beach. There weren’t any people swimming when we went because it wasn’t super warm, but you can walk right into the water if you’re feeling inspired. Rialto Beach is the beach on the Quileute Reservation (any Twilight fans out there?).
- Forks, WA
- I wouldn’t be a true Twilight fan if I didn’t put this on the list. The town itself was small and there wasn’t much to do there except eat, but it was fun to see the random “vampire warning” signs and the posters of Bella and Edward plastered up on buildings. Check out the old look-alike truck from the Twilight movies outside of the visitor’s center. You can also drive up to the house that inspired Bella’s house in the movies!
Where to Stay by Olympic National Park:
- Quality Inn at Olympic National Park, Sequim, Washington (191.02/night)*
- The rooms were clean and the hotel provided free breakfast, which simplified my mornings exponentially. However, the location was super inconvenient because I had to drive 45 minutes just to get inside the park. The name was a little misleading and definitely contributed to the number of hours we drove. If I could do it again, I’d stay in Port Angeles, but I booked hotels too late and everything there was booked up.
- Other stays of note closer to Forks and the Hoh Rainforest:
- Woodland Inns, Forks, Washington (~$119/night)
- Hoh Valley Cabins + Yurts, Forks, Washington (~$220/night)
- Misty Valley Inn, Forks, Washington (~$240/night)
Where to Eat:
- Fortune Star Chinese, Sequim
- This was pretty much your average Chinese restaurant, and I only got take-out so I cannot speak much to the inside. It was close to the hotel and the food was delicious and served in big portions.
- Pacific Pizza, Forks
- This was pretty much your average Pizza restaurant, located in Forks, WA. The counter service was slow because the place was absolutely packed.
Mount Rainier National Park
Things to Do in Mt. Rainier National Park:
- Skyline Trail in Paradise Area
- This 5.5-mile strenuous loop is always listed as a must-see, and although it was the hardest hike of the trip, I completely understand why it’s a favorite. For the first ¾ of the hike, I was in such thick fog that I couldn’t see more than 5’ in front of me. I’m not sure if this is typical and I should have left later in the day or if I hit an unlucky stroke. Because of this, I ended up getting completely lost and hiking an extra mile to the top of McClure Rock. Apparently, this is something you can do, but in the fog it ended up being scary, so I’d recommend only completing it on a nice day. After the fog parted, the rest of the hike down the mountain was beautiful. The flowers and greenery contrasted with the snow in such a lively way. I would definitely do this hike again someday when it was sunny.
- Myrtle Falls off of Skyline Trail
- You can access these falls via the Skyline Trail, but there are other access points too if you’d rather go a different route. The waterfalls are magnificently huge and worth stopping for a quick pic.
- Reflection Lakes
- These lakes appear periodically on your way to the top of Paradise Area. They’re crystal clear and absolutely huge. Go at sunrise for the best chance of a clear reflection!
Where to Stay by Mt. Rainier National Park:
- Packwood Lodge ($173.93/night)*
- I drove towards Packwood from the northwest, and as I was getting closer, I started getting nervous. The nearby towns were rundown and not somewhere I’d want to spend the night. Packwood itself was far nicer. The lodge is about five minutes past Packwood in the direction of Mount Rainier, and there’s no cell reception there, but there’s good Wi-Fi and it’s very close to the base of the mountain. I’d definitely recommend staying there.
- There are plenty of cute a-frame Airbnb’s available for rent in the Packwood area. Check them out!
Where to Eat by Mt. Rainier National Park:
- Packwood Brewing
- This cabin-style brewery exudes ultimate lumberjack vibes with a cozy interior, a big welcoming fireplace with fur blankets and games, a few food options, and a generous outdoor area with fire pits. It’s also one of the town’s oldest historic landmarks. Built in 1933, the Save More Store No. 2 was a town necessity. Packwood Brewing stripped away all of its passed remodels back to its roots. It’s now a meeting place where locals and visitors can have a drink together around a bonfire at the base of Mt. Rainier.
- If you’ve always wanted to try an Elk Burger, this is the place. You honestly can’t go wrong with any burger here! Their tots are pretty dang good too.
- Cruiser’s Pizza
- I did NOT want to eat pizza again, but there was quite literally nothing else open to eat. Luckily, this restaurant has veggie burgers and salad so I was able to get some better fuel.
- White Pass Taqueria
- This was literally in the hotel parking lot, so I wasn’t expecting much but it ended up being delicious. They had a butternut squash burrito, which I loved.
I wish I had one extra day to spend at Mt Rainier on this Washington road trip because it would have made the trip feel less drive-intensive. Still, I absolutely loved this vacation and would go back to the Pacific Northwest in a heartbeat.
Total Cost of Washington Road Trip for Two People (without airfare): $2,823.68**
* Per night prices include taxes and fees
** I traveled when rental car demand was at an all-time high, and ended up paying $708.55 for four days in our car, which significantly increased our costs.
Author: Outdoorsy Gals contributor Jocelyn Luizzi
Hi! I’m Jocelyn and I’m a 22-year-old writer and vlogger currently living in Boston. When I’m not wandering the city or reading a book, I’m planning my next vacation. I’ve now had the privilege of visiting eight national parks–join me on my journey as I travel the US accomplishing my goal of visiting all 63!
Leave a Comment