Washington Travel Guide

Spice up your vacation this year with the stunning scenery of Washington State. Experience the thrill of success during your first mountain climb, hit the hiking trails with your family, and at the end of the day, dine in style in Seattle. Read on to discover the variety of options—from the Great Outdoors to local wineries—that keeps experienced travelers planning Washington vacations year after year.

From a cabin peacefully perched on Washington State lakes to a sleek condo in Seattle, there are many vacation rentals to choose from. Whether you’re planning a trip for a family, couple, or group of friends, VacationRentals.com will have the perfect condo to suit your needs. Don’t be surprised if you have a hard time narrowing it down to just one!

What to Do in Washington

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Outdoor Adventures

A picture is worth 1,000 words when it comes to Washington State lakes, forests, mountains, gorges, and more. These landscapes have a pristine quality about them that you will be craving the minute you get back to the office. Make the most of Washington vacations by trying something new, whether it is hiking to the top of Mount St. Helen’s to gaze down into the lava dome or encountering orca whales on a boat tour from San Juan Island.

While Washington hiking is consistently one of the most popular outdoor activities, others are steadily earning followers as well. Washington is the perfect place to take your first rock climbing lesson or challenge yourself to reach new heights. Pack along the skis and picture yourself whizzing through fresh powder or rent a mountain bike and hit the trails. There is no better way to spend family time than on an exciting excursion, and Washington vacations provide a gorgeous backdrop.

Teach your kids a new skill on your vacation this year. After a morning of Washington hiking, relax in the afternoon by casting a line and trying your luck at fishing. This traditional summer activity is a great bonding experience for parents and kids and teaches the whole family about stopping to smell the roses. From boat tours to golf courses, however you soak up the Great Outdoors, you will be glad to do it as a family.

Fantastic Scenery

Fasten your seatbelts and get ready for the incredible ride that Washington scenic byways provide. Your kids might not ever ask, "Are we there yet?" during Washington vacations because the landscapes are so incredible and so varied. An important lesson is learned during these types of driving trips: the journey matters just as much as the destination.

Visitors will be shocked at all the different types of landscapes that can be explored in one single state: rainforests, a river gorge, wine country, volcanoes, islands, trickling streams, and two mountain ranges are all waiting to be explored. Pack your hiking boots, and get ready to leave the scenic drive behind for a couple hours of Washington hiking that will take your breath away!

Start your tour at Cape Flattery, continental America’s northernmost point, and one of the most naturally stunning in the country. A cedar-planked trail is perfect for family hikes, and surprises around the corner might include a glimpse of whales, otters, sea lions, and seals. Be sure to have multiple drivers for this scenic byway—no one will want to drive the entire time and miss out on some of the views! Your appetite for scenery will be whet by this historic drive. Next, head for Cascade Loop, a spectacular drive through open desert and dense forests. Be sure to stop and get involved in local recreation including hot air balloon rides, whale watching, and mountain biking. From the Cascade Valleys to Puget Sound and the San Juan Ferry to Whidbey Island, Washington is so full of scenery you’ll have to come back for more next year!

washington travel

The Artistic Side to Washington

Washington vacations can also satisfy the art lover in your family. After a day of Washington hiking, the sensory stimulation will continue with a visit to museums, art galleries, or performance halls. Music, dance, theater, and movies are sure to keep your family entertained on a rainy day as well. To experience the performing arts in Washington, choose from any of the following venues: Seattle Repertory Theatre, the Fox Theatre, the Seattle Opera, or the Pacific Northwest Ballet. If you’re especially interested in the arts and culture, plan your trip to coincide with one of the annual festivals that takes place in Washington each year.

The Northwest Folklife Festival draws travelers from across the country, while Bumbershoot: Seattle’s Music and Arts Festival is constantly coming up with something new. The Winthrop Rhythm and Blues Festival makes July even more steamy while the Seattle International Film Festival brings Hollywood to town. From the Spokane Symphony to visiting ballet companies, you might just be surprised at the quality of arts available during Washington vacations!

washington vineyards

Romance and the Great Outdoors

Some of the most romantic environments are the most isolated. With a cabin on Washington State lakes, you will have no distractions, and all your focus can be on romancing your partner. Take an early morning skinny dip, sip a glass of wine as you watch the sun set, and snuggle up beneath the stars. Nothing inspires romance like spectacular scenery and Washington is chock full of that!

Looking for another landscape to set romance in motion? Take a cycling tour through vineyards and quench your thirst afterwards with a wine tasting. The state that has earned a reputation for organic produce is also earning a reputation for its wine. Whether you arrive for the harvest season or want to sip on a cold white wine in the middle of summer, Washington vineyards will add some heat into your relationship. From waterfalls to wobbly bridges, sandy beaches to creepy caverns, there are places throughout Washington State that will have you reaching for your sweetheart's hand.

After a day of sightseeing, what could be better than returning to the privacy of a vacation rental? Stop at a farmer’s market for dinner ingredients, and don’t forget a bottle of local wine!

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What to See in

Washington is a great place to enjoy distinct architecture. No trip to Seattle would be complete without seeing the Space Needle, but there are other less popular attractions that are worth a look as well. See the Victorian Beauty of Port Townsend, visit a historic lighthouse along the coast, or take a step back in time at old railway stations.

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Where to Shop and Eat in Washington

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Shopping Sensations in Seattle and Beyond

Take a break from Washington hiking, sailing, and fishing to check out the shopping scene. From malls to outlet stores and flea markets to antique shops, there is something to satisfy every type of shopper. While Seattle may have some great concentrated areas for shopping, don’t be surprised to find great options throughout the state. Antiques, for example, are widely found. If you’re in the area, don’t miss 2nd Hand Rose in Bingen or the Antique Cottage in Sultan.

Looking for today’s trends? Seattle will satisfy your shopping craving. Hit 5th Avenue for big names like Ann Taylor, Banana Republic, Betsey Johnson, and more. Consignment boutiques are a great bargain for vintage shoppers trying to stick to a budget and local lingerie shops are known for their heat-inducing creations. Don’t miss the chance to bring home something special from Washington vacations. Go local and bring home Washington wines, artisan cheeses, and organic produce. In Seattle, be sure and visit Bella Cosa Specialty Foods & Wares or the Chinatown Market for interesting spices.

Go Organic and Fresh with Washington Dining

After a day of exploring Washington state lakes, what could be better than sitting down to a relaxing gourmet meal? While vacation rentals offer kitchens to help you keep the cost of your trip down, go ahead and splurge on a meal or two! Part of experiencing Washington is sampling what their chefs can do with organic produce. You might even leave with an idea or two for your own cooking! This area of the Northwest is known for seafood, so if you’re hesitant to cook it yourself, leave it to the experts. From Chandler’s Crabhouse in Seattle to Hudson Bay Steak and Seafood, local chefs will show you just how tasty fresh seafood can be. Famous for oysters, make sure you don’t leave Washington without sampling a few!

Not all dining experiences have to be fancy either. Local chefs are proud to serve up the juiciest burgers alongside local craft beers. Head to local breweries for a casual experience. Top choices include Birdsview Brewing Company, Crab Creek Brewery, and the Flying Pig Brewing Company.

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When to Visit Washington

Individual travelers must decide when the best time to visit Washington is based on their interests. Summer, of course, is a popular time for families when kids are out of school, especially July and August when you'll find sunny skies and warm temperatures instead of the ever present cloud cover. If you’re interested in this season, be sure to book your vacation rental as far in advance as possible. If you’re traveling on a budget, you may want to consider the shoulder season.

Spring and autumn are both ideal for Washington hiking. Wildflowers or fall foliage will liven up the trails with color and it is still possible to enjoy boating, fishing, and whale watching. Whether you get away for the weekend or can squeeze a week in, you won’t want to leave Washington.

Seattle is a fabulous city to visit all year long. Some travelers like to plan a trip to Seattle around the holidays for its great atmosphere and shopping. Whether you are snug in a warm condo for New Years or ready to hit the music festivals of the summer, Seattle is ready to welcome you to Washington!

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What to Bring to Washington

Once you determine the type of Washington vacation, it will be easy to pack. The trouble is, you might be tempted to do everything this Northwestern state has to offer! If that’s the case, don’t forget your hiking boots or your high heels. Washington offers a great chance to enjoy the great outdoors during the day, and the sophisticated side at night.

If you’re traveling with the family, remember insect repellent, a first aid kid, and entertainment for the kids. Since the scenery in Washington is so beautiful, it might be an idea to leave the portable DVD players and I-pods at home, and let the kids enjoy the views!

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Local Services in Washington

Expect to find excellent local services during Washington vacations. Sellers at farmer’s markets will not only help you select from their fresh organic produce, but will also suggest ways to prepare it. From restaurants to vineyards, you are sure to encounter friendly locals who are eager to share their local culture. Plan on shopping during regular business hours, and you won’t run into a single problem during your trip! If you're in the Seattle area, the most popular farmer's market is Pike Place, which is open all year round.

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What to Know About Washington

It is important to do your research about the length of drives in Washington. Maps can sometimes be deceiving, and odds are, the scenery will be so beautiful that you will want to stop for a hike or at least a few photographs many times during a scenic drive. It might be difficult, but try not to bite off more than you can chew, or vacation might start to feel like a chore. This state is perfect for incorporating everyone’s interests, so don’t forget about the foodie, art lover, or history buff in your family!

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Getting to Washington

The best way to explore Washington is independently with a car. Whether you drive from home or fly into Seattle and rent a car at the airport, you will be glad to have the freedom that a car provides. A GPS system might come in handy. At the very least, have a good map and an idea of what areas you would like to cover.

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Why Washington vacation rentals?

The perfect match to the vast vistas of Washington State is a spacious vacation rental. This year, trade the hassle of hotels for the convenience of vacation rentals. Whether you want a place for your family to spread out and relax, or an intimate space to get close to a loved one, you will find your dream home away from home through VacationRentals.com. The only problem you will have is choosing between your cozy rental, and a variety of outdoor activities!

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