Washington Cascade Mountains and Valleys

We’ve compiled the best of the best in Washington Cascade Mountains and Valleys - browse our top choices for the top things to see or do during your stay.

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  • 1. Chuckanut Drive

    Scenic Drive

    Highway 11, also known as Chuckanut Drive, was once the only highway accessing Bellingham from the south. The drive begins in Fairhaven, reaches...

    Highway 11, also known as Chuckanut Drive, was once the only highway accessing Bellingham from the south. The drive begins in Fairhaven, reaches the flat farmlands of the Samish Valley near the village of Bow, and joins up with Interstate 5 at Burlington, in Skagit County; the full loop can be made in a couple of hours. For a dozen miles this 23-mile road winds along the cliffs above beautiful Chuckanut and Samish bays. It twists its way past the sheer sandstone face of Chuckanut Mountain and crosses creeks with waterfalls. Turnouts are framed by gnarled madrona trees and pines and offer great views of the San Juan Islands. Bald eagles cruise along the cliffs or hang out on top of tall firs. Drive carefully: the cliffs are so steep in places that closures resulting from rock slides occasionally occur in winter.

    Hwy. 11, starting in Fairhaven at 12th St. and Old Fairhaven Pkwy., Bellingham, Washington, USA
  • 2. Foss Waterway Seaport

    Museum/Gallery

    With its beautiful setting right along the Thea Foss waterfront, the turn-of-the-20th-century, wharf-style structure—with a dashing modern glass...

    With its beautiful setting right along the Thea Foss waterfront, the turn-of-the-20th-century, wharf-style structure—with a dashing modern glass facade—is easily reached along a walk by the bay. Inside the enormous timber building, a museum devoted to the city's waterfront heritage contains displays about the history of Tacoma's brisk shipping business. Extensive exhibits cover boat making, vintage scuba and diving gear, importing and exporting, and the development of the waterfront. Photos and relics round out the exhibits, and children's activities are staged regularly.

    705 Dock St., Tacoma, Washington, 98402, USA
    253-272–2750

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $8, Wed.–Sat. 10–4, Sun. noon–4, $10, Closed Mon. and Tues.
  • 3. Institute of Flight

    Factory

    This facility showcases the Boeing Everett line (747, 777, and 787), and the 98-acre site holds the world's largest building—so big that it...

    This facility showcases the Boeing Everett line (747, 777, and 787), and the 98-acre site holds the world's largest building—so big that it often creates its own weather system inside. You can see planes in various stages of production on a 90-minute tour of the Boeing factory and spend time in the Boeing Centennial Exhibit, with cutaways of airplane fuselages, exhibits on the inner workings of navigation and hydraulic systems, and interactive exhibits that let you design your own commercial airliner. There's also a café, a kid-oriented family zone, and a number of other exhibit areas, and from the Strato Deck atop the building, you're treated to views of test flights taking off and landing as well as impressive views of the surrounding mountains and Puget Sound. Note that no purses, backpacks, cameras, cell phones, or children under 48 inches tall are permitted on the factory tour (free lockers are provided); they are allowed on the Strato Deck and in the Centennial Exhibit. Reserving tour tickets a day in advance is recommended if you need a specific tour time, but same-day tickets are always available.

    8415 Paine Field Blvd., Mukilteo, Washington, 98204, USA
    425-438–8100

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $18, Facility daily 8:30–5:30, tours hourly 9–3, $25
  • 4. Johnston Ridge Observatory

    The visitor center closest to the summit is named for scientist David Johnston, who died in the mountain's immense lateral blast. Inside are fascinating exhibits...

    The visitor center closest to the summit is named for scientist David Johnston, who died in the mountain's immense lateral blast. Inside are fascinating exhibits on the mountain's geology, instruments measuring volcanic and seismic activity, and a theater that shows a riveting film recounting the 1980 eruption. Several short trails afford spectacular views of the summit.

    24000 Spirit Lake Hwy., Toutle, Washington, 98649, USA
    360-274–2140

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $8, Closed mid-May–early Nov.
    View Tours and Activities
  • 5. LeMay—America's Car Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    About 350 meticulously restored automobiles, from some of the world's earliest models to brassy muscle cars from the late '60s, are displayed...

    About 350 meticulously restored automobiles, from some of the world's earliest models to brassy muscle cars from the late '60s, are displayed in this sleek, striking museum on the south side of downtown. It's one of the most impressive car museums in the country, with engaging exhibits on Route 66, alternative-fuel cars, NASCAR, and other aspects of automobile culture and history. The cars here were collected by the late Harold LeMay, whose entire inventory of some 4,000 autos is recognized by the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest privately owned collection in the world. Highlights include a 1906 Cadillac Model M, a 1926 Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost, a 1930 Lincoln L Brougham, a 1953 Citroen 2CV, a 1960 Corvette, and a 1963 Studebaker Avanti. The café serves diner classics, including very tasty banana splits. If you're an ardent car enthusiast, it's worth making the 15-minute drive south to the related LeMay Family Collection Foundation at the Marymount Event Center in the Spanaway neighborhood of south Tacoma (www.lemaymarymount.org), which displays another 1,500 classic autos and trucks from the collection, along with all sorts of additional memorabilia, from antique dolls and toys to farming equipment.

    2702 E. D St., Tacoma, Washington, 98421, USA
    253-779–8490

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $16, Daily 10–5, $18
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  • 6. Museum of Glass

    Museum/Gallery

    The showpiece of this spectacular, 2-acre combination of delicate and creative exhibits is the 500-foot-long Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a tunnel...

    The showpiece of this spectacular, 2-acre combination of delicate and creative exhibits is the 500-foot-long Chihuly Bridge of Glass, a tunnel of glorious color and light that stretches above Interstate 705. Cross it from downtown to reach the building grounds, which sit above the bay and next to a shallow reflecting pool dotted with large modern-art sculptures. Inside, you can wander through the quiet, light-filled galleries, take a seat in the theaterlike Hot Shop—with its soaring conical roof—to watch glass-blowing artists, or try your own hand at arts and crafts in the studio. You'll also find a souvenir shop and café.

    1801 E. Dock St., Tacoma, Washington, 98402, USA
    253-284–4750

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $12, Late May–early Sept., Mon.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. noon–5; early Sept.–mid-May, Wed.–Sat. 10–5, Sun. noon–5
  • 7. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    More than 200 different bird species along with a slew of reptiles, mammals, and amphibians thrive amid the marshes and grasslands of this 4...

    More than 200 different bird species along with a slew of reptiles, mammals, and amphibians thrive amid the marshes and grasslands of this 4,529-acre estuarial refuge on the delta formed by the Nisqually River's confluence with Puget Sound. Just 8 miles east of downtown Olympia, the tranquil space feels a world away from civilization and is laced with several miles of trails, some of them along boardwalks. Naturalists lead guided walks and give lectures on weekends from April through September, and a visitor center contains exhibits and a nature store.

    100 Brown Farm Rd., Olympia, Washington, 98327, USA
    360-753–9467

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $3, Visitor center closed Mon. and Tues.
  • 8. Padilla Bay National Estuarine Reserve

    Nature Preserve/Wildlife Refuge

    At this serene wildlife preserve adjacent to Bayview State Park, the Breazeale Interpretive Center has great birding: there are black Brant...

    At this serene wildlife preserve adjacent to Bayview State Park, the Breazeale Interpretive Center has great birding: there are black Brant (or Brent) geese, raptors, peregrine falcons, and bald eagles. Trails lead into the woods and to a rocky beach, with more good bird-watching opportunities. The 2¼-mile Shore Trail starts at the south end of Bayview; look for signs directing you to the parking area, which is away from the water off the east side of the road.

    10441 Bayview–Edison Rd., Mount Vernon, Washington, 98273, USA
    360-428–1558

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Grounds daily; interpretive center Wed.–Sun. 10–5, Interpretive center closed Sun. and Mon.
  • 9. Point Defiance Park

    Park (National/State/Provincial)

    Jutting into Commencement Bay, this hilly, 760-acre park surrounds Five Mile Drive with lush picnicking fields and patches of forest. Hiking...

    Jutting into Commencement Bay, this hilly, 760-acre park surrounds Five Mile Drive with lush picnicking fields and patches of forest. Hiking trails, bike paths, and numerous gardens draw crowds year-round, particularly during summer festivals such as the Taste of Tacoma, in late June. The park begins at the north end of Pearl Street as you drive toward the Point Defiance Ferry Terminal, where vehicles depart for Vashon Island just across the Sound. A one-way road branches off the ferry lane, past a lake and picnic area, a rose garden, a spectacular 22-acre rhododendron garden, and a Japanese garden, finally winding down to the beach.A half-mile past the gardens is Owen Beach, a driftwood-strewn stretch of pebbly sand near the ferry dock and a wonderful place for beachcombing and sailboat-watching. Kayak rentals and concessions are available in summer. Continue around the looping drive, which offers occasional views of the narrows. Cruise slowly to take in the scenes—and watch out for joggers and bikers.

    5400 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, Washington, 98407, USA
  • 10. Port Gamble Historic Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    Beneath the town's quaint General Store, the Smithsonian-designed Port Gamble Historic Museum takes you through the region's timber heyday....

    Beneath the town's quaint General Store, the Smithsonian-designed Port Gamble Historic Museum takes you through the region's timber heyday. Highlights include artifacts from the Pope and Talbot Timber Company, which built the town, and realistic ship's quarters. Above the General Store, the Of Sea and Shore Museum is open daily and houses more than 25,000 shells as well as displays on natural history. Kids love the weird bug exhibit. In between visits stop at the General Store for souvenirs or a huge ice-cream cone or hand-dipped milk shake, or stay for lunch or dinner in the acclaimed restaurant in the back of the building.

    32400 Rainier Ave. NE, Port Gamble, Washington, 98364, USA
    360-297–8078

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Historic Museum $4, Shell Museum free, May–Sept., daily 9:30–5; Oct.–Apr., Fri.–Sun. 11–4, Closed Mon.–Thurs. in Oct.–Apr.
  • 11. Snoqualmie Falls

    Body Of Water/Waterfall

    Spring and summer snowmelt turn the Snoqualmie River into a thundering torrent at Snoqualmie Falls. These sweeping cascades provided the backdrop...

    Spring and summer snowmelt turn the Snoqualmie River into a thundering torrent at Snoqualmie Falls. These sweeping cascades provided the backdrop for the Twin Peaks opening montage. The water pours over a 268-foot rock ledge (100 feet higher than Niagara Falls) to a 65-foot-deep pool. These cascades, considered sacred by the Native Americans, are Snoqualmie's biggest attraction. A privately owned 2-acre park with a gift shop and observation platform affords some of the best views of the falls and the surrounding area, as does the elegant Salish Lodge hotel. The 3-mile round-trip River Trail winds through trees and over open slopes to the base of the cascades.

    Observation Deck and Park, 6351 Railroad Ave. SE, Snoqualmie, Washington, 98024, USA
    -831–6525
    View Tours and Activities
  • 12. Spirit Lake Highway

    Officially known as Highway 504, this winding road rises 4,000 feet from the town of Castle Rock (just off I–5, Exit 49) to within about...

    Officially known as Highway 504, this winding road rises 4,000 feet from the town of Castle Rock (just off I–5, Exit 49) to within about 5 miles of the Mt. St. Helens summit. Several visitor centers explain the region's geology and geography, and several turnouts afford views of the destruction wrought upon the Toutle and Cowlitz river valleys.

    Castle Rock, Washington, USA
  • 13. Whatcom Museum

    Museum/Gallery

    Bellingham's art and history museum comprises three buildings near one another downtown. At its centerpiece is the Lightcatcher, a LEED-certified...

    Bellingham's art and history museum comprises three buildings near one another downtown. At its centerpiece is the Lightcatcher, a LEED-certified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building with an 180-foot-long translucent wall. Rotating shows are presented here, as are permanent collections of contemporary Northwest artists. The second building, Bellingham's 1892 former city hall, is a redbrick structure that was converted into a museum in 1941—it completed a dramatic renovation in 2010 and contains historic exhibits. The third building, the Syre Education Center, contains a photographic archive. The museum's restaurant, Artifacts Café & Wine Bar, is in the Lightcatcher and garners raves for its creative farm-to-table lunch and dinner fare.

    250 Flora St., Bellingham, Washington, 98225, USA
    360-778–8930

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $10, Lightcatcher Building: Wed.–Fri. and Sun. noon–5 (open to 8 pm Thurs.), Sat. 10–5. Old City Hall: Thurs.–Sun. noon–5. Syre Education Center: call for hrs, Closed Mon. and Tues.
  • 14. 222 Market

    Market/Bazaar

    Olympia's foodie cred received a boost in 2015 with the opening of this artisanal marketplace just a couple of blocks east of Percival Landing...

    Olympia's foodie cred received a boost in 2015 with the opening of this artisanal marketplace just a couple of blocks east of Percival Landing and a short walk south of the city's renowned Farmers Market. The warren of boutique restaurants and food purveyors includes the long-running Bread Peddler bakery along with about 10 newer outlets specializing in everything from sustainable shellfish and bone broths to small-batch whiskey and premium gelato. There's also a florist and gourmet market.

    222 Capitol Way N, Olympia, Washington, 98501, USA
  • 15. Ape Cave

    Measuring nearly 2½ miles in mapped length, Ape Cave is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental United States. Two routes traverse the tube:...

    Measuring nearly 2½ miles in mapped length, Ape Cave is the longest continuous lava tube in the continental United States. Two routes traverse the tube: the lower route is an easy hour-long hike, while the upper route is more challenging and takes about three hours. Bring at least two light sources (you can rent lanterns from the headquarters for $5 in summer) and warm clothing. In high season ranger-led walks are sometimes available; inquire at the Apes' Headquarters, off Forest Service Road 8303, three miles north of the junction of Forest Roads 83 and 90. Although Ape Cave is open year-round, the headquarters closes November through April. A Northwest Forest Pass ($5 daily) is required for parking (or a Sno-Park permit during winter). 

    Cougar, Washington, 98616, USA
    360-449–7800-headquarters

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Parking $5
  • 16. Bay View State Park

    Park (National/State/Provincial)

    Adjoining the small waterfront community of the same name, this scenic 25-acre park has a campground with cabins in the woods and picnic tables...

    Adjoining the small waterfront community of the same name, this scenic 25-acre park has a campground with cabins in the woods and picnic tables on the low grassy bluff above Padilla Bay, a national estaurine sanctuary. Canoers and kayakers take note: Padilla Bay runs almost dry at low tide, when water is restricted to a few creeklike tidal channels.

    10905 Bay View–Edison Rd., Mount Vernon, Washington, 98274, USA
    360-757–0227

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Day pass $10 per vehicle; annual Discovery Pass $30 (valid at all state parks), Daily 8 am–dusk, $10 per vehicle
  • 17. Bloedel Donovan Park

    City Park

    The only public access in Bellingham to rippling, 14-mile-long Lake Whatcom is at its north end, in this park about a 10-minute drive east of...

    The only public access in Bellingham to rippling, 14-mile-long Lake Whatcom is at its north end, in this park about a 10-minute drive east of downtown. Locals swim in the sheltered waters of a cove, but you might find the water a bit cold. If so, spend some time trying to spot beavers, river otters, ducks, great blue herons, and yellow pond lilies at Scudder Pond, which is another 100 feet west (reached by trail from a parking area at Northshore and Alabama).

    2214 Electric Ave., Bellingham, Washington, 98225, USA
    360-778–7000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Daily dawn–dusk
  • 18. Capitol Campus

    Government Building

    These attractive grounds, sprawling around the buildings perched above the Capitol Lake bluffs, contain memorials, monuments, rose gardens,...

    These attractive grounds, sprawling around the buildings perched above the Capitol Lake bluffs, contain memorials, monuments, rose gardens, and Japanese cherry trees. The 1939 conservatory is open year-round on weekdays from 7 to 5:30 and also on weekends 11 to 4. Directly behind the legislative building, the modern state library has exhibits devoted to Washington's history. Free 45-minute tours (weekdays 10–3, weekends 11–3) from the visitor center take you around the area. If you want to see state government in action, the legislature is in session for 30 or 60 days from the second Monday in January, depending on whether it's an even- or odd-numbered year.

    Capitol Way, between 10th and 14th Aves., Olympia, Washington, 98501, USA
    360-902–8880-tour information

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Campus tours daily on the hr, 10–3 weekdays and 11–3 weekends
  • 19. Chehalis–Centralia Railroad & Museum

    Transportation Site (Airport, Bus, Ferry, Train)

    Through scenic landscapes and over covered bridges, the authentic engines of the Chehalis–Centralia Steam Train will carry you on rails originally...

    Through scenic landscapes and over covered bridges, the authentic engines of the Chehalis–Centralia Steam Train will carry you on rails originally laid for logging. The line runs through farmland and rolling hills, and crosses several wooden bridges. There's a 13-mile round-trip ride and an 18-mile ride, plus dinner trains and special events.

    1101 S.W. Sylvenus St., Chehalis, Washington, 98532, USA
    360-748–9593

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: $14–$17; dinner train $44, Memorial Day–Labor Day, weekends 1 and 3; call for dinner train and events schedule, $14–$17; dinner train $50, Closed weekdays and mid-Sept.–late May
  • 20. DeGoede Bulb Farm

    Farm/Ranch

    Just outside town, fields of tulips and other flowers grown at the DeGoede Bulb Farm provide a colorful backdrop along U.S. 12. Stroll through...

    Just outside town, fields of tulips and other flowers grown at the DeGoede Bulb Farm provide a colorful backdrop along U.S. 12. Stroll through the manicured show gardens year-round.

    409 Mossyrock Rd. W, Mossyrock, Washington, 98564, USA
    360-983–9000

    Sight Details

    Rate Includes: Free, Mar.–Aug., Mon.–Sat. 9–6; Sept.–Feb., Mon.–Sat. 9–5

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