4 Perfect Day Trips from Everett
1. Highway 2/Leavenworth
120 Minutes from downtown Everett
Leavenworth is a popular Bavarian-themed city tucked away in the Cascade Mountains, just a couple hours from downtown Everett. Set on the spectacularly beautiful Highway 2 – dotted with viewpoints, hikes and all forms of adventurous activities – it’s the perfect Northwest road trip. In the winter, visitors will likely encounter snow (skiing/snowboarding, inner tubing and snowshoeing are all possibilities – be sure to check WSDOT for pass closures and vehicle requirements). In the summer, temperatures are usually quite a bit warmer than along the coast – perfect for hiking, downhill mountain biking, river rafting, rock climbing or just eating Bavarian sausages and drinking beer by the river.
Start your day with an early breakfast in downtown Everett – The New Mexicans is the perfect place to fuel up for adventure (try the Huevos Rancheros). Swing in to the Sno-Isle Co-op on your way out of town and grab snacks for later – everything in the deli is delicious, and most items are organic. Head east on Hewitt Ave and continue on to Highway 2.
Stevens Pass Ski Resort (known locally as just "Stevens") is a massive, 1,125-acre ski resort with over 50 runs. It gets tons of snow, too – averaging 460 inches each year. Whether you're a pro, just learning or just wanna enjoy a cocktail in the bar and watch the snow fall, it's a must visit. Local tip: Stevens' night skiing is where it's at. The mountain is way less crowded, it's cheaper and the lights provide more than enough visibility to shred safely.
Hiking in the Pacific Northwest is legendary and you'll be missing out if you don't set some time aside to take it in. Whether you're an avid hiker, or just more of a walker (or a roller) there's a trail for you. The Washington Trails Association's Hiking Guide is a super useful tool to help find your hike. Any of the Alpine Lakes are especially nice (we like Dorothy Lake) because they’re typically fairly quick and easy with a big reward. You'll probably need a pass/permit, but they're easy to get. Info here.
In the summer, Stevens Pass Ski Resort becomes Stevens Pass Bike Park making way for adventurous mountain bikers to ride the epic terrain. Sure, there's a learning curve here, so if you're not ready to go all kamikaze, consider taking a scenic chair lift ride or play some disc golf because they have that, too. If you're traveling and you didn't pack your bike and gear, no sweat, you can rent everything at the park.
Want a seriously awesome adventure? Go on a whitewater river rafting tour. River Rider in Leavenworth offers adventure trips for all ages (kids too!) and bravery levels. This will require a little planning ahead and a change of clothes. They've got lunch covered, though!
Leavenworth is filled with shops, restaurants and all kinds of fun stuff for kids and adults alike. In the winter, you’ll find a snowy wonderland – tree lighting ceremonies happen nearly every weekend leading up to the holidays, and Santa almost always makes an appearance. In the summer, the city is warm and lively with a surprisingly active nightlife. For Bavarian-style sausages (and you must try the sausages), head to Munchen Haus. Try the jalapeño sausage filled with melted cheddar (yum). For dinner, try South – a delicious Mexican restaurant on the east side of town.
Don’t miss the Cheesemonger’s shop, where you’ll find a bunch of 20-something hipsters ready to serve you as many cheese samples as you can eat (grab some with crackers for the road). Then head to Leavenworth’s Icicle Brewery for drinks.
Head back down Highway 2. For most of the summer, you’ll have daylight until 9 p.m. or later, so driving should be a breeze. In the winter, always check WSDOT before you leave to be sure driving conditions are safe.
2. Diablo Lake
120 minutes from downtown Everett (spring and summer only)
Diablo Lake is a bit of a trek from Everett, but well worth it. Set along one of the most beautiful highways in the nation – The North Cascades Highway – the drive alone is worth the trip.
Hikers can take the 7.6-mile roundtrip Diablo Lake Trail – featuring 700-foot waterfalls and gorgeous views of the vibrant blue lake. Paddlers can spend the day exploring the lake by boat – picnicking on its tiny secluded islands. If you prefer to make your day-trip an overnight, pitch a tent at one of the park's many campsites (beware – the campground fills up quickly on summer weekends and does not take reservations). Families can spend the day at the park, picnicking, swimming and enjoying the breathtaking views.
Just 30-minutes east of the lake, rock climbers will find a paradise in nearby Mazama, a tiny town that features some of the best climbs in the state. Check this website for details. Be sure to stop at the Mazama store - a tiny grocery store full of organic produce, freshly baked bread, espresso and more.
3. Whidbey Island Loop
Approx 3 hours without any stops
Whidbey Island is a long island in the Puget Sound – dotted with cozy, little seaside towns and stunning viewpoints. Whidbey is home to retirees, self-proclaimed hippies and even nine-to-fivers whose daily commute includes a ferry ride. Connected to the mainland by a ferry to the south and Washington’s famous Deception Pass to the North, it’s the perfect loop from downtown Everett – an easy way to catch some of the Northwest’s most gorgeous views and quirky locals.
We recommend starting your day with coffee at Paesano's Coffee & Cafe (because the ferry coffee just doesn’t cut it), then head about 20 minutes to Mukilteo and drive on the ferry (note that wait times can be long at peak travel times, so plan accordingly). The Mukilteo ferry to Clinton is a short yet fulfilling ferry ride – perfect for those that enjoy Grey’s Anatomy but can’t stomach long boat rides.
Once you hop off the ferry, take your time exploring Clinton. Grab breakfast at the Whidbey Island Bagel Factory. If you’re getting a later start, pick up some lunch at Pickles Deli, where they have all the traditional deli food with some quirky features.
Continue West along 525 to Langley Road, then head north into Langley – an adorable, little coastal town – excellent for antiquing, wine tasting and shopping. If you haven’t eaten yet (or you’re still hungry), try the Village Pizzeria. If the weather is nice, be sure to grab a seat on the patio overlooking the Puget Sound.
Head back to 525 and continue north. Along the way, enjoy some fresh blooms at the Meerkerk Gardens. Walk along the four miles of paved paths while viewing beautiful greenery and hydrangea bushes. Got a dog with you? Bring ‘em along! Then, make your way to the nearby Greenbank Farm because, cheese (you’ll see).
FORT CASEY/PORT TOWNSEND
If it’s still early, consider cutting west on Highway 20 and heading over to Fort Casey and the Port Townsend Ferry. Constructed in the 1800s and used during both World Wars, Fort Casey State Park is great for both history buffs and kids – the empty bunkers create the perfect course for capture the flag. If you’re feeling adventurous, walk-on the nearby ferry to Port Townsend – a Victorian-style seaside city. One could easily spend a whole weekend here, but it’s worth a few dollars for the ferry even if you only have a couple of hours. Wander the fantastic selection of shops and be sure to check out the Center for Wooden Boats. Check return ferry times before you go.
Just a stone’s throw from Fort Casey, you’ll find Coupeville – nestled in Washington’s famous Penn Cove. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in the spring, be sure to try the world-famous oysters. For a fancy evening dinner, we recommend Oystercatcher, Christopher’s on Whidbey or Front Street Grill. For a more laid-back vibe, try Toby’s Tavern. If you happen upon Coupeville at lunchtime, don’t miss Knead and Feed’s delicious soups and sandwiches. Spend your afternoon wandering antique shops and hanging out on the pier.
Head east from Coupeville on Highway 20 towards Oak Harbor. Pass through Oak Harbor (this is the perfect spot to grab fuel, water or snacks for the road), and continue on towards Deception Pass. The bridge at Deception Pass is one of Washington’s most famous landmarks – second only to the Seattle Space Needle. Most visitors park at the Visitor’s Center on the west end of the bridge and walk across, but we prefer the views from nearby Rosario Beach – where you can hike around, enjoy a picnic on the beach and catch the most stunning sunset over the Olympic Mountains. Kayakers take note – if you’ve brought your boat along, this is the perfect spot to paddle.
Keep heading east on Highway 20 until you reach I-5, then head north for about one hour to downtown Everett. If you’re not ready for bed, finish your day with a beer at The Independent Beer Bar or live music at The Anchor Pub.
OTHER GREAT WHIDBEY SPOTS:
The Blue Fox Drive-In movie theater is one of the last drive-ins around. They show current films and a variety of dinner food like pizza and nachos. It’s a perfect way to end a long day of hiking at Deception Pass.
4. Mount Pilchuck/Heather Lake
60 minutes from Downtown Everett
Just an hour outside of downtown Everett, you'll find two of the most stunning hikes in the state with trailheads just a few minutes apart. Grab breakfast downtown (try the Strawberry Patch Cafe - we love their breakfast sandwich), and pack a lunch (the Valley Organic Deli is a great place to grab healthy food to go – call ahead and order). Then, head east on Hewitt Ave and follow these directions.
Visitors flock to Mount Pilchuck for its incredible 360-degree views of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier and the Olympics. The hike is intermediate – about 2.7 miles (5.4 miles round-trip) and a 2,300-foot ascent, so be prepared for a relatively tough climb. At the summit, hikers can rest and eat lunch in the shelter – a historic fire lookout, which sits nestled on a summit that tops out around 5,300 feet.
Heather Lake is a lovely little lake located on the northeastern slope of Mount Pilchuck. In the summer, consider wearing your swimsuit under your hiking clothes – there's nothing better than jumping in a cool mountain lake after a long hike on a hot day. Heather Lake is easier than Mount Pilchuck – at 4.6 miles, roundtrip with an elevation gain of 1034 ft., it's suitable for families with children (though still a somewhat difficult climb).
After a long day of hiking, you won't feel guilty rewarding yourself with a big pasta dinner at downtown Everett's Lombardi's on the waterfront.