Courtesy Seattle Balooning
Photo: Nick Hall Photography

Seattle's Top Outdoor Activities

Seattle isn’t nicknamed the Emerald City by accident—the greenery here is something to behold year-round. There’s no shortage of ways to get out and explore in this nature-filled mecca.

HIKE HEAVEN

Discovery Park

This 534-acre city park in Magnolia feels like true wilderness, with meadows, beaches, bluffs, mountain views, and tall trees. Stroll the nearly 12 miles of walking trails, or visit the West Point Lighthouse for a postcard-worthy photo op.

Mount Si

One of the most popular hikes in the area, Mount Si is a great place to gain some elevation—3,150 feet of it, to be exact. You’ll see plenty of people with loaded packs training for summits like Mount Rainier, but it’s just as enjoyable for casual day hikers traveling at a leisurely pace.

Mount Rainier

Make a day trip to Mount Rainier, the icon looming on the horizon. It’s a 2.5-hour drive to the active volcano, with many tour operators offering guided tours. The Paradise visitor area is a great place to start, with trailheads that are both beginner-friendly and suited for expert climbers. Take in the alpine meadows abloom with wildflowers in the summer, or embark on a snowshoe excursion in winter.

Mt. Rainier Courtesy of Amelia Vaughn Photography

PEDAL POWER

Burke-Gilman Trail

Winding 27 miles through many of Seattle’s notable northern neighborhoods—such as Ballard, Fremont, and the University District—the Burke-Gilman Trail is a cyclist’s delight, offering uninterrupted pedaling past spectacular scenery.

Seattle Cycling Tours

The signature offering at Seattle Cycling Tours is a 2.5-hour intro to the city on two wheels, hitting highlights like Pioneer Square, South Lake Union, and Seattle Center. If you’ve already covered the basics, try the Georgetown, Bainbridge Island, or Alki/SoDo itineraries.

Seattle to Portland (STP)

A Northwest rite of passage since 1979, the STP riding event takes bikers all the way from Seattle’s University of Washington campus to Portland’s Holladay Park. Most of the 10,000 or so participants spend two days traversing the 200 miles, but the truly ambitious can complete it in one.

WATER WORLD

Washington State Ferries

Hop aboard the largest fleet of ferries in the United States for a super-convenient (and beautiful) way to get out on the water. From downtown Seattle, head to Bainbridge Island (35 minutes away) or Bremerton (60 minutes away), both of which have attractions within walking distance of the docks.

Agua Verde Cafe and Paddle Club

After renting a kayak and exploring the floating homes of Portage Bay, the lily pads of the Washington Park Arboretum, or the unique architecture of Gas Works Park, paddle back to Agua Verde and refuel with nachos and a margarita.

Argosy Cruises

You’ll see a little bit of everything on the narrated Locks Cruise from Argosy Cruises, which starts in Elliott Bay and ends in Lake Union. Along the way, the ship passes through the Ballard Locks, which raise and lower to allow passage of vessels from salt water to freshwater.

Lake Union Courtesy of Amelia Vaughn Photography

SNOW BUSINESS

Stevens Pass

When winter hits, the skis and snowboards come out at Stevens Pass. Located a two-hour drive north of Seattle, this resort features 52 named runs and 1,800 vertical feet on its two different mountains. Added bonus: Stevens Pass offers night skiing so you can catch some powder under the stars.

Crystal Mountain Resort

Crystal is the largest ski and snowboard resort in the state, but even if you’re not planning to go downhill, you can still have a ball here. Just board the Mt. Rainier Gondola and take a 12-minute ride more than 2,000 feet up, where you’ll find enviable views and the highest-elevation restaurant in the state.

Summit at Snoqualmie

There’s winter fun to be had for the whole family at the Summit at Snoqualmie, where you can take group lessons on some of the best beginner terrain, ski the back bowls of Alpental, or tube down a 550-foot-long hill.

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