17 Spots to Visit in Seattle (and No, the Space Needle Isn’t Included)
One local shares two itineraries: one for the coast and one for the mountains.
Sunset’s Insider Guide series highlights seasonal diversions and secret travel tips from local experts. Follow along as we learn where to eat, drink, stay, and shop.
Meet the insider: Johannes Ariens, CEO of Route Line
Photo courtesy of Route Line
Johannes Ariens founded the RV and van rental company Route Line to broaden people’s access to the outdoors and decrease their waste while doing it. Members can access the brand’s fleet of vehicles on an ongoing basis from its headquarters in Seattle, then hit the road and explore the Pacific Northwest. Here Ariens, who grew up on the Olympic Peninsula, shares two epic journeys on either side of the city center.
To the Coast
Head west from Seattle and rest your head (or catch a wave) at Loge Camps on the Westport coast; Ariens founded this outdoorsy hotel brand with destinations across the PNW. Alternatively, he recommends Alderbrook Resort & Spa for a spot on the Hood Canal.
Head up the coast to explore Olympic National Park, a “true rainforest” with “some of the largest trees in the world. You can go there during the week and not see anyone,” Ariens says. Before you go in, grab ice cream at Hoodsport Coffee Co.
If you keep heading north, you’ll hit Aberdeen, a working fish town where Ariens says Tinderbox Coffee Roasters is a must-stop.
Aberdeen is also home to slurping destination Brady’s Oysters. Before you leave Westport, check out Aloha Alabama BBQ, a restaurant right on the marina that specializes in low and slow. Continue north and you’ll pass through Port Angeles and Forks, where you can “see country that is truly unique.” Your trip can loop out to Port Townsend and the San Juan Islands before coming back to Interstate 5. You’ll want to hit Skagit Valley Food Co-op in Mount Vernon for the “best sandwiches ever” in “one of the most fertile agricultural valleys in the state,” Ariens says. “I cannot drive past that place without stopping.”
TO THE MOUNTAINS
Loge Camps also boasts a location in Leavenworth, the charming Bavarian mountain town where you’ll find high-alpine winter and ice climbing in the colder months. “If you’re a climber, it’s endless.” (Do not forget to stop at Yodelin Broth Company for artisanal soups.) Ariens also recommends Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort on your way to Stevens Pass, where you’ll be surrounded by trailheads and national forest.
Seattle “fairly” gets a “bit of a rap for being a little gray in the winter,” Ariens concedes, but there are “easy ways to combat that.” One is to head east on Interstate 90 to where “it’s sunny 300 days a year.” About an hour outside the city, Snoqualmie Pass is a “significant” ski area with “controlled” avalanche conditions, says Ariens, a former professional ski patroller.
“You can’t go over Snoqualmie Pass without stopping at Laconia Market & Cafe,” Ariens jokes. “It’s against the rules.” Housed in a restored fire station, this spot serves coffee, pastries, and sandwiches in a coworking space with high-speed Internet.