Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island Photo: Yusia/

Island Exploration

In and around Puget Sound, Pacific Northwest islands make for fun-filled getaways packed with outdoor adventure. Best of all, they’re only a day trip from Seattle.

Bainbridge Island

The 35-minute trip to this island via Washington State Ferries (801 Alaskan Way, Pier 52; has long been a must for glorious skyline views. After docking at the ferry terminal, dive right into nature at the renowned Bloedel Reserve (*7571 NE Dolphin Dr;, which includes 150 acres and a Japanese garden. Tackle more serious hikes at Grand Forest (9752 Miller Rd NE), featuring eight miles of flat trails winding among firs and cedars. Gazzam Lake Nature Preserve ( is another favorite with 444.6 acres of forests and untouched wetland. Stroll a route that swings by Close Beach, where the shore can unfurl postcard-perfect glimpses of the Olympic Mountains. For info about how to explore Bainbridge without a car, see page 75.

Whidbey Island

About 25 miles north of Seattle, catch a ferry from Mukilteo to Whidbey Island. Hikers and cyclists congregate at Ebey’s Landing (, a national historic reserve where coastal bluffs rise into forests and pioneer-settled prairies. Meanwhile divers submerge 3.5 miles south at Fort Casey Underwater Park (1280 Engle Rd, Coupeville), near Crockett Lake, a popular kayaking and bird-watching stop. For even more dramatic views and adrenaline-spiked aquatic adventures, head to Deception Pass State Park ( on Whidbey’s northern tip.

Camano Island

A 90-minute drive north of Seattle, climb into Camano’s towering trees with a Canopy Tours Northwest (*332 NE Camano Dr; zipline. Or pedal the 50-mile Classic Camano Island Loop (, which traces the shore’s perimeter—it intersects with the Stanwood Amtrak (*27111 Florence Way, Stanwood; station for car-free travelers.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse on San Juan Island Photo: Yusia/

San Juan Islands

This 172-island archipelago, which was named a national monument in 2013, is located 105 miles northwest of Seattle. Catch a ferry from Anacortes, or pick a transportation and tour option departing from Seattle, such as Kenmore Air (*, Clipper Vacations (*, and EverGreen Escapes (* Once you arrive, don’t miss the laid-back small towns and stunning state parks, including Lime Kiln Point State Park (, one of the world’s best places to see orcas from land.


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