Day Trip From Downtown Seattle – West Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls

Day trip from Seattle Snoqualmie Falls Washington State upper level view (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Upper level view of Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle WA (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

We ended up at Snoqualmie Falls because I failed at two basic travel requirements:

  • Run your side trip plans through Google Maps to check driving times, and
  • When traveling with someone, make sure you really understand what they want to get out of a journey.

The original plan was to take one day during our mother-daughter Seattle getaway to head into the woods. Hiking around, “forest bathing,” spending some time in nature….we didn’t have any specific requirements other than to be around lots of lush Pacific Northwest greenery for awhile.

Looking on a map (without running the numbers) it seemed as though a drive over to the Olympic National Park and Olympic National Forest would fit the bill for a Seattle day trip.

Fortunately, I bounced this idea off of my friend Pam at Nerd’s Eye View, who lives in Seattle, and she gently steered me in a more realistic direction with,

“Are you sure you have enough time? Map the distances, okay? The rain forest/Olympic Peninsula isn’t a day trip, you really need to stay over at least one night, and you’ll probably want to. It’s a five hour drive to where the forest starts.”

Whoops.

I ran the numbers. Yep. We’d spend most of the day in our rental car just getting there and getting back. I love me a road trip, but this didn’t seem like a good way to spend our limited time.

Next issue – my daughter had said that she REALLY wanted to go to Olympic National Park. All the do-anything-for-my-kid instincts came to the fore. I tried to convince myself that all that driving would be worth it. Who cares if we would have to roll out at the crack of dawn! Who cares if we would come dragging back sometime before midnight!

Fortunately, I checked back in with her, had an honest discussion of the pros and cons, and suggested that Snoqualmie Falls, a 30- to 45-minute drive from downtown, might be a lot less painful. She said, “That’s fine, I just want to be around some trees.”

Whew.

Never assume that you fully understand what fellow travelers really want without asking them, maybe more than once.

Now we had a lot more time, so we started out the day by enjoying a delicious Sunday morning breakfast with Pam at Noble Barton over in West Seattle….

Chorizo Scramble plus biscuit at Noble Barton West Seattle (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Chorizo Scramble plus biscuit at Noble Barton in West Seattle – don’t miss the pinball machines in the back (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

….and then a walk on West Seattle’s Alki Beach (can you see the Space Needle poking up over that peninsula in the distance?)

Alki Beach West Seattle (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Alki Beach in West Seattle (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

….followed by a quick stop at the Top Pot Doughnuts right across the street from the beach….

Top Pot Doughnuts Alki Beach West Seattle (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

Top Pot Doughnuts across from Alki Beach in West Seattle (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

….and off we drove, through lots of pretty scenery to Snoqualmie.

It was easy to find – the closest parking area costs US$5 for a few hours, but there’s a large free lot nearby connected to the park by a pedestrian bridge.

Apparently the scene behind us is famous as the opening shot for the 1990’s TV series Twin Peaks; the red buildings that overlook the Falls are part of the Salish Lodge and Spa.

It was mid-April and the water was running strong.

Sheila Nancy Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle WA (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

My daughter and I get misty-eyed at Snoqualmie Falls near Seattle WA (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

There are placards all around the observation areas that explain the history of the Falls, including what they meant to the native Snoqualmie Coast Salish tribe.

In addition to its stunning natural beauty, the Falls are also part of one of the oldest hydropower plants in the United States (built in 1898-99) and the first one to be built underground. It still makes electricity today and is part of the Puget Sound Energy system.

Here is about 30 seconds of the roaring water (direct link to it on YouTube if you can’t see the video play box below:)

There are several observation decks for visitors, with varying degrees of mist blowing up from the Falls.

After watching the water, we got our “tree time” by walking partway down the wide trail that leads downhill to a lower viewing area.

It’s smooth but a little steep, which is no big deal going down, but can be a challenge coming back up.

Trail to lower area at Snoqualmie Falls Washington near Seattle (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

A walk in the woods – trail to the lower viewing area at Snoqualmie Falls in Washington State, east of Seattle (photo by Sheila Scarborough)

The trip out to the Falls was an easy jaunt and a perfect city escape. We had some ideas for evening activities back in Seattle – and the weather was starting to get soggy toward the end of our visit – or we would have done a little more hiking and gone to investigate the town of Snoqualmie.

Do you have a favorite Seattle day trip? Tell us about it in the comments.

Logistics note – we had a rental car for this itinerary, but you can also get to Seacrest Park in West Seattle via the King County West Seattle water taxi.

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