Summer Destinations to Enjoy the Outdoors

5 Not-to-Miss Road Trips for Nature Lovers

When you are ready to enjoy the outdoors this summer, check out these five Northwest destinations that offer myriad of outdoor experiences, including hiking, wildlife spotting, breathtaking views and more. Plus, they are full of opportunities to explore nature while maintaining physical distancing.

(Check for road alerts before you go, and call or go online to confirm the availability of specific attractions and services such as fuel, lodging, restaurants, seasonal events and gatherings.)

1. North Cascades

A 127-mile stretch of Washington’s State Route 20 (also known as the North Cascades Highway) takes travelers from Sedro-Woolley in the North Cascades’ western foothills to the Old West-themed town of Winthrop on the eastern slopes of the mountain range. While driving this section of the scenic Cascade Loop, there are opportunities to experience old logging and mining towns, hydroelectric dams, wilderness and wildlife, glaciers, and food options from casual to fine dining.

Photo: Andy Porter

2. Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan, 55-mile-long, is the centerpiece of a quintessential Northwest summer getaway. Read our six favorite things to see, do and explore in this awesome setting. Don’t miss the community of Stehekin near the far northeast end of the lake, which offers a uniquely remote experience. With no roads to town, the only way to get there is by boat, plane or foot.

Photo: Alamy

3. Port Ludlow

Port Ludlow is a remote, unincorporated community on the Olympic Peninsula surrounded by wilderness lakes, native heritage sites and endless waterfront access. This town is the ideal getaway for those looking to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. Plus, with 26 miles of hiking and biking trails, Port Ludlow is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

4. Paradise and Mount Rainier

Thousands of climbers attempt to conquer Mount Rainier’s summit each year, but the 369-square-mile Mount Rainier National Park and its surrounding wilderness area can be enjoyed by those without mountaineering skills or backcountry chops. Several popular drives allow visitors to experience the park, including a 147-mile route that sweeps around Mount Rainier, a 129-mile loop along the Chinook Byway and the White Pass Scenic Byway.

Photo: iStock

5. Bainbridge Island

Life is relaxed on Bainbridge Island, with lush gardens, fresh local foods, quiet country lanes and Northwest vistas that compel contemplation. A 35-minute Washington State Ferries ride brings visitors to Bainbridge from downtown Seattle, and many day-trippers walk or ride their bikes, as there is a full day’s worth of enjoyment in Bainbridge village, just up from the ferry landing.

Photo: iStock 

1. North Cascades

A 127-mile stretch of Washington’s State Route 20 (also known as the North Cascades Highway) takes travelers from Sedro-Woolley in the North Cascades’ western foothills to the Old West-themed town of Winthrop on the eastern slopes of the mountain range. While driving this section of the scenic Cascade Loop, there are opportunities to experience old logging and mining towns, hydroelectric dams, wilderness and wildlife, glaciers, and food options from casual to fine dining.

Photo: Andy Porter

2. Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan, 55-mile-long, is the centerpiece of a quintessential Northwest summer getaway. Read our six favorite things to see, do and explore in this awesome setting. Don’t miss the community of Stehekin near the far northeast end of the lake, which offers a uniquely remote experience. With no roads to town, the only way to get there is by boat, plane or foot.

Photo: Alamy

3. Port Ludlow

Port Ludlow is a remote, unincorporated community on the Olympic Peninsula surrounded by wilderness lakes, native heritage sites and endless waterfront access. This town is the ideal getaway for those looking to disconnect from technology and reconnect with nature. Plus, with 26 miles of hiking and biking trails, Port Ludlow is an outdoor lover’s paradise.

Photo: iStock

4. Paradise and Mount Rainier

Thousands of climbers attempt to conquer Mount Rainier’s summit each year, but the 369-square-mile Mount Rainier National Park and its surrounding wilderness area can be enjoyed by those without mountaineering skills or backcountry chops. Several popular drives allow visitors to experience the park, including a 147-mile route that sweeps around Mount Rainier, a 129-mile loop along the Chinook Byway and the White Pass Scenic Byway.

Photo: iStock

5. Bainbridge Island

Life is relaxed on Bainbridge Island, with lush gardens, fresh local foods, quiet country lanes and Northwest vistas that compel contemplation. A 35-minute Washington State Ferries ride brings visitors to Bainbridge from downtown Seattle, and many day-trippers walk or ride their bikes, as there is a full day’s worth of enjoyment in Bainbridge village, just up from the ferry landing.

Photo: iStock 

Interested in planning your next road trip with AAA Washington? Call your travel agent directly or your nearest AAA store to get pro tips, TripTik maps, and more. Find more Pacific Northwest scenic drives and road trips. 

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