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19 small towns near Seattle you need to visit right now

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There are so many things to see and do in Seattle, but sometimes you just need to get away. It's a good thing there are so many great small towns and getaways nestled within driving distance of the city. It makes planning a day trip, simple overnight, or weekend away pretty simple, with no need to book a plane ticket. (Although in some cases, hopping on a train might be part of the fun.)

Looking for some really, really good bread? Head to Edison. Want to be wowed by Victorian architecture? Definitely make a trip over to Port Townsend. Want to take a trip back in time? Try Scandinavian Poulsbo or Bavarian Leavenworth. Want some natural wonders or just a great view? Try Snoqualmie or Coupeville.

No matter where you choose to visit, these small towns all offer much to see, eat, and do.

Looking for a driving-free destination? Here’s a selection of small-town vacations to take car-free.

Need something by the water? We’ve rounded up a selection of beach towns near Seattle, too.

Towns are ordered west to east.

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1. Sequim

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Sequim is known as the “Lavender Capital of North America,” so we hope you like lavender. If not, there's still lots to offer here.

The Dungeness crab is plentiful and you can explore for yourself on the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, home to over 250 species of animals. Keep an eye out for the Roosevelt elk who roam nearby.

Bonus: You can get there without a car, too.

Rows of purple shrubbery next to a lawn with a farmhouse and trees. Shutterstock

2. Centralia

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Those who have never strayed far from I-5 in this town might know it more for an outlet mall and the first Burgerville on the way to Portland, but don’t sell it short. The downtown historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is full of cute little shops. It also includes one of McMenamin’s adaptive reuse hotel projects, the Olympic Club, complete with a theater—so you can sleep in a cute little Gold Rush room after grabbing dinner at the pub and cuddling up for a movie. (It’s also supposed to be very haunted.)

Downtown Centralia is right on the Amtrak Cascades line, so no car required.

Short brick buildings from one to three stories line a paved arterial street. Shutterstock

3. Port Townsend

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Ferry Terminal
Port Townsend, WA 98368

You can drive to Port Townsend in a day no problem, though you'll probably want to take the ferry—either from Whdibey Island to Port Townsend or from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island—for a more enjoyable trip.

The main drag is lined with historic buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Take a side trip up the hill and peruse some of the classic Victorian homes still standing.

If you've got time, consider catching a movie in the Rose Theatre's Starlight Room, complete with comfy couches and food service.

A three-story building with heavy, colorful Victorian ornamentation. A similar building and a gray building with a peaked roof are on either side. Shutterstock

4. Coupeville

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Right in the middle of Whidbey Island, Coupeville is like two day trips in one. Because it's on the skinny neck of the island, the town itself touches both east and west coasts. The east drops you into a delightful main street with authentic Victorian buildings and Penn Cove mussels. The west takes you to Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, a beautiful green mixture of farmland and forest. We’ve detailed a perfect Whidbey Island day trip if you’re trying to see the whole island.

At night, a street is lined on either side with old two-story buildings. A sign in the foreground says “MARINERS COURT SHOPS.” Shutterstock

5. Poulsbo

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With many Scandinavian immigrants making up the early founders of the city, downtown Poulsbo has become a tourist attraction thanks to a Scandinavian theme that includes buildings and shop offerings. If you're gonna go to Poulsbo, you have to try the Poulsbo Bread at Sluys.

Located on Liberty Bay, many visitors love to travel by boat coming or going. There are three marinas to choose from if that’s an option available to you.

A seaside town, viewed from the water, includes a marina, small storefronts, and, up a hill past some trees, a white church with a steeple. Shutterstock

6. La Conner

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This waterfront village on the Swinomish Channel is a good place to visit in the summer or fall when you're looking for a walkable destination full of specialty shops, historic buildings and restaurants. It's a great place to visit in the spring since you'll have to make your way through the tulip fields to get there from the highway.

La Conner is also the home of author Tom Robbins, in case literary tourism is of interest to you.

Short, older buildings with peaked roofs along a narrow boardwalk facing water. There’s a large motorboat to the left. Shutterstock

7. Vashon

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10800 N Vashon Hwy
Vashon, WA
(206) 464-6400
Visit Website

Vashon is only a 20-minute ferry ride away from Seattle, so if you've never made it over, you might want to remedy that. Vashon offers a sweet downtown to walk through full of stores, shops, and restaurants.

In addition to the town of Vashon, you may want to explore the whole island—well, both islands, if you count Maury Island. You'll find a mix of old farms and new homes, not to mention some nice beaches.

Kayaks sit on a sandy beach. A long, narrow dock juts into the water from a stone bank above the beach. Many small boats are anchored in the water. Shutterstock

8. Edison

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One word: Breadfarm. Okay, that's two words made into one word, but this isn't about semantics. It's about other-worldly bread (and graham crackers).

That's a good enough reason along to visit, but this old timber town has been remade by artists and artisans and is now stocked with places to eat and shop that make for a great respite between Bellingham and Seattle. There's even a folk song about the town, because of course.

A wide stretch of river has the surrounding trees and grassy banks reflected in it. Shutterstock

9. Langley

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Near the southern end of Whidbey Island, you'll find Langley tucked away in one of the corners. Once there, the quaint town is a loop of coffee shops, restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Some top picks include Useless Bay Coffee Company, the Braeburn for breakfast or lunch, or Prima Bistro for dinner.

Keep an eye out for passing whales by the Boy and Dog statue, and then ring the brass bell at Seawall Park if you see one. (Again: If you want to explore the rest of the island, too, we have a guide for that.)

In the foreground is a large bell attached to a wooden stand. There is a sign above the bell that reads Spy a whale, ring the bell. Kelly Knickerbocker

10. Snohomish

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Antiques fans, look no further: Snohomish is referred to as the "Antique Capital of the Northwest," and the entire Snohomish Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. So it's like an antique place full of antique shops full of antiques—mind-blowing.

A wide stretch of river has blue sky, clouds, and surrounding trees reflected in it. On the left bank, there’s a large, old red building, with more old buildings behind it. Shutterstock

11. Black Diamond

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For those into the coal and railroad history of the region, Black Diamond is a great stop full of historic attractions, including an old railroad depot turned into a museum, a cemetery, a miners’ cabin from 1910, and the 1896 Pagani House. The historic Old Town District includes shops and restaurants, including a beloved 109-year-old bakery.

12. Carnation

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(425) 333-4192
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Fun fact: The town was originally known as Tolt, but changed its name to Carnation to honor the Carnation Milk Products Company. But today’s Carnation is a great place to go even for the dairy-free; it’s a popular spot for berry-picking in the summer or pumpkin-picking in the fall, and fibercraft enthusiasts flock to Tolt Yarn and Wool. Seek out Camlann Medieval Village, a living history museum of a medieval English village, as well.

A wide, paved path covered in colorful autumn leaves, lined with rows of trees and a wooden railing on either side. Shutterstock

13. Snoqualmie

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Snoqualmie’s Historic District is a nice area to spend the day; it’s full of shops, restaurants and the Northwest Railway Museum. People also flock to Snoqualmie to see Snoqualmie Falls, made famous for its inclusion in Twin Peaks—though it was still plenty famous on its own. For the record, the Salish Lodge & Spa is where you want to go if you want to stay in the Great Northern.

A cliff edge with a rainbow in Snoqualmie. At the edge of the cliff is a waterfall and trees. There are houses on the cliff and mountains in the distance. Courtesy of Salish Lodge & Spa

14. North Bend

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N Bend Blvd N
North Bend, WA 98045

Twin Peaks completists will want to take a trip here. Stop by Twede’s Cafe for a "damn good cup of coffee" and some cherry pie. Take your picture with the Giant Log from the opening credits. Try to find the spot in front of Mount Si from the opening as well.

You can also do non-Twin Peaks things here, like climb Mount Si or visit the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum.

A short, wide, white building with a long simple awning and parking in the front. A sign has a big red T on top with a blue oval that says “Twede’s” on top of a yellow-and-white striped sign that says “Cafe.” Shutterstock

15. Leavenworth

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819 Front St
Leavenworth, WA 98826

You might think Leavenworth is only for the winter wonderland experience, but it's much more of a year-round tourist destination.

This small town is nestled in the Cascade Mountains, and although it was once a logging town, it's been remade into a Bavarian village. Old world charm, German cuisine, and festivals like Maifest, and a wealth of adorable little shops mean there's always something to try here. It’s worth the trip alone for just the ubiquity of the Bavarian buildings; even banks, gas stations, and fast food joints have the architectural hallmarks.

Or you could just float the river, or head to the mountains for hiking and skiing.

A snowy road lined with Bavarian-style buildings decorated with string lights. There’s a snowy hill in the background. Shutterstock

16. Cashmere

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While Cashmere is best-known of Washington State’s equally maligned and beloved state candy, Aplets and Cotlets, there’s plenty of quaint stuff to do here besides visit the candy factory. It’s also home to distilleries, wineries, and and cider mills, plus tiny bars and even a pioneer village and museum. It’s also along the Wenatchee River and close to both the Cascades and Lake Chelan for outdoor adventuring.

On a wide paved path, a single wood-and-metal bench faces a river. A dry-looking hill in the background has a small sprinkling of trees on it. Shutterstock

17. Winthrop

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If you head to Leavenworth to feel like you're in old-world Germany, you head to Winthrop to feel like you're in the old West.

In the heart of Methow Valley, Winthrop offers up shops with Western storefronts and wood boardwalks, but it's also a great place to experience the outdoors. It has over 120 miles of cross-country skiing trails and access to everything the Cascades has to offer.

An Old West-style building faced head-on from across a paved road. At the center, a white storefront with two Craftsman-style peaks and a wide awning. On either side, street frontage is an old-time saloon shape with awnings. Shutterstock

18. Twisp

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In the Methow Valley east of Winthrop, Twisp has established itself as a kind of arts enclave, with nonprofit Methow Arts running point on events, education, and resources for more than three decades—and artist colony Twisp Works providing a kind of open-air arts, culture, and craft mall on repurposed ranger station land. It’s also the largest town in the valley, with a whopping 970 people.

A dome-shaped sculpture made of rusty, metal, rectangle tiles with holes through the center of each. At the bottom left, a metal shape has a feminine face etched in simple line art. Shutterstock

19. Soap Lake

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Soap Lake can get a little thirsty for tourism dollars—for example, the Soap Lake Lava Lamp roadside attraction—but those that have made the drive have report it’s worth it, and not just for the mineral mud with alleged healing powers. It’s one of the less expensive places to plan a spa getaway, for starters, but it’s also full of Russian and Ukrainian food and plenty of local color (Kelly O called it “freaky magic” in the Stranger a few years back).

A narrow road runs through a plain of dry glass. A blue lake is surrounded by buttes in the distance, and trees on the side closest to the camera. Shutterstock

1. Sequim

Washington
Rows of purple shrubbery next to a lawn with a farmhouse and trees. Shutterstock

Sequim is known as the “Lavender Capital of North America,” so we hope you like lavender. If not, there's still lots to offer here.

The Dungeness crab is plentiful and you can explore for yourself on the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, home to over 250 species of animals. Keep an eye out for the Roosevelt elk who roam nearby.

Bonus: You can get there without a car, too.

2. Centralia

Centralia, WA
Short brick buildings from one to three stories line a paved arterial street. Shutterstock

Those who have never strayed far from I-5 in this town might know it more for an outlet mall and the first Burgerville on the way to Portland, but don’t sell it short. The downtown historic district is on the National Register of Historic Places, and is full of cute little shops. It also includes one of McMenamin’s adaptive reuse hotel projects, the Olympic Club, complete with a theater—so you can sleep in a cute little Gold Rush room after grabbing dinner at the pub and cuddling up for a movie. (It’s also supposed to be very haunted.)

Downtown Centralia is right on the Amtrak Cascades line, so no car required.

3. Port Townsend

Ferry Terminal, Port Townsend, WA 98368
A three-story building with heavy, colorful Victorian ornamentation. A similar building and a gray building with a peaked roof are on either side. Shutterstock

You can drive to Port Townsend in a day no problem, though you'll probably want to take the ferry—either from Whdibey Island to Port Townsend or from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island—for a more enjoyable trip.

The main drag is lined with historic buildings from the 19th and early 20th centuries. Take a side trip up the hill and peruse some of the classic Victorian homes still standing.

If you've got time, consider catching a movie in the Rose Theatre's Starlight Room, complete with comfy couches and food service.

Ferry Terminal
Port Townsend, WA 98368

4. Coupeville

Washington
At night, a street is lined on either side with old two-story buildings. A sign in the foreground says “MARINERS COURT SHOPS.” Shutterstock

Right in the middle of Whidbey Island, Coupeville is like two day trips in one. Because it's on the skinny neck of the island, the town itself touches both east and west coasts. The east drops you into a delightful main street with authentic Victorian buildings and Penn Cove mussels. The west takes you to Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve, a beautiful green mixture of farmland and forest. We’ve detailed a perfect Whidbey Island day trip if you’re trying to see the whole island.

5. Poulsbo

Washington
A seaside town, viewed from the water, includes a marina, small storefronts, and, up a hill past some trees, a white church with a steeple. Shutterstock

With many Scandinavian immigrants making up the early founders of the city, downtown Poulsbo has become a tourist attraction thanks to a Scandinavian theme that includes buildings and shop offerings. If you're gonna go to Poulsbo, you have to try the Poulsbo Bread at Sluys.

Located on Liberty Bay, many visitors love to travel by boat coming or going. There are three marinas to choose from if that’s an option available to you.

6. La Conner

Washington
Short, older buildings with peaked roofs along a narrow boardwalk facing water. There’s a large motorboat to the left. Shutterstock

This waterfront village on the Swinomish Channel is a good place to visit in the summer or fall when you're looking for a walkable destination full of specialty shops, historic buildings and restaurants. It's a great place to visit in the spring since you'll have to make your way through the tulip fields to get there from the highway.

La Conner is also the home of author Tom Robbins, in case literary tourism is of interest to you.

7. Vashon

10800 N Vashon Hwy, Vashon, WA
Kayaks sit on a sandy beach. A long, narrow dock juts into the water from a stone bank above the beach. Many small boats are anchored in the water. Shutterstock

Vashon is only a 20-minute ferry ride away from Seattle, so if you've never made it over, you might want to remedy that. Vashon offers a sweet downtown to walk through full of stores, shops, and restaurants.

In addition to the town of Vashon, you may want to explore the whole island—well, both islands, if you count Maury Island. You'll find a mix of old farms and new homes, not to mention some nice beaches.

10800 N Vashon Hwy
Vashon, WA

8. Edison

Washington
A wide stretch of river has the surrounding trees and grassy banks reflected in it. Shutterstock

One word: Breadfarm. Okay, that's two words made into one word, but this isn't about semantics. It's about other-worldly bread (and graham crackers).

That's a good enough reason along to visit, but this old timber town has been remade by artists and artisans and is now stocked with places to eat and shop that make for a great respite between Bellingham and Seattle. There's even a folk song about the town, because of course.

9. Langley

Washington
In the foreground is a large bell attached to a wooden stand. There is a sign above the bell that reads Spy a whale, ring the bell. Kelly Knickerbocker

Near the southern end of Whidbey Island, you'll find Langley tucked away in one of the corners. Once there, the quaint town is a loop of coffee shops, restaurants, shops, and art galleries. Some top picks include Useless Bay Coffee Company, the Braeburn for breakfast or lunch, or Prima Bistro for dinner.

Keep an eye out for passing whales by the Boy and Dog statue, and then ring the brass bell at Seawall Park if you see one. (Again: If you want to explore the rest of the island, too, we have a guide for that.)

10. Snohomish

Washington
A wide stretch of river has blue sky, clouds, and surrounding trees reflected in it. On the left bank, there’s a large, old red building, with more old buildings behind it. Shutterstock

Antiques fans, look no further: Snohomish is referred to as the "Antique Capital of the Northwest," and the entire Snohomish Historic District is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. So it's like an antique place full of antique shops full of antiques—mind-blowing.

11. Black Diamond

Black Diamond, WA 98010

For those into the coal and railroad history of the region, Black Diamond is a great stop full of historic attractions, including an old railroad depot turned into a museum, a cemetery, a miners’ cabin from 1910, and the 1896 Pagani House. The historic Old Town District includes shops and restaurants, including a beloved 109-year-old bakery.

12. Carnation

Washington
A wide, paved path covered in colorful autumn leaves, lined with rows of trees and a wooden railing on either side. Shutterstock

Fun fact: The town was originally known as Tolt, but changed its name to Carnation to honor the Carnation Milk Products Company. But today’s Carnation is a great place to go even for the dairy-free; it’s a popular spot for berry-picking in the summer or pumpkin-picking in the fall, and fibercraft enthusiasts flock to Tolt Yarn and Wool. Seek out Camlann Medieval Village, a living history museum of a medieval English village, as well.

13. Snoqualmie

Washington
A cliff edge with a rainbow in Snoqualmie. At the edge of the cliff is a waterfall and trees. There are houses on the cliff and mountains in the distance. Courtesy of Salish Lodge & Spa

Snoqualmie’s Historic District is a nice area to spend the day; it’s full of shops, restaurants and the Northwest Railway Museum. People also flock to Snoqualmie to see Snoqualmie Falls, made famous for its inclusion in Twin Peaks—though it was still plenty famous on its own. For the record, the Salish Lodge & Spa is where you want to go if you want to stay in the Great Northern.

14. North Bend

N Bend Blvd N, North Bend, WA 98045
A short, wide, white building with a long simple awning and parking in the front. A sign has a big red T on top with a blue oval that says “Twede’s” on top of a yellow-and-white striped sign that says “Cafe.” Shutterstock

Twin Peaks completists will want to take a trip here. Stop by Twede’s Cafe for a "damn good cup of coffee" and some cherry pie. Take your picture with the Giant Log from the opening credits. Try to find the spot in front of Mount Si from the opening as well.

You can also do non-Twin Peaks things here, like climb Mount Si or visit the Snoqualmie Valley Historical Museum.

N Bend Blvd N
North Bend, WA 98045

15. Leavenworth

819 Front St, Leavenworth, WA 98826
A snowy road lined with Bavarian-style buildings decorated with string lights. There’s a snowy hill in the background. Shutterstock

You might think Leavenworth is only for the winter wonderland experience, but it's much more of a year-round tourist destination.

This small town is nestled in the Cascade Mountains, and although it was once a logging town, it's been remade into a Bavarian village. Old world charm, German cuisine, and festivals like Maifest, and a wealth of adorable little shops mean there's always something to try here. It’s worth the trip alone for just the ubiquity of the Bavarian buildings; even banks, gas stations, and fast food joints have the architectural hallmarks.

Or you could just float the river, or head to the mountains for hiking and skiing.

819 Front St
Leavenworth, WA 98826

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16. Cashmere

Cashmere, WA 98815
On a wide paved path, a single wood-and-metal bench faces a river. A dry-looking hill in the background has a small sprinkling of trees on it. Shutterstock

While Cashmere is best-known of Washington State’s equally maligned and beloved state candy, Aplets and Cotlets, there’s plenty of quaint stuff to do here besides visit the candy factory. It’s also home to distilleries, wineries, and and cider mills, plus tiny bars and even a pioneer village and museum. It’s also along the Wenatchee River and close to both the Cascades and Lake Chelan for outdoor adventuring.

17. Winthrop

Washington
An Old West-style building faced head-on from across a paved road. At the center, a white storefront with two Craftsman-style peaks and a wide awning. On either side, street frontage is an old-time saloon shape with awnings. Shutterstock

If you head to Leavenworth to feel like you're in old-world Germany, you head to Winthrop to feel like you're in the old West.

In the heart of Methow Valley, Winthrop offers up shops with Western storefronts and wood boardwalks, but it's also a great place to experience the outdoors. It has over 120 miles of cross-country skiing trails and access to everything the Cascades has to offer.

18. Twisp

Twisp, WA 98856
A dome-shaped sculpture made of rusty, metal, rectangle tiles with holes through the center of each. At the bottom left, a metal shape has a feminine face etched in simple line art. Shutterstock

In the Methow Valley east of Winthrop, Twisp has established itself as a kind of arts enclave, with nonprofit Methow Arts running point on events, education, and resources for more than three decades—and artist colony Twisp Works providing a kind of open-air arts, culture, and craft mall on repurposed ranger station land. It’s also the largest town in the valley, with a whopping 970 people.

19. Soap Lake

Soap Lake, WA 98851
A narrow road runs through a plain of dry glass. A blue lake is surrounded by buttes in the distance, and trees on the side closest to the camera. Shutterstock

Soap Lake can get a little thirsty for tourism dollars—for example, the Soap Lake Lava Lamp roadside attraction—but those that have made the drive have report it’s worth it, and not just for the mineral mud with alleged healing powers. It’s one of the less expensive places to plan a spa getaway, for starters, but it’s also full of Russian and Ukrainian food and plenty of local color (Kelly O called it “freaky magic” in the Stranger a few years back).

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