Road Trip Around Washington State

Washington State, not Washington DC, is one of the most beautiful places in America. I have visited Washington State twice before, both times to Seattle and both trips revolved around sporting events-I tend to do that! This time, I planned a road trip around Washington State that would include visits to all three US National Parks in Washington, a visit to my friends new restaurant outside of Seattle and of course, Seattle-one of the country’s most beautiful cities. Here’s what I did on my road trip around Washington State!

North Cascades National Park

I arrived at the Seattle airport around 9:30pm, got my rental car and drove up to the town just outside the entrance to North Cascades National park, called Marblemount. I had not planned anything and just figured I’d sleep in this gateway town I’d never heard of before. Sure enough, when I finally arrived at 12:30am everything in the little Podunk town was closed-including the only inn.
Welcome to Marblemount, Washington State
I was not pleased but alas there was a number to call posted in the window of the inn. Of course, my cell phone had no service so I had to try to do something I hadn’t done since 1998-use a pay phone! Honestly, it was so hard, I barely remembered how to do it and the last time I tried, you didn’t have to use area codes yet!
Washington State, sleeping in my car
That said, the number was out of service of course. So my options were limited and I was completely exhausted so I did the logical if not stupid thing and slept in the front seat of my car! I fell asleep pretty quick as I was still on east coast time and woke up just before 5am. It wasn’t my first night spent in a car!
Sunrise, North Cascades National Park, Washington State
I had no options and North Cascades is one of the National Parks that doesn’t require entry fees and is always open. Plus the sun rises around 5am, so I drove in to have a look around and do a few hikes!
North Cascades National Park, Washington State
I really didn’t do much prep work or research about North Cascades National Park and just picked up a map at the visitor center that was closed and went to all the recommended spots. The most scenic spot by far in the park was the Diablo Lake Lookout. As you can see in the photos it was absolutely stunning and well worth the jaunt.
North Cascades National Park, Washington State, Diablo Lake Lookout
There is also a hydroelectric project going on inside the park with some dam activity. You can do some cool hikes to see what’s going on around the river. The river is beautiful as well.
North Cascades National Park, Washington State, river
The best part about North Cascades National Park for me was that I was basically alone in the park because I got there around 5am. So by the time I left around 10am I had seen only like 4 other cars and zero other hikers. It was pretty perfect!
North Cascades National Park, Washington State, view
Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park is simply put-gorgeous. There is no better word to describe the scenery surrounding Mount Rainier; which is the namesake and centerpiece of this great National Park.
Welcome to Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier is visible from most areas around Seattle during the summer months and from inside Mount Rainier National Park, you can see it from everywhere. There are a few other stop-offs along the way to the Paradise Visitors Center at about a mile high altitude but Mount Rainier and the hikes around it are why you come to Mount Rainier National Park.
Mount Rainier, Washington State, National Park
A must-do hike is from the visitor’s center to the vista point. It is fantastic for views but it is a very steep hike and some people might have some problems getting up there-plus it’s at altitude. I saw a lot of older people and out of shape people having issues.
Mount Rainier, Washington State, National Park
Aside from providing killer views of Mount Rainier, the hike also gets you great views of mountains flanking Rainier; which I was debating in my head-which is actually more impressive. The answer is they’re both fabulous.
Mount Rainier, Washington State, National Park, Moutains
The other thing that this hike will show is some really pretty flora and fauna plus some cool wildlife. If you’re lucky you can get close enough for some photos but either way it’s always fun to see animals in their natural habitat.
Mount Rainier, Washington State, National Park, wildlife
Currently, there is a lot of construction within Mount Rainier National Park so keep that in mind if you’re driving in but don’t let that deter you from going. It’s also $20 to get into the park per car if you don’t have an annual pass-which I recommend.
Mount Rainier, Washington State, National Park, Lee Abbamonte
Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park takes up the majority of the Olympic Peninsula in Western Washington. You can see the Olympic Mountains from pretty much anywhere on the peninsula and they are beautiful as you might guess. The best place to enter is from Port Angeles in the north of the park.
Olympic National Park, entrance
I stayed the night before in Sequim; which is about 20 miles southeast of Port Angeles so after a little drive up-I was in Olympic National Park. I bee-lined it straight for the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center; the most popular place in the park.
Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center
The views from the visitors center are pretty good especially when all the wildflowers are in bloom; which they weren’t when I was there. So I was told that the best views and a great hike was Hurricane Hill about a mile and a half past the visitors center. I needed no more convincing and I was off.
Hurricane Hill view, Olympic National Park
The hike is about 1.6 miles each way and ascends about 700 feet. It’s not that hard but some people might think it is. That said, it was well worth it and everyone who visits Olympic National Park should do the Hurricane Hill hike.
Mount Olympus view, Olympic National Park
Upon reaching the top, you have 360-degree views in all directions. You have great views of Mount Olympus although I think the best views of Mount Olympus are along the trail with the forest below as I have in the photo.
Olympic National Park, Hurricane Hill
You can also see Port Angeles and across to Canada. You will notice a large amount of trees have been burned. That was due to a forest fire back in 2003. Forest fires are common in the Pacific Northwest when it’s very dry or because of human error of course.
Olympic National Park, mountain goat
I was fortunate to catch some really good glimpses of local wildlife include some marmots and also mountain goats. The goats didn’t seem too concerned with humans but the smaller and cuter marmots, wanted nothing to do with humans and hid in shaded bushes.
Olympic National Park, marmot
Olympic National Park is a great park to visit-as are the other two in Washington State. Most parks out west are pretty awesome in general and there are very few flops if any. There are definitely a few back east and in the south.
seattle ferry
One bit of advice, if you’re heading back to Seattle after Olympic National Park is to take ferries, it saves so much time and also the hassle of driving. If you leave from Port Townshend, you’ll also get to drive the gorgeous island of Whidbey Island before catching a further ferry to Mukilteo-just north of Seattle.
Mukilteo Ferry

After hosting an impromptu and unplanned meet-up in Lynnwood, Washington at my buddy Tom’s relatively new restaurant and bar called Moonshine BBQ, I headed into Seattle for the 3rd time ever. I stayed at the lovely and very conveniently located Hotel 1000.
meet up, Lee Abbamonte, Moonshine BBQ
Hotel 1000 was a perfect base to explore the main sights of Seattle on foot. Not to mention the water that filled up the tub came down from the ceiling! I also want to shout them out for their excellent customer service as I needed to have the desk print and scan 20+ pages and they didn’t even bat an eye or charge me a dime-I really appreciated that.
Hotel 1000, Seattle, Washington State, Preferred Hotels
Not too far from the hotel was Pike Place Market where yes they throw the fish; although, they don’t just do it all the time. There either has to be a big order or there has to be enough people gathered around and they will generally do it if asked. It’s a cool thing to say you saw but really not that cool in reality-in my opinion.
Pike Place Fish Market, Seattle, Washington State
Pike Place Market is still a cool place to walk around and a great place to eat. I ate at some German Sausage place and it was pretty damn good. Pike Place Market is very touristy, somewhat similar to Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, but still cool to visit and a must-do in Seattle.
First Starbucks, Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington State
And yes it also is home to the very first Starbucks, started in 1971! The line is ridiculous so I didn’t even consider going in but I did snap a photo. It’s apparently the only Starbucks in the world where you still get the original logo on your cup. But sadly I was unable to get my Venti Iced Skinny Caramel Macchiato Upside Down…luckily there are 7000 other Starbucks in Seattle!
Pike Place Market
After doing a radio program, hosted by my new buddy Mark, who I met at my meet-up the night before, I headed out on the water to get a Puget Sound view of the Emerald City.
Seattle, Washington, SPace Needle
Seattle really is gorgeous. Most people know of the Space Needle; which really isn’t that impressive in person. However, most people don’t realize how stunning Seattle and the entire Puget Sound area is when the weather is nice. It is certainly one of the most beautiful cities in America and the best views are from the water.
Seattle, Washington State, view from Puget SOund
I took an hour boat tour around the sound with Argosy Tours. The boat was a great way to see the views as I said. The only issue is they have somebody yapping on the microphone for an hour straight about useless facts. So while it’s a nice tour, if you’re near a speaker, you’ll have a headache and get annoyed pretty quick. Although you can just drink a lot of Rainier Beers to counteract it!
Rainier Beer
It’s also worth noting that they’re completely reconstructing the waterfront area under the highway where you catch the tour. So give yourself some extra time as it’s super confusing.
crab pot, crabs, Seattle, Washington
I also recommend doing a crab dinner at the Crab Pot, located in the same building as the Argosy Tours go from. I had heard about it from my buddy Adam Richman on Man vs Food and it was pretty darn good. Yes, it’s a little touristy but if the foods good-who cares, especially when you get to wear a bib!
Crab Pot, Seattle, Washington State
Finally, I was able to get to my first Seattle Mariners since 2002 at the fantastic Safeco Field. I love the stadium and when the weather is nice there are few stadiums better to watch baseball at. Even though the Mariners have been pretty awful for about 14 years now, it’s still fun.
Safeco Field, <img src="" alt="Crab Pot, Seattle, Washington State
Safeco is in my top five for new baseball stadiums and I’ve been to every stadium in the majors except for Detroit; which I plan to do later this summer. I put Safeco Field right behind San Francisco, Baltimore, Pittsburgh and right there with Philadelphia. It should be noted I am not a big fan of the new Yankee Stadium; which kills me inside!
So that was my excellent road trip around Washington State. I highly recommend checking out the Pacific Northwest, it really is one of the most beautiful places in America.

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  1. Washington State and the entire Pacific Northwest is the most beautiful part of America. Thanks for highlighting that fact, Lee.

  2. Mt Rainier NP is my favorite national park. Granted, I’m a little biased growing up right by the park entrance but it really does encompass everything a NP should have. Great photos and glad you got a chance to do this road trip. I’ve never been to Cascades NP.

  3. Thanks for visiting our fair city! It was great meeting you in person!

  4. You’re absolutely right that the best views of Seattle are from the Sound. Next time you visit, let my husband and I take you out on our sailboat so you don’t have to listen to an annoying tour guide. A sailboat beats a tour boat any day. So glad you had a great trip to our awesome city!

  5. Mt. Rainier is a great climb to prepare for Denali and then Everest, which both seem to be on your radar.

  6. So glad you had a great trip to our awesome city! Great post. so stunning pictures you shared. thank you so much for sharing it.

  7. I’ve also traveled to Washington and both times to Seattle as well. I enjoyed reading your posts. Your pictures are great to see. I agree, it is indeed one of the most beautiful places in America.

  8. Adam Sun says

    Next time you visit the cascades try out some of the hikes. If you have a good car Cascade River Road can be challenging but is worth the trip as you can hike to Cascade Pass. Interestingly enough, Diablo Lake was a standard blue on our second visit, the first visit it was quite literally the color of jade.

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