Seattle, Washington - Gateway to Olympic National Park

Seattle is a vibrant city, packed with culture, great food, and lovely waterfront views. Don't miss a stroll through the famous Pike Place Market.
Seattle skyline

Seattle skyline

Seattle is a vibrant city, packed with culture, great food and incredible waterfront views. Don't miss a stroll through the famous Pike Place Market, which is packed with incredible seafood, fruits, vegetables, flowers and restaurants. Pikes Place Market is one of the country's oldest continuously operating public farmers markets, and you can feel the weight of history in this anchor of the city. It's a great place to eat lunch before heading down the stairs to visit the Seattle Aquarium.

While you are there, take time to explore at least one of Seattle's beautiful neighborhoods. Once a blue-collar neighborhood whose inhabitants worked in the maritime industry, the Ballard district in northwest Seattle is one of the city's trendiest, up-and-coming neighborhoods. Discover its hip restaurants and boutiques along Ballard Avenue and Market Street.

Ballard's Hip Waterfront Scene

The Ballard Locks in Seattle

The Ballard Locks in Seattle

You also can explore the Ballard Locks that open and close to let boats pass through. Walk down the steps near the locks to peer through windows into the deep water to spot fish swimming by. During July through September, salmon use the fish ladders near the windows to travel, and they are an incredible sight to see. Farther west lies Golden Gardens Park, a stunning park on the beach. You can sit on the beach, have a picnic and take in incredible views of the Olympic Mountains on a clear day. Or get active and rent stand-up paddle boards from Surf Ballard and explore the area by water.

From Museums to Food Tours

Nighttime in Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washingto

Nighttime in Pioneer Square, Seattle, Washington

For avid museum goers, there are some great museums in this city, including the expanded Seattle Art Museum, which is located one block from Pikes Place Market. The museum's galleries featuring Northwest Coast art by Native Americans are worth the visit alone. Experience Music Project, the Seattle Art Museum and Pacific Science Center are other city gems. But as you explore, be sure to take in all the public temporary art exhibitions scattered throughout this city full of artists, including on the streets, bridges and in front of libraries.

For a uniquely Seattle experience, go for a ferry ride on a Washington State Ferry to Bainbridge Island or Bremerton. Follow it with a insider's food tour by a local foodie expert. There's a tour for everyone's taste. Taste Seattle Food Tours will show you the best of the Pioneer Square area while Savor Seattle Food Tours focus on downtown Seattle.

Traveling from Seattle to Olympic National Park

The driving route from Seattle to Olympic National Park depends on whether you stick strictly with roads or ride a ferry across Puget Sound.

By road from the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (south of town) to Port Angeles (main entrance to the park) it is about 130 miles/2.5 hours drive time during the off season. If you hop aboard the Bainbridge Ferry, you might cut some time off your drive time but will need to wait for the ferry schedule and boarding. The ferry crossing takes about 35 minutes. Then the drive from the Bainbridge Island Ferry Terminal is 1 hour and 45 minutes to reach Port Angeles, except if you are traveling on a Friday during the summer. On summer Fridays, it can take hours to reach Port Angeles.