Have you recently moved to a military base near Puget Sound? Whether you are at Fort Lewis, McChord AFB, NAS Whidbey Island, NB Kitsap, or NS Everett, you are probably eager to explore the beautiful area. However, the sheer volume of attractions, sights, parks and forests can be overwhelming.
But what if I told you how to see it all in one day? Granted, it would be six solid hours just of driving, but you could turn it into a stay-cation split into two days, or at the very least this gives you a long list of places to add to your duty station bucket list.
These driving directions start and end in Tacoma, and include visiting Seattle, but it’s one giant circle, so it’s easy to pick up anywhere along the way. You should also note this route has tolls. However, I set it up to have the least amount of tolls possible (you’re welcome!)
I recommend beginning your journey at this Chick-Fil-A near Tacoma. There’s nothing unique about this particular restaurant, it’s just a convenient place to begin and meet up with friends. All the best road trips start with Chick-Fil-A breakfasts!
15 essential road trip stops around Puget Sound
This is a secluded, rocky beach with an amazing view of the bridge. It’s a perfect destination for a picnic breakfast or a hot, summer afternoon.
Seabeck has one of the most stunning views of the Olympic Mountains. Especially if you drive on the back roads around Wildcat Lake, once the trees clear, the grandeur of the mountains towering over the Hood Canal will take your breath away. Be sure to stop at the General Store!
This is one of my favorite “urban nature” areas. At low tide it’s the perfect place for small kids to throw rocks into the water or pick up shells. It’s flat and close to the parking lot! Plus the playground is fun and easily accessible.
This free museum is open to the public and outlines the rich history of underwater exploration in the military. It’s on the small side, but holds the attention of all ages.
Port Gamble is one of the cutest tiny towns with white picket fences surrounding each cottage and a quaint main street with shops.
Filled with cute shops and restaurants, downtown Poulsbo sits right on the water. It was settled by Vikings, and the decor stays true to that heritage. If you enjoy doughnuts, cookies, bread, or anything baked, stop at Sluy’s (pronounced “sly-s”), and bring a box home with you too!
Take the back roads for this breathtaking view of Seattle. There’s not much parking to support this tiny strip of rocky beach, but the speed limit is very slow to allow your passengers to snap pictures out the window.
The Bainbridge ferry only takes about 30 minutes, but docks right in the heart of downtown Seattle. Be sure to get out of your car and enjoy the ride from the top deck!
As one of the top tourist attractions in Seattle, I had to add this to the list. My favorite stops are Starbucks and the disgustingly alluring Gum Wall. If you stop for the night, I highly recommend staying at The Edgewater, a rustic-chic hotel right on the pier.
With small, neighborhood roads and little street parking, you might have to walk. But the hilltop view overlooking the Space Needle, downtown, the Puget Sound, and the Olympic Mountains is well worth the effort.
This is one of the quirkiest parks because of the enormous industrial remnants. But one look will have you wanting to play paintball to recreate the iconic scene from the movie 10 Things I Hate About You.
Covering over four miles of wooded trails, Coal Creek Natural Area is a great respite from city life and a very long day in the car.
With over 175 aircraft and spacecraft, Boeing’s Museum of Flight will excite both kids and kids at heart. Be sure to get the Military or Veteran discount!
Get your steps in and redesign your entire house on the upper floor and then bargain shop on the lower level. The best shopping trips end with Swedish meatballs!
Enjoy the sunset or an evening stroll through the gardens and trails throughout the park. During the day, stop by the zoo and aquarium (and come back for Zoolights at night during the holiday season!)
The Greater Seattle Area has so much beauty and fun to see and taste and explore. So whether you cross off all these items in one day or add them to your list one at a time, these 15 stops will help you experience this duty station as a local.
Amie Glazier is the proud spouse of a Naval pilot and mom of four little kids. She is the co-owner and Director of Partnerships for The Military Mom Collective, a collaborative community for military families worldwide. When Amie is not writing or herding her adorable brood, you can find her working out at the local crossfit gym, binge-watching cheesy Hallmark movies, and actually enjoying chemistry while homebrewing with her husband. Amie and her family are currently stationed outside Seattle, and plan to make Washington their “forever” home.