8 Suburbs Near Seattle You Should Absolutely Visit
You could use a little space.
There’s a myth (perpetuated mostly amongst city folks) that suburbs are old news. It’s time to debunk that narrative. When it comes to a city like Seattle—one that’s surrounded by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and one that only offers a tiny slice of what life is like in this region—the suburbs are an essential piece of the puzzle. In truth, suburban living is where the magic happens: Nature is your backyard, coastal living is actually affordable, and high rise buildings are, for once, not ruining the view.
In Washington State, there is no one-size-fits-all definition of a suburb, and, thus, they’re all a little different—think tiny islands in the Puget Sound, small coastal towns to the north, and communities nestled in the nooks and crannies of the Cascades. With that in mind, abandon whatever preconceived notions you might have arrived with, and consider exploring the following ‘burbs. You never know what you might find (or where you might be tempted to move).
Bainbridge Island is just a hop and a skip away from Seattle’s downtown ferry terminal, and it’s possible you’ll fall in love as soon as you step off the boat. That’s because Bainbridge is akin to a Puget Sound paradise: It has everything you’d want out of a suburb—like beautiful, historic homes and mom and pop shops in Winslow—and some of the most beautiful camping and hiking opportunities you can find in the Seattle area. There are so many ways to spend a day on Bainbridge; why not start with a coffee to-go from Blackbird Bakery (cash only, mind you), then explore some shops on Winslow Way. Next, pay a visit to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, which recently reopened after a long COVID-19 closure. After that, get a taste of nature at Fay Bainbridge Park or Rockaway Beach Park, or head down to Eagle Harbor for a tour of the Puget Sound courtesy of Sail Bainbridge, which is opening soon for spring and summer. Regardless of how you spend your time on the island, this is one day trip you won’t soon forget.
Tucked away in a valley just 25 minutes from Seattle, Issaquah is replete with opportunities to access Pacific Northwest nature at its best. Take a hike on the Tiger Mountain Trail for a winding trip through the forest, or head to Lake Sammamish State Park for a more relaxing afternoon on the water. Issaquah is also home to the Cougar Mountain Zoo, Gilman Village, and Capri Cellars, the latter of which has an enormous list of PNW wines to choose from (which might just be the perfect way to round out your day).
If you’re a wine lover (who isn’t?), don’t miss Woodinville. This northeast Seattle suburb is home to Chateau Ste. Michelle, which just so happens to be the oldest winery in the state of Washington. Spend the day between the tasting room and the historic chateau, or venture out and explore the wooded property, which is over 100 acres large. Woodinville has a number of other wineries worth visiting, too. If you’re not sure where to start, try Columbia Winery, Patterson Cellars, Novelty Hill Januik, or JM Cellars, and plan on making a return visit—it’s almost impossible to visit all of Woodinville’s vineyards in a single day.
Just north of Seattle, Edmonds is the ideal spot for a scenic suburban getaway. Upon arrival I’d recommend heading straight to Marina Beach Park: There, you’ll have excellent views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, the combination of which already make this trip worthwhile. Supplement that with a visit to the Cascadia Art Museum, the Edmonds Fishing Pier (next to Olympic Beach), and Scratch Distillery, and you’re in for a very good time courtesy of this small town.
First thing’s first: A day trip is hardly enough time to take in all that Whidbey Island offers. If you take the ferry from Mukilteo, you’ll land on the south end of the island—from here, check out the lighthouse at Fort Casey Historical State Park, an old army training facility built in the late 1800s. Importantly, the park is located in Coupeville, one of three incredibly quaint coastal towns that you shouldn’t miss (the other two being Oak Harbor and Langley). Drive north across the island to end your day at Deception Pass State Park, which straddles Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands and is best traversed at daylight’s end, during which time you’ll catch what is arguably the most stunning sunset you can find in Washington State.
Nestled in between Seattle and Bellevue, Mercer Island is smack dab in the middle of Lake Washington. That’s an almost unbeatable location; for this reason, you should spend your visit to the island outside, preferably on the shores of the lake at Luther Burbank Park. Here, you’ll find 77 acres of mostly undisturbed waterfront, aka the perfect backdrop for an afternoon picnic and subsequent beach beers at sunset. Luther Burbank also has tennis courts, hiking trails, a dedicated dog zone, a fishing pier, and a boat dock, so there really is something for everyone.
For some more quality time in the Great Outdoors, try Newcastle on for size. Boasting both Lake Boren Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, this suburb is only a short drive over Lake Washington (and Mercer Island) from Seattle’s city center. At the lake, you’ll get some fairly stunning beachfront views of the Cascades; at Cougar Mountain, expect more views, and a seemingly endless list of hiking trails to choose from (the park is over 3,000 acres large).
Don’t get me wrong: Tacoma is most definitely a city unto itself, but it’s also only 40-minute drive from downtown Seattle, and has a lot to brag about in the way of art and culture. Consider a day trip to the Museum of Glass, where you can watch glass-blowing happen right before your eyes, or the Tacoma Art Museum, which consistently features work made right here in the Pacific Northwest.
Emma Banks is a Thrillist contributor.