In Seattle, both the journey and the destination are high points when taking a ferry to get to islands and towns around Puget Sound. Here are some ideas both near and far to visit for a day or a weekend trip from Seattle—scenic views included.
West of Seattle across Elliott Bay, Bainbridge Island is an enviable place to live in the Seattle area, as well as a popular day trip destination. After the 35-minute ferry ride, you have natural, cultural, and historical attractions to choose from, including walking trails, wineries, art galleries, the Bainbridge Island Brewing Company, a historical museum, the Suquamish Museum & Cultural Center, and a marina prime for biking and kayaking.
Just southwest of Bainbridge Island and a 1-hour ferry ride from Seattle, Bremerton sits on Sinclair Inlet on the Kitsap Peninsula. The town is home to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, a US National Historic Landmark District, as well as the Puget Sound Navy Museum. Other things to do include strolling along the boardwalk and through the Arts District and visiting the USS Turner Joy destroyer ship or the Valentinetti Puppet Museum.
Further south, Vashon Island is a relaxing respite from city life, known for its quiet atmosphere. After slowing down to island time, browse local shops, get a caffeine fix at Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie, or visit Point Robinson Park to check out its lighthouse, wooded walking trails, and views of Mt. Rainier. Biking is very big here, so bring one with you on the ferry to get around like the locals do.
Victoria, British Columbia
The capital of British Columbia, Victoria sits on the southeastern tip of Vancouver Island, just across the Canadian border. The 2-hour-and-45-minute ferry ride takes you to downtown Victoria, home of the historical architecture that gives the city its beloved old-world charm, namely the Fairmont Empress, a luxury hotel dating back to 1908. Other attractions include Craigdarroch Castle Historic House Museum, whale-watching tours, and the Butchart Gardens.
Things to Know
Washington State Ferries operates all of the above routes except the ride to Victoria, which takes place on the Clipper.
Seattle has two ferry terminals—the Seattle terminal downtown and the Fauntleroy terminal in West Seattle—so make sure to pay attention when booking your ticket.
There is no ferry service from Seattle to the San Juan Islands; ferries to Friday Harbor, Orcas Island, and other San Juan Islands destinations leave from Anacortes, which is about two hours north of Seattle.