This blog post was updated on April 17, 2020.

From flying fish at Pike Place Market to the views atop the Space Needle, Seattle is worthy for getaways in its own right. However, when you’ve had too much coffee and need a break from the city life, Puget Sound looms with opportunity. A number of islands scatter within reach of Seattle by ferry or by boat tour. Hop aboard a boat to these islands and you’ll find a whole new world away from the bustle of the city.

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island in Seattle

While you could take the bridge to Bainbridge Island up north, going by ferry from Seattle lends gripping views of the city’s skyline. Leaving from Pier 52 on Seattle’s waterfront, the ferry ride to the island takes just over 30 minutes. The main town on the island, Winslow, leaves plenty to explore and its shops, restaurants, and galleries will definitely keep visitors busy. Bainbridge Island doesn’t stop in Winslow, offering several wineries to pop into for tastings, miles of waterfront, and mountain views. To learn a bit more about the island’s history, especially as the home of the Suquamish Indians, you can head to the Bainbridge Island Historical Museum. If nature is the order of the day, you’ll discover a wealth of trails on the island, including at Fort Ward State Park.

Take a look at this summer schedule for ferry departure times right here! 

Vashon Island

Vashon Island, Seattle

When you need a break from the reality of city life in Seattle, a trip to Vashon Island is often the best medicine. Leaving from Fauntleroy Terminal in West Seattle, a ferry ride to this island takes roughly 20 minutes, but you’ll feel world’s away from the city. Measuring 13 miles long and 8 miles wide, the island can be explored by car (which you can bring on the ferry) or by renting a bike when you get there. With its one-lane roads and small communities, it’s easy to settle into the slower pace of life on the island. Vashon Island is home to a thriving artist community, making it the perfect spot to check out an art gallery or two. When you want to get out in nature, the island offers a landscape of hills, woodlands, and beaches. For a glimpse at Vashon Island’s natural gifts, you’ll want to head to Point Robinson Park, home to a classic lighthouse, compelling views of Mt. Rainier, and the chance to have one of those mind-clearing beach strolls.

Take off to Seattle, hop aboard a ferry, and relax! But first, find your flights here! 

The San Juan Islands

Young woman recording orcas on San Juan Islands

If you want to get out of Seattle for a couple of days, you can hop aboard a ferry by Clipper Vacations from the city to the San Juan Islands. Made up of hundreds of islands and islets, the only islands reachable by ferry, however, are San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Lopez Island. You come to the San Juan Islands not to find civilization, but to get away from it. In fact, the islands are ideal for nature lovers, who will be enchanted by its rocky shorelines and emerald green landscapes. Activities also abound on these islands including whale-watching, sea kayaking, wildlife spotting, sailing, fishing, and cycling. And when you do need some human contact, you’ll have the island’s quaint villages to explore.

What’s your favorite short getaway from Seattle? Share your pick with us in the comments below.

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About The Author

Suzy Guese is a travel writer from Denver, Colorado. She caught the travel bug after taking her very first flight at just three months old—she was headed for Disney World—and has been a total travel junkie ever since. From family car trips across North America to stints abroad in Europe, Suzy travels the globe with her redheaded temperament in search of sarcasm, stories, and travel tips to share with anyone willing to listen. She blogs about her travels at