Summer traditionally means two things: no more homework, and three-day weekends. Memorial Day weekend has long marked the start of summer, and Labor Day the end. The Fourth of July is, on our luckiest years, calibrated to form a three-day weekend at summer's midpoint. (Or, as Seattleites call it, "about when you can stop wearing a fleece.")
The recent adoption of Juneteenth as an official day off from work has meant a mid-June long weekend for some, though not many at Seattle's biggest companies. And then there's the summer Fridays trend, a perk that had taken off even before the pandemic and staffing crunch.
So with all those three-day weekends, what can you do? In the past we've experimented with going as far as London for a short break, but the Northwest is full of ideal quick getaways that don't require a TSA pat-down. Here are our favorites.
With only two nights to work with, Pacific Northwest cities make ideal long weekend destinations—plenty to do when you show up late on the first evening. Portland, about three hours away (no matter how you travel) has fine dining and superb parks. Vancouver requires a border crossing but offers an easy-access variety of international cuisines, from Richmond's Asian buffet to Latin restaurants downtown.
With more than 155 miles of ocean shoreline, Washington is a beachy state, even if its brand of sandy stretches wouldn't make it into a Beach Boys song. That just means that our shoreline can be dramatic, picturesque, and even deserted; try hiking the stretches within the Olympic National Park for solitude. The town of Neah Bay is known for its surfers, and Long Beach stretches from chowder shops to state parks.
Much as we love the San Juan Islands, crown jewels of Puget Sound, the ferry crunch on holiday weekends make them better suited to when you can make a PTO commitment. But they're hardly the only isles in the Salish Sea; Whidbey Island's proximity to Seattle makes for an easy, bucolic getaway, aided by the shorter ferry from Mukilteo or the bridge option through Deception Pass. Other quick-access islands include Vashon and its interesting dining, or Anderson Island in southern Puget Sound, with blissfully little to do besides relax in an Airbnb—the entire island is little more than houses, a park or two, and a single general store.
Camping is always an option for a three-day weekend—just make sure you've checked out which campgrounds require reservations. But Washington's two major mountain ranges both host a number of indoor sleeps, like the historic Quinault Lodge in Olympic National Park or the Paradise Inn at Rainier National Park. Leavenworth, incredibly popular in Oktoberfest-y autumn and festive winter, also shines during the summer months. Try Sun Mountain Lodge or Suncadia, two mountain hotels tucked into the Cascades. But whatever you do, try to leave early—when it comes to Seattle traffic, everyone has the same idea.