Seattle has a lot of amazing things to see and do, but so does the rest of Washington State. One of the best ways to get a slice of all the Evergreen State has to offer is by taking a road trip on I-90, which stretches from Seattle to Spokane, and goes from big city to evergreen forests to mountains to desert, all in four to five hours. Along the way, there are many places to pull off the freeway and take a break or have an experience as well. From waterfalls to local fruit stands to a petrified forest, here are five places worth a stop on this awesome Washington road trip.
And always check the road conditions before you go so you don't get surprised by construction of pass closures!
Just under an hour from Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls, near the small town of Snoqualmie, is nothing short of an amazing place to stop. Topping out at 268 feet, the falls can look different depending on how much rain has fallen recently. Their most iconic appearance is as two side-by-side falls, but if there’s been a lot of rain, Snoqualmie Falls can be raging and massive. The observation deck is easy to reach without much of a walk from nearby parking lots, but there are moderate hiking trails that offer up a few different viewpoints. Near the observation deck, you’ll find a gift shop, a park (great for a picnic on a nice day), and Salish Lodge, a resort property with a restaurant and great views of the river and falls.
About an hour past Snoqualmie Falls, the Summit at Snoqualmie ski area makes a fine pit stop with restaurants and plenty of hikes to explore, including a great trail starting at the Alpental Ski Resort called Snow Lake.
Thorp Fruit and Antiques
After making it over Snoqualmie Pass and getting past the Cascades mountain range, you’re officially in Eastern Washington, which is desert and dry and very different than either Western Washington or the mountains. One area where this region shines is agriculture. Crops (often with signs on the fences labeling what they are) line the road sides for miles and miles, and ensure that the local fruit stands are stocked with fresh, delicious produce. This means stopping at a fruit stand is 100 percent worth it. There’s no shortage of fruit stands large and small along the way, but Thorp Fruit and Antiques at 220 Gladmar Road in Thorp is a must for its selection and size. The business is family owned and operated (now on its third generation) and aims to showcase some of the best foods in Washington all in one spot. Fruit selection is seasonal, but highlights include Rainier and Bing cherries in the late spring and summer. The antique selection comes from dealers around Washington State and is worth a browse, too.
Gingko Petrified Forest and Gingko Gem Shop
Vantage, Washington, is home to a couple of places to stop, great for rock hounds, history buffs or those who just need to get out and stretch. The Gingko Petrified Forest State Park and Wanapum Recreation Area have some hiking trails and camping spots, but the real perk of stopping in this area is getting up close and personal with some fossils, which are mostly located at or near the Visitor Center along with exhibits and some petroglyphs. However, the park is a state park, meaning you’ll need a Discover Pass or you’ll need to pay the day access fee. If that’s not in the cards, don’t miss stopping at the Gingko Gem Shop at 330 Gingko Avenue, also in Vantage. The shop is independent from the park and free to browse. The store has everything from super affordable little geodes you can break open yourself, to gem stones, to nicer stone and fossil pieces, to large and very expensive petrified logs and fossils.
Wild Horse Monument
Just across the Columbia River from Vantage is a stop only possible if you’re traveling eastbound—the Wild Horse Monument in George, Washington (yes, the town’s name is a bit of a pun and this is also home to the major concert venue, the Gorge at George). The monument is located just off of Exit 139 and consists of a parking lot, a rough trail and the horse sculptures high atop a hill. The view from the parking lot itself is pretty amazing, looking out over the Columbia River gorge, but if you want to up the ante, venture up to the horses at the top of the hill. The trail is rough and rocky and coming down can be a bit slippery, but the view at the top is worth the inevitable slips and slides, as is being up close to the 15 metal horse sculptures by Cheweleh sculptor David Govedare.
Cave B Estate Winery
While there are a few wineries along I-90, if you’re going to stop at only one, stop at Cave B at 348 Silica Road NW in Quincy. Wine tastings are available in the tasting room with no appointment necessary—perfect for road trippers! The winery is perched above the Columbia River valley and has some pretty stellar views. If you like what you see, Cave B Inn has accommodations that range from luxurious to yurts where you can stay the night, as well as a spa that makes a fine stop if you’ve got plenty of time in your day.