Washington's Cascade Loop Scenic Driving Tour

  • 01 of 10

    Why You Should Do the Cascade Loop

    Map for the Cascade Loop Scenic Driving Tour in Washington - click map for larger version
    ••• Map of the Cascade Loop Scenic Driving Tour in Washington. (Source: Map Resources)

    The Cascade Loop is a scenic driving tour that takes you through diverse sections of the beautiful state of Washington. Cities and towns on the loop route include Everett, Snohomish, Leavenworth, Wenatchee, Chelan, Winthrop, Anacortes, and Coupeville.

    Washington is an incredibly diverse state that includes lush forests, fertile orchards, jagged mountain peaks, sage-covered desert, urban centers, and island communities. By taking the Cascade Loop scenic driving tour, you can experience all of this and more.

    How Many Miles Is it?

    The Cascade Loop scenic driving tour covers 440 miles.

    How Many Days Does it Take?

    You can't do the loop in one day. While the entire loop is on improved highways, there are stretches where you won't make the same progress you experience on an Interstate freeway. To allow time to enjoy the many attractions and activities found along the Cascade Loop, I would recommend a 4-5 night trip. If your time is limited, a two-day trip is feasible. No matter how long...MORE you spend doing the Cascade Loop, you'll be left with a list of things to check out "next time". The loop can be done clockwise or counterclockwise.

    When Should I Do it?

    If you plan to drive the entire Cascade Loop, schedule your trip between June and October. The section of the loop through the North Cascades Highway is always closed during the winter months.

    Contact the Cascade Loop Association to request a free travel guide.

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  • 02 of 10

    Activites and Attractions in Everett and Snohomish

    View of 777 Assembly Line on the Boeing Tour
    ••• View of 777 Assembly Line on the Boeing Tour. (Future of Flight Aviation Center & Boeing Tour)

    Everett, a waterfront city located 27 miles north of Seattle, is known for its huge Boeing manufacturing facility and for its Naval Station. As you travel east from Everett along Highway 2, you'll pass through the pastoral towns of Snohomish and Monroe. Snohomish offers unique shopping, including a number of antique shops.

    Activities and Attractions

    • Future of Flight Aviation Center and Boeing Tour
      Interactive exhibits and displays designed to provide an understanding and appreciation of technology as applied to the science of flight.
    • Flying Heritage Collection
      Historic aircraft, primarily from World War II.
    • Mukilteo Lighthouse
      This picturesque 1906 lighthouse offers exhibits and a gift shop, ​and is open weekends and holidays, noon to five, April through September.
    • Centennial Trail
      This recreational trail, which runs 17 miles from Snohomish to Arlington, is suitable for walking and biking.
    • Antique Shopping in Snohomish
      You'll find dozens of antique malls and shops, most within walking...MORE distance of each other.
    • More Fun Things to Do in Snohomish County
    • Food in Everett/Snohomish

      • Snohomish Bakery
        Located along First Street in the historic shopping district, this cozy bakery offers wonderful bread and pastries, breakfast items, and pizza.
      • Nana Carmela's
        This popular Italian family restaurant is located at the golf course in Monroe.
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  • 03 of 10

    Fun Things to Do in Stevens Pass

    Iron Goat Trail
    ••• Iron Goat Trail. ©Angela M. Brown 2008

    You'll make your way through the Cascade Mountains via Highway 2 over Stevens Pass. Along the way you'll travel through lovely forest and mountain scenery, occasionally passing beside the Skykomish River.

    Activities and Attractions

    • Hike the Iron Goat Trail
      The 6-plus miles of this scenic trail run along an abandoned section of the Great Northern Railroad. As you hike along you'll see the remains of the historic railroad, including old tunnels, walls, and equipment. You can choose to do some or all of the Iron Goat Trail. This trail is family friendly; much of the trail is wheelchair accessible.
    • Wonderful Waterfalls
      There are several waterfalls located along the stretch of Highway 2 between the town of Gold Bar and Stevens Pass. Bridal Veil Falls, Sunset Falls, and Deception Falls can be seen from the highway. Wallace Falls, located near Gold Bar, can be reached via a 2.5 mile hike.
    • Stevens Pass Ski Resort
      Skiing and snowboarding are available at this full-service ski resort, open during...MORE the winter months.

    Food near Stevens Pass

    • Zeke's Drive In
      This roadside food stand, located in Gold Bar, is beloved for its burgers and shakes.
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  • 04 of 10

    Activities and Attractions in Leavenworth

    Shops and Restaurants in Leavenworth Washington
    ••• Shops and Restaurants in Leavenworth Washington. © Angela M. Brown

    Located on the east side of the Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth is a fun Bavarian-themed town. The surrounding mountains and rivers provide opportunity for recreation in summer and in winter. While in Leavenworth, spend an afternoon wandering the shops and strolling in Waterfront Park. Combine that with great food, charming lodgings, and fantastic festivals and you have everything you need for a great Northwest getaway. When doing the Cascade Loop, Leavenworth makes an excellent place to stop for a night. Or two!

    Activities and Attractions

    • Nutcracker Museum
      You'll see more ways to crack nuts than you ever imagined.
    • Outdoor Recreation
      Leavenworth is heaven for hiking, biking, rafting, and skiing. Stop by the ranger station located on Highway 2 in the main part of town for maps and information.
    • Festivals
      Leavenworth finds reasons to celebrate throughout the year.
    • Shopping
      Leavenworth offers a variety of shops and galleries.
    • Wine Tasting
      Enjoy wine tasting in town or visit a nearby winery.
    • Cashmere...MORE
      The town of Cashmere, a few miles east of Leavenworth, has a wonderful Museum and Pioneer Village. While in Cashmere, take the Applets & Cotlets Factory Tour to learn about candy making, enjoy some tasty treats, and check out their gift shop.
    • Gustav's
      Awesome bratwurst and beer.
    • Café Mozart
      Fine Bavarian dining for a special evening with that special someone.
    • Run of the River Inn
      This amazing bed and breakfast inn is perfect for a memorable romantic getaway.
    • Enzian Inn
      An outdoor pool, free putting course, and buffet breakfast make The Enzian Inn a good choice for families.

     

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  • 05 of 10

    Fun Things to Do in Wenatchee

    View of Wenatchee from Ohme Gardens
    ••• View of Wenatchee from Ohme Gardens. ©Angela M. Brown 2007

    Sunny Wenatchee is a rich agricultural center, home to orchards and vineyards. Located on the Wenatchee River, it is also a great place for outdoor recreation.

    Activities and Attractions

    • Apple Capital Recreation Loop Trail
      This 13-mile riverside trail is popular with bicyclists, joggers, skaters, and walkers.
    • Ohme Gardens
      This charming oasis, which looks out over the Wenatchee Valley, is filled with stone paths and features, interesting water features, and lush greenery.
    • Washington Apple Commission Visitor Center & Gift Shop
      Take a short stop to view the commission's extremely interesting film about apple production in the state of Washington. While there, you can sample apple products, check out their exhibits, and pick up an apple-themed gift item. A must-see for Washingtonians.
    • Ice Age Floods Driving Tour
      This geological side tour will give you some insight into one of the region's great untold stories. Along the way, you'll learn about the ice age floods that helped shape...MORE much of the Northwest landscape. You can pick up a self-guided driving tour map in Wenatchee.
    • Raft the Wenatchee River
      There are a number of local outfitters that offer white water rafting trips on the Wenatchee River.
    • Skiing and Snow Sports
      From Wenatchee you can access Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort as well as cross-country and snowshoe trails in the Wenatchee National Forest.

    Food

    • McGlinn's Public House
      Upscale pub dining in the historic Garland Building.
    • Caffè Mela
      Fresh-roasted coffee drinks, pastries, salads, and panini in a welcoming setting.

    Lodging

    Wenatchee offers some fine bed and breakfasts as well as a number of chain hotel. If, as part of your Cascade Loop driving tour, you plan to stay more than one night, it's a good idea to choose accommodations in Leavenworth or Chelan.

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  • 06 of 10

    Fun Things to Do in Lake Chelan

    Lady of the Lake at Stehekin on Lake Chelan
    ••• Lady of the Lake at Stehekin. (Sunny Walter/Washington State Tourism)

    In a region filled with lakes, Lake Chelan stands out. Fed by glaciers, this skinny lake is over 50 miles long and reaches depths of close to 1500 feet.

    Activities and Attractions

    • Lady of the Lake Ferry to Stehekin
      From the town of Chelan you can enjoy a scenic 50-mile Lake Chelan cruise to Stehekin. Fast and slow options are available, depending on whether you want to savor the tour or just get to Stehekin as efficiently as possible.
    • Golfing
      Chelan offers several championship golf courses with magnificent views, including Desert Canyon Golf Resort and Bear Mountain Ranch Golf Course.
    • Boating and Water Sports
      A 50-mile long lake makes for great water recreation, including boating, water skiing, kayaking, and fishing.
    • Wine and Wineries
      Lake Chelan was recently designated as an official American Viticultural Area. There are over a dozen wineries in the Chelan Valley.

    Food

    • Apple Cup Café
      This popular breakfast place serves all day.

    Lodging

    • Campbell's Resort on Lake Chelan
      This popular lakeside...MORE resort hotel is great for families.
    • Best Western Lakeside Lodge & Suites
      You'll appreciate this hotel's access to the lake and park.
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  • 07 of 10

    Fun Things to Do in Methow Valley

    View from Sun Mountain Lodge
    ••• View from Sun Mountain Lodge. ©Angela M. Brown 2008

    As you follow Highway 153 and then Highway 20, you'll wind through the scenic Methow Valley, passing through the towns of Pateros, Twisp, Winthrop, and Mazama.

    Activities and Attractions

    • Hiking
      The Methow Valley is home to some great hiking trails. Popular hikes include Goat Peak and Rainy Lake. Trails are also available for biking and horseback riding. You can find Methow Valley trail maps on the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association web site.
    • Hot Air Ballooning
      Experience a truly incredible view of Methow Valley and the surrounding hills and mountains. Morning Glory Balloon Tours offers morning balloon rides followed by a light gourmet picnic.
    • Shopping in Winthrop
      The Old-West-themed town of Winthrop offers surprisingly good shopping. Many artists make their home in the Methow Valley; you can view and purchase their work in local galleries.
    • Snow Sports
      With over 120 miles of groomed trails, the Methow Valley is a wonderland for cross-country ski enthusiasts

    Food

    • Sun Mountain Lodge Dining Room
      No...MOREt only will you enjoy a fabulous view of Methow Valley and the North Cascades, you'll experience excellent food and service at this highly-acclaimed restaurant.
    • Twisp River Pub
      Home of Methow Valley Brewing Company, this fun pub serves great food with a variety of ethnic influences.
    • Duck Brand Cantina
      This Winthrop hangout offers burgers, salads, Mexican food, and a full bar.

    Lodging

    • Sun Mountain Lodge
      This destination resort has everything you might want for a truly memorable getaway. The rooms are elegant, yet comfortable, with magnificent views. On-site services and amenities include a spa, a bar and grill, special event space, outdoor pools, tennis courts, a network of hiking and biking trails, and more.
    • Chewuch Inn & Cabins
      Located within walking distance of Winthrop's frontier-themed shopping district, this unassuming bed and breakfast provides modern, high-quality accommodations. Guests can choose from rooms in the inn or cabins. All have kitchenettes with microwaves, mini refrigerators, and coffee makers. Breakfast is served buffet-style in the rustic breakfast room and includes a delicious assortment of hot and cold items.
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  • 08 of 10

    Fun Things to Do in Washington's North Cascades

    View from Diablo Lake Overlook
    ••• View from Diablo Lake Overlook Along the North Cascades Highway. © Angela M. Brown

    Ancient forests, craggy peaks, and blue-green lakes make the North Cascades stretch of the Cascade Loop driving tour unforgettable. While driving this section of Highway 20 you'll pass through the North Cascades National Park and the towns of Diablo, Rockport, and Marblemount.

    Note: The Northwest Cascades Highway between Mazama and Newhalem closes from late fall through mid-spring.

    Activities and Attractions

    • Diablo Lake Cruise
      Seattle City Light offers 2 different boat tours of Diablo Lake. You'll meet near the Skagit General Store in Newhalem to board a bus that will take you to the boat dock just above amazing Diablo Dam. The boat tour traverses the length of Lake Diablo up to the Ross Dam powerhouse and back. If you take the dinner tour, the bus will stop at the dinner hall for a family-style meal on the way back from the boat trip.
    • Stop at Scenic Overlooks
      As you drive along Highway 20 in the North Cascades you'll come across scenic view points where you can get out of your...MORE vehicle and take in the beauty of the lakes and mountains. There are overlooks at both Diablo Lake and at Ross Lake.
    • North Cascades National Park Visitor Center
      After you check out the visitor center's exhibits on local natural and human history, take a hike on one of the nearby nature trails.

    Food

    • The Eatery
      This Rockport food stop is known for its fresh cinnamon rolls and other home-baked goodies.
    • Buffalo Run Restaurant
      This historic roadhouse specializes in buffalo and game meats. They also serve steak, chicken, seafood, and vegetarian dishes.

    Lodging

    • Clark's Skagit River Resort
      This resort's cozy cabins come in a variety of sizes and themes. In addition to the cabins, Clark's offers tent and RV space.
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  • 09 of 10

    Activities and Attractions in Skagit Valley

    Kites Flying over Tulip Fields at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
    ••• Kites Flying over Tulip Fields at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival. ©Angela M. Brown 2007

    The Skagit Valley, known for its annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, is a great getaway throughout the year. The fertile valley and water views inspire many artists, giving rise to a number of shops and galleries. You can also choose from a variety of outdoor activities, including bird watching and rafting.

    Activities and Attractions

    • Bird Watching
      Bald eagles, trumpeter swans, and great blue herons are among the birds that call the Skagit Valley home during portions of each year. Hot bird watching spots include the Padilla Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and along the Upper Skagit River.
    • Skagit Valley Casino Resort
      This full-service casino resort offers a hotel, gambling, live entertainment, a lounge, a buffet, and fine dining.
    • La Conner Shops and Galleries
      This charming waterfront community provides a wonderful setting for strolling among the shops and galleries. You'll find a great selection of fine crafts and home furnishings at such shops as The Wood Merchant, Earthenworks...MORE Gallery, and Two Moons Gallery & Gifts.

    Food

    • Nell Thorn Restaurant and Pub
      Foodies will relish their gourmet menu, which features fresh local ingredients.
    • Skagit River Brewery
      Microbrews and great pub food in a casual setting.

    Lodging

    • Wild Iris Inn
      This bed and breakfast inn is a fine choice for a romantic retreat.
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  • 10 of 10

    Activities and Attractions on Whidbey Island

    Coupeville Wharf on Whidbey Island
    ••• Coupeville Wharf on Whidbey Island. ©Angela M. Brown 2007

    Once on Whidbey Island, you can relax and just wander. You'll find fun places to stop and check out in every direction. The towns of Coupeville and Langley offer the chance to stroll, shop, and dine. Fort Casey State Park and Deception Pass State Park are both great for hiking and for taking in gorgeous water views.

    Activities and Attractions

    • Greenbank Farm
      This historic farm has been turned into a picture-perfect complex that includes event space, gardens, galleries, shops, and a winery.
    • Fort Casey State Park
      The grounds of this sprawling park include the Admiralty Head Lighthouse and a historic artillery post.
    • Deception Pass State Park
      Miles of hiking trails wander through this park's rocky terrain, while great water views can be had in every direction.
    • Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens
      Over 4 miles of nature trails wind around this lovely display garden.
    • More Fun Things to Do on Whidbey Island

    Food

    • Whidbey Pie Cafe
      This Greenbank Farm eatery serves fresh loganberry pie as well as other lunch items.
    • Fr...MOREaser's Gourmet Hideaway
      Seasonal Northwest cuisine in an intimate and elegant setting.

    Lodging

    • The Farmhouse Bed and Breakfast
      The floral-themed rooms at The Farmhouse B&B are perfectly appointed to make you feel comfortable and at home.
    • The Coachman Inn
      Located in Oak Harbor on the north end of the island, The Coachman offers comfortable and affordable hotel rooms.