Spring Break 2016: Seattle Road Trip Gems

It's that time again: time to start thinking about where to spend spring break. And while many of your friends are jet-setting to far-flung, sun-drenched destinations, you've decided that an all-American road trip is in order. From Seattle. If you don't mind a little rain, these are some of the best road trips in Washington state. Less beach party, more outdoor adventure. Leave your bikini and bro woes at home.

A 90-mile drive up I5 from Seattle will land you in Bellingham, "The City of Subdued Excitement". The pace of life is a bit more relaxed here - there's a brewery or weed shop on every other city block rather than a Starbucks - and outdoors opportunities abound. Continue your drive up scenic Mount Baker highway for world-class skiing and snowboarding at Mt. Baker Ski Area.

Vancouver, BC
With the Canadian dollar at a 10-year low, now's the time to get your money's worth in the land of the Canucks. Continue north from Bellingham, across the border to Vancouver, BC (don't forget your passport). Explore Queen Elizabeth and Stanley Park, stuff your face with sushi, ramen, and dim sum, and head up to the North Van mountains for outdoor recreation. If you stay downtown, park the car for the duration of your trip. Public transportation in Vancouver - from Skytrain to Seabus - beats the pants off Seattle. Oh, Canada, how we love you.

San Juan Islands
Once you get off I5, the drive to these islands gets prettier as you go. Take a detour into the Skagit Valley fields to see Mount Vernon's famous tulips and daffodils. Then head west through charming Anacortes to the ferry dock, and across the Salish Sea waters to your island of choice. You really can't go wrong out here. Think Orcas for camping and hiking, Friday Harbor for the tourist circuit and history, and Lopez and Shaw for a quieter getaway.

This one's no secret: everybody loves the Bavarian village in the Cascades. Yet it's not traditionally thought of as a spring break destination: you won't find any beaches here. What you will find is a winter wonderland, even in spring. Hit the slopes, then grab beers from Icicle Brewing and brats at Munchen Haus. The drive out ain't bad either - Highway 2 offers up waterfalls, trailheads, and a ski resort to keep things interesting. Stop by Wallace Falls State Park and Stevens Pass Ski Resort to break up the drive.

Olympic National Park
Speaking of waterfalls, Olympic National Park is literally gushing with them. For the ultimate waterfall road trip, gear up for a 350-mile loop around the park via Highway 101. Stop at Marymere Falls, head down the Olympic coast to see Strawberry Bay Falls at Third Beach, and stay at Kalaloch, Quinault, or Lake Crescent Lodge. If you're willing to brave the icy waters, that bikini may come in handy after all.

Brandon Fralic is a Bellingham-based writer and photographer focusing on the outdoors, travel, and craft beer. He has contributed to a handful of publications including Washington Trails and Outdoor Project. Visit his portfolio for more info.