New York City
Going to Seattle for a quick 4 day trip in mid October and want to spend 1 day at a park. Any suggestions on what's best? Olympic National Park? Mt. Rainier? Any specific tours or recommendations appreciated! Won't have a car but could rent one for the day if need be.
You could stay in Seattle and visit Woodland Park Zoo and see clouded snow leopards, Grizzly bears, lions on a savannah, and gorillas with their own outdoor habitat. Green Lake is nearby; a walk around the lake is about 3 miles. At various points you pass nearby bars and restaurants if you need refreshment. Olympic Sculpture Park is near downtown and includes both sculptures and a path along Elliot Bay. Alki Beach is in West Seattle and offers views of downtown Seattle with a beach walk and many restaurants, including Alki Spud Fish & Chips. (There's also a Spud's near the swimming pool at East Green Lake.) The D and E pins are misplaced on the map; they should be east of Alki Point facing downtown. Discovery Park is a 534-acre park on the shores of Puget Sound in the Magnolia neighborhood. It is the city's largest public park and contains 11.81 miles of walking trails. Golden Gardens offers forested walks as well as a sandy beach and a nearby marina. Beyond the marina are several restaurants, including Ray's Boathouse. A walk from Golden Gardens beach to Hiram M Chittenden Locks is about two miles. There are gardens adjoining the locks, and a fish ladder. If you've ever watched Deadliest Catch, these are the locks through which the Northwest crab boat passes to reach its home moorage in nearby Salmon Bay. Seward Park is located on the SW side of Lake Washington and contains miles of trails both through old growth forests on a peninsula that juts into the lake and along the lake, itself. The park covers about 300 acres.
Metro buses should be able to take you to any of these spots without much difficulty. Metro has a website that will plan your trip for you, give you the cost, any necessary transfers, and the time needed to get from A to B.
If you have the time, Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Parks are wonderful, but for a one-day visit you might spend almost as much time in your car as on a park trail. Traffic from Everett in the north to Olympia in the south can be horrendous at times. At the wrong time of day in commuter traffic that can seem to last most of the day, you could pass from one bottleneck to another. Mt. Rainier is about 104 mi. from downtown Seattle and could take 2:20 to maybe 3:30 hours each way, depending on the traffic and when you left. A trip to Hurricane Ridge near Port Angeles from downtown Seattle is about 101 miles each way, takes about 3 hours without traffic and includes a ferry ride across Puget Sound that should cost about $23/rt for car and driver. Each adult passenger adds $16.40/rt.
Dress in layers for the hike; our weather can change several times a day. Nortwesterners wear lots of Gore-Tex and fleece, stocking caps and comfortable walking shoes. The weather could be clear or gray, misty or rainy or windy, or all of the above. On a clear day, views of the Olympics to the west and Mt. Rainier to the southeast can be spectacular, even from the parks I mentioned. Sculpture Park might offer views of both parks along with passing ferries. Enjoy your time in or around a beautiful city.
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Snoqualmie Falls is a really easy hike down to the falls with a lot of fun things to do in the area but you will need a car to get out there.
Mount Rainier National Park is iconic. You can drive out to the Sunrise Visitor's Center (https://www.nps.gov/mora/planyourvisit/sunrise.htm). You'll need to check and make sure it's open when you're visiting. From there, you'll find a few hikes depending on what you're up for.
Wallace Falls State Park is a personal favorite of mine.
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Olympia (Washington) gets my vote! You would definitely need a car! Olympic has EVERYTHING stunning views, hiking, hot springs, crystal clear glacier lake, and temperate rainforest!
Mount Rainier National Park, has the biggest foot print
I however think the North Cascade Highway offers a new horizon devoid of people and with a lot of places.