Seattle is surrounded by mountains, forests, and water, which makes it an excellent destination for a fall leaf peeping excursion. Despite the dominance of evergreens in the area, the city also boasts a large variety of deciduous trees such as Japanese Maple and Western Red Cedar, which change color beautifully. The best time to see fall colors in Seattle is October, although the exact timing depends on the weather. In some years, it's possible to see the first foliage displays as early as late September, and sometimes the leaves stay on the trees until Thanksgiving, in late November.
Seattle has over 485 parks offering a variety of landscapes: from beaches to lush forests and exquisite formal gardens. Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest urban oasis, which occupies about 534 acres on Magnolia Bluff. It has tidal beaches, picturesque cliffs, forests, meadows, and sand dunes. There are many areas with scenic fall foliage and picnic tables for a pleasant weekend outdoors. There are also 11 mi (18-km) of hiking trails. Washington Park Arboretum is another must-see during fall. Go straight to the Japanese Garden at the south entrance where Japanese and Asiatic maples create stunning color combinations. The smaller Kubota Garden is another beautiful nook, full of Japanese maples. Relax in this perfectly architectured oasis with a waterfall and a fish pond. There are also free fall foliage public tours to showcase the most beautiful areas in the park.
Mount Baker and Snoqualmie National Forest offer quintessential North Cascades scenery with lush evergreen forests dotted with streaks of yellow, bronze, and gold. Your fall journey can start with Mt. Baker Scenic Byway, one of the most beautiful roads in Washington. It begins west of Bellingham and ends near the Mount Baker Ski Area at the breathtaking Artist Point. You would enjoy the beautiful views of the Nooksack River Valley, Nooksack Falls, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest, and Heather Meadows. The distance from Seattle is 132 mi (212 km).
Olympic National Park
Olympic Peninsula is one of the top leaf peeping destinations in Washington, which can be reached from Seattle in two hours by car (88 mi or 121 km). Once you get to the peninsula, head to the Olympic Discovery Trail. It's a designated path for bikers and runners that showcases spectacular fall foliage displays along Morse Creek. Lake Crescent and Marymere Falls is another must-see spot, where brilliant foliage looks flashy against turquoise water. Kayaks and canoe are available for rent to explore the park up close.
Leavenworth is the premier leaf peeping destination in Washington due to a fairy-tale landscape and the abundance of vine maples and cottonwood trees that bring lots of red and orange into the picture. Starting from late September, the Bavarian village surrounded by Cascade mountains dresses up in golden and scarlet hues. Relax in the town's Waterfront Park, which looks simply stunning. Leavenworth can be reached from Seattle in about two hours by car.