Travel

8 Suburbs Near Seattle You Should Absolutely Visit

You could use a little space.

Jonathan Elderfield/AP/Shutterstock
Jonathan Elderfield/AP/Shutterstock
Jonathan Elderfield/AP/Shutterstock

There’s a myth (perpetuated mostly amongst city folks) that suburbs are old news. It’s time to debunk that narrative. When it comes to a city like Seattle-one that’s surrounded by the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, and one that only offers a tiny slice of what life is like in this region-the suburbs are an essential piece of the puzzle. In truth, suburban living is where the magic happens: Nature is your backyard, coastal living is actually affordable, and high rise buildings are, for once, not ruining the view. 

In Washington State, there is no one-size-fits-all definition of a suburb, and, thus, they’re all a little different-think tiny islands in the Puget Sound, small coastal towns to the north, and communities nestled in the nooks and crannies of the Cascades. With that in mind, abandon whatever preconceived notions you might have arrived with, and consider exploring the following ‘burbs. You never know what you might find (or where you might be tempted to move). 

Elaine Thompson/AP/Shutterstock
Elaine Thompson/AP/Shutterstock
Elaine Thompson/AP/Shutterstock

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island is just a hop and a skip away from Seattle’s downtown ferry terminal, and it’s possible you’ll fall in love as soon as you step off the boat. That’s because Bainbridge is akin to a Puget Sound paradise: It has everything you’d want out of a suburb-like beautiful, historic homes and mom and pop shops in Winslow-and some of the most beautiful camping and hiking opportunities you can find in the Seattle area. There are so many ways to spend a day on Bainbridge; why not start with a coffee to-go from Blackbird Bakery (cash only, mind you), then explore some shops on Winslow Way. Next, pay a visit to the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, which recently reopened after a long COVID-19 closure. After that, get a taste of nature at Fay Bainbridge Park or Rockaway Beach Park, or head down to Eagle Harbor for a tour of the Puget Sound courtesy of Sail Bainbridge, which is opening soon for spring and summer. Regardless of how you spend your time on the island, this is one day trip you won’t soon forget. 

Courtesy of Gilman Village Merchants Association
Courtesy of Gilman Village Merchants Association
Courtesy of Gilman Village Merchants Association

Issaquah, Washington 

Tucked away in a valley just 25 minutes from Seattle, Issaquah is replete with opportunities to access Pacific Northwest nature at its best. Take a hike on the Tiger Mountain Trail for a winding trip through the forest, or head to Lake Sammamish State Park for a more relaxing afternoon on the water. Issaquah is also home to the Cougar Mountain Zoo, Gilman Village, and Capri Cellars, the latter of which has an enormous list of PNW wines to choose from (which might just be the perfect way to round out your day).

Courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
Courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery
Courtesy of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery

Woodinville, Washington

If you’re a wine lover (who isn’t?), don’t miss Woodinville. This northeast Seattle suburb is home to Chateau Ste. Michelle, which just so happens to be the oldest winery in the state of Washington. Spend the day between the tasting room and the historic chateau, or venture out and explore the wooded property, which is over 100 acres large. Woodinville has a number of other wineries worth visiting, too. If you’re not sure where to start, try Columbia Winery, Patterson Cellars, Novelty Hill Januik, or JM Cellars, and plan on making a return visit-it’s almost impossible to visit all of Woodinville’s vineyards in a single day. 

Courtesy of City of Edmonds - Community and Government
Courtesy of City of Edmonds – Community and Government
Courtesy of City of Edmonds – Community and Government

Edmonds, Washington

Just north of Seattle, Edmonds is the ideal spot for a scenic suburban getaway. Upon arrival I’d recommend heading straight to Marina Beach Park: There, you’ll have excellent views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, the combination of which already make this trip worthwhile. Supplement that with a visit to the Cascadia Art Museum, the Edmonds Fishing Pier (next to Olympic Beach), and Scratch Distillery, and you’re in for a very good time courtesy of this small town.

Courtesy of Whidbey Island, Washington
Courtesy of Whidbey Island, Washington
Courtesy of Whidbey Island, Washington

Whidbey Island

First thing’s first: A day trip is hardly enough time to take in all that Whidbey Island offers. If you take the ferry from Mukilteo, you’ll land on the south end of the island-from here, check out the lighthouse at Fort Casey Historical State Park, an old army training facility built in the late 1800s. Importantly, the park is located in Coupeville, one of three incredibly quaint coastal towns that you shouldn’t miss (the other two being Oak Harbor and Langley). Drive north across the island to end your day at Deception Pass State Park, which straddles Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands and is best traversed at daylight’s end, during which time you’ll catch what is arguably the most stunning sunset you can find in Washington State. 

Elaine Thompson/AP/Shutterstock
Elaine Thompson/AP/Shutterstock
Elaine Thompson/AP/Shutterstock

Mercer Island 

Nestled in between Seattle and Bellevue, Mercer Island is smack dab in the middle of Lake Washington. That’s an almost unbeatable location; for this reason, you should spend your visit to the island outside, preferably on the shores of the lake at Luther Burbank Park. Here, you’ll find 77 acres of mostly undisturbed waterfront, aka the perfect backdrop for an afternoon picnic and subsequent beach beers at sunset. Luther Burbank also has tennis courts, hiking trails, a dedicated dog zone, a fishing pier, and a boat dock, so there really is something for everyone. 

Courtesy of City of Newcastle, Washington
Courtesy of City of Newcastle, Washington
Courtesy of City of Newcastle, Washington

Newcastle, Washington

For some more quality time in the Great Outdoors, try Newcastle on for size. Boasting both Lake Boren Park and Cougar Mountain Regional Wildland Park, this suburb is only a short drive over Lake Washington (and Mercer Island) from Seattle’s city center. At the lake, you’ll get some fairly stunning beachfront views of the Cascades; at Cougar Mountain, expect more views, and a seemingly endless list of hiking trails to choose from (the park is over 3,000 acres large). 

Courtesy of Metro Parks Tacoma
Courtesy of Metro Parks Tacoma
Courtesy of Metro Parks Tacoma

Tacoma, Washington

Don’t get me wrong: Tacoma is most definitely a city unto itself, but it’s also only 40-minute drive from downtown Seattle, and has a lot to brag about in the way of art and culture. Consider a day trip to the Museum of Glass, where you can watch glass-blowing happen right before your eyes, or the Tacoma Art Museum, which consistently features work made right here in the Pacific Northwest. 

Emma Banks is a Thrillist contributor.

Travel

8 Suburbs Near Phoenix You Should Absolutely Visit

You could use a little space.

Discover Gilbert AZ
Discover Gilbert AZ
Discover Gilbert AZ

Phoenix is pretty great. There’s the burgeoning culinary scene, the diverse culture, the arts, of course, the sports, the great outdoors, and don’t forget about the more than 300 days of annual sunshine. We could really go on, and on, about how great this place is, but all of that greatness can blind you to all the excellence just outside it. The suburbs across The Valley are not to be missed. To encourage you to actually explore them, here’s what the best of ‘em have to offer.

Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism
Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism
Photo courtesy of Tempe Tourism

Tempe

Notably, Tempe is recognized as home to one of the largest universities in the country, Arizona State. But this Phoenix suburb is so much more than a college town, although it does add to its undeniable magic. Downtown Tempe plays hosts to epic arts festivals, dragon boat races, marathons and triathlons, and dozens of other events that all take place a short-distance from Tempe Town Lake, a two-mile long perennial reservoir and urban park that attracts cylicts, rowers, and active types. Break a sweat with a hike to the top of A Mountain and take in a panoramic sunset view. Or, just belly-up to the bar at one of Tempe’s innumerable craft breweries. Both are solid choices. And both can get you acquainted with this laidback Phoenix suburb.

Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho
Photo courtesy of Hotel Valley Ho

Scottsdale

Nearly half of Scottsdale’s land area is dedicated to open spaces and untamed desert. Outdoor activities like mountain biking, hiking, road cycling, horseback riding, and kayaking reign supreme here, and the city certainly leans toward an active, wellness-centered lifestyle. And while there’s no shortage of desert to explore, Scottsdale also claims some of the best spas in the world, award-winning restaurants, world-class golf courses, it’s the center stage for major events like luxury car auctions and sporting events, and it’s even got a bustling arts scene. This Phoenix suburb checks all of the boxes, really.

Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert
Photo by Lauren Topor Reichert

Gilbert

Not too long ago Gilbert was a sort of sleepy, far-away farm town. That’s certainly not the case anymore. Gilbert has grown exponentially, but its agricultural roots are still readily present in its personality and charm. Downtown Gilbert is home to dozens of restaurants and bars, most of which have a local, farm-to-table approach, naturally. And then there’s Agritopia, a friendly neighborhood with its very own shared garden and community spaces that include Epicenter and BARNONE, where you can order a wood-fired pizza, a can of experimental natural wine, and camp out under a canopy of trees in the open-air. It’s practically a utopia.

Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography
Mike Boening Photography

Cave Creek

A gateway to Horseshoe and Bartlett Lakes, Cave Creek’s position on the outskirts of Tonto National Forest makes it a primo spot for outdoor activities like biking and hiking and adventure by way of air balloon or horseback. Modern cowboys and gals can mosey over to The Buffalo Chip Saloon where bull riding and swing dancing are just part of a typical day. Additionally, Cave Creek has its own botanical garden, raptor rescue, and a gallery packed with person-sized crystals. And it’s all yours to discover.

Ade Russell/Flickr
Ade Russell/Flickr
Ade Russell/Flickr

Mesa

Point your GPS east and you’ll arrive in Mesa, Arizona’s third largest city. Whether you’re after outdoor adventure, looking to explore the arts and culture scene, or searching for locally made ciders and craft beer, Mesa has it all. There’s a hip, growing downtown area lined with storefronts, restaurants, theaters, and tasting rooms. And if you’re game for a little outdoor recreation, Mesa is your jumping-off point to scenic Sonoran Desert trails including Usery Mountain Regional Park, Lost Dutchman State Park, and San Tan Regional Park. Mesa is also just a short distance from The Salt River where you can cruise by wild horses and native wildlife via paddle board and Saguaro Lake is just up the road.

Experience Fountain Hills
Experience Fountain Hills
Experience Fountain Hills

Fountain Hills

At the center of this Phoenix suburb is an expansive urban park and monumental water fountain that tops out at 560-feet. The fountain in Fountain Hills is larger than the Washington Monument, and it’s three times as high as Old Faithful. Pack a picnic and spread out in the park for an afternoon where you can traverse the walkable paths, cycle around the waterway, or play a competitive bout of frisbee golf. If you swing more towards traditional golf, there’s a shortlist of premier golf courses to tee-off at. And like many of the Phoenix suburbs here, Fountain Hills is surrounded by wide-open desert and scenic vistas just waiting to be explored.

Camelback Ranch - Glendale
Camelback Ranch – Glendale
Camelback Ranch – Glendale

Glendale

Arizona sports teams including the Coyotes and Cardinals have home turf advantage in Glendale. Over the years Glendale has hosted three Super Bowl bouts and will host another in 2023. But Glendale’s not just a sports mecca for fans of professional football and hockey. This Phoenix suburb is homebase to Camelback Ranch, a modern ballpark with all the amenities where the Chicago White Sox and Los Angeles Dodgers take the field each season as part of Cactus League Spring Training. Take your time in Glendale into extra innings and visit Historic Old Town Glendale. Here you’ll encounter eclectic antique and vintage stores, restaurants, candy shops, and coffee houses.

Pedal Haus Brewery
Pedal Haus Brewery
Pedal Haus Brewery

Chandler 

Museums, urban parks, art galleries, and growing neighborhoods like Uptown Chandler and Downtown Chandler give this Phoenix suburb lots of appeal. Rows of palm trees line the Downtown area where you can start your day with a locally roasted coffee and organic breakfast bowl. Downtown Chandler regularly hosts community-focused events and it’s a popular hangout for craft beer drinkers. SanTan Brewery, Pedal Haus, and The Perch, with 40 beers on tap and tropical birds at every turn, all call this Phoenix suburb home.

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Lauren Topor Reichert is a Phoenix-based multimedia storyteller, photographer, and content creator. Her work has been featured in travel guides, national publications, and the social feeds of some stellar local restaurants. Follow her around Arizona, and beyond, on Instagram @hungryinphoenix.

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