Riding the Ferries
The Washington State Ferry System is the largest in the US. These lovely old (and some new) boats service 20 destinations throughout the Puget Sound, including two routes to Vancouver Island in BC.
To drive onto the ferry can be spendy. So, if you are traveling by car, you may want to plan your route to avoid the boats. However, as a walk-on passenger, the ride is very inexpensive and is a comfortable, fun, and very authentic way to see one of the most beautiful parts of Washington State.
If you are in Seattle, the easiest rides to take are from pier 52 at the downtown waterfront. There is a marvelous ride from Seattle to Bremerton that takes 1 hour each way. The fare is $6.50 for the round trip. The route takes you from the city west out of Elliott Bay into Puget Sound and past Bainbridge Island and parts of the Olympic Peninsula. On a sunny day, you will also have stunning view of the Olympic Mountains. Departing and arriving Seattle, you get amazing views of the city. Once on the water, you have beautiful vistas of the Sound, the islands and the Peninsula. Although Bremerton itself is not a real tourist destination, the journey there is worth the trip. When you disembark, you can just get right back in line for the return boat.
The boat is large and has two car decks and passenger levels. Although there is a café, I would recommend bringing a picnic meal (which you can gather at the Pike Place Market, which is about 10 blocks away). I recommend timing the trip so that on your return voyage, you are arriving back at the Seattle dock just after sunset, as the view of the city from the water at night is spectacular.
My other favorite route the ride through the San Juan Islands from Anacortes, although once in the San Juans, you will not want to leave. So, you might want to plan for an overnight or two on one of the islands. Friday Harbor, the largest town in the islands, sits right at the bay where the ferry arrives. You would be able to walk to your hotel from the ferry landing. On Orcas Island, there is a lovely, old hotel right at that landing as well.