Imagine hopping in your car from Seattle and driving an easy 25 miles east to a gem of a city surrounded by endless evergreens and majestic mountains. Even the drive there is a real-life postcard and makes you wonder how this type of geography is this close to city living. You pull directly off on I-90 and you’re in North Bend.
With a growing population of a little over 8,000, that small-town community feel is still so vibrant – one sprawling and historic downtown street with local shops, nearby neighborhoods with adorable residential homes, a flowing river, and a mountain called Mt. Si that overlooks it all. The places to eat, drink, and explore offer a combination of adventures for families, couples, friend groups, or solo memories!
Energize at Huxdotter Coffee
Huxdotter Coffee is beloved by North Bend locals and visitors from Snoqualmie, Issaquah, Seattle, and beyond. It was established in 1990 under the name “Cascade Espresso” as a small espresso cart and has blossomed into a new beautiful flagship cafe. They offer unique “Hux Energy” drinks in radiant colors, classic drinks such as lattes, and featured drinks like the white lavender cold brew. My personal go-to is a dirty chai with oat milk because their chai is insanely flavorful!
Pro tip: Bring your own travel mug to reduce waste and keep your drink of choice hot or cold for your adventures ahead!
Eat at Scott’s Dairy Freeze
After you’re caffeinated, it’s time to fuel up at Scott’s Dairy Freeze, a renowned burger and milkshake joint on the downtown strip (you can even walk from Huxdotter!). What makes this place extra special, other than the delicious burgers, fries, and milkshakes, is the opening-day photos that are still on the inside walls when the building was built in 1951. Make sure you don’t miss the Sasquatch carved by Bob Antone, a local artist, which is made of red cedar and is 4 feet wide and 7 feet tall!
If you brought your dog along for the journey, you can sit outside at the picnic tables and enjoy views of Mt. Si and people-watch. Although they have almost every flavor of shake imaginable, my group and I ordered some classics: chocolate and oreo. When a joint like this nails the classics, you can’t go wrong with your order.
Sip at Volition Brewing
After you’ve fueled up on burgers, fries, and milkshakes, walk over to this popular brewery. Opened in 2019, Volition Brewing is a craft brewery and taphouse located in Historic Downtown North Bend that sits in the shadow of Mt. Si. Rooted in experimentation, their wide variety of drink creations delight every taste bud in the neighborhood. From hops, fruit, botanicals, spice, and malt to low ABV classic styles, you’ll find something to enjoy.
Our favorite is the Escape Velocity Hazy IPA. But they rotate their selections often so you’re able to find and try new and old favorites.
Volition welcomes you to make memories with your dog, allowed both inside and outside in the beer garden. Also in rotation are local food trucks and live music – check out the calendar here!
Walk Along Snoqualmie River
By now, you’re caffeinated, satiated, and possibly a little tipsy. Perfect time to go for a stroll along the Snoqualmie River that runs through North Bend. The Middle Fork Snoqualmie River is treasured by fishing enthusiasts, hikers, mountain bikers, and walkers. With old-growth forests, alpine lakes and peaks, whitewater rivers, strong native trout runs, and healthy populations of bear, elk, and cougar, this river is one of King County’s last truly wild places. Hard to believe you can go from walking downtown to walking in this nature wonderland in minutes.
As a newer resident of this incredible mountain town, I can already see the ambitious growth plans this town has for the future. And after you spend a day in North Bend, you’ll understand why the city’s slogan is ‘easy to reach, hard to leave.’ Follow @NorthBendEscapes on Instagram for more hiking and exploration inspiration and as always, when visiting the outdoors, practice Leave No Trace principles to keep Washington healthy and beautiful.