A small Washington town, population 7,000, lies in the foothills of the west side of the Cascades, right along Interstate 90. There are three main attractions in North Bend that are quite well known, but there are other attractions as well. Coming from the Tri-Cities, you will see exits to North Bend 26 miles past Snoqualmie Summit. The signage is minimal, so keep your eyes peeled for a sign for the North Bend Premium Outlets.
As you exit to the north, you will see the outlet mall on your left and a monolithic mountain with standing majestically in front of you. Mt. Si offers a no-fee, no-permit day hike. Signs are clear that lead to the trailhead of this 8-mile roundtrip hike. It’s a steady incline that rises from the parking lot 3,100 ft in the four miles to the top. Most of the trail is smooth and easy to navigate. At the very top, however, the actual knob of the peak takes some scrambling to ascend. Other than the flower-filled meadow near the top, pines shade the hiker from what could be southern exposure. This hike is popular and with the population of Seattle only 30 miles away, a weekday will offer more solitude.
If you want to hike, but your partner wants to shop, the outlet mall is calling. Nike Factor Store anchors the outlets, with supporting stores like Cutter & Buck, Famous Footwear, Under Armour, Sunglass Hut, Eddie Bauer, and Levi’s. Refreshments are offered via a chocolate shop, a Mongolian BBQ eatery, vending machines, and a Subway.
Less than a mile from the Premium Outlet Mall is the main through street of North Bend, running east and west. On the corner as you approach the main drag (North Bend Way) you will see Twede’s Café, made famous in 1990 by David Lynch’s series Twin Peaks. Today, the breakfasts are as plentiful and delicious as depicted on film and the “Damn fine cup o’ coffee!” continues to pour. Up and down North Bend Way you will find eclectic shops, eateries, a bakery, and the Volition Brewery.
A few short miles to the west, and also a filming location for Twin Peaks, a traveler will find the famous Snoqualmie Falls, an area of hiking and sightseeing beauty found in the Pacific Northwest. The rushing water falls nearly 270 feet and the area boasts two observation decks. There is a 1.5-mile hiking trail that is accessible for all skill levels. For those seeking a luxury stay after a day of hiking, shopping, or both, the Salish Lodge & Spa offers elegance, comfort, and beauty. The restaurant at the lodge is famous for their pancakes (you can buy the pancake mix in the gift shop) and the honey that is ceremoniously poured over the back of the diner’s head to the food on the plate, analogous to the waterfall that can be seen from the dining room. This dining experience most often would require advanced reservations, so make plans today for your adventure to North Bend and the bountiful Snoqualmie region.