Drive I-5 north, cut over to Mukilteo, take the short ferry ride to Clinton on Whidbey Island, stay on and explore the island, then continue north, then east on SR 20 to I-5 to Vancouver. Or, get off SR 20 earlier, go north on Chuckanut Drive (route 11) to Bellingham and wend your way to the border. See this on Google Maps.
Whidbey Island WI is a great day or more getaway with many features of the Pacific NW; this TA article includes key websites, tours, maps. tripadvisor.com/Travel-g58824-s2/Whidbey-Isl…
Since you're hemmed in by mountains on the west and saltwater on the east, I'd think less about alternate routes and more about nice detours you can make from I-5. Ideas are the Columbia River Gorge, Mt St Helens, Mt Rainier, Whidbey Island, the Mt Baker Highway area...
I did not think broadly enough, you have two days, and agree, Columbia R. Gorge. You can drive that in about two hours, more if you make several stops. I'd figure 3 hours for planning purposes, see Bonneville Dam, go to Cascade Locks, cross the Columbia River, then return westward via the WA state side, SR 14, to I-205 then I-5, and one or both of the two mountains. If you go to Mt. St. Helens, I believe you should plan for Mt. Rainier NP the next day, unless you rush the preceding. You might check out both mountains and see what is the most important to you.
All of this is quite different from your home turf, so I'd still push for Whidbey Island in that, among its other attributes, it is northbound.
Columbia River Gorge - Note the scenic hwy. which is what you want, not the freeway.
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Mount Rainier National Park
Thank you all for all the help- I can't wait to see the beautiful sites!
These are all good ideas, but I would really take the time to add up the driving times so you know what you are getting into.
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