The best places to visit in Washington State will showcase the most beautiful, artsy, and stunning spots in the Pacific Northwest.
Did you find yourself in Washington State after driving up Highway One from California? Or, maybe after spending so much time on various Oregon beaches you just wanted to find more of that PNW magic. Either way, we understand. I am slightly biased as I was born in this marvelous state. But, there are so many places to visit in Washington State, we have to share our favorites with you. So, get ready to pack your hiking boots, favorite coffee mug, and Save the Whales Tee because you’re about to have the time of your life.
1. Olympic National Park
Located on the famous Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park is a sight to behold. With all the different ecosystems and mountains within the park, it easily is one of the best places to visit in Washington State. You can start by heading to the Hoh Rain Forest. Breathe deeply here; the moisture and vast amount of trees in this rainforest give a natural and relaxing feeling as you breathe in the freshest air on the planet. For those of you who love the water, head to Lake Crescent. Located fully within the park, it is a deep and stunning lake with a variety of waterfalls, hiking trails, and boating options.
If you tend to lean more towards hiking the big peaks, Olympic National Park has one for you. Hurricane Ridge has a myriad of mountains and passes perfectly fit for hiking, skiing, and snowboarding. Capping out at 5242 feet high, you’ll feel on top of the world if you make it to the top. All in all, Olympic National Park is an outdoor lovers playground. It will easily become one of your favorite places to visit in Washington State. With ample amounts of hiking, salmon and trout fishing, backpacking, wildlife viewing, and art opportunities, you’ll keep everyone happy here. So, make sure you have some good rain gear and head on out to Olympic National Park.
2. Mount Rainier National Park
One of the most iconic sights, and therefore one of the best places to visit in Washington State, is Mount Rainier. It rises to 14,410 feet above sea level, towering above western Washington. While Mount Rainier is an active volcano, it has so many sights to see that that shouldn’t stop you. It is the most glaciated peak in the lower forty-eight and has five major rivers flowing from its ice. Midway up the mountain are subalpine wildflower meadows. At the base, you can get lost in ancient forests that cover the lowlands. With all of this waiting, there is so much wildlife and so many trails, and sights to explore.
Seattle is known for so many things. From coffee to Pike Place Market, as well as being a hub of the tech industry, this city is bursting at the seams with things to do and eat. Of course, the Space Needle is easily one of the favorite places to visit in Washington State. Having been built for the World’s Fair in 1962, a trip to the top of this building is well worth it. You will have views of the whole city, the Cascade Mountains, Elliott Bay, and even Mount Rainier. While you’re in the city, make sure to visit the National Museum of Pop Culture for a full dose of the best America has had to offer over the years.
For you artistic types of simply appreciator of fine art, you have to stop at the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. The largest collection of Dale Chihuly’s art, you can stand in awe for hours of the intricate masterpieces this local Seattle man has created. Of course, you can also be dazzled at the Pacific Northwest Ballet depending on your taste. Finally, especially if you need the best places to visit in Washington State for the kids, head to the Seattle Aquarium. You’ll get to meet all the creatures of the Pacific Ocean and even be in an underwater dome. So, if you’re hoping for a magical city getaway while in Washington, Seattle is your spot.
4. San Juan Islands
Part of the magic of the Pacific Northwest is the islands off the coast. The three ferry-accessible San Juan Islands are Orcas, San Juan, and Lopez. You will take a ferry over from Anacortes, and you’ll see why these islands are so beloved as you cruise through them. You can easily spend your days lazily at a bed and breakfast eating the most delectable baked goods every morning. But, if you need a little more adventure in your life, these islands boast plenty to do. You can kayak around them, or head out on a whale watching tour. You can drive, bike, or hike up Mount Constitution, the highest point in the San Juans. From here, you should be able to see Mount Baker on a clear day.
The islands are not just for you, but also a great home to animals. You’ll find most shops have dog bowls out on their porches if you bring your four-legged friend along. Many of the hotels and bed and breakfasts accommodate pets as well. If you’re into the larger animals, there are many spots to go horseback riding around the rolling hills of the island. You will also see many of the small cafes and shops will top your list as far as the cutest places to visit in Washington State. Make sure to explore Friday Harbor, Eastsound, and Doe Bay while you’re here.
Leavenworth tops our list as far as unique places to visit in Washington State go. It is a charming Bavarian town, complete with a hand-crafted maypole, bier wagon, and glockenspiel! This is a perfect destination for children and families or a couples getaway. You can go meet the reindeer at the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm or explore geological formations at the icicle gorge. You will be entertained in the summer with the outdoor theatre performances, but also every morning with an Alp Horn Serenade. This town truly brings the magic of southern Germany to life for all its inhabitants.
From the Nutcracker Museum to touring all the Bavarian architecture, you can easily spend days exploring Leavenworth. However, it is also a great base camp for exploring many of the other stellar places to visit in Washington State. Surrounding Leavenworth are vast amounts of wineries and fruit orchards. Spring brings about all of the joys of the season, with fresh apples, peaches, cherries, plums, and pears-packs abounding. Of course, there is ample mountain and road biking, rock climbing, white water rafting and kayaking, hiking, and shopping to seek out in the surrounding area. So, whatever brings you to Leavenworth, the fun and joy that is waiting for you will keep you here.
The essential small town of western Washington is Bellingham. Located on the Canadian Border, it is a trip worth taking. As one of the best places to visit in Washington State, we wouldn’t blame you if you decided to move there after your stay. It will win you over just that easily. For you, nature lovers, Whatcom Falls Park, Samish Park, and Lake Padden each offer plenty of walking, hiking, and exploring for the whole family. It's a great home base to see the tulips blooming as well. If you’re needing some swift moving water, hike to Nooksack Falls for a beautiful waterfall view. Of course, this is all exploring around Bellingham, not within.
So, make sure to reserve plenty of time for the town itself. It is bursting at the seams with local artisans, boutique shops, craft breweries, and precious cafes. The Fairhaven historic district also has many antique shops and delicious coffees to taste. On top of all this, the Mount Baker Theatre is always a good time. For those who are looking for retirement residences, The Willows might be the best place to begin looking. Lastly, if you want to go on a scenic drive, head out on Chuckanut Drive. With plenty of places to stop and pull over, you’ll love taking in the ocean and bay views. Will all of the things to do, you’ll quickly realize why Bellingham is one of our favorite places to visit in Washington State.
Western Washington seems to have it all: the ocean, bays, whales, Seattle, and mountains. But, that side also gets most of the rain. Eastern Washington is a whole new ballgame. That being said, Spokane is one of the most spectacular places to visit in Washington State. Spokane is dedicated to keeping itself diverse, spunky, and true to its roots. The Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and Spokane Valley Heritage Museum will walk you through who have inhabited and grown Spokane since its birth. When you’re ready to relax outside, take a stroll down the Riverfront Park before heading to one of the many breweries or wineries. From Arbor Crest Winery to 12 String Brewing and English Setter Brewing, there is plenty to drink in here. Just hop on the Inland Northwest Ale Trail to find out just how much.
Touring Spokane Falls and Manito Park will give you and your family plenty of light outdoor excursions, although there are activities for the more daring as well. From zip lining through the trees to taking a gondola above the waterfalls, you will love it here. This city truly can’t get enough of bringing nature into each and every corner of its space. So, for those who love being outside but adore the comforts of a small city, make Spokane next on your list of places to visit in Washington State.
From the islands of Puget Sound to the spunk of Leavenworth, there are so many places to visit in Washington State.
The Pacific Northwest is truly a home to the nature lovers, adventure seekers, coffee drinkers, and tree huggers. We adore the appreciation of fine art found in the cities and towns while still keeping up with modern styles and conveniences. It is a vacation destination for just about anyone, as long as you bring your rain boots along. So, if you’re ready to find all the best places to visit in Washington State, let us know what treasure you find. With such a vast and diverse state, there is so much more to explore than what we could include here. Tacoma is one of the spots. So, head on up to the corner of this country to experience the marvels of the PNW.
Related Article: 10 Fun Things to Do in Oregon for the Adventurous Traveler