Not only is Washington State a good place to visit but also a wonderful place to live. From the sunlit conifer forests tucked away in gigantic national parks to hidden waterfalls and even a medieval village that transports you back to England’s 14th century, Washington State has it all.
Below we’ve compiled the 15 best places to visit in Washington State that will surely be a memorable and relaxing experience.
1. Downtown Seattle
Without a doubt, Seattle is the hot spot in Washington State.
To fully explore the downtown core of Seattle, you’ll need four to six days to keep up with all the main happenings. The bustling city is home to majestic natural parks and cool attractions, including the old-established Pike Place Market, the first Starbucks in the world, the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, and the photogenic Amazon Spheres.
We lost count of how many museums you can visit in Seattle, but if we need to name a few, that would be the SciFi Museum, Art Museum, Museum of Pop, and Museum of Flight.
If you wanna spend a bit more to survey the entire Seattle downtown from above, book a helicopter or a seaplane tour. Alternatively, go offshore and admire the beautiful coastline on a cruise.
But that’s not all, we have compiled a checklist of 15 things to do in Seattle so you don’t miss out on anything. And our list of the best restaurants in Seattle you can’t miss.
Steeped in a rich Bavarian style, Leavenworth is a whimsical, enchanting village surrounding the foot of the Cascade Mountains just two hours east of downtown Seattle. This self-titled village is a lesser-known place to visit in Washington, promoting German culture and heritage in the States.
Leavenworth emerges as a small European hub with a chain of traditional Gothic-inspired houses lining the ever-busy boulevards. Every now and then, you will see the locals don their lederhosen and dirndls or play a tune on their alphorn.
As the town is neighboring Colchuk Lake, you can venture out to the Enchantments or hike the North Cascades in the summer. When winter comes, there’s plenty of space for skiing, sledding, and snowmobiling.
If you’d rather stick to the downtown core, then shopping, riding a carriage, horseback, sleigh ride, and keeping up with all the food spots and drinking holes are on the plate. New to the scene? We have 12 favorite restaurants in Leavenworth to inspire you.
Leaning against the majestic backdrop of Mount Baker, Bellingham is dubbed as one of the best places to visit in Washington. Emerging as a busy waterfront port that supports fishing, charter cruises, leisure boating, and other maria activities, Bellingham is the last major city before the Washington coastline meets the Canadian border that’s 85 miles north of Seattle downtown.
More than just a harbor town, Bellingham also plays host to a wild ride of art galleries and all the good eats centered around the Fairhaven Historic District. The Outdoor Sculpture Collection at Western Washington University is some of the best spots gathering curated collections.
If you like to be one with nature, check out Whatcom Falls Park and take on one of the walking trails or sneak into the woods and admire one of the four falls Bellingham has to offer.
Take a peek at our list of the best Bellingham restaurants before you arrive in the city!
4. Mount Rainier National Park
With beautiful wildflowers blanketing the grassy knolls when sunrise is piercing through the snow-capped mountains, Mount Rainier National Park is one of the best places to visit in Washington for nature lovers.
Mount Rainier is dubbed as the fifth largest national park in the contiguous U.S. Its long-established history is tied to six native American tribes of the Nisqually, Puyallup, Squaxin Island, Muckleshoot, Yakama, and Cowlitz.
Peppering on the rolling green valleys is a medley of hiking trails, wildflower meadows, whistling marmots, and curious chipmunks after a two-hour ride from downtown Seattle. The park is beautiful all year round so you can take on the hikes anytime you like. There are also multiple wildlife-watching tours to Mount Rainier while families with kids like to pick mushrooms and huckleberry.
Pricing: from $15/person
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5. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
Protected as a national monument since 1982 following a violent eruption, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is a majestic getaway just less than three hours south of Seattle. To explore the monument to the fullest, make sure to clear out more than a day in your calendar.
Start your discovery with a visit to the Johnston Ridge Observatory after taking on Highway 504 on the west. It’s known as one of the most scenic drives all over the state. The observatory should be found at milepost 52.
Volcano-watching and photographing Mount St. Helens are some of the most popular activities here. Other than that, you can explore the exhibits and movies at the two Visitor Centers.
On a more adventurous side, exploring the ape caves on the south side of the national park, climbing the volcano, and conquering the trails are some other stellar choices if your fitness level agrees. Those seeking a more pleasant day should consider a horse ride on the mudflow from Eco Park and elk viewing at the Forest Learning Center viewpoint.
Address: 3029 Spirit Lake Hwy, Castle Rock, WA 98611
6. Olympic National Park
The Olympic National Park in Port Angeles is one of the most marvelous national parks in the United States. From the mystic Hoh RainForest to the marvelous Hurricane Ridge, from the hidden mineral hot springs to comfortable lodges, you name it.
The entire park encompasses a million acres, spanning through different ecosystems such as the dramatic peaks to old-growth forests and the summit of the glacier-clad Mt. Olympus.
Nestled within the park is a great number of trails with shorter, accessible trails connected to longer, more rugged trails. Along the way, you will see some majestic waterfalls hidden under the high blue skies.
If you come with your loved ones, why not set up a camp in the heart of the Hoh Rainforest or take your kids to Rialto or Shi Shi beach hunting for tide pools? To fully explore the parks, save at least two full days and stay at one of the lodges there. Olympic National Park is also not far away from Port Townsend and Port Angeles with a vibrant charm full of life, so make sure to spare some time for either of those as well.
Address: 3002 Mt Angeles Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98362
Pricing: from $15
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7. Marymere Falls
Dubbed one of the most visited waterfalls in Olympic National Parks, Marymere can be found near Lake Crescent. With the old-growth forest flanking above, it’s a great chance to unplug from the social buzz and immerse into the Pacific Northwest’s cool air.
You need to complete a hike in less than an hour to get there. The trailhead starts at either the Storm King Ranger Station or the Lake Crescent Lodge. As the trail is located inside the Olympic National Park, you need to acquire a visitor pass to start the trail.
Sheltering an underlying rock for most of the way down the cascades, Marymere is a horsetail waterfall gushing down to a whopping 90 feet before coming in contact with the Barnes Creek below the falls.
The peak season to visit Marymere is summer. But wait till the crowd thins out in spring and falls to visit the falls, which promise an unrivaled beaut
8. La Conner
Home to the Museum of Northwest Art, Skagit Crest Vineyard & Winery, Roozengaarde tulip plantation, and the spectacular Martha’s Beach looking out to Goat Island, La Conner is one of the best getaways in Washington just a two-hour ride from downtown Seattle.
La Conner is an enchanting town stepping out of a fairy tale with a plethora of culinary spots, wine tastings, fertile farmland, and an annual tulip festival. You will love to spend even a week here just kicking back at one of the inns and channel-side lodges as a base to explore further.
Before leaving for home, stop by Nasty Jack’s Antiques. This 12,000-square-feet store is stocked up with the coolest, rarest finds such as collectible tin signs, comics, records, LIFE magazines, and Saturday Evening Post from 1937 to 1972.
9. Deception Pass State Park
Dominating the northern edge of Whidbey Island, Deception Pass is one of the most vibrant parks in Washington for outdoor enthusiasts. A majestic crossover bridge that defines the reputation of Deception Pass State Park has become the symbol of the place, connecting two islands and looking down to an enchanting, turquoise water underneath.
The park surrounds the far reaches of Puget Sound. So when you walk along the crossover, you’ll have a chance to soak up its stunning view from afar. Meanwhile, the dense forest on both sides of the bridge is home to an immense network of trails. If you like to explore offshore, get on a kayak or put a tarp down for a pleasant weekend picnic.
Note that a Discover Pass is required to enter, and check out the tide calendar to plan your trip accordingly.
Address: 41020 State Route 20, Oak Harbor, WA 98277.
Pricing: from $11.5
10. San Juan Islands
Island hopping has never been more fun. Located off the coast of Washington looking over to Vancouver Island, San Juan can be reached by ferry hailing from Anacortes to Friday Harbor with multiple stops along the way. This dreamy place is worth every penny, with a beautiful atmosphere brought to you by Puget Sound.
Along the way on the ferry ride, you may spot orcas from land at Lime Kiln State Park on Friday Harbor, even whales, seals, bald eagles, and porpoises if you sign up for a whale-watching tour.
If you have more than a day to spend on San Juan Island, make sure to tour the farms, wineries, and beautiful parks near the Friday Harbor on a scooter or bicycle. For a more energetic day, take on a kayak adventure to see the water at a closer angle and work your core in the sun.y as well.
11. Whidbey Island
Just over an hour north of Seattle, Whidbey Island is a beautiful getaway filled with rugged terrain that spans beaches, hills, and farmland. This fine gem of the Puget Sound seems as if it transports you back to another world where you’re munching on some mouthwatering seafood with some deer hanging out by the window.
Wooden buildings are peppered along the sun-kissed meadows, promoting a fairytale-like canvas steeped in earthy tones. To get to Whidbey from Seattle, take the ferry from the Mukilteo terminal north of Seattle for 20 minutes to the town of Clinton.
Other than the Deception Pass State Park we mentioned above, you can swing through the town of Oak Harbor in the morning. This is the biggest city in Whidbey Island where national chain stores such as Walmart and Home Depot dominate. The city is also home to Pacific Northwest Naval Air Museum, Windjammer and Flintstone Parks.
On the way home, stop by Greenbank Farm to hunt for local produce such as cheese, salsas, snacks, and pies from one of the barns it owns.
12. Spokane Riverfront Park
Branded as Riverfront Spokane, it’s one of the top-rated things to do in Washington for nature lovers. There’s completely no cost to enter but it’s filled with hordes of outdoor pursuits for all types of travelers. The park has been around since 1974 as part of the World Expo event, located east of Washington with less than five hours by car from downtown Seattle.
Today, the park is a bloodline of Spokane where people go to take on one of the trails on foot or cycling. When winter comes, the skating ribbon is open for ice skating while summertime beckons the attention of rollerbladers.
The park sits on a headland that’s swathed by the powerful Spokane river. You can take a gondola ride over the Upper Falls and admire the fiery river from above. Otherwise, pack some lunch along and put a tarp down on one of the picnic sites to kick back with your loved ones. If your kids come along, take them to a merry-go-round and two unique play spaces.
And while you’re in area, make sure to hit up these top Spokane restaurants.
Address: 507 N Howard St, Spokane, WA 99201
Hours: 6 am – 12 am
Pricing: free of charge
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13. Ruby Beach
As the locals attest, Ruby Beach is one of their favorite beaches along the Olympic coastline thanks to its welcoming vibe coming from the reddish sand peppered with sea stacks.
It’s located over three hours west of Seattle downtown by car. In contrast to the soothing sandy shoreline that other places offer, Ruby is known as a rocky beach, meaning flip-flops are required all the time.
The beach is gorgeous all year round even though it’s getting misty on some days. When the sky is crisp, you can see families with kids run off some steam and get their toes wet in the surf.
The path leading down to the shore is short and well-groomed. It has plenty of food spots, cafes, and a convenience store nearby that you can check out after a day conquering the beach or grab some snacks at the picnic tables.
14. Palouse Falls
200 feet of rip-roaring meltwater cascading down a dark blue plunge pool, creating some of the most marvelous hidden sights you’ve ever seen. The falls belongs to the namesake state park about 4 miles upstream of the confluence with the Snake River in southeast Washington.
Palouse Falls became Washington’s state waterfall in 2014, originating from glacial flooding from the last Ice Age. Up to now, Palouse is dubbed as one of the last active waterfalls since the Ice Age period, engraving to the edge of a bareback mountain with almost little to no evergreens.
There is a series of rugged trails leading to the top of the falls. If your fitness levels agree with steep switchbacks and cliffs, take on this adventure and marvel at the falls at their finest.
15. Camlann Medieval Village
Who would have thought there is a hidden medieval village less than a 45-minute car ride east of downtown Seattle? Even many Washingtonians have no idea they have a chance to revive English history right at their doorsteps.
Camlann Village is open on weekends from May to September, transporting you to South England in 1376 with its rural village charm. The public personal experiences are curated with lots of educational activities and art performances.
The characters, those who work for the village, are tastefully dressed in period costumes. Those wondering what’s there to eat should not miss out on the Bors Hede Inne, a house of authentic medieval dinner experiences. Albeit part of the seasonal village, Bors Hede Inne opens year-round from Wednesday to Sunday. Note that the use of phones and cameras is strictly prohibited.
The best time to visit Camlann is when the village has some festivals going on. Make sure to check out the website for the latest updates. Cash and checks must be used to purchase or make an appointment.
Address: 10320 Kelly Rd NE, Carnation, WA 98014
Hours: 12 am – 5 pm (Saturday and Sunday)
|60 years old and over||$8|
|12 years old and under||$8|
|5 years old and under||$8|
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These travel ideas below guarantee you a lot more fun in Washington: