Top 20 Washington State Trips

Olympia Washington

Explore Olympia, the capital of Washington State.

Olympia is just 1-hour south of Seattle, off Interstate 5.  It has a beautiful waterfront location on Budd Inlet, at the southernmost point of Puget Sound.  

Enjoy a waterfront meal at Percival Landing Boardwalk on West Bay, or tour the impressive neo-classical Capitol Building that dominates Olympia's skyline.

Visit Olympia's first dwelling at Bigelow House, and check out WWII planes at the Olympic Flight Museum

Wander through the tranquil Yashiro Japanese Garden or Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.

Tons of stuff for kids!

There's a ton of free stuff for kids to do in Olympia Washington.  Check out the lovely wading stream at East Bay Plaza, the Heritage Park splashpad, Percival Landing playground, and Wet Science Center.  The Children's Museum has fun, interactive exhibits and an amazing outdoor area (admission required).

10 best things to do in Olympia Washington

  1. Enjoy a waterfront meal at Percival Landing Boardwalk. Stroll along the 1-mile waterfront boardwalk at Olympia and have lunch at the Oyster House, Budd Bay Cafe or Dock Side Bistro and Wine Bar.  There's a lovely playground for kids, just near the Harbor House. 

  2. Tour the stunning Washington State Capitol Building (FREE TOURS).  Take a 60-minute tour of the interior of this impressive 1928 legislative building on a hill overlooking Olympia. Stand inside the interior dome rising 175 feet from the rotunda floor, admire the tiffany glass bead chandeliers and italian marble in the State Reception Room, and step inside the dramatic theater-like interior of the House Chamber. Check tour schedule.

  3. See WWII aircraft at the Olympic Flight Museum. Explore the Olympic Flight Museum at the Olympia Regional Airport, and see vintage airplanes and helicopters from WWII through to Vietnam era. Check hours & tickets.

  4. Tour the 1850s Bigelow House Museum.  Explore the oldest house in Olympia Washington on a bluff above Budd Inlet, constructed in the 1850's in the gothic carpenter style. Check hours & tickets.

  5. Visit the enchanting Yashiro Japanese Garden (FREE). Wander through this free Japanese garden in Olympia Washington, in a tranquil setting with a pond, benches, stone lanterns and stepping stones. Check hours.

  6. Stroll along the boardwalk at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge (FREE).  This peaceful estuary on the southern Puget Sound has over 300 varieties of birds like hawks, owls, raptors, duck, and geese.  Trails lead from the Visitor Center to observation decks and viewing platforms along a boardwalk. Check visitor center hours.

  7. Check out the Hands on Children's Museum, with a cool outdoor area.  Don't miss this amazing kid's museum!  There's an art studio, construction area, tree house, police car and fire truck!   Kids will love the water tunnel maze where balls shoot 25-feet up plastic tubes.  The half-acre Outdoor Discovery Area is a gem, and has a gravel dig area, lighthouse look-out, trike loop, beach shack and animal barn. Check hours & tickets.

  8. Splash around in the East Bay Plaza stream.  This free park next to the Children's Museum has a running stream with shallow water that kids can splash around in.  There are plenty of benches for parents to sit on in these beautifully landscaped surroundings.  Bring a change of clothes for your kids.

  9. Explore exhibits at the WET Science Center (FREE).  This free center is just across the road from the Children's Museum.  Kids can explore fun exhibits on water conservation. Check hours.

  10. Cool off at the Heritage Park Fountain:  During summertime, cool off in the splashpad at the Heritage Park Fountain with the spectacular Capitol Building as a backdrop.

Best restaurants in Olympia Washington

There are a number of restaurants along Olympia's waterfront, including the Budd Bay Cafe, Olympia Seafood Company, and Dock Side Bistro and Wine Bar.  The historic Oyster House is another option.  

A short distance from downtown Olympia, Anthony's Hearthfire Grill offers superb views over Puget Sound in a modern setting.  Reservations are highly recommended.

Hotels in Olympia Washington

The Hotel RL Olympia has a lovely restaurant and overlooks a lake.

Things to do near Olympia Washingon

Drive 30 miles north to Tacoma to explore great museums like the Tacoma Art MuseumTacoma Glass MuseumWashington State History Museum and Lemay Car Museum.  If you have kids, check out the fabulous free Children's Museum of Tacoma.  If you'd like a meal, drive out the trendy new development at Point Ruston with glorious water views, a splashpad and playground for kids, and a large choice of restaurants.

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