While Washington state is known for many different things to many different people, its most popular attractions center on the unique marriage of natural beauty and rich culture. Visitors can enjoy unsurpassed adventure in its scenic areas and coastal waterways for part of the day, and then spend the remainder indulging in world-class wine and cuisine or experiencing
arts and culture in vibrant urban surroundings.
From the rugged coastlines, tranquil islands and snow capped peaks, to the culinary treasures, quaint towns and acclaimed urban hotspots, Washington state is a perfect fit for practically any destination piece.
Four national parks and monuments are four-season draws here. Mount Rainier National Park features twenty-six glaciers and the iconic Mount Rainier, one of the state’s five active volcanoes, at nearly three miles high. Featuring the nation’s longest wilderness coastline and rare temperate rainforests, Olympic National Park is a World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve where ancient trees wear beards of lush, green moss. North Cascades National Park contains 400 miles of trails, many leading into vast, undeveloped wilderness where you’ll see more animals than humans; and Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument can be explored by helicopter, foot or car.
Nature’s creations surround Washington state, but man exhibits some fine handiwork here, too. Seattle is home to the sleek, 607-foot-tall Space Needle, the architecturally adventurous Experience Music Project, and the dramatic nine-acre Olympic Sculpture Park. The Pike Place Market is a teeming, sprawling bazaar featuring fresh fish and produce, seasonal flowers, local crafts and stunning views of the Puget Sound.
Washington has an abundance of pristine wilderness areas, national and state parks, national forests, and greenways. Diverse natural habitats provide homes to countless wildlife - hundreds of species of birds, elk, deer, bobcat, cougar, bear and smaller mammals. Orca, harbor seals and other marine mammals can be spotted in the Puget Sound, while gray and minke whales swim offshore in the Pacific Ocean. Interpretive centers, wildlife parks, sanctuaries, and refuges offer opportunities to view wildlife in a natural setting. This is one of the most biologically diverse places on the planet - and one of the most fragile. Please tread lightly and leave only footprints.
Eastern Washington is a spectacular mix of geologic wonders and shining cities. From Spokane, one of the fastest growing cities in the United States, to the gentle rolling hills of the Palouse -wonders abound. Parks, gardens, arboretums, wildlife refuges, museums and wineries highlight its diversity while Hells Canyon displays its drama.
Snug within Puget Sound and cradled by the Olympic and Cascade ranges, the Kitsap
Peninsula is surrounded by over 300 miles of saltwater shoreline. Waterfront communities like Suquamish, Port Gamble, Poulsbo, Silverdale, Bremerton and Gig Harbor provide jaw-dropping views of mountains and water at every turn, plus some of the best boating destinations in the region. Named after an 18th and 19th century chief, Kitsap is rich in Native American culture as well as Scandinavian, military, pioneer and natural attractions, injecting it with a richness of history and diversity. Add to that its close proximity to Seattle and it’s no wonder so many people call it their favorite destination.
The city of Tacoma has experienced a downtown renaissance with world-class art, glass and history museums leading the way. Vancouver was Washington state’s first city and is home to the Vancouver National Historic Reserve, which includes Officers Row and Fort Vancouver. Spokane serves as the hub of Eastern Washington state hub and a gateway to two Canadian provinces, three states and numerous renowned scenic highways and byways. The 441 mile Cascade Loop includes Lake Chelan, a 55 mile long sapphire lake with Washington state’s deepest and bluest waters, Skagit County’s spectacular tulip fields, seductive islands, a Bavarian Village and an Old West town. Other tours let you experience Washington state’s world-renowned Wine Country, Native American heritage and agricultural bounty – from the Puget Sound’s salmon and shellfish to Eastern Washington’s fruit and vegetable potpourri.
Washington’s Northwest Islands are easy to reach and hard to forget. Start with Whidbey
Island, home of charming seaside towns, sensational landscapes and fresh local products. Anacortes on Fidalgo Island bustles with shops and seaside adventures, while San Juan Island draws history and nature lovers alike. On Orcas Island, the pace slows down, encouraging people to nurture their creative spirits. Lopez is perfect for bicycling and kayaking. Getting there is half the fun thanks to the Washington State Ferry system. It’s a great way to slow down and enjoy the ride.
Lining valleys east of the Cascade Mountains, Washington Wine Country grows 99% of the state’s wine grapes, and is home to over 200 wineries and eight of the state’s nine appellations. As the region has matured, new wineries have opened and Washington wines consistently garner international recognition. View miles of family owned vineyards, attend wine tastings, celebrate the fall crush and sample new releases.
While Washington is well known for apples and wine, culinary adventures await throughout the state. Coastal areas are especially rich with fresh and seasonal fare. Seafood is abundant; oysters are famous and fishing villages active. Artisan cheeses, organic produce and wild harvested foods are sought out by savvy chefs and diners alike.
Seattle’s fresh and savvy food scene captures the attention of national media, progressive chefs and world diners, alike. All the elements converge here - talent, sources for the freshest, organically-grown and hand-crafted ingredients, ethic diversity, and, let’s not forget, Washington wine. Pike Place Market offers a window into the soul of Cascadian Cuisine and its abundant offerings. Chateau St. Michelle, Washington’s oldest and an acclaimed winery, is just a short trip from downtown. Asian markets, cooking classes, coffee shops, fair-trade chocolate makers and more, round out this culinary journey.
Washington state lures and inspires the independent traveler with its dramatic landscapes, enchanting islands, towering, active volcanoes, dazzling skylines, mystical rainforests and every type of running water imaginable, from backcountry streams to a deep, blue, glacially-carved inland sea.
Whether you favor the delights of the great outdoors or the great indoors, Washington offers everything - except the ordinary.