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There’s More to Washington than Seattle

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When you think of Washington State things that come to mind might include the Space Needle, Pike Place Market, Starbucks Coffee, and if you were a teen during the 90s, maybe The Real World on Pier 70. As much as I enjoy all of these wonderful Washington icons, I hope tourists come to see more than just Seattle in my home state. Some of my favorite destinations are just an hour or two from Seattle and can fit easily into a day trip while visiting the Emerald City.

Mount Rainier
At the foothills of Washington’s majestic Mount Rainier

Visit a Volcano – Mount Rainier or Mount Saint Helens (2 – 3½ Hours South of Seattle)
The sleeping beauties Mount Saint Helens and Mount Rainier are breathtaking from afar and even more so up close. Each mountain has something different to offer.

If you enjoy historical trips, visit Mount Saint Helens to learn about that fateful day of the volcano’s eruption in 1980. As you travel towards the mountain you will see how the land was forever changed and how it has re-grown to what it is today. Even in just the last few years Mt. Saint Helens has begun forming a new dome and is considered the most active volcano in the Cascades.

Love to hike or looking for some snow? Visit Mount Rainier in the winter for skiing or in the spring for endless fields of flowers and a true Kodak moment. This sleeping volcano has not erupted in over 150 years but could erupt again in our lifetime.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma
Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium in Tacoma

Tacoma & Gig Harbor (40 Minutes South of Seattle)
Tacoma, a popular destination for both locals and tourists, has many activities to offer. Pack a lunch and spend the day at Point Defiance Park with its beautiful five-mile drive or visit the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium.

Head to downtown Tacoma for a delicious variety of restaurants such as the Old Spaghetti factory, the Melting Pot, or if you’re looking for a premiere steakhouse and you’re not afraid to dish out a Benjamin Franklin, then El Gaucho will suit your taste. Before or after your meal, visit the world-renowned Dale Chihuly Museum of Glass to take a look at beautiful art that will even inspire the little ones. Make your way to the “Hot Shop” studio where you can watch the artists firsthand as they blow glass into masterpieces.

Cross over the Narrows Bridge from Tacoma for a visit to picturesque Gig Harbor. This small, but growing city lines the waters of the Puget Sound and has a very walk-able downtown. Ever heard of Galloping Gertie? That was the name of the first Tacoma Narrows Bridge that now lies under the water – which fell down due to high winds and structural failure in 1940. A new bridge was built soon after, which was named the Tacoma Narrow and in 2009 they added a second Narrows above the replacement bridge.

Washington State Capital Building in Olympia
State Capital Building in Olympia

Visit the Capital (1 Hour South of Seattle)
My hometown, Olympia, is Washington’s capital city and boasts culture, clean streets, and activities for the whole family. The State Capital, summer water fountain and waterfront boardwalk are all FREE and can be done in a day. Olympia also has plenty of fun parks for the kids and the ­­­­Chehalis Western Trail has more than 44 scenic miles dedicated to biking, walking, or jogging.

The Coast (2 Hours 45 Minutes from Seattle)
Although we don’t have beaches that make you want to whip out the suntan lotion and towels, Washington coast lines are majestic and can’t be beat for kite flying! Head Northwest to Port Angeles or drive Southwest to Ocean Shores for a day of building sand castles, horseback riding, or Geoduck hunting (pronounced gooey duck). If you’re thinking a Geoduck goes “Quack Quack,” you’re quite mistaken. This native clam is harvested from deep in the sand and is considered a delicacy in Asian countries.

Welcome to the Evergreen State!
These Northwest locations are just a small sampling of what Washington has to offer. Other sites that might pique your interest include the Yakima desert, the deepest lake in North America (Lake Chelan), and the Grand Coulee Dam. I know Washington will wow you with its vast array of sights to see all in one beautiful state!

What is your favorite thing to do in Washington? Let us know in the comments!

Crystal is married and raising her two young children in the beautiful Northwest, all while bringing her family along on adventures around the world and around the corner!  She loves sharing travel tips, reviews, and advice on her blog Travelers Barista.

  1. Colleen Lanin, The Travel Mama says

    Crystal – Thank you for writing a guest post for Travel Mamas! All of the sites sound lovely. I might have to plan a trip to Washington to coincide with my Vancouver trip for the Travel Bloggers Exchange (TBEX) Conference next year!

  2. Crystal aka Travelers Barista says

    Thanks Colleen, I enjoyed writing the post and the opportunity to work with you. I’ll be seeing you at Tbex 2011!

  3. Stephanie says

    I agree! Washington is such a beautiful state. We have friends that live in Camano Island (Such a beautiful place!) so we love visiting there and stopping in at Camano Island Coffee Roasters.

    Snoqualmie Falls is also a spectacular place:

  4. Debbie Dubrow says

    Great post 🙂 With the kids in school we’ve been enjoying exploring more of Washington State this year too… there really is a lot to do.

    At the moment I’m a little bit obsessed with Bellingham and Whatcom county – great food, beautiful scenery, and totally relaxed!

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