17 Best Places in Washington State

16 Best Places in Washington State
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Washington is a state that is incredibly diverse. The thriving city life meets impressive natural landscapes and you can’t help but be amazed. Therefore, there are countless cities, parks and sights to explore within Washington, which are worth a visit in any case. If you want variety as art, culture and nature and exercise, you are guaranteed to get your money’s worth within Washington. To really get a taste for it, the following article presents 17 places that are worth a visit and will provide impressive memories. By the way, it’s always worth having your camera ready, because some places look as if they had sprung from a picture book.

17. Lake Chelan

Lake Chelan
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The picturesque Lake Chelan in Chelan County is 81 km long and famous for its spectacular appearance. It’s a great place for a walk, a short boat ride, or to really unwind on the shore. Lake Chelan is one of the largest in Washington and its name comes from the Chelan tribe of Indians. Hiking enthusiasts will find beautiful hiking trails around the lake from which to view the lake from entirely new perspectives. The northern side of the lake is a nature reserve and recreation area.

If you plan to stay there longer you can make yourself comfortable at one of the five campsites. These can be reached on foot or from the water. Water sports enthusiasts will not miss out either, the natural jewel is excellent for stand up paddling or taking a ride on a pedal boat, for example. Divers can observe a wide variety of fish such as red salmon, American char or king salmon.

16. Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge, from Beacon Rock
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When you see the Columbia River Gorge for the first time, you will surely be overwhelmed by its beauty at first. It is a wide rocky gorge with a river breaking through the cascade chain. The long valley extends from The Dalles to Crown Point and forms the border between Washington and Ohio. As you hike through the gorge, you can marvel at numerous, spectacular waterfalls, such as Mullnomah Falls. If you want to witness the impressive natural spectacle, there are countless hikes that lead through the gorge.

Cyclists also get their money’s worth, as many routes can easily be done by bike. The landscape is marked by the tides and especially characteristic is the volcanic rock, which is partly interspersed with rivers or waterfalls. Plant lovers will find conifers, maple trees, poplars, oaks or ash trees on the trail. Due to the fact that there are so many differences in altitude, the fauna and flora there is highly diverse.

15. Spokane

The Spokane Falls and water and power building at downtown Riverfront Park in Spokane, Washington, USA
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Spokane is located in Washington and is the largest city in Eastern Washington. Before the arrival of Europeans, the area was populated by an Indian tribe, which also gave it its name. Spokane is located on the border of the famous Rocky Mountains. Particularly worth seeing is the Spokane River, which flows through the city and gives it a character all its own. There are also waterfalls to see, namely the Upper Spokane Falls and the Lower Spokane Falls.

If you want to get to Spokane Falls, you can ride the SkyRide gondolas. In the city, you will find many restaurants that offer local delicacies and pretty stores that invite you to shop. If you want a little recreation, be sure to check out Riverfront Park. It is a whopping 40 hectares in size. There is also the possibility to take a leisurely walk or a bike ride in Manito Park. There you can admire picturesque gardens, a greenhouse and a duck pond. When you have seen enough, it is a good idea to have a cool drink in one of the many enchanting bars.

14. Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls
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Looking at Snoqualmie Falls from a distance, they look like a beautiful painting. The falls are part of the Snoqualmie River and are located between Snoqualmie, Fall City, King County and Washington. The waterfall has a proud height of 82 meters and is about 30 meters wide. The drop height of Snoqualmie Falls is twice that of Niagara Falls. Many people may know the waterfall from the television series Twin Peaks, which is one of the reasons why about 1.5 million people visit it every year. In the past, Snoqualmie Falls was used as a burial ground by the Snoqualmie People. According to an ancient legend, this is the place where the moon created man.

If you plan to visit the falls, you can access them via Railroad Ave. There is a parking lot above the falls, and from there a pedestrian bridge leads to the viewpoint. Already on the way to this natural spectacle you will hear roaring and rushing and then be overwhelmed by the incredible beauty. If you want to explore the surrounding area, you can walk downstream a bit via the trail system on the shore and catch a glimpse of Snoqualmie Lower fall.

13. North Cascades National Park

North Cascades National Park
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In the north of Washington you will find the North Cascades National Park. It is located at the border to Canada and covers 2040 square kilometers. It got its name from the Cascades, a mountain range of volcanic origin. In the valley you can admire three reservoirs. Tourists should stay only in the National Recreation Areas, the rest of the national park is not developed. More than 1500 different plant species have been discovered within the areas of the park. The western valleys are rather humid, which is why they are covered with other plants.

In addition, North Cascades National Park is home to numerous animals, including birds, amphibians, reptiles, and insects. You may also see bears, cougars, wolves or hawks, but they are not very numerous. Between Newhalem and the Ross Lake National Recreation Area boundary at Bacon Creek, look for bald eagles. Along the Skaigit River they feed on salmon. The visitor center at Newhalem is open daily from spring through fall. In winter, it is only open on weekends. In total, there are about 580 kilometers of trails in the North Cascades National Park.

12. San Juan Islands

San Juan Islands
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From a distance, the San Juan Islands look mystical and beautiful, which is why they have become a popular destination, especially for tourists. It is a group of islands located in the northwest of Washington. More precisely, the San Juan Islands are understood to be several hundred islands. 172 of them are big enough to have a name. The San Juan Islands are even inhabited, with about 16,000 people living there. If you want to visit them, you have to look east of the Canadian Vancouver Island.

Many visitors also come here because it is possible to observe orcas. To get there, you can take a ferry and watch the spectacular scenery from the board. Each island is very special and different from the others. Lopez Island is especially known because of its friendly inhabitants, which is why it is called the friendly island. There you can find forests, quiet bays and charming beaches. You can also relax in a nice café or restaurant, or stroll through the many charming stores. On San Juan Island alpacas have settled, furthermore there are lavender fields. Also a walk on the farmlands or through the extensive forests is absolutely recommendable.

11. Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park, Washington State
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Olympic National Park is located in the western part of Washington, more precisely on the Olympic Peninsula. Since 1976, Olympic National Park has also been designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, and in 1981, the organization declared it a World Heritage Site. Due to the fact that the park is located on a remote island, it was possible for very special plant and animal species to develop there, which can only be found in this park. The park is also a popular research area for biologists and zoologists.

If you take a closer look at the park, you can see that it consists of two separate parts. The coastal section is particularly mystical because it is very rugged and often shrouded in fog. Moving inland, one is quickly surrounded by forests. Especially worth seeing is the core area of the park, namely the Olympic Mountains. They are covered by many ancient glaciers.

In the west of the Olympic Mountains there is a rainforest, which is also the rainiest point in the USA, apart from Alaska and Hawaii. In the park there are several small visitor centers and many partly paved nature trails. It is also possible to go hiking on numerous trails. In total, visitors will find nearly 1000 kilometers of hiking trails leading to all parts of the park.

10. Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
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Mount St. Helens is a 40,000-year-old volcano that last erupted in 1980. Since then, fields of ash, lava hills and rivers of basalt have dotted the landscape. Around the base of the mountain are apron-like formations, where water later dammed up and formed Spirit Lake. If you go to the Winds of Change Trail, which is about 400 meters long, you can see how the wind at that time carried the rocks, which then hit the Coldwater Ridge. The forest was turned into a wasteland in the process.

If you want to get to the west side, you have to take the Spirit Lake Memorial Highway. This is an 83 km stretch that offers breathtaking views of the North Fork Toutle River landslide. It also allows you to view a massive mudslide that buried the valley and highway in 1980. The Johnston Ridge Observatory offers a fantastic panoramic view of the entire region and the large crater. If you want to reach the south side of Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument, you should take State Route 503. Here you can participate in activities such as volcano climbing, caving or mountain biking.

9. Seattle

Seattle cityscape
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Seattle is a diverse and dynamic metropolis in the Pacific Northwest. There, visitors can expect a fluorescent gastronomic scene and individual neighborhoods along with breathtaking coastal scenery. The city borders Puget Sound to the west and Lake Washington to the east. Therefore, Seattle offers many water activities and sightseeing tours by boat. The city’s landmark is the Space Needle, a reminder of the 1962 World’s Fair. If you want to get a good view of the city, you should go to the observation deck.

Seattle is also home to the oldest continuously operating food market in the United States, Pike Place Market. Here you can buy special cheeses, fresh fish or delicious bread. Art lovers will feel right at home at Chihuly Garden and Glass. There you can marvel at spectacular glass sculptures and take a leisurely stroll. Downtown Seattle is home to the city’s most famous attractions, namely Pike Place Market and the Seattle Art Museum. The alternative artists’ district of Fremont is also worth a visit.

8. Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainer National Park
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Mount Rainer National Park is a proud 953 square kilometers and is located around Mount Rainer. Mount Rainer is a 4292 meter high volcano, which belongs to the highest mountain of the Cascade Range. In the north of the park is the White River Entrance, a historic building complex worth seeing. In addition, a hotel, Paradise Inn, has actually settled in the park. It was later listed as a historic landmark on the Register of Historic Places.

Mount Rainer National Park, USA
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Also located in the park is the Yakima Park Stockade Group, an impressive complex of buildings also listed on the Register of Historic Places. Thanks to its many elevations, the park has many different vegetation zones. Around Mount Rainer is dense virgin forest that is home to many different species of wildlife. Within the park there are tourist areas, namely five in number. Four of them are equipped with a visitor center. Along the spur roads you can get to the main attractions and visitor centers.

7. Leavenworth

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Leavenworth has a quite charming center with picturesque houses and ancient buildings. It is a relatively small town with few residents, located in the mountains of the Cascade Range around U.S Highway 2. Despite the fact that the city is so small, it is visited by nearly two million tourists annually. Throughout the year, there are always activities and festivals themed to Bavaria and the Alpine region. The look of the city is also somewhat reminiscent of a mountain village.

For example, there is a May festival, an Oktoberfest and a Christkindlmarkt. In addition, Leavenworth is the center of various outdoor activities, such as climbing, hiking, horseback riding or kayaking. Castle Rock is located about five kilometers west above U.S Highway 2, where popular climbing routes and several rope slopes can be found. Winter sports are also plentiful in Leavenworth, with 26 kilometers of cross-country ski trails.

6. Tacoma

Tacoma, Washington, USA with Mt. Rainier in the distance
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The port city of Tacoma is located in Pierce County and at the southern end of Puget Sound. To the east of the city, you can see the Cascade Mountains along with Mount Rainer volcano. The port city is full of historical wonders and artistic masterpieces. Overall, the city represents an exciting blend of new and old. The 760-acre Point Defiance Park is home to some of the city’s top attractions.

Here you’ll find scenic trails and even a zoo. If you decide to visit the Museum of Glass, be sure to check out the 150-meter Chihuly Glass Bridge, which opened in 2002. It connects the Museum of Glass with the Foss Waterway. Tacoma is also home to the Washington State Historical Museum. Especially history and culture enthusiasts will get their money’s worth here and browse through the exhibits related to the history of Washington State.

5. Bellingham

Boulevard Park Pier on the shore of Bellingham Bay in Bellingham, Washington, USA
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About 130 km north of Seattle on Bellingham Bay you will find the city of Bellingham. The downtown and surrounding area offer several activities. From the city you can reach the water and the North Cascades within a few minutes. A wide variety of outdoor activities can be done there. From Waterfront Boulevard Park, for example, you can watch the sunset quite beautifully. The park is a waterfront community park. From there, visitors can explore numerous hiking trails, including the 4-kilometer South Pay Trail, which offers a magnificent view.

If you want to experience the city of Bellingham up close and personal, take a trip to the Bellingham Farmer Market. There you can buy local delicacies. You can also enjoy local dishes here. If you are interested in trains, a visit to the Bellingham Railway Museum is a must. Since trains played a key role in the early settlement of the U.S., this museum is highly significant to residents.

4. Olympia

Olympia, Washington, USA State Capitol
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The capital of Washington is a center for commerce, industry and freight transportation. But also for tourists this place is absolutely worth seeing. The city is located directly on the sea and impresses with enchanting sandy beaches. Overall, the city offers the perfect conditions for many adventures, especially for outdoor fans. Even if you prefer to visit historical monuments and taste regional specialties, you will get your money’s worth.

The most popular sight is the magnificent Capitol, which is a prominent center of the city. The Capitol, built of sandstone in 1892, is also worth a visit. You can also stop by the Bigelow House and Museum or the Crosby House Museum. If you are traveling with children or young-at-heart adults, you should visit the Hands On Children Museum. This is a wild adventure playground.

3. Cape Flattery

Panorama of Cape Flattery
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At first glance, Cape Flattery looks like it came out of a science fiction series. The landmark is located on the Pacific Ocean and also marks the western point of the geographically contiguous federation of states in the USA. If you decide to visit Cape Flattery, it may be raining, foggy or the sky is covered with clouds. To get there you can do it by ferry, for example.

If you are traveling by car, you can drive south to Tacoma and cross Pudget Sound. The hike to Cape Flattery leads over rooted and overgrown trails, but with the right footwear it is easily manageable. Especially worth seeing and a great photo motif is also the Cape Flattery Lighthouse, which is located on Tatoosh Island. The Fucar Pillar, a very impressive rock that rises out of the water, represents the most northwestern point of Washington.

2. Palouse Falls State Park

Palouse Falls State Park, Washington, USA
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Palouse Falls State Park is definitely worth a visit as well. The area of the park is 42 hectares and the heart of the park is the Palouse Falls. The Palouse River flows through the park, plunging over a cliff into a round basin and becoming a real natural spectacle. The walls of the canyon are very high and consist of a layer of Columbie plateau basalt up to 30 cm thick.

Surrounding this sight is a vast landscape. Animals such as yellow-bellied marmots, bull snakes and rattlesnakes have also settled there. The special thing about Palouse State Park is that it is off the beaten track. Once you arrive at the lookout point, you get a breathtaking view. As a rule, national parks in the USA are partially or fully developed. There are no visitor centers or campgrounds in Palouse State Park.

1. Walla Walla

Lovely meadows near Walla Walla
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This charming little town at the foot of the Blue Mountains is located in southeastern Washington. There you will find wineries and beautiful scenery. The popular wine region holds many interesting museums and historical attractions that bring the exciting past to life. Music and the arts are also a big part of the college town. Concerts and art festivals are often held here, especially in the summer.

Downtown, you’ll find restored buildings that date back to the 19th century, galleries, restaurants and wine bars where you can sample a wine or two. If you like to stretch your legs, you should go hiking in the Blue Mountains east of the city. This is also a great place for cycling. Highlights in Walla Walla include the Pioneer Part, the Walla Walla Vitners, the Fort Walla Walla Museum and the Pepper Bridge Winery.

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Map of Washington State