The Washington State capital of Olympia is the perfect place to take in the beauty of the Pacific Northwest's evergreen population and eclectic culture.
Take in daily guided tours through the legislature building recounting its history and regional importance.
This performance space offers cultural concerts, musicals, and other artistic events throughout the year.
There are many hiking trails, children's playgrounds, rose gardens, and more scattered along the waterfront and through the surrounding 314 acres of park.
Perfect for families, here you can paint your own personalized ceramic bowls, plates, and trinkets to be fired in the kiln for you afterwards.
There are many outdoor water sports available near downtown offering hourly kayaking, paddle boarding, and boating rentals.
Take a guided tour of the State Capitol campus and start at the Legislative Building, the capital's centerpiece. Inside, you'll admire the dome decorated with a 5-ton bronze chandelier hanging from a 101-foot chain Visit the Legislative Galleries of the House of Representatives and the Senate located on the 4th floor. German Formosa marble adorns the Senate Chamber while its carpet decorates the room with English dogwood flowers. As you stroll 50 acres of impressive landscape, admire the architecture, sandstone, bronze and plaster designs spread throughout the building.
Hike 5 miles of walking trails and take photos of the varied wildlife. Leave the Visitor Center and hike to the Twin Barns Loop Trail encompassed by the woodlands, grasslands, and freshwater marshes. At the Observation Platform, you'll have an amazing view of the freshwater wetlands and a freshwater embankment. If you feel like riding the waters, rent a canoe, kayak, or other small boat to go along the Nisqually River or McAllister Creek. If you are quick, you might get a glimpse of the American Bittern, a type of heron.
Go on a guided tour and discover the history and story behind the salmon migration. As you stroll the half-mile pedestrian walking trail, discover the Upper, Middle and Lower Waterfalls along the Deschutes River. Enjoy the picturesque scenery of trees alongside the waterfalls and the wooden footbridge located above the Lower Falls. You'll marvel at the powerful currents of the stream. During late August, you'll have a front row seat to view and photograph salmon returning back home.
Located in the LOTTS's Regional Services Center in downtown Olympia, the WET Science Center is a teaching facility that educates the public on the purification and conservation of water. The center offers several games and activities for people of all ages. Learn about bacteria responsible for cleaning wastewater and how the urban water cycle works. As you make your way to the East Public Plaza, you'll be captivated by the designed wading stream that mimics the recycling process of natural waters and wetlands. Cool your feet in the water of the fountain.
Built in 1904 by the Olympia Brewing Company founder, Leopold Schmidt, the house is recognized for its "Three Meter" sign posted outside the front gate. Take the half-hour tour of the estate guided by Bob Crim, the home and garden's caretaker. You'll be enthralled by the stories he tells about the treasures of the basement archives and other tales of the place. Explore the magnificent gardens decorated with a pool and Romanesque statutes. The garden is open to the public for special occasions such as weddings, receptions or special events.
The best time to visit Olympia is between May and September, when the weather is more temperate and there is a better opportunity to explore Washington State's natural beauty.
The Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) is located around 60 miles from Olympia. Sound Transit public transportation can get you from the airport to downtown Seattle for as little as $3, but most travelers drive from Olympia along the I5 freeway.
Amtrak trains offer services down the Western US Coastline as well as throughout Washington State, with the nearest station in nearby Lacey. Tickets from Seattle to Olympia cost $15 and the journey is one hour.
The Interstate 5 freeway runs from Seattle all the way down through Portland to San Diego, passing right by the State Capitol in Olympia.
Greyhound offers bus services from Seattle to Olympia for $11.
The Hilton Garden Inn is located right by Watershed Park with a close connection to downtown Olympia. The Governor Hotel is right in the middle of downtown Olympia, close to the capitol building as well as many restaurants and bars.
Downtown - here in the heart of the city you will find many mom and pop restaurants, traditional crafts, and performance spaces.
Westside - this area is home to the largest shopping mall as well as some larger chain restaurants and residential housing.
East Bay Inlet - this neighborhood along the waterfront has many hiking trails leading up to Priest Point Park.
The Intercity Transit system runs throughout Olympia and into nearby cities, Lacey and Tumwater. The cost of a day pass is $2.5.
Taxi tariffs start at $2.50 and will cost you around $15 for a trip around the city center attractions and parks.
Olympia runs from east to west, with many one way streets. Capitol Way leads north to south, with 4th Avenue cutting through the city east-west. A rental car costs start at $20 a day.
The Olympia Farmers Market is the best spot to shop for groceries and local handicrafts, open between March and October. The Capital Mall is the main shopping center with international brands selling clothes, jewelry, and homewares.
The main grocery stores are the Bayview Thriftway and the Olympia Food Co-op. A dozen eggs costs $3.
McMenamin's Spar Café has been serving as a cultural hub of the city since 1930 with regular movie screenings and quiz nights. The restaurant serves mainly American fare, costing around $40 for two people.