The great state of Washington is definitely my favorite of the 50 United States (thus far). Not only is it absolutely beautiful, but it holds a pretty special place in my heart. There are plenty of reasons to explore the Evergreen State, and lots of scenic places to visit in western Washington.
The Pacific Northwest holds a lot of clout for adventurers and outdoor lovers–and for good reason. Evergreen forests, national parks, and beautiful bodies of water abound in this huge state, where anyone can get outside and enjoy nature. Washington is also home to many charming towns and cities that perfectly incorporate the outdoors into everyday life.
There are so many places to explore in the Evergreen state. So many, in fact, that it would be hard to list them all in one post. That’s why this post is going to focus on places to visit in Western Washington. Honestly, I still need to explore more of Eastern Washington before making recommendations for the whole state.
From parks and wilderness areas to little towns you may have never heard of, this list of scenic places to visit in western Washington is a great starting point for any trip to the Evergreen State.
Top Places to Visit in Western Washington
I’m starting this list off with one of my favorite cities: Seattle. This is the first place many people think of when they think of Washington, and it is the state’s largest city. Here, you’ll get a good dose of art, culture, music, and food. With surprisingly beautiful weather in the summer, Seattle makes for the perfect mix of city- and outdoor-life.
Read Next: Seattle Guides
San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands sit up north near the Canadian border. The archipelago is made up of San Juan Island, Orcas Island, Lopez Island, and a few smaller islands. San Juan is the most popular tourist island, with Friday Harbor being the main port. In addition to the fun stuff to do on land, sailing and whale watching around the islands is best thing to do.
Read Next: Searching for Orcas in the San Juan Islands
Olympic National Park
You certainly can’t visit the Evergreen state without spending some time in the forest. Located over on the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park covers almost a million acres throughout the peninsula. Within the park, you’ll find a range of landscapes, including rainforest, beaches, and stunning mountains. Drive around the peninsula to get a taste of the national park in one day, or spend more time hiking and exploring the region.
Winthrop is more central Washington than western Washington, but I’m going to include it anyway. This quiet little town is just east of North Cascades National Park. It’s quite remote, but there are plenty of amenities in town. Winthrop is the perfect weekend getaway destination, great for hiking trips or romantic weekends. It’s a fun stop on any Washington roadtrip.
Read Next: A Cabin in Winthrop
Bellingham is a fun little city—one I almost skipped over, but I’m glad I didn’t. It’s a college town, which brings in a nice mix of arts, culture, and outdoors. While it’s not as exciting as Seattle, it’s a wonderful place to spend a couple of days for a more relaxing pace. Take a walk through Whatcom Falls Park and spend some time in the historic Fairhaven district.
Read Next: Bellingham Photo Diary
Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier is the shining star of Washington, the state’s tallest mountain. Standing at 14,410 feet, Rainier has a big presence in the Evergreen state. While you can see the mountain for miles and miles around the state, there’s no better way to see it than to get a little closer. Mount Rainier National Park is the perfect place for a hike, with colorful wildflowers in the spring and picture-perfect snow in the winter.
Port Townsend is an adorable harbor town on the tip of the Olympic Peninsula. You’ll find lots of bed and breakfasts inside old Victorian homes, Fort Worden State Park, and of course, more of that classic Washington scenery all around. It’s an easy drive to the rest of the Olympic Peninsula, and just a ferry ride away from Whidbey Island.
Read Next: Fort Worden State Park
With the perfect location between Seattle and the wild landscapes of the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll be spoilt for choice on the Kitsap Peninsula. The ferry system makes it easy to hop over for a day trip from the city to explore the towns of Kitsap County. Bainbridge Island is the perfect stop for shopping and dining, while Poulsbo embraces its Scandinavian heritage with a beautifully-designed main street.
Read Next: A Guide to the Kitsap Peninsula
North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park isn’t quite as popular as the other national parks in Washington, which makes it all the better! The park feels quite isolated, with less infrastructure than other national parks. It’s connected to the greater Ross Lake National Recreation Area, and is a fantastic place for hiking. Diablo Lake is one of the most recognizable features of the park with its bold turquoise waters. The Pacific Crest Trail also runs through the park.
Olympia is the oft-overlooked capital of Washington. It’s also the technical northern terminus of the famous Highway 101, which winds along the west coast all the way down to Southern California. The 101 makes for a scenic drive around the Olympic Peninsula, and it is definitely a must-do in the Evergreen state. But back to Olympia: check out the State Capitol building and Tumwater Falls Park.
Famed for its appearance in the cult TV show Twin Peaks, Snoqualmie Falls is one of the most-visited waterfalls in the state. You can get the iconic view of the 268-foot falls (with Salish Lodge perched right next to it) from the viewing deck, or you can hike down to the lower falls. It’s a quick half-hour drive east from Seattle, making it an easy day trip.
Anacortes is the terminal for ferries heading over to the San Juan Islands. Before you go, take some time to explore Fidalgo Island. Head down to Deception Pass State Park, and then stop over at Cap Sante Park and Washington Park before hopping on the ferry.
There are still so many little towns and hidden spots around Washington that I’d love to tell you about. And even more that I myself haven’t had a chance to see yet! That’s the beauty of the Evergreen state—everywhere you go is absolutely stunning. So get out there and explore Washington on your next adventure!
Comment below with any places in Western Washington you’d add to this list!
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