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Enchantment Lakes | © laffertyryan / Flickr
Enchantment Lakes | © laffertyryan / Flickr
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15 Reasons Why You Should Visit Washington State

Picture of Jacklyn Grambush
Updated: 31 October 2017
Say what you want about other states, but there really isn’t anything like it. Leading in everything from apple production to industrial pioneers, why shouldn’t you visit Washington State? After all, it is located on the best coast.

Mountains

Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Baker, Mt. Adams, Mt. Olympus (#GreekMythology), Crystal Mountain, and Mt. Si—those are just the famous ones. Hike them, ski down them, watch them change colors as the sun sets—who cares. Just do something with them. They’re here, they’re magnificent, and you won’t ever forget them. Oh, by the way, some of them are also volcanoes.

Mt. Baker and Co. | © bato93 / Flickr
Mt. Baker and Co. | © bato93 / Flickr

Outdoor activities

When surrounded by the incredible Pacific Northwest, it’s pretty tough not to want to do everything outside (in spite of the weather). Whether you’re reading a book on the coast or kayaking on the Puget Sound, outside is where it’s at—regardless of the season. Hike, bike, stand-up paddleboard, and surf during the summer, then snowboard, ski, snowshoe, and snow camp in the winter. If you like the outdoors, this is your state.

Coastline

If you haven’t gotten the picture yet, Washington State has top notch landscapes, including beaches. With over 3,000 miles of shoreline, the state takes advantage of its proximity to the Pacific Ocean: the beaches, the tide pools, that salt water smell. Camp nearby or easily do a day trip from a larger city.

South Beach | © Doug Kerr / Flickr
South Beach | © Doug Kerr / Flickr

Marijuana

Whether weed helps you medically or you just enjoy it recreationally, Washington is one of five states where both are legal. From dispensaries to Seattle’s Hempfest, Washington provides the goods.

Rainforest

One of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S., the Hoh Rainforest is well protected on the Olympic Peninsula. Receiving 12 to 14 feet of rain per year, the rainforest used to span southern Alaska to central California. Camping and hiking are both allowed, and even recommended, in this enchanting canopy of lush greenery.

Hoh Rainforest | © Aryeh Alex / Flickr
Hoh Rainforest | © Aryeh Alex

Alcohol

With 62 cideries, 66 vineyards, and 362 breweries, Washington State ranges from the 2nd to 4th highest number of each in the entire nation. Western Washington might be all coastline, rainforest, and Seattle, but out east? Out east there are farms. Washington grows apples, grapes, and hops, and ferments everything.

Desert

To get from the sopping wet rainforest to the too-dry desert, just drive down the coast, through Seattle, through the Cascade Range, and after nine hours, voilà! Sand dunes and no more than 10 inches of rain per year. In particular, check out the Hanford Reach National Monument, Sun Lakes-Dry Falls, and the Juniper Dunes for picturesque stark landscapes.

Dry Falls, WA | © Tiffany Von Arnim / Flickr
Dry Falls, WA | © Tiffany Von Arnim

Cities

As the largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is certainly a city to explore. Other cities in the Evergreen State worth visiting include the second and third largest, Spokane (way out east, through the desert) and Tacoma (with some unique museums). Two smaller cities are Port Angeles, sandwiched between the Olympic National Park and the Strait of Juan de Fuca/Canadian border, and Leavenworth, a Bavarian-style town nestled in the Cascade Mountains.

Apples

With widespread options in Farmer’s Markets, farm-to-table meals, organic, vegan, and gluten-free foods, it’s practically worth coming to Washington State just to eat well. What really seals the deal though are Washington apples. Between 10 and 12 billion apples are annually harvested in the state, all of which are hand-picked. Six out of 10 apples consumed in the United States come from Washington State. Bigger, tastier, juicier, and more flavorful, Washington apples make the trip worthwhile all on their own.

Golden Delicious | © Leslie Seaton / Flickr
Golden Delicious | © Leslie Seaton / Flickr

Island life

That’s right, Washington State has islands. Many of them actually have no public transportation since they are so small. Some of the bigger ones include Vashon Island, Whidbey Island, and the San Juan Islands. Many of the islands offer state parks and nature preserves with breathtaking views.

National parks

Tied at number five for states with the most national parks, Washington State boasts the incredible North Cascades National Park, the Olympic National Park (including the Hoh Rainforest), and the Mount Rainier National Park. All three are simply planetary triumphs that humans continue to marvel at and tackle with camping, sports, and art.

North Cascades National Park | © Jeff Gunn / Flickr
North Cascades National Park | © Jeff Gunn / Flickr

First, most, oldest, largest

Trivia: Washington is the only state named after a president—so renamed from the territory’s previous name of “Columbia,” allegedly in an attempt to avoid confusion with the District of Columbia (#fail). It has the first mall in the nation, four of the five longest floating bridges in the world, more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states combined, the world’s largest building, the nation’s oldest operating gas station, the world’s first soft-serve ice cream machine, the largest hydroelectric U.S. dam, and the largest ferry fleet in the nation.

Whale-watching

The San Juan Islands in Washington State are one of the prime locations in the world for seeing the majestic orca whales. Catch a tour or simply try your luck on a ferry through the area.

An orca whale | © Kim / Flickr
An orca whale | © Kim / Flickr

Nature’s bodies of water

Other than the Pacific Ocean, Washington State has incredibly beautiful bodies of water. Just a few include two of the top five tallest waterfalls in the nation: Colonial Creek Falls and Johannesburg Falls. The most popular waterfall however is Snoqualmie Falls. The Columbia River Gorge, which divides Washington and Oregon, is the canyon through which the Columbia River cuts through the Cascade Mountains and is a National Scenic Area. Lake Chelan is the nation’s third deepest natural lake.

Seafood

That’s right—produce isn’t the only food Washington gets right. With the coast right there, the state takes advantage of fresh, quality products. So move over New England Clam Chowder. Check out Pike Place Market or pretty much any fresh seafood in the state.

Pike Place Fish Market, Pike Place Market, Seattle | © Jay Galvin / WikiCommons
Pike Place Fish Market, Pike Place Market, Seattle | © Jay Galvin / WikiCommons