The Evergreen State, rounding out the northwest corner of the contiguous US, offers incredible business opportunities, art and outdoor adventures. For those who are just visiting, Washington State can be overwhelming to tackle. However, a good place to start is with the state’s top attractions, offering views – both natural and human-made – guaranteed to impress.
The third-largest city in the state is well known for its museums, including the Museum of Glass, the Chihuly Bridge of Glass, the Tacoma Art Museum and the Washington State History Museum. A few other points of interest include the Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium, as well as the Tacoma Dome.
This archipelago, comprising four main islands and several small islands not accessible by ferry, provides beautiful scenery and fun towns to explore. Must-see sights include Moran State Park on Orcas Island and Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Also, there are excellent whale-watching opportunities throughout the area.
With captivatingly stark scenery, the Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway lies in the desert region of Washington State. The Grand Coulee Dam is the “largest hydropower generating facility” in the nation and provides 75 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s power. You can also explore areas such as the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge.
One of two cities in the state to host a World’s Fair, Spokane is the second-largest city in Washington. Not too far from the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, the 100-acre (40ha) Riverfront Park lies on the Spokane River and features a sculpture walk and a cable car, which provides views over Spokane Falls.
It’s not so much the ferries themselves that are so spectacular, but rather the views possible only from a ferry in the middle of Puget Sound. Surrounded by water, vistas include the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges, islands, the Seattle skyline and – if you’re lucky – some orca whales.
This Bavarian-style town in Washington State was redesigned as a tourist destination in the 1960s after the decline of the logging and sawmill industries, which threatened its existence. Now a scenic getaway, Leavenworth is known for its Nutcracker Museum and Christmas Lighting Festival.
The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle is one of the most popular attractions in the Evergreen State. It hosted the 1962 World’s Fair and has since grown into a flourishing hub for technology and the arts. Don’t miss the Seattle Center (with the Space Needle), the Chihuly Garden and Glass, and Pike Place Market.
Camping and hiking are two year-round activities in Washington, and Diablo Lake, near Ross Lake and North Cascades National Park, is one for the purists. Watch the occasional kayak gliding on cerulean waters, its milky hue produced by the sun’s reflection onto tiny suspended glacial partials. Though the lake may be easily mistaken for a natural wonder, it’s man-made. The combination of thriving trout species, soaring mountains and pristine forests only add to its splendor.
In Seattle’s trendy Capitol Hill, there are more than 150,000 titles displayed on cedar shelves at Elliott Bay Book Company, tempting passers-by, occasional readers or die-hard bibliophiles. Founded in 1973 by Walter Carr, it went on to call the Globe Building home, introducing Seattle’s first bookstore café. By 2010, the store moved to Capitol Hill, where it organizes about 500 author readings annually. As it proclaims on its website, “Come for the books, stay for the experience.”
The first recorded Europeans arrived in Washington’s capital city in 1792, and by the early 1910s, 22 blocks were developed in the downtown area to produce a deep water harbor. While travelers often overlook Olympia, it’s a fantastic and compact city with a laid-back attitude and a largely carefree lifestyle. It has more than 1,360 acres (550ha) of parkland – quite a figure for a place with just 50,000 inhabitants. Visit the Percival Landing waterfront park in the morning for a mesmerizing start to your day.
Additional reporting by Jo Varley.