At the base of Washington’s North Cascades Mountain Range is Lake Chelan, a hub for scenery, outdoor recreation and wine tasting in the Pacific Northwest. One of the best ways to see the Columbia River Gorge from the Washington side is to drive along State Route 14, stopping off at the many scenic vantage points for photos.
After Seattle, Spokane is the largest city in Washington, and it is located in the eastern portion of the state close to the border with Idaho. Some of the city’s top attractions include the John A. Finch Arboretum, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture and Spokane Falls.
You may also want to check out some of the city’s popular golf courses or take a tasting tour through some many breweries that have popped up in Spokane in recent years. The rushing waters of the falls make it a stunning and unforgettable place to visit and a top spot for photographers in the Pacific Northwest.
There are short hiking trails around Snoqualmie Falls where visitors can admire enormous trees and lush green plant life within the spray of the waterfalls. More than half of all the glaciers found in the Continental United States are located within the North Cascades National Park in Washington.
The park is also home to a staggering amount of wildlife, including animals like grizzly bears, gray wolves and lynx. Hike or drive to Mount Baker, a volcano located within the North Cascades, to get an unparalleled view of the nearby Mt.
Within the national park, you’ll find opportunities for alpine climbing and back country camping, but you can also set off on shorter day hikes and mountain biking trails during the summer. In the north of the Puget Sound, and close to British Columbia, you’ll find the San Juan Islands.
The San Juan Islands are an inviting retreat and an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, offering an abundance of outdoor activities in a stunning landscape. You can kayak in the water, take tours to spot Orca Whales in their natural habitats, dine on fresh seafood or hike through the San Juan Island National Historical Park.
To see a lush green rain forest and a rugged mountain range in a single destination, try the Olympic National Park. One of the highlights of a visit to the Olympic National Park is the How Rain Forest, where you can see herds of elk roaming the landscape, or you can set off on a challenging hike to the summit of Mt.
For a less strenuous adventure, admire the summer wildflowers of Hurricane Ridge or walk among bluffs and sea caves in Cape Flattery. Clear blue water and stunning scenery awaits in the park’s Lake Crescent, and some of the most amazing views you can see straight from your car are found along the road known as the Coastal Strip.
Accessible from Seattle on a day trip, but also the perfect place to spend a few nights, Mount St. Helen's boasts a number of interesting and scenic attractions for visitors. The Johnston Ridge Observatory boasts spectacular vantage points of the north side of Mount St. Helen's as well as an extensive visitor center.
Head to the Space Needle for views over the city and across the Puget Sound, or walk around Green Lake for some fresh air and a glimpse at local life in Seattle. This incredible park is a popular destination to visit throughout the year, but snowy weather limits access to some areas.
Olympic National Park, which is a unique and diverse wilderness preserve, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve. During a visit to the park, you can experience a number of different ecosystems, including alpine mountain, temperate rain forests, and rugged ocean beaches.
Mount Baker Highway begins in Bellingham on State Route 542, passes through a charming rural area, then enters Mt. Be sure to stop at the U.S. Forest Service ranger station in Glacier for a map, recreation pointers, and the latest road and trail condition.
There will be many places to stop and enjoy the scenery, hike, or picnic, including Horseshoe Bend, Nook sack Falls, Heather Meadows, and Artist Point. If you plan to head all the way up to Artist Point (which, along with Heather Meadows is the reason Mount Baker Highway ranks so high on this list), August or September is the time to go.
Mount Rainier National Park is accessible to all who wish to experience it; even if you're not up for a hike, much can be experienced on a driving tour with frequent stops at scenic viewpoints. Must-do stops include the Diablo Lake Boat Tour, the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center, and the charming Western-themed town of Winthrop.
As you drive through the monument, you'll see evidence of the vast destruction from the 1980 eruption, but you'll also see signs of fantastic recovery in plant and animal life. Each of the visitors' centers does an excellent job of filling you in on different aspects of Mount St. Helen's, before, during, and after the events of 1980, with photographs, videos, models, and interpretive exhibits.
Anita Belmont/Getty Images Seattle's Pike Place Market is packed full of more stalls, shops, and eateries than you can explore in just one visit. You know you'll see a gorgeous array of seafood, produce, and flowers every time, and you know you'll also find nifty craft items, hear entertaining street musicians, and see numerous interesting characters.
Major ferry docks are located at downtown Seattle, Edmonds, Mutilated, Clinton, Kingston, Bainbridge Island, and Anacortes. World's fairs and expositions have left Washington with beautiful community spaces, and unique structures that have gone on to become treasured landmarks and Riverfront Park is a stunning example.
Expo '74 transformed Spokane's downtown railroad yards into lovely green spaces dotted with interesting buildings. Some of those structures remain, along with fun attractions such as the Spokane Falls Sky Ride, the historic LOOF Carousel, an amusement park, and seasonal ice skating rink.
Seattle's Museum of Flight is home to one of the most extensive air and space collections in the United States and attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year. Sleeping volcanoes like Mount Rainier rise above the horizon, and time seems to stand still in the lush green landscapes of the How Rain Forest on the Olympic Peninsula.
For the real city appeal, though, Seattle is the major cultural hub of the region, enabling many memorable day trips and weekend getaways. Fun things to do and exciting places to visit are found in every direction in Washington, including the more arid eastern side of the state in cities like Spokane.
Iconic coastal areas like Ruby and Rialto Beach define the rugged western edge of the park, only a short drive away from the over-sized trees and abundant foliage found in the How Rain Forest. Other popular attractions at the park include the snowy peaks of Hurricane Ridge and the welcoming waters of Sol Due Hot Springs.
The hiking trails at Olympic National Park traverse many landscapes, including a Hall of Mosses and the family-friendly Mary mere Falls. For excellent places to spend the night, the campgrounds at Olympic National Park put visitors close to the awe-inspiring scenery presented by this wild western region of Washington.
Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the Seattle Center's 74-acre campus contains many popular places to visit, including the Space Needle, Monorail, parkland, museums, and restaurants. Other fun things to do at the Seattle Center include a plethora of art installations, various theater and stage accommodations, and multiple garden and fountain settings.
Popular destinations within the San Juan Islands include Friday Harbor, Eastbound, and Moran State Park, where visitors will find one of the best campgrounds in Washington. Favorite things to do on the San Juan Islands include sea kayaking, whale watching, and dining on local fare.
An iconic Washington landmark seen from miles in every direction, Mount Rainier is the tallest peak in the state (14,410 feet). The Road to Paradise is open, weather permitting, year-round, allowing visitors to reach high elevations for hiking in summer and snowshoeing in winter.
Pike Place Market is the standard draw for tourists, but the historic buildings and venerable institutions add diversity. And back on the waterfront, a sea-level exploration takes you from the Olympic Sculpture Park in the north to the Seattle Aquarium and ferry terminal farther south.
Today, the town of Leavenworth proudly recognizes itself as a Bavarian Village, and it's common to see residents wearing lederhosen or blowing a morning serenade on an Alford. Outdoor recreation is also a main tourist draw to Leavenworth with iconic destinations like the Icicle Gorge and Alpine Lakes Wilderness nearby, home to one of the best hiking trails in Washington state.
Anglers, walkers, and nature lovers are all catered for in the national park, which shares a border with British Columbia, Canada. Some many highlights of this drive include the Washington Pass Overlook, the aquamarine waters of Ross Lake, and the western-inspired town of Winthrop in the Method Valley.
On the western border of the state, separating the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle, Puget Sound is a watery region filled with inlets, islands, and unique worlds to discover. Some things to do in Puget Sound include sea kayaking, whale watching, and visiting the vibrant communities that define the islands.
An extensive ferry system accesses the different destinations in Puget Sound, allowing for easy day trips and island hopping. Whitney Island, the largest in the sound, is home to the friendly towns of Oak Harbor and Cookeville, and exciting outdoor attractions like Deception Pass State Park.
Almost 150 square miles of forest was destroyed, houses were overwhelmed by masses of water and mud, and 57 people lost their lives. Set aside for both research and recreation purposes, all the best hiking trails at Mount St. Helen's provide interpretive information and a first-hand look at the destruction.
Visitor centers along Spirit Lake Highway (SR 504) provide further insight into the disaster, including Johnston Ridge Observatory, where it is possible to peer into the crater on a clear day. Spanning Whitney and Hidalgo Islands in Puget Sound, the Deception Pass Bridge is an iconic landmark of the region and civic achievement dating back to the Civilian Conservation Corps.
The town of Port Angeles lies along the northern shores of the Olympic Peninsula, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The region is known for the huge number of things to do outdoors, such as hiking, biking, golfing, boating, kayaking, fishing, birding, and more.
At this high alpine recreation area, hiking trails fan out from the visitor center leading to wildflower meadows in spring. One of the best small towns to visit in Washington state, Port Angeles is also home to many great hotels, eateries, and a waterfront downtown district.
The weather is considerably sunnier, farmland dots much of the landscape, and the population is less dense in much of the region, besides in the major cultural hub of Spokane. Spokane's venue for the 1974 World's Fair, Riverfront Park, now boasts a Ferris wheel, a hand-carved carousel made in 1909, and other amusement rides.
North of Seattle and a great access point for Mount Baker, the city of Bellingham has many top attractions worth exploring. For a quick introduction to this corner of the Pacific Northwest, stroll through Fair haven Historic District and duck into local art galleries or catch some sun on a restaurant patio.
Out of downtown, Western Washington University has amassed an excellent Outdoor Sculpture Collection among its academic offerings, and its campus is dotted with works small and large. The wide range of recreational opportunities include numerous hiking trails, forest cabin rentals, alpine climbing, and one of the best ski resorts in Washington state.
Those staying within the resort have free access to the mineral pools and spas, and anyone interested in checking out the rejuvenating water can pay a day-use fee. Spanning the entire length of the United States from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) traverses some of its biggest landscapes as it travels through Washington.
Free, guided public tours give the highlights of the building, including the five-ton Tiffany chandelier and permanent sculptures. History and natural appeal runs deep in Vancouver, and places like the Waterfront Renaissance Trail and Officer's Row add even more unique things to do.
Even those who aren't plane buffs will likely be impressed by this jet assembly plant tour at the Boeing Factory, located north of Seattle in Everett.