Your guide to the best of Seattle and the State of Washington
| THIS ARTICLE WAS CREATED IN PARTNERSHIP WITH Visit Seattle & State of Washington |
With kilometres of hiking trails, waterfalls and scenic byways, the State of Washington and Seattle make the perfect holiday destinations for nature lovers.
When you think of the State of Washington in the Pacific Northwest, what comes to mind? Is it the towering pine trees, soaring mountains and mirror-perfect lakes, or the hustle and bustle of cities like Seattle, with its futuristic Space Needle? Perhaps it’s Starbucks (which originated there) or the fact it’s the ‘home’ of grunge music? Whatever it is, the State of Washington is hard to define.
Bordered by the deep blue Pacific Ocean, Canada, and the towering mountains of Oregon and Idaho, the State of Washington gracefully mixes some of the Pacific Northwest’s most stunning national parks with award-winning wineries, epic adventure sports and a sophisticated tech hub that plays host to some of the biggest tech giants in the world.
Any holiday to this part of America, just one stop from San Francisco, Los Angeles or Honolulu, should include a little of everything.
1. Immerse yourself in Washington State nature
Known as the Evergreen State, Washington has three national parks, and over 150 state parks, marine parks and historical parks. The three national parks – Olympic National Park, North Cascades National Park and Mt. Rainier National Park – are rated as some of the best in the country. If you’re short on time, plan a day trip with Evergreen Escapes and visit each one with the experts.
Around these natural wonders (and the entire state) lies a plethora of rivers, rapids and spectacular waterfalls. A few of the most accessible and stunning include the 80-metre-high Snoqualmie Falls, the canyon-brimmed Palouse Falls, and the monumental Spokane Falls, the largest urban waterfall in the States.
In Seattle, rent a kayak to paddle around Elliott Bay or grab the binoculars and head to Discovery Park – over 222 hectares of mixed habitats, from woodlands and meadows to beaches and freshwater environments. This diverse landscape is home to over 270 species of birds.
For road trippers, you can’t beat the amount of scenic byways that are on offer, including The Cascade Loop, which provides stunning scenery while taking you between haunted places and local ghost towns. For more driving (and less ghosts) try scenic Chuckanut Drive and mountainous Chinook Pass. For mountain bikers, Galbraith Mountain just outside of Bellingham, offers over 105 kilometres trails across 2800 acres. There’s a trail for every skill level.
2. Treat yourself to Washington State wine and food
With some of the most fertile land and sea in North America, it’s no surprise that Washington’s locally sourced seafood is famous. Whether it’s Dungeness crabs, or fresh oyster from North Puget Sound, Hood Canal, South Puget Sound or Washington Coast, the cool, salty waters of the Pacific are renowned by foodies.
If wine is more your style, head to wine country in Eastern Washington State, or the wine capital of Woodinville, where you can choose from 130 wineries. Keen visitors can even build their own blend at Airfield Wines.
If you can’t make it to the wineries themselves, wander around the trendy neighbourhood of SoDo (South of Downtown) in Seattle and choose a tasting room. Then head to the nearby Ballard Brewery District, to order local brews from one of 15 breweries and taprooms, or visit the Bavarian Village of Leavenworth for a beer and schnitzel. In the capital city of Olympia, Well 80 Artesian Brewing uses artesian water. You’ll taste the difference.
3. Discover Washington State cities
A city stay is the perfect start or finish to any trip to Washington. Seattle, with its eclectic neighbourhoods, coffee culture and well-established music scene, is where most people begin.
Located on the shores of Puget Sound, not surprisingly seafood is a passion for most locals, as is Asian fusion cuisine. With such a walkable centre, you can visit the famous Pike Public Market in the morning to try fresh pastries, clam chowder and fresh seafood, before making your way to the top of the famous Space Needle after lunch. Don’t forget an afternoon drink at The Bar at Chihuly Garden and Glass, after you marvel at the intricate glass creations.
Head north from the CBD and grab a table for dinner at the acclaimed Westward restaurant on the shores of Lake Union. Add a little pop culture to your stay with annual international music festivals Cloudbreak and Bumbershoot, or spot film and TV locations around town from Sleepless in Seattle (celebrating 30 years), Frasier, 50 Shades of Grey, Grey’s Anatomy and more.
For vintage clothes stores, antiques and an indie-vibe, head south to Washington’s laid-back capital, Olympia. The extensive farmer’s market offers local produce, while Fifth Avenue Flea Market is filled with antiques and second-hand books.
Drive four hours west to discover Spokane’s famous waterfront park, complete with U.S.A’s largest urbane waterfall. While you’re there, immerse yourself in the general artsy vibe that can be seen in the architecture and sculptures all around the city.
4. Sightseeing from the water
To best explore this region, getting out on the water is essential. Whether that is shucking oysters on a kayaking tour of Hood Canal, jumping in a hot tub boat in Seattle, island-hopping by ferry around the beautiful Bainbridge Island or even renting your own electric or wooden boat, Washington shines from the water’s edge. If that wasn’t enough to convince you, add Orca spotting on the San Juan Islands.
Venture further afield, by booking a cruise from Seattle to Alaska and see the frozen frontier up close and personal. Seven major cruise lines offer routes in the region, operating from April to October with seven to 14-day itineraries. Expect to see starkly beautiful landscapes, rugged coastlines, and rare, wild animals.
5. Explore Washington State’s First Nations history
Washington State is home to 29 nationally recognised tribes; to get an understanding of their history and their living present, spend some time in one of the many museums and cultural centres.
Apart from housing a huge selection of art, the Northwest Museum of Art and Culture also features one of the most prominent collections of Native culture artefacts with over 5,000 pieces. To get a broader view of Native Peoples throughout the country, visit The Lelooska Museum Collection, which has on display art, baskets, moccasins, tomahawks, clothes and a five-metre birch bark canoe – all hailing from the Northwest, Midwest, Northeast, Southeast, Southwest and the remote Arctic.