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If you’re looking for fun things to do in Washington State, you’ll find no shortage of options, with everything from popular city attractions to opportunities for outdoor adventure and everything in between.
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The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, Seattle not only offers outstanding cultural attractions and a thriving food, arts and music scene, but it’s surrounded by breathtaking natural beauty. Take part in iconic Emerald City delights like visiting the top of the Space Needle for a 360-degree view, checking out the famous famed Pike Place Market where you can enjoy the sounds and sights of street performers, watch the fishmonkers who toss the fresh catch of the day while cracking jokes and of course, buy fresh local seafood, produce and flowers.
Langley is a seaside village that sits atop a bluff on Whidbey Island, overlooking the glistening waters of Saratoga Passage and the Cascade Mountains. Often named as one of the Northwest’s “best escapes,” it offers a charming atmosphere, with its streets lined with historic buildings that house antique shops, book stores, cafes and eateries, many of which focus on dishes created with locally-grown ingredients. A variety of activities are available as well, including whale watching trips and the chance to meet winemakers that produce local wines. There are miles of wooded trails for exploring on foot or two-wheels, or you can get out onto the water in a kayak, paddling while watching for blue herons, bald eagles and perhaps even migrating whales.
San Juan Island is the most populous of the San Juan archipelago, accessed via ferry from the mainland. Getting there is a magnificent adventure in itself, with the ferry weaving its way through small forest islands. Once you arrive, you can look forward to a tranquil retreat and the pretty historic seaport town of Friday Harbor, which hosts museums, art galleries, eclectic shops and practically an endless array of eateries that boast menus based on local ingredients, including fresh seafood, produce and herbs. Head to Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west side of the island for the chance to spot orca whales that frequently pass by in the summer months, or join a kayak tour and get out on the water for a more closeup look.
On a clear day in the Puget Sound, 14,411-foot-high Mount Rainier looms over the region and can be seen from many vantage points, but by heading to Mount Rainier National Park you can enjoy experiences on this iconic mountain like hiking that are sure to leave a memorable impression. Not only does the mountain’s snow-capped summit await, but trails wind through wildflower-dotted alpine meadows, passing massive glaciers and cascading waterfalls. Some of the very best views can be found by hiking around Tipsoo Lake, a spot that draws countless artists and photographers who come to capture the reflection of the mountain in its calm, translucent waters.
Washington is famous for its many waterfalls, and Snoqualmie Falls is truly one of the best. Just a 40-minute drive east of Seattle, the fast-moving whitewater plunges nearly 300 feet from the Snoqualmie River into a 65-foot-deep pool below. The falls are surrounded by a picturesque park that includes a gift shop, small café and observation deck as well as a large grassy area, perfect for an afternoon picnic. Film and television trivia buffs will likely recognize the area as the falls have appeared in the cult TV series, “Twin Peaks,” as well as the 1993 flick “The Vanishing.”
Located on the northern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, the Victorian Seaport of Port Townsend is surrounded by water and mountains, while its main street is lined with interesting local shops, galleries and cafes, all housed in beautiful period buildings, while buskers can be heard strumming their guitars or plucking a violin. Kayaks can be rented at Fort Worden State Park, which also hosts a number of hiking trails and historic sites as well as a lighthouse. In the evening, you’ll have your choice of an array of outstanding restaurants, many serving dishes based on fresh, local ingredients in this foodie haven.
La Conner, located in the Skagit Valley about 70 miles north of Seattle, has been honored with accolades like “best small town,” “most undiscovered town” and “One of the best getaways in the U.S.A.” The small, historic town is arguably best known for hosting the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival which attracts hundreds of thousands from across the globe throughout the month of April. Visitors are treated to acres and acres of brilliantly-colored tulips in an array of colors, almost as far as the eye can see.
Long Beach is located on Washington’s southwest coast, and boasts nearly 30 minutes of sand as one of the most popular beach towns in the state. It’s the self-proclaimed “World’s Longest Beach,” and one of the best places for enjoying all types of activities on the sand, including kite flying. It hosts the world-renowned annual Washington State International Kite Festival every August, which draws visitors from all corners of the globe. Long Beach also hosts a World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame, along with carnival rides, games, bumper cars and a carousel. Visitors can even rent a bicycle built for two or a three-wheeler to cruise the beach.
The Dungeness Spit is the longest natural sand spit in the nation, stretching for 5.5 miles into the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the town of Sequim. Part of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, it’s home to over 250 species of birds, including the snowy owl, as well as 41 species of land mammals and eight different species of marine mammals. If you walk the full length of the Spit, you’ll reach New Dungeness Lighthouse, one of the oldest in the Pacific Northwest. Here you can take a free tour and enjoy even more impressive views from the top.
One of the nation’s least visited parks also happens to be one of the most magnificent. Tucked away in a corner in the extreme northwest, it offers everything from wild, rugged coastline with dense forest that dips down to storm-lashed stretches of sand to dramatic glacier-capped mountains, misty cliffs, spectacular waterfalls and a temperate rainforest that holds a vast primeval wilderness. Enjoy beach combing, hiking to Sol Duc Falls and around Hurricane Ridge, as well as water activities on Lake Crescent, a deep emerald-hued lake with pristine waters that were carved from glaciers centuries ago.