Tucked away in the northwest United States lies the wonderfully moody and gorgeous state of Washington.
For the nature lover, Washington has it all. For example, it has miles of pristine coastline, volcanoes for pretending the floor is lava, and mountain peaks to yell from. There’s even a rainforest!
For all of the foodies, artists, musicians, and historians out there, don’t worry. Washington is waterlogged with world-class cultural experiences.
With seemingly one million things to offer, Washington has something for everyone.
Now that I’ve convinced you to visit Washington on your next trip, here are 11 interesting and beautiful places to visit in Washington.
Looking for more US travel inspiration?
Check out these guides on the best places to visit in…
Mount Rainier National Park
Hands down, one of the prettiest places I’ve been in the United States.
At 14,411’, Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain, and volcano, in the Cascade Mountain range.
Draped in 25 major glaciers, the mountain is the most glacially covered mountain peak in the contiguous United States. Additionally, it’s home to an abundance of wildlife. Here you can find elk, black bear, foxes, eagles, owls, any many other fascinating forest critters.
It’s whimsically beautiful at Mount Rainier, with renowned wild flowers coating rolling hills at the forefront of majestic and rugged mountain peaks. You’ll want to sing and twirl in your hiking boots all the way up the glacier.
When you do make your way up on one of the many, many trails the park has to offer, you’ll be greeted by some breathtaking views. In the morning, the endless fog floating above the surrounding peaks makes it feel like walking on the clouds.
Whether you’re an avid hiker or someone who just enjoys a scenic drive, Mount Rainier is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Washington.
Mount Rainier viewpoint by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
Olympic National Park
Another Washington State jewel of biodiversity and distinct landscapes is Olympic National Park.
Vast as it is gorgeous, this National Park offers a wide variety of experiences. You’ll find beautiful coasts, rainforests, alpine lakes, and mountain peaks. Just a couple hours drive from Seattle, Olympic National Park makes a fascinating place to visit for everyone.
A visit to the park should include a visit to Hoh Rain Forest, one of the few temperate rain forests in the United States. A stroll through this moss covered forest feels mythical, like an impressive Centaur is going to pop out on the trail and direct you to some holy grail or legendary sword. Close your eyes and let your ears hone in on a symphony of wildlife carrying out their day.
Another highlight is Ruby Beach. Walking down the trail to the beach, you’re met with a light mist and waves crashing in the distant fog. You’ll also notice the shadows of massive figures in the distance shrouded by fog. They’re not sleeping giants, they’re incredible sea stacks. Take a stroll down the beach and take in the other-worldly scene.
As I’ve alluded, Olympic National Park feels like a magical place not of this planet, or at least not of the country. That’s what makes Olympic National Park an incredible place to see in Washington and a must-have on your bucket list.
Ruby Beach by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
San Juan Islands
Lesser known compared to the aforementioned Rainier and Olympic National Parks, but just as stunning a representative of Washington State. Off the coast of northwest Washington, so close to Canada you can smell the maple syrup, sits the archipelago known as the San Juan Islands.
The archipelago consists of 172 named islands, with 3 main islands in San Juan Island, Lopez Island, and Orca Island each offering unique landscapes and state parks. The islands are an excellent place for all things recreation such as hiking, kayaking, and boating, and the reason I went, whale-watching.
Look up the best places to see whales in the United States, and the San Juan Islands will surely show up. I had one of the most incredible wildlife experiences in my life when we came across a pod of orcas off the coast of Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island.
One particularly rambunctious orca launched themself out of the water and crashed back down into the water so close I felt the mist from their splash… such a show-off.
Another cool part of this experience was the fact that we did this from the land, no need to shell out for a fancy whale-watching tour!
I highly recommend a visit to the San Juan Islands to anyone who will listen. Even if you don’t get to see the whales, the Islands make a gorgeous trip with stunning landscaped and lovely sea towns throughout.
San Juan Island Orca by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
Okay, let’s take a break from nature. Give me some civilization. How could this be a list of interesting things to do without mentioning Seattle? We all fantasize about taking a brooding stroll with coffee in hand through the rainy birthplace of legendary grunge sounds from the likes of Nirvana, Soundgarden, and Pearl Jam (is Pearl Jam grunge?).
Maybe your Seattle fantasy includes being a medical professional at a local hospital with an extremely overly complicated personal life. Enough pop culture references. You get the point, Seattle is a dreamy sea metropolis with countless activities to offer. If you like delicious food, mind-boggling art, brain-melting music, or a love for shopping you will find a home here.
One of my favorite places to visit in Seattle is the famous Pike Place Market. You can walk through this market, get slapped in the face by a flying fish, find yourself drinking one of the best martini’s you’ve ever had, throw back a perfect cup of espresso, and leave not remembering when or where you purchased that stunning bouquet of flowers you’re holding. I love a market.
Needless to say, Seattle should be high on your list of places to visit in Washington.
Seattle view from above by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
Fort Casey State Park
History buffs and lovers of an excellent view, put Fort Casey State Park on your list of places to visit in Washington State.
Located on Whidbey Island off the coast of Seattle, visiting Fort Casey State Park allows you to jump back in time. Imagine you’re a young soldier scanning the horizon during WWII. It’s fascinating walking in and out of the fort’s dwellings and halls. Visitors can peer through the viewports out onto the Pacific and getting an up close look at the massive cannons perched on top of the forts.
Built into the side of a cliff, Fort Casey State Park offers some incredible views of the ocean and features a charming lighthouse to explore. We all love a charming lighthouse. We also ran into some adorable wildlife including a curious sea lion who greeted us on the beach.
With the ferry ride an added bonus, Fort Casey is a beautiful place to spend a day with the family during your visit to Washington. The crashing ocean waves will drown out the sound of your kids bickering.
Fort Casey State Park by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
Coastal Towns with Washington State Ferries!
It was too challenging to pick just one for this post, there’s Sequim, Langely, and Port Angeles to name a few. But, a visit to one of Washington’s coastal towns is a must. While difficult, you really can’t go wrong picking one!
Get up early on a Saturday, or Sunday if Friday night was too much fun, get out to the ferry and explore what the coast of Washington has to offer. I can’t stress enough how beautiful it is weaving in and out of those floating islands of evergreen on your way to your sea village destination.
One of our favorite days in Washington was simply walking through Langely. We watched a seal pop its head in and out of the water, peered into the various artist studios and boutiques, and enjoyed a craft beer on the Double Bluff Brewing patio. Then we topped the day off with incredibly fresh oysters and martini’s in the quaint Saltwater Fish House & Oyster Bar.
There are dozens of beautiful islands off the coast of Washington to visit. Whichever you decide to chose, enjoy the ride and you won’t regret it!
Whidbey Island viewpoint by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
Seattle made a wonderful base for many reasons, one of them being the green space. A visit to Seattle’s parks alone is worth the time during a trip to Washington. Here are a couple of our favorite Seattle Parks:
Kerry Park – When visiting a place, you might be like me and want to find the best viewpoint from above to grab the perfect photo. Kerry Park is a home run for photographers. Sure, the secret may be out, but the view of Seattle from this perched park is a must-see.
Washington Park Arboretum – The perfect place to stretch your legs and find your zen. Numerous trails weave in and out of gorgeous gardens with hundreds of species of plant life on display. Alongside the beautiful vegetation exists and abundance of wild life! For example, we had an incredible encounter with a very curious owl here. Photographer, artist, or disgruntled employee who needs a breather, this is the place to go.
Kerry Park viewpoint by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
Take to the Skies
Maybe this is more of a thing to do than a place to visit, but the sky is a beautiful and interesting place, right?
One of the most fun experiences I had while in Washington State was taking a bi-plane ride over Seattle.
We booked with Seattle Seaplanes and the next day, off we went. We lifted up off the water and buzzed by the Space Needle, Lumen Field, Puget Sound, and the surrounding Seattle area.
Cruising through the sky allowed us to take in an entirely different perspective of Seattle and its beautiful surroundings. We even saw Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos’ houses!
If you get the chance, assuming you’re not totally afraid of heights, seeing Washington from the sky is a site to behold. As if it wasn’t beautiful enough from the ground.
View of Seattle from Above by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
You might’ve heard of a quirky Bavarian village tucked into the Cascade Mountains in Washington. Maybe you haven’t. Either way, it’s the town of Leavenworth.
If you’d like to get over to Munich and its surrounding villages, but can’t make it work just yet, consider Leavenworth. Because of its numerous German celebrations, festivals, and architecture, it will give you the look and feel of a Bavarian vacation.
In addition to its uniquely European experience, the town is prime location for the incredible outdoor recreation. The Cascades offer wonderful opportunities for hiking, kayaking, swimming, and mountain biking. Go for an epic alpine adventure, and come back to Leavenworth for some bratwurst and a frosty German pilsner.
Leavenworth is undoubtably one of the most interesting towns to visit in Washington.
Leavenworth by Rosalie Barley on Unsplash
Seattle’s sister to the east. While Seattle was our base during our month long stint in Washington, we stayed in Spokane for a couple days on the way to Seattle. It was a logistical plan, we didn’t know much about Spokane beforehand, but I’m very glad I had the chance to check this Washington city out.
Spokane is stacked with some great restaurants, bars, and venues. Our first day we indulged in some delightful salmon toast, burgers, and fried chicken sandwiches at sleek Wooden City and followed it up with excellently crafted cocktails at Baby Bar. This is would’ve been more than enough to have me smiling as I rest my weary head for the night. However, the highlight came when we strolled through River Front Park.
The site of the 1974 World Fair offers multitude of things to do and see. For example you can check out the sculpture work or take a ride on the carousel. You can even take a cable ride over Spokane Falls. Alternatively, you can check out the falls with both feet planted, as we did.
While not as popular as the emerald city to the west, Spokane is a great place to visit in Washington with plenty of interesting things to see and do for everyone.
Spokane River at Sunset by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
Lumen Field/T-Mobile Park
Hello, sports enthusiasts. If you find yourself in Washington in the right season, I implore you to go to a game. Seattle fans are some of the most diehard and raucous fanbases in the NFL. Therefore, a visit to Lumen Field on game day is one of the most fun things to do in Washington.
Being tucked up in the nosebleed section surrounded by people who may or may not have had one or two many brews can be a great way to get to know the area, albeit for better or worse.
That’s because meeting the folks who know it best will provide fascinating insight into what’s great about that place. For example, the lovely gentlemen next to us recommended a great brewery with a Nepalese dumpling truck in the back. We had no idea we needed those Nepalese dumplings in our life.
It’s not always the rowdy atmosphere of Lumen field, but Mariners games are a great way to spend an afternoon. That’s because they’re highly affordable and offer some awesome views of the bay and the city.
Even if you’d rather not spend on a game (alert: they can get expensive), head downtown near the stadiums on game day and walk amongst the countless vendors and overflowing sports bars erupting with cheer. You’ll find yourself rooting for Seattle even if you’re not sure which color uniform they are on the bar TV.
Attending one of these sporting events is an awesome thing to do while in Washington.
Lumen Field by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)
Did we miss any of your favorite places in Washington?
Let us know in the comments if there are anymore places in Washington you’d like to see on our list!