Washington is a beautiful state with plenty of stunning places to visit. If you’re looking for ideas on what there is to see and do in this region of the Pacific Northwest, I’m going to help you discover some of the most amazing places you won’t want to miss.
From small towns oozing classic Victorian charm to expansive national parks filled with stunning beauty, Washington has something to delight people of all ages.
Whether you’re into immersing yourself in nature or living that city life, there’s something for everyone in Washington. So plan yourself a good old-fashioned road trip and start exploring all that this wonderful state has to offer!
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20 Beautiful Places To Visit In Washington
1. Mount Rainier National Park
No trip to Washington is complete without a Mount Rainier National Park visit. The sights and experiences at this iconic national park are truly unforgettable. I’ve been here twice already, and I’m itching for my next trip back!
Located just 2 hours south of Seattle, Mount Rainier National Park receives more than two million visitors each year. The park is home to the towering Mount Rainier, which stands at over 14,000 feet tall.
There’s so much to see and do at Mount Rainier National Park all year round, from hiking among the wildflowers, to chasing hundreds of spectacular waterfalls, to even strolling through a temperate rainforest.
Of note, Mount Rainier NP is a hiker’s paradise. Among the many, many hikes are standouts like the 6-mile roundtrip Mount Fremont Lookout Trail in the Sunrise area and the 5.5-mile Skyline Trail hike in the Paradise area (a must-do for any first-time visitor).
If you’re a waterfall chaser, head to the Ohanapecosh area to see Silver Falls, one of the best-looking waterfalls in the park and one of my absolute favorites!
2. Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is one of the most popular places to visit in Washington State. Situated on the Olympic Peninsula, the park is home to a variety of landscapes, including rainforests, mountains, beaches, and alpine meadows.
Visitors can enjoy a wide range of activities, such as hiking, camping, fishing, and birdwatching.
One of the most popular attractions in the park is Hurricane Ridge, which offers stunning views of the Olympic Mountains.
Other popular places to visit include Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Hot Springs, and Hoh Rainforest. There are also several historic sites within the park, including the Hurricane Ridge Ski Area and the Elwha River Dam.
While you’re here, don’t miss a quick visit to nearby Port Angeles. Port Angeles is home to a number of interesting museums and galleries.
For starters, the Clallam County Historical Society Museum is a great place to learn about the area’s history, and the Feiro Marine Life Center offers a fascinating look at the region’s marine life.
Olympic National Park is a truly unique place that is well worth a visit when you’re in Washington!
3. North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park is the last of the national parks in Washington. This national park is located in the north-central part of the state, and it is known for its dramatic alpine scenery. It’s very reminiscent of the Swiss Alps.
Often called “The American Alps”, the park is home to rugged mountains, glacier peaks, and evergreen forests surrounding clear blue lakes. And by blue, I mean really blue!
Among the most notable views in North Cascades is Diablo Lake. You absolutely cannot miss this large turquoise lake even if you tried–you’ll see it peeking up at you along Highway 20, the only highway through the park. Be sure to stop at one of the many viewpoints along the way to grab some photos of it!
Once in the park, visitors can enjoy hiking, camping, and wildlife watching. The park also offers opportunities for winter recreation, such as skiing and snowshoeing.
If you only have one day to spend in the North Cascades, the Maple Pass Loop Hike is the ultimate hike to do. While the 7.2-mile hike is a bit more challenging, with a 2000-foot elevation gain, it is well worth the experience.
For a more family-friendly trail, opt for the much shorter quarter-mile Washington Pass Overlook Trail!
All in all, North Cascades National Park is a beautiful place to explore, and it is a great destination for both adventure seekers and nature lovers.
4. Spokane Falls
Spokane Falls is one of the biggest draws of Spokane, Washington.
The falls are located on the Spokane River, which runs through the city of Spokane. The falls are made up of two parts: the Upper Falls and the Lower Falls. The Upper Falls is 105 feet high and the Lower Falls is 50 feet high. There is also a series of smaller cascades above the main falls.
Visitors can also walk across a bridge that spans the river between the two falls. The bridge offers great views of both falls as well!
So aside from the falls themselves, what else is there to do there? Well, the area around the falls is beautiful, with flowers, trees, and other vegetation. There are also several walking trails that lead to different viewpoints so be sure to check all of them out. The falls are a popular spot for picnics, swimming, and fishing.
5. The San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are located in the northwest corner of Washington state and are known for their beautiful scenery and recreational opportunities.
The islands are accessible by ferry from Anacortes, WA and there are plenty of beautiful places to visit on the islands including state parks, beaches, and hiking trails. There are many ways to enjoy the Islands including kayaking, whale watching, and bird watching. The San Juan Islands are also home to a variety of wildlife including orcas, seals, eagles, and ospreys.
There are several small islands that make up the San Juans, and each one has something unique to offer visitors.
Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juans and is home to several state parks and wildlife preserves. Lopez Island is a popular destination for kayaking and hiking, and Shaw Island is known for its beautiful beaches.
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to visit in Washington, the San Juan Islands are a great option.
6. Friday Harbor
Friday Harbor is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Washington State. Situated on San Juan Island, the town offers spectacular views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains.
There are also numerous shops and restaurants, as well as a variety of hotels and bed and breakfasts. You shouldn’t miss a stroll through town, because this spot is known for its quaint shops, cafes, and galleries. There is also a beautiful marina, where you can watch the boats come and go.
Visitors can enjoy whale watching, kayaking, fishing, and hiking, or simply relax on one of the many beaches. Whether you’re looking for a romantic getaway or a family vacation, Friday Harbor is the perfect destination.
Where To Stay: Friday Harbor House
7. Leavenworth, Washington
Leavenworth is a beautiful town located in the Cascade Mountains of Washington state. The town is situated on the Wenatchee River, and is known for its Bavarian-style architecture and scenic mountain views.
Leavenworth is home to a variety of shops and restaurants that offer traditional Bavarian fare and gifts, as well as a number of art galleries and museums. The town hosts several annual events, including an Oktoberfest celebration and a holiday lighting ceremony.
Visitors to Leavenworth can also enjoy hiking and camping in the surrounding mountains, whitewater rafting on the Wenatchee River, and skiing at the nearby Stevens Pass Ski Resort.
With its beautiful setting and abundance of activities, Leavenworth is one of the most popular places to visit in Washington. Whether you’re looking for a place to relax or an adventure, Leavenworth will be a ton of fun!
8. Snoqualmie Falls
Located just outside of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls are truly a sight to behold. At 270 feet tall, they are the tallest waterfall in the state and one of the most impressive in the country. This magnificent waterfall drops over a cliff of granite into the Snoqualmie River below.
The falls are easily accessed from Snoqualmie Falls Park, which offers beautiful views, hiking trails, and picnic areas. Visitors can take a short hike to the base of the falls, or ride the scenic railway to the top for an even better view.
In addition, the nearby Salish Lodge & Spa provides visitors with a unique opportunity to experience the Falls from an observation deck, as well as enjoy a meal or overnight stay. Whether you’re looking for a day trip or a longer vacation destination, Snoqualmie Falls is sure to create lasting memories.
Rather not deal with the logistics of driving / getting there? Opt for this 6-hour combo tour instead: Snoqualmie Falls and Seattle Winery Tour
There’s no doubt about it – Seattle is awesome. From its incredible food scene to its world-famous coffee culture and stunning natural scenery, there’s something for everyone in this vibrant city. And whether you’re a local or just visiting, there’s always something new to explore.
Looking for things to do in Seattle? Here are just a few of the highlights:
- Be a tourist. Spend a day doing the touristy things like seeing the Space Needle, the iconic feature defining the Seattle skyline. Marvel at Dave Chihuly’s blown glass at the Chihuly Garden and Glass, learn all about pop culture at the Museum of Pop Culture (my personal favorite museum in Seattle) grab some freshly baked scones and coffee at Pike Place Market, and take a stroll along the water!
- Check out the food scene. Seattle is home to some of the best restaurants in the country, serving up everything from fresh seafood to delicious coffee and world-class desserts. There’s something for everyone here, so be sure to explore as many different places as you can.
- Get outside and explore. Seattle is surrounded by incredible natural beauty, so get out and enjoy it! Hike in the nearby mountains, go for a walk or bike ride along one of the many scenic trails, or just spend some time relaxing in one of the city’s many parks.
- Experience the coffee culture. Seattle is famous for its coffee, and for good reason. There are countless great cafes and coffee shops to explore, so be sure to get your caffeine fix while you’re in town.
- Shop till you drop. From high-end malls to local boutiques, Seattle has it all when it comes to shopping. whether you’re looking for new clothes, souvenirs, or just some great deals, you’re sure to find it here.
- Catch a game. Seattle is home to two major league sports teams – the Seahawks (NFL) and the Mariners (MLB). So whether you’re a football fan or a baseball fan, you can catch a game while you’re in town.
Pro Tip: Looking to do a lot of exploring in Seattle, WA? Get yourself a CityPASS. This pass lets you save 46% at Seattle’s top attractions!
Where To Stay In Seattle: For style, comfort, and proximity to the city center, we like Inn at the Market and The Paramount Hotel. For a stay closer to The Space Needle, we like The Mediterranean Inn.
10. Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is easily one of the most beautiful places to visit in the Pacific Northwest.
Stretching for over 80 miles across the Oregon-Washington border, the gorge features a variety of landscapes, including everflowing waterfalls, lush forests, and dramatic cliffs.
While most people tend to explore the Oregon side, on the Washington side of the river, there are a number of popular attractions to see too!
First, there is Dog Mountain, known for its stunning wildflower display come spring. Second, there is Beacon Rock State Park, which offers beautiful views of the river and surrounding mountains.
Other can’t-miss attractions include Horsethief Lake State Park (a great place to go hiking and swimming), the Cape Horn Trail (offering stunning views of the river), and the Columbia Hills State Park (home to great hiking trails and historical relics of ancient tribal petroglyphs and old West wagon trains).
Looking to pair your day outdoors with a few beers? There are some excellent breweries on the Washington side of the Gorge, including Everybody’s Brewing in White Salmon, Walking Man in Stevenson and Amnesia in Washougal.
11. Lake Chelan
Nestled in the North Cascades, Lake Chelan is one of the most relaxing places to visit in Washington. With crystal clear waters and sweeping mountain views, it’s no wonder that this area is such a popular destination.
Visitors can enjoy plenty of activities both on and off the lake, including hiking, swimming, fishing, and boating. In the winter, the lake freezes over and becomes a popular destination for ice skating and cross-country skiing! Visitors can also take a scenic boat ride to see the sights or relax at one of the many resort hotels located along the shore.
There are also numerous wineries in the area, making it the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine while taking in the stunning scenery. In addition, the town of Chelan is located on the shores of the lake and offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and hotels.
12. Port Townsend
Situated on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington, Port Townsend is a beautiful town with a rich history. Surrounded by water on three sides, it offers stunning views of the Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains.
There are many interesting things to see and do in Port Townsend, such as visiting the Victorian Port Townsend Maritime Heritage Center, taking a walk through the historic uptown district, or exploring the beautiful Chetzemoka Park.
The town’s Victorian architecture is also a popular attraction, and its quaint streets are lined with art galleries, shops, and restaurants.
Outside of town, visitors can also enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in the area, including hiking, biking, and kayaking. There are also many beautiful beach areas to visit in Port Townsend, such as Fort Worden State Park, Discovery Bay, and Pt. Wilson.
With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that Port Townsend is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Washington.
13. Whidbey Island
Whidbey Island is a beautiful place to visit in Washington, with plenty of activities to keep you busy. One popular activity is to explore the island’s many hiking trails, which wind through forests and along rocky coastline.
For the ultimate island hike, opt for the 5.5 mile Ebey’s Landing hike. This hike has it all–emerald fields, coastal bluffs, a stop at a beach, and sweeping mountain views of Mt Baker, Mt Rainier, and the Olympic Mountains.
You can also visit one of the island’s many beaches, where you can sunbathe, swim, or go for a walk. There are also several charming towns on the island, where you can browse shops, grab a bite to eat, or simply relax and enjoy the view.
Whether you’re looking for an active vacation or a chance to relax and soak up some beautiful scenery, Whidbey Island is sure to keep you entertained.
14. Walla Walla
If you’re a wine lover looking for a new and beautiful destination to explore in Washington, look no further than Walla Walla. One of the most popular activities here is wine tasting, as the city is home to many vineyards and wineries.
During your time here, be sure to take a tour of the Baroness Estate Winery. The winery offers tours of their facilities as well as tastings of their award-winning wines.
History buffs will want to visit the Marcus Whitman Museum and Gallery, a museum dedicated to preserving the history of Marcus Whitman, a pioneer missionary who helped settle the Walla Walla Valley. Fort Walla Walla Park is another great stop, home to the historic Fort Walla Walla built in 1856.
Before leaving, make some time to explore downtown Walla Walla. The picturesque downtown area is home to many shops, restaurants, and galleries. Be sure to check out the beautiful murals that decorate the walls of many of the buildings!
15. Deception Pass State Park
Deception Pass is a strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island, in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Washington. Deception Pass State Park is located in this area.
The park has a rich history; it was once home to a Coast Salish village, and later became a hub for logging and fishing. Today, the park is a popular destination for both locals and tourists, and it’s easy to see why.
This park is home to miles of hiking trails, scenic beaches, beachfront campgrounds, majestic cliffs, and stunning views of the Puget Sound!
Whether you’re looking for a place to hike, camp, or just take in the natural scenery that the state of Washington is famous for, Deception Pass State Park is definitely worth a visit.
16. Cape Flattery
Cape Flattery is one of the most beautiful places to visit in Washington. Located on the Olympic Peninsula, it is the westernmost point in the contiguous United States.
Cape Flattery is one of the best places to see orcas, as they often congregate in the waters off the cape. By far the most popular hike here is the Cape Flattery Trail, offering unparalleled views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the San Juan Islands.
Visitors can also climb to the top of Pillar Point, which offers panoramic views of the strait, the San Juan Islands, and Vancouver Island.
If hiking is not your thing, there are also plenty of opportunities for kayaking, fishing, bird watching, and exploring tide pools. Whether you’re looking for beautiful scenery or amazing wildlife, Cape Flattery is definitely a place worth visiting.
17. La Push and Forks
La Push is probably best known as the town that Jacob is from in the Twilight series. In real life, it’s not too different! La Push is a small area located on the coast, and it is known for its stunning views of the ocean. It is situated on the coast and is flanked by rocky cliffs and a dense forest.
The area is also home to a number of hiking trails, and it is a popular destination for camping and fishing.
If you are a Twilight fan, you’ll be glad to know Forks, WA is not too far away. And yes, this town is also real!
Take the self-guided Twilight tour provided by the Forks Visitor Information Center and check out their digital Twilight Drive the Loop map for more ways to explore!
If you are looking for kitschy stops, check out John’s Beachcombing Museum or Forks Timber Museum. And be sure to pick up some salmon jerky before leaving the area.
18. Mt. Baker National Forest
Mt. Baker National Forest is an underrated forest area that is home to some of the best hikes in Washington.
Very similar to the likes of the French and Swiss Alps, the best hikes near Mt. Baker feature valleys drenched in wildflowers, snowy peaks, and alpine lakes.
Mt. Baker itself is an active volcano that last erupted in 1980. Most days, you’ll find it covered in snow, home to a number of glaciers, including the Easton Glacier, which is the largest glacier in the contiguous United States.
The best time to visit Mount Baker is in the summer and fall, when the weather is warm and the trails are open. July and August are the peak summer months when wildflowers are blooming, while late September through early October offer spectacular displays of fall foliage!
To get a good taste of what this area’s best known for, consider hiking the 6.5-mile Chain Lakes Loop Hike or the 7.5-mile Yellow Aster Butte out-and-back hike.
19. Skagit Valley
Skagit Valley is located just about an hours’ drive from Seattle, making it the perfect road trip or weekend getaway for city dwellers. The Valley is made up of a bunch of towns spanning about 95 miles east to west and 24 miles north to south.
Every year, thousands of people flock to this region of Washington state to see the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.
This ultra-picturesque festival takes place over the course of two weeks in April, when over three million tulips are in full bloom. The array of colors is simply breathtaking. Expect beautiful views of tulips as far as the eye can see!
In addition to the tulips, the area is also home to a variety of other flowers, such as daffodils and ranunculus. With its beautiful scenery and lovely weather, the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is an event not to be missed.
Visitors can wander through fields of colorful flowers, watch artists at work, and enjoy live music. Other activities include field tours, wine tastings, and art exhibits.
When it’s not springtime, there’s still a lot to see up here! Towns like Mt. Vernon, Burlington, Anacortes, and La Conner are all popular spots to visit. Edison, WA (#1 on our list) is in this region too!
Beer loves can try the 14 breweries along the Skagit Ale Trail. Don’t know where to start? Try Farmstrong Brewing and Garden Path Fermentation!
20. Palouse Falls State Park
Palouse Falls State Park is one of the many wonderful state parks in the Pacific Northwest located just east of the city of Spokane. The park is famous for its namesake waterfall, which plunges approximately 200 feet into the Palouse River.
The falls are accessible via a short hike from the parking lot, and there are also several viewing platforms that offer panoramic views of the falls and the river canyon.
In addition to the falls, the park also offers hiking trails, picnicking areas, and campsites. It is open year-round, and admission is free!
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