Being situated at the heart of the Pacific Northwest, Washington State has had a reputation for being a rain soaked territory by those who have either been unwise or unlucky enough to visit during the moist winters here.
For those that stick around for the summer months (when it’s exceptionally dry), or are made of stuff substantially more waterproof than sugar, Washington has an embarrassing wealth of natural assets that will have outdoor lovers moving here within the first couple of visits to this blessed state.
Having attracted generations of open minded people to its borders over the years, Seattle adds a touch of cosmopolitan sophistication to the region as well, making the package that this place puts together very compelling to those looking for a change in scenery.
What To Do – Culture & History
Start your cultural explorations of Washington State by exploring Pike Place Market in the heart of Seattle, by far its biggest city. Holding a variety of attractions such as a fish market where the catch of the day flies through the air, the first Starbucks ever, as well the usual assortment of produce, meat, bakery, and artisan stalls, Pike Place is the oldest continuously operating farmer’s market in the United States, as it has been open without a break in service since 1907.
Being home to America’s most famous aircraft manufacturer just hasn’t produced a large number of high-paying jobs for local residents, it has also given rise to the Museum of Flight, which ranks as the largest privately run air and space museum in the world.
Attracting over 400,000 tourists per year through its doors, one of the premiere attractions is the Challenger, which is one of the recently decommissioned space shuttles from NASA’s fleet, but it also includes the first ever 747 and a British Airways Concorde, which was one of world’s first commercial-grade supersonic jetliners.
Washington State is also home to Microsoft, which is one of the world’s most influential software and technology companies. While everybody knows about Bill Gates, another one of its original core employees was Paul Allen. While Bill has invested in his own personal foundation to cure disease worldwide, Paul has contributed to the local arts scene, providing the funds to bring the Experience Music Project Museum to life in 2000.
Despite the name of the institution, the EMP Museum focus on contemporary popular culture, and how it has shaped our lives in recent decades. From the ultra-modern exterior, to exhibits covering topics ranging from video games to the grunge music scene that dominated Seattle in the late 80’s and early 90’s, this attraction delivers a cultural experience unlike most others in America.
History buffs looking for solid background into the backstory of one of the USA’s younger territories will find it at the Washington State History Museum in Tacoma. While information on the human history of Washington is certainly fascinating, model train enthusiasts will love the collection that this museum holds in one of its main galleries.
What To Do – Modern & Natural Attractions
While much of Washington’s appeal lies in its outdoor attractions, the Space Needle in downtown Seattle offers a priceless view not just of the surrounding city, but also of the natural wonders that lie within easy driving distance of its limits.
Built as a centerpiece for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle stands over 600 feet high, and welcomes over a million people per year to its lofty observation decks. End your city with a meal at the Skycity revolving restaurant, which boasts killer views of Puget Sound, the Olympic mountains, as well as Mount Rainier and Baker.
Having a number of prominent mountain ranges running through its territory, Washington State is an excellent destination for the outdoors lover. Start your tour of Washington’s lofty peaks by visiting Mount Rainier, which is a dormant volcano that rises to the unwieldy height of 14,000 feet, compared to a paltry base elevation of just 1,600 feet. Cloaked in old-growth forest and the ice of 25 glaciers, this peak is a favorite among mountaineers, with upwards of 10,000 climb attempts per year.
Mount Baker is another popular peak within easy reach of Seattle, being located within the highly scenic North Cascades range. Being a haven for backcountry skiers and snowboarders during moist Pacific Northwest winters, and hikers in the sunny, dry summers, anyone that loves mountains deeply should make a visit here a priority.
While the aforementioned Mount Rainier is still sleeping, Mount St. Helens was also a peak that was formerly dormant, until it woke up in 1980. After weeks of earthquakes and other seismic activity, the volcano blew itself to smithereens on May 18th, 1980, killing 57 people. Despite still be considered in its active phase in the present phase, climbing is now allowed on and near the mountain (subject to bans surrounding volcanic activity), while those that are more timid can learn about the peak at a visitor center located 30 miles away.
Those seeking to take in a variety of ecosystems within a short distance from each other will find them at Olympic National Park. Situated on a mountainous peninsula across Puget Sound from the Seattle area, the Pacific Coast, temperate rainforest and alpine environments will enthral anybody into nature, but especially backpackers, as the massive interior of this park is completely lacking in road access.
Finally, those seeking a serene getaway from the high strung nature of Washington’s urban environments need only board a ferry for the peaceful San Juan Islands. Similar to the Gulf Islands of British Columbia, bohemian artist communities, whale watching tours, and opportunities to sea kayak in and out of these isle’s many coves will have you returning to your laid back self in no time.