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10 Reasons to Visit the Majestic Olympia, Washington

capital of washington

The state of Washington, also known as the “Evergreen State,” is an incredible Pacific Northwest mecca of outdoor adventure, the Columbia River, mountain ranges, craft beer, delicious coffee, and the gorgeous Puget Sound.

The state bird is the American goldfinch, and the state flower is the Pacific rhododendron. Oregon sits to the south, Idaho to the east, and British Columbia to the north. The major cities in the U.S. State of Washington include the largest city of Seattle, followed by Spokane, Tacoma, Vancouver, and the capital of Washington — Olympia.

What is the Capital of Washington?

Not to be confused with the nation’s capital of Washington, D.C. in the District of Columbia, the city of Olympia is nestled where the Deschutes River and the Puget Sound meet.

Or where the Potomac meets Virginia? Maybe we are confused?more on that in a second.

Olympia is where the alpine glory of Mount Rainier and the Olympic Mountains peak in the distance, and thick forests connect with open fields. The Washington state capital is the Nisqually, Coast Salish, Cowlitz, and the Squaxin native tribes.

The capital city of Washington is home to just over 50,000 people and is 20.09 square miles in size. Located in Thurston County, the original Washington Territory was an incorporated territory of the US that lasted from March 2, 1853, until November 11, 1889.

Congress named the territory after George Washington, the first president of the United States. The territory was supposed to be called Columbia, but senators thought that was too similar to “Washington, District of Columbia.” So the federal government named it Washington, after George Washington, the first president of the United States.

Yes, we know what your questions are. Isn’t that still too similar to Washington, D.C.? How did that solve the problem? Your guess is as good as ours!

10 Things To Do In Olympia

1. Olympic National Park

Situated on the breathtaking Olympic Peninsula over almost a million acres, Olympic National Park features vast forests, multiple ecosystems, glacier-tipped mountains, 70 miles of coastline, a temperate old-growth rainforest, as well as thousands of years of Indigenous history.

Whether you want the beach, the forest, the lakes, or the mountains, this national park offers boating, backpacking, camping, hiking, fishing, wildlife, and many winter activities. Olympia is just over one hour from the wonders of this National Park.

2. Mount Rainier National Park

Located two hours east of the city lies Mount Rainier, which soars at 14,410 feet in the sky. This active volcano is the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States and spawns five rivers. Visitors can find wildlife, history, and beauty at the 236,380.89-acre Mount Rainier National Park. Camp, hike, backpack, and explore this incredible outdoor wonderland.

3. Washington State Capitol Building

When visiting Olympia, it is a must to take a tour of the Washington State Capitol. This legislative building houses the house of representatives, senate, and American government members for Washington state.

The capitol building was finished in 1928 and rose 287 feet tall on the capitol grounds. When you visit, you can take a free tour to witness the magnificent interior and stroll the grounds, complete with gardens, fountains, and memorials.

4. Olympia Farmers Market

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One of the only vendor-owned and operated farmer’s markets in the State of Washington has been around since 1975. The City of Olympia and The Port Olympia worked together to secure the market’s current site just a few blocks north of the Historic District.

No matter what time of year, you can head to this legendary market one day a week in off months and four days a week in the peak season.

5. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge

If you are looking to hunt, fish, photograph, or watch for wildlife, plan a day trip to Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. Located 15 minutes east of downtown Olympia, this wildlife refuge offers four miles of hiking trails and incredible opportunities to see natural wildlife.

Visitors at the sanctuary can keep their eyes out for birds, whales, turtles, antelopes, and more.

6. Capitol Theater

The Capitol Theater is where the Olympia Film Festival takes place. This beautiful theater has been around since 1924 and provides a wide array of movies, concerts, local art events, and more. The annual film festival takes place every year in November.

The building is managed by the Olympia Film Society (OFS), a non-profit organization running the theater for 20 plus years.

7. Capitol Lake

An extension of the capitol grounds, Capitol Lake, is a lovely gathering place for residents and visitors of Olympia. This 260-acre artificial lake is 3 kilometers long and presents walking paths, nature trails, and prime photo-taking opportunities. You can also have a cold brew at the Olympia Brewery on Capitol Lake in Tumwater.

8. Mima Mounds

Established in 1976 to protect the rare forms of Mima mounds in the Puget prairie grasslands, the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (NAP) offers a rare sight that can alone be seen in this part of the Pacific Northwest. The NAP encompasses 637 acres of grassland covered in these peculiar Mima mounds, Douglas-fir forest, and oak woodland.

9. Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls

Recently known as Tumwater Falls Park, this 15-acre park sits alongside the falls of the Deschutes River. Hundreds of thousands of visitors come to the park to see the charming town of Tumwater and the 82-foot waterfall that cascades into Capitol Lake. Take the short half-mile trail to see the falls, pools, and enormous rocks that create this miraculous site.

10. Bigelow House Museum

Discover a piece of history in action when you tour the Bigelow House Museum, a slice of Washington Territory and Olympia history. The preserved home from the 1850s belonged to a lawyer and Territorial Legislator Daniel R. Bigelow and his wife, Ann Elizabeth White.

The last generation of Bigelows lived there until 2005. Now visitors can tour the Carpenter Gothic-style home when they are in Olympia.

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