Washington is best known for its largest city, Seattle, but the Evergreen State also has a plethora of scenic attractions. Whether you want to hike right up to waterfalls, admire snow-capped mountains from afar, or spend the day on islands off the coast, Washington has it all.
While in the Pacific Northwest, it is simple to fill your vacation with city life, world-class attractions, national parks, and more.
Plan your following trip itinerary using this list of the best places to visit in Washington State.
Lake Chelan, located at the base of Washington’s North Cascades Mountain Range, is a popular destination for scenery, outdoor recreation, and wine tasting in the Pacific Northwest. The region’s vineyards are a major draw. You can spend a day sipping and sightseeing at places like Vin du Lac Winery, Karma Vineyards, or Mellisoni Vineyards.
Ride on a seaplane that takes off and lands in the lake itself for a closer look at the incredible natural terrain, or try water skiing during the summer months. Hiking opportunities abound, and you can dine on farm-to-table cuisine from a variety of independent eateries on Historic Main Street.
The Columbia River Gorge
The Columbia River Gorge is located south of the Rattlesnake Hills, in the heart of the Columbia River Plateau. The gorge cuts through the Cascade Mountains, forming the border between Washington and Oregon, and offers breathtaking views from above. Multnomah Falls cascades right into the gorge at one point, adding to the natural beauty of this location. One of the best ways to see the Columbia River Gorge from the Washington side is to drive along State Route 14, stopping for photos at the numerous scenic vantage points.
After Seattle, Spokane is Washington’s second-largest city and is located in the state’s east, near the border with Idaho. In Spokane, you can stroll along the banks of the scenic Spokane River and visit the Riverfront Park, which hosted the 1974 World’s Fair. The John A. Finch Arboretum, the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, and Spokane Falls are among the city’s top attractions. You might also want to visit some of the city’s popular golf courses or go on a tasting tour of some of the many breweries that have recently opened in Spokane.
Snoqualmie Falls, one of Washington’s most popular attractions, is located halfway between the towns of Snoqualmie and Fall City. The rushing waters of the falls make it a breathtaking and unforgettable place to visit, as well as a popular destination for photographers in the Pacific Northwest. The falls may be familiar to you from the popular cult television series “Twin Peaks.”
Snoqualmie Falls is surrounded by short hiking trails where visitors can admire the massive green plant life within the waterfalls. There is also a large visitor center and gift shop where you can pick up some snacks or souvenirs to help you remember your visit.
The North Cascades National Park
The North Cascades National Park in Washington is home to more than half of all glaciers in the continental United States. The park also has an incredible amount of wildlife, including grizzly bears, grey wolves, and lynx. Hike or drive to Mount Baker, a volcano in the North Cascades, for an unrivaled view of the nearby Mt. Shuksan, which is possibly North America’s most photographed peak.
There are opportunities for alpine climbing and backcountry camping within the national park, but you can also go on shorter day hikes and mountain biking trails during the summer.
The San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are located north of Puget Sound, close to British Columbia. Despite their proximity to Canada, they are part of the United States, specifically Washington State. The San Juan Islands are an inviting retreat and an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, with a plethora of outdoor activities in a breathtaking landscape.
Kayak on the water, go on tours to see Orca Whales in their natural habitats, eat fresh seafood, or hike through the San Juan Island National Historical Park. Friday Harbor and Rocher Harbor are the two main dining, shopping, and sightseeing destinations, as well as commercial flights, boat arrivals, and museums.
Olympic National Park
Try the Olympic National Park if you want to see a lush green rainforest and a rugged mountain range all in one place. The Hoh Rain Forest, where you can see herds of elk roaming the landscape or set off on a challenging hike to the summit of Mt. Olympus, is the highlight.
For a less strenuous adventure, visit Hurricane Ridge in the summer and walk among the bluffs and sea caves in Cape Flattery. Lake Crescent in the park has clear blue water and stunning scenery, and the Coastal Strip road has some of the best views you can see straight from your car.