Going to WA in June. Will rent a car and travel for one week, but need to spend a couple of days at the beginning and last day in Olympia. What not to miss?
What are you interested in?
Are you an outdoors hiker type person? Or do you prefer more metropolitan activities like the arts? Washington offers a lot of both so it's difficult to answer your question since I don't know what you prefer. Take this link to the Washington Tourism website. It has some pre-planned roadtrips that you might enjoy: http://126.96.36.199/
(ya, I know, an atrocious web name)
Some of my favorite places:
Mt. St. Helens: this is a must-see, I believe. Nature's power to destroy is awesome to behold. And as the area is healing itself, I would go now rather than later. I return regularly and am always surprised at how fast things change there.
Mr. Rainier: many wonderful trails and glaciers to behold. While this may not be the tallest mountain in the US, it's massiveness is amazing.
Olympic National Forest on the Olympic Peninsula: one of the only temperate rainforests in the world. The Lake Quinault area is beautiful with some wonderful hikes that can be done in a few hours. Another great place to see a magical forest is the Hall of Mosses near Forks, WA.
Some great beaches are also found along the Olympic Peninsula: Ozette, Ruby Beach, Kalaloch to name a few. These beaches are all part of a marine sanctuary and their rugged beauty is quite different impressive. Ruby Beach has the best tidepools to explore.
The North Cascades Highway is a beautiful drive. If you can't get that far north, White Pass is another wonderful pass with scenic views that are inspiring.
Columbia River Gorge: explore both the Washington and Oregon sides. Don't miss the Hood River area and Vista Point. Another highlight is Maryhill Museum on the Washington side.
Some other highlights in no particular order:
Long Beach Peninsula
San Juan Islands
Port Townsend...lovely Victorian town
Makah Indian Reservation/Neah Bay: great museum of Native American artifacts, Cape Flattery the farthest NW point of the continental US, and more
Roslyn, WA (where Northern Exposure was filmed) a charming town on Snoqualmie Pass
In Tacoma: the Washington State History Museum (very well done), Museum of Glass (wonderful exhibits and artists in action), and the courthouse located in the old Union Train Station next door to both of these museums with the marvelous Dale Chihuly glass exhibits
In Seattle: Pike Place Market (watch out for flying fish!) and the waterfront (don't miss the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop), monorail trip to Seattle Center, Space Needle, Museum of Flight, Seattle Art Museum, Burke Museum, Arboretum, Hiram Crittenden Locks and fish ladders, Fremont District (an artsy, hippie section of Seattle with fun art like a statue of Lenin, commuter statues, and the troll under the bridge holding the VW), Lake Union (rent a kayak), and the various trips offered at the waterfront to take you out into Puget Sound (watch for the Orca pods), and the Blake Island/Tillicum Village boat trip with salmon dinner and Native American entertainment...and lots, lots more!
In Olympia: the tours of the Capital, Governor's house, and the State Capital Museum. Nice farmer's market.
In Portland: I'm not near as familiar with Portland but they have a nice zoo, science museum, a famous grotto, and a beautiful river walk near downtown. Powell's Books is a treat that any book lover would find themselves lost in for days. South of Portland is the wonderful Oregon Gardens with a Frank Lloyd Wright house to tour.
I could list much more but I think these are the best places to consider exploring with the limited time you have. If you have any specific questions, just ask and I'll try to help.
Ai yi yi and thanks...
Wow! So much to do...thanks for the information.
And, by the way, thanks for previous info about traveling alone. I went from CT through PA, WVa, VA,NC,TN,KY, Ohio, NY to home by myself. Heeded your advice and had a great time. If I had time and money (if only) I'd still be out there somewhere!
Time & Money
Yeah, time and money and family commitments sure do hamper my time on the road. I do way more vicarious travel on various travel websites and way less actual road-time than I'd like. Maybe someday when the kids are grown and have sprouted their own wings?
I'm glad you've had some great solo adventures. Here's to many more in 2004!