Locals Guide To The 17 Best Places To Visit In Washington State (2023)

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Washington state has been our home, our whole lives and we wish more people would visit this beautiful state because there are so many places to visit in Washington state. Whether you like hiking through rainforest, boarding down slopes, or shopping till your drop in Seattle.

The problem is not many people think about visiting Washington state beyond Seatttle, after all, it’s not New York or California. There isn’t a plethora of malls, tropical beaches, theme parks, and more that typically draw in most tourists around the world.

However, we want to get rid of the stigma that Washington is not a popular place to visit and show you the beauty of Washington and how it’s not just Starbucks and Rain, it’s much more than that, it’s a state full of outdoor beauty from the Olympic National Park to the inner twinings of Mt Rainier National Park.

Why Listen To Us?

We are Washingtonians and we love Washington and all it has to offer, we are making it our mission to spread the word about the beauty of Washington from a locals perspective!

mount rainier is one of the best places to visit in washington state
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17 Best Places To Visit in Washington

  1. Seattle
  2. Ocean Shores
  3. Mt. Rainier National Park
  4. Olympic National Park
  5. Leavenworth
  6. North Cascades National Park
  7. San Juan Islands
  8. Poulsbo
  9. Kalaloch Beach
  10. Long Beach
  11. Olympia
  12. Columbia River
  13. Bainbridge Island
  14. Spokane
  15. Lake Chelan
  16. Cape Disappointment State Park
  17. Whidbey Island

Washington also is home to some of the largest wineries and breweries in the country and if you love either one then you have to go tour them. So if your interest is peaked, then let’s get started on 7 of the best places to visit in Washington!

This post is all about the best places to visit in Washington state, whether you love the great outdoors or visiting cities we got you covered, we are Washingtonians after all ☺️

seattle during sunset
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Seattle – Best City For Best Places In Washington

Who is this place great for?

  • Sports Fans
  • Social Nightlife Busy Bees
  • Artistic Souls
  • Foodies
  • Outdoorsy people
  • Coffee Fanatics
  • Hop Fans

Things To Do In Seattle

  1. Pike Place Market
  2. Original Starbucks
  3. Space Needle
  4. Smith Tower
  5. International District
  6. Visit Kerry Park for a stunning view of Seattle Skyline
  7. See a Sports Game
  8. Explore Seattle Nightlife
  9. Go on a Coffee Crawl
  10. Visit the Seattle Center
  11. Visit the Seattle Pop Museum for some Pop Culture!

First on our list is the largest city in Washington that everyone first thinks of when they think of when it comes to Washington state, (besides Starbucks).

Honestly, when we say we’re from Washington, people will look at us with glazed eyes and then we’ll say “Seattle” and then when they still are like ugh, we’ll sigh and say “Starbucks”?

Besides being known as the home and birthplace of Starbucks, and don’t get us wrong we love us some Starbucks, you kinda have to when it’s on every corner street in Seattle.

If you are a coffee fanatic then visiting the original Starbucks has to be on your to do list! Just make sure you know when to visit Seattle so you aren’t stuck in a 2 hour line at Pike Place Market.

However, Seattle is chock-full of things to do, for example, we have pro-level teams such as the Seattle Seahawks, Seattle Sounders, Seattle Mariners, Seattle Storm, and the newer Seattle Kraken team.

If sports make you roll your eyes, then you’ll be happy to hear that Seattle nightlife is also super fun and spending weekend nights throughout different neighborhoods in Seattle such as Ballard, Bell town, Queen Anne, Pioneer Square, and Capital Hill.

Plus, Seattle has such as diverse population that it’s a foodie’s dream, you find a lot of Asian foods, American, Italian, and Southern, and don’t get us started on the amount of hipsters cafes each touting their cold brew as the best.

Honestly, living in Washington has its perks when you consider the beauty of the state and the ample amount of food we have here and pair that with a great view and you got yourself a recipe for fun!

There is also a good amount of beaches located in Seattle, explore Lincoln Park, Alki Beach, the Golden Gate Beaches, and others, and view the Puget Sound, maybe you’ll even see an orca or two?

During Summer in Seattle, we like renting kayaks or paddle boards and taking them out to lake Washington near the University of Washington, the ducks and other wildlife create a serene environment to escape the realities of the busy city.

Seattle also makes a great starting point for a ton of Amazing Road Trips throughout the USA!
ocean shores during sunset
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Ocean Shores – Best Beach For Best Places In Washington

Who is this place great for?

  • water sports enthusiasts
  • people who need a break from reality
  • people who don’t mind colder beaches.
  • seafood lovers

Ocean Shores is probably one of the most popular Washington Beaches, this sandy beach may not rival the warm beaches of Hawaii, but nevertheless, this popular beach has no shortage of visitors and is a local favorite for escaping the realities of the real world.

Visit Ocean Shores, if you need a break from a crazy life, visit if you love the idea of boogie boarding down a salty sea, and visit if the idea of seeing beautiful forest along the way is a dream!

When you get there some of the things to do that we love are renting electric bikes and coasting along the sandy shores, the tires are wide enough to allow beach riding so it’s totally awesome!

Also, for horse lovers, you can go horseback riding, it’s a pretty popular tourist thing to do when visiting ocean shores, so don’t be surprised to see a few strutting across the sands.

Plus, one of the best things about visiting a sandy and windy beach is you can have some quality family bonding time by going kite flying, make sure to bring your own kites as the vendors charge higher prices.

P.s. If you love seafood make sure to visit Bennett’s Fish Shack, this local joint is popular with locals and tourists and offers flavorful beer battered fish!

Washington State places to visit: Mount Rainier National Park

Who is this place perfect for?

  • Hikers from all ranges of expertise
  • backpackers
  • camping fans
  • photographers
  • Instagram and Tik Toks user – Can’t tell you how many reels we’ve seen being made at this park

This wouldn’t be a legit best places to visit in Washington post without mentioning the grand Mount Rainier National Park. This hearty soulful park is one of the best national parks in the nation and it’s easy to see why with the neverending abundance of outdoor trails, ice caves, waterfalls, hidden trails, and overwhelming natural beauty.

one of the best places to visit in washington state is the olympic national park which is full natural beauty
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Olympic National Park | One Of The Best Places In Washington

Who is this place great for?

  • hikers
  • Photographers
  • backpackers
  • camping

Things To do In The Olympic National Park

  1. Visit Hurricane Ridge
  2. Explore the 4 rainforest
  3. Cruise the Olympic Peninsula
  4. Go Hiking through the Olympic National Forest
  5. Go Whale watching on the Pacific Coast

The number one destination in Washington state is the immense Olympic National Park. The Olympic National Park is frequented by millions of visitors year-round and is a local favorite to explore on weekends as its full of trails, caves, and scenic coastlines.

Start off with visiting the expansive Hoh rainforest, it’s one of the very few remaining rainforests of its kind that is left in the United States.

When you’re done exploring the Hoh rainforest, head on down to Kalaloch Beach, this beach is located on the Olympic peninsula and is a safe haven for wildlife and a dream for photographers who love capturing natural views and animals in their natural habitats, just don’t bug them!

leavenworth washington
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Leavenworth – Best Unique Town in the Pacific NorthWest

Who is this place perfect for?

  • Christmas and Holiday cheery families and travelers
  • Those looking for a fun and unique experience
  • winter and fall travel

If you’re looking for a fall destination that offers beautiful fall colors, Octoberfest, and is located close to the Wenatchee river.

Leavenworth literally looks like it was picked up from Germany and placed in Washington, this small and cute little town is decorated with bavarian charm and typical German delicacies you wouldn’t find anywhere else but in Germany.

It’s no wonder why this Bavaria destination nestled in the North Cascades of Washington is so popular.

During the fall Leavenworth is starting to pick up its bigger crowds due to the annual Oktoberfest that goes on and brings tourism and local Washingtonians to its bavarian doorsteps, all to binge on some delicious homemade brews, we recommend visiting the icicle brewing company.

If beer isn’t your style, you can also go wine tasting during this time or really anytime of the year as the wineries are bustling and full of delicious varieties such as syrah and merlots. Make sure to book a wine tasting session, at the icicle ridge winery.

During the winter, is Leavenworth time to shine, this bavarian small town becomes a Christmas icon. Walk down the street and you would have thought Christmas threw up on the streets from the gleaming lights, grand Christmas trees, gingerbread, Christmas desserts, german specialty hot wine called Glühwein.

Afterward, tour the Nutcracker Museum and then grab a delicious German Pretzel from Uncle ülis or bratwurst dog at München Haus.

North Cascades National Park

Who is this place for?

  • hikers
  • photographers
  • camping

The North Cascades National Park is a popular spot for Washingtonians and outdoor enthusiasts. We personally love hiking alone in the North Cascades because it’s pretty close to Seattle so it’s an easy day trip for us.

Some of the best hikes to go on are Diablo Lake Vista Point, and Ruby Mountain Summit although well caution you this is a really hard hike.

Cascade Pass Trail is an average hike level, so most people should be able to do it without feeling like they are coughing out a lung lol, there is also Gorge Creek Falls Trail, an easy trail for families to do.

If you can, you have to go on a trail around the cascade mountains, the views are amazing and the lake viewpoints are stunning for photography.

san juan islands
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San Juan Islands

Who is this place great for?

  • island hoppers
  • those looking for a relaxing vacation
  • nature photographers

San Juan island is a Hidden Gem for nature photographers, as it’s a beacon of natural beauty from rolling, long beach drives, and the best of both worlds with ocean views and scenic forest.

If the idea of whale watching seems appealing to you then you’ll want to visit orcas island, although keep in mind the orcas are usually only in Washington from late spring until the early fall.

This popular island is full of cool things to do such as hiking up Mount constitution, there’s a variety of trails for biking and running, plus you can always go kayaking. There are also a few other islands to visit such as Lopez island,Lummi island, shaw island, and more =).

Each of the islands that encompass the San Juan Islands is different from the rest, so make sure to go island hopping to figure out which islands fit you.

10 Spots To Visit In Washington That We Recommend!

  1. Poulsbo
  2. Kalaloch Beach
  3. Long Beach
  4. Olympia
  5. Columbia River
  6. Bainbridge Island
  7. Spokane
  8. Lake Chelan
  9. Cape Disappointment State Park
  10. Whidbey Island

Places To Visit in Washington State: FAQ

What is the number 1 tourist attraction in Washington State?

Olympic National Park includes almost a million acres and has several ecosystems distributed throughout its mighty forest. This large park draws in approximately 2.7 million visitors annually, it’s no wonder why we added this park to our list of must-visit places in Washington state.

What is the prettiest place in Washington State?

The prettiest place in Washington state is going to be tied between the 3 national parks that Washington is famous for: Olympic National Forest, North Cascades National Park, and Mt. Rainier National Park.

What is the coolest city in Washington State?

Seattle is rated one of the top tourist destinations in Washington and is also the largest city in Washington state. There are a variety of things to do in Seattle from outdoor activities, shopping, arts, sports games, and social nightlife is big in downtown Seattle.

Is Washington State worth visiting?

Washington State offers the best of both worlds, its full of bountiful activities that nay outdoor person would love such as water sports, hiking, national forest, camping, and for city folk it has a decent amount of big cities that offer a variety of things to do for clubbing, jazz clubs, amazing food, and sports games.

If that’s not enough to convince you, Washington state is consistently voted as one of the prettiest states to visit in the United States, so if you love natural beauty then you have to visit this Evergreen state.

Just make sure you visit Washington at the right time! We wrote this guide to choose the Best Time To Visit Washington for first-timers ☺️

That wraps up our post on 17 of the best places to visit in Washington! We hope you enjoyed this post and if you did, don’t forget to pin this for later ☺️.

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