Just 60 miles away from Seattle, Olympia sparkles along the southern end of the Puget Sound. This charming town is a friendly breath of fresh air to the larger hubs of the Pacific Northwest, where life is far more laid-back and slow-paced. While Olympia may be small in size, it certainly packs a large cultural footprint. As the capital of Washington state, the town has an array of gorgeous parliament buildings, magnificent theatres and first-class museums that solidify the town as a haven for lovers of music, history and art. On top of that, this vibrant culture meshes well with the gorgeous setting on the Puget Sound. While lined with independent restaurants and charming family-run shops, views of the Olympic Mountains, Budd Bay and the towering Mt. Rainier make any trip to Olympia a spectacular one. Throw in a pinch of traditional Pacific Northwest charm – bountiful farmers markets, mouthwatering seafood and a lively waterfront district – and you have a one-of-a-kind destination.
Where to Stay
Set on twelve acres of lush land, the Hotel RL Olympia allows you to immerse yourself in the breathtaking natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Designed for those who want to expand their horizons, the hotel offers tons of outdoor recreation directly from receptions, including hiking, kayaking, sailing, cycling and skiing. The splendid guest rooms are the perfect place to recharge your batteries after a busy day spent exploring the outdoor and cultural charms that Olympia has to offer. Plush linens, rain showers and custom bath products set the experience apart, while local artwork graces the walls for a cozy and inviting feel. Meanwhile, natural materials throughout the hotel effortlessly complement the stunning views of Capitol Lake and the unfiltered greenery that lie just beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows. Around the property, you have access to a fully-equipped fitness center and outdoor pool to round out the good times, whereas a packed calendar of community events means there’s never a dull moment. Check out our Luxury Hotel Guide to Olympia for a detailed breakdown of the town’s top accommodation options.
Where to Dine
Right at the edge of the Port of Olympia is where you’ll find Anthony’s Hearthfire Grill. This pristine waterfront restaurant is one of the town’s most captivating spots – and it’s not hard to see why. This local favorite charms you from the moment you walk inside, as the contemporary décor and warm furnishings blend seamlessly with unobstructed views of the Puget Sound. Experts of hearthfire cooking, the sophisticated menu uses premier Northwest designer beef and fresh seafood to create an array of West Coast specialties. Anthony’s is the perfect place to enjoy Washington’s evergreen scenery, vibrant population and eclectic culture. While buzzing around the year, the restaurant is even more magical on summer nights from the lovely outdoor patio, where you can watch the sailboats pass and enjoy purple sunsets over a romantic dinner. Be sure to take a look at our Restaurant Guide to Olympia to see the top culinary picks around town.
What to Do
In terms of landmarks, the Washington State Capitol is as monumental as it gets. The 30-acre park is filled with lush greenery and colorful gardens that are perfect for strolling, centered around the magnificent legislative building, a display of towering columns and polished marble. The signature regal dome is viewable from just about everywhere in the city and guided tours that recount its history and regional importance in all its glory are available daily. Meanwhile, the Washington Center for the Performance Arts is where you’ll find cultural concerts, musicals and other artistic events throughout the year. In the surrounding areas of Olympia, the world-renowned Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park are a short drive away and provide stunning natural attractions.
Designated a National Historic District, the downtown district is neat, compact and walkable. This comes to culmination at the Percival Landing, where you can stroll past local shops, vendors and stalls, while a rotating lineup of live music and street performers often fill the air. Often thought of as the city’s gathering point and hub for socializing, this waterfront boardwalk is endlessly scenic, offering stunning views of the Puget Sound and capitol building. Enjoy the atmosphere or take part in the various water sports available, such as kayaking, paddle boarding and sailing. Elsewhere, the Olympia Farmer’s Market is the state’s second largest, after Pike Place Market, where you can witness the town’s passionate side. From fresh apple cider and exquisite cheeses to handmade soaps and intricate artwork, local artisans come together to celebrate a variety of one-of-a-kind experiences.