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Five Must See Places In Washington State

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

San Juan Islands

San Juan Islands

Grand Coulee Dam

Grand Coulee Dam

Mt. St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Great sites during the Fall

I am the first to admit that I am a bit hard on Washington State because of its weather. When it takes a couple months to get the mildew out of your clothes one tends to lose proper perspective. However, since I have lived here for fifty-eight of my sixty-three years I think we can state with certainty that I must love it here.

Living in Western Washington is to be spoiled on a daily basis. Temperatures for the most part are mild and extreme weather is highly unusual. We are surrounded by scenery that could easily seem like Nirvana to people from other parts of the world. Lush evergreen forests, abundant lakes and rivers, the Pacific Ocean and mountains seemingly everywhere, all add up to an abundance of riches that we natives tend to take for granted.

With summer approaching I thought I would take a few minutes and point out some of the magnificent sights that are found in our state, places that really should be included on any itinerary if vacationing here. Each one listed has been seen by this author. This is not an article written by a casual observer nor is it written by a paid-for-hire travel writer who has never been to our state. Rather it is written by someone who has traveled the back roads of Washington since he was a teen many years ago.

If you are coming to our fair state this summer I will tell you what I tell all visitors: make sure you visit after July 5th. People tend to think I am joking about this but please believe me that I am dead serious. Summer weather really does not arrive until after the 4th of July. Once it does arrive it is usually magnificent for the most part through July and August, but those who come before July 5th may be in for some of our traditional summer rain.

With that warning out of the way I give you five must-see sights in Washington State.


We have other mountains in this state; in fact, we have quite a few, but none compares to the ever-present sentinel that has become the most recognized symbol of our state. There are those who live in parts of Eastern Washington who do not have the opportunity to see Mt. Rainier daily but for those of us close to the Cascade Mountain Range, Mt. Rainier IS the defining feature of our landscape.

At 14,410 feet it is the highest point in Washington State and on a clear day it dominates the horizon, a beautiful dormant volcano that still brings a smile to the face of this author even after all these years. Two visitor centers are available for tourists and locals. Sunrise Visitor Center is accessible from July 1st through the end of September and can be reached using I-90 and Highway 12. The most popular access to the Park is through the Nisqually Entrance along Highway 706 and then following the road to Longmire and Paradise. This center is open year round and roads are maintained making winter access quite easy.

The Park has hundreds of miles of maintained trails and during July and August even the higher trails have lost most of their snow cover. Choose a trail that suits your level of experience and go for a walk among towering firs and pines or drive up to Paradise and enjoy a great meal while looking at one of the prettiest mountains you will ever see. Whatever you choose to do it Mt. Rainier is a must for any visitor to Washington State.


Nestled in the northwest corner of our state is an archipelago of 172 islands called the San Juan Islands and it is a wonder to behold. Home to the largest population of bald eagles in the contiguous United States and also home to three pods of Killer Whales (Orcas) this area is a Nature-lovers paradise.

Ferries leave daily for a delightful trip to the islands and six of the islands are accessible by ferry. Once on the islands you will find quaint little towns and villages where you can relax over a fine meal. Kayaks are also available for rent for the more adventuresome among you and the fishing is excellent. If one is truly brave there are a number of places to swim but be forewarned, the waters of Puget Sound are always chilly and only the truly brave-of-heart go for a dip to cool off.


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Built in 1933 this gravity dam on the Columbia River is 550 feet tall and the largest hydroelectricity producer in the United States. Located in north central Washington State this monument to man’s engineering prowess is truly spectacular. Its location is a bit off the beaten path and as such is never overflowing with tourists, and the barren lands of Eastern Washington are in stark contrast to the lush forests found in the western part of the state. Still, it is a sight well-worth seeing.

This is a recreational haven for those who love to fish, boat, camp and swim. The temperatures of Eastern Washington are consistently higher than on the west side so plan on enjoying all of the outdoor activities that are available near the dam. Lake Roosevelt, the reservoir created by the dam, is 130 miles long and has been designated as a National Recreation Area.


Considering the amount of rain we receive in Washington it might not come as any surprise that we are home to the Hoh Rainforest. Located on the Olympic Peninsula, the Hoh is one of the few temperate rainforests in the contiguous United States.

Do you want rain? How about over twelve feet of rain during a normal year! This area is dominated by the Sitka Spruce and Western Red Cedar, some of which stand over 300 feet tall. If you are interested in vegetation seen nowhere else in the United States and enough birds to make any birdwatcher delirious with happiness, then the Hoh is the place for you.


On May 18, 1980, the deadliest volcanic eruption in the history of the United States occurred on Mt. St. Helens in Southwest Washington State. When all the rockin’ and rollin’ had stopped the mountain had shrunk from 9,677 feet in elevation to 8,365 feet. Entire old-growth forests were leveled and the surrounding landscape looked very much like the moon.

Today, thirty-two years later, the area is recovering nicely and it is a remarkable place to spend the day. Visit the above-ground Ape Cave or stroll along the Lava Canyon where mud once flowed from the eruption destroying everything in its path. For the more adventurous why not climb to the summit of the mountain, certainly doable for anyone in good physical condition and it does not require technical climbing skills. Round trip to the summit and back takes about ten hours.


Washington truly is a beautiful state if I do say so myself. I may be a bit prejudiced but not by much; I have visited thirty-five states over the years and few can hold a candle to my home state.

I restrained myself from listing more than five sites. I easily could have added the North Cascades Highway, Deception Pass, the Columbia River Gorge and many, many more, but those will have to wait for another day.

I hope you get the chance to visit us one day but please, just visit. We really don’t want our population increasing. We will be polite, courteous and helpful during your visit but if you mention that you might move here we can quickly become a rather surly group. If you lived where we live you would be just as protective of Washington as we are.

2012 William D. Holland (aka billybuc)


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 24, 2014:

Oni Dj, well, from Lynwood, the North Cascades Highway is fairly are the San Juan Islands...either one will be a great day trip....make sure you see Seattle...and Mt. Rainier is about two hours away from there....I hope you enjoy your stay here.

Oni Dj on June 24, 2014:

hey, im going there at this early august, i will be lived in Lynwood, im going to study there for 1 year, do u have any recommendation which places that i should go first during my early time there? recommended places near lynwood first, then go further =) cuz im not sure i can explore all the places only in 1 year =) so start from the near one that can be reached in not holiday season =) thank u

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on April 01, 2014:

dis-cover, you would love it for I would love to see your area. Maybe one day we will both realize that dream. Thank you Sir!

Nikolic Predrag from Serbia, Belgrade on April 01, 2014:

Beautiful photos! After I read your article I did some research and watched photos of your beautiful state of Washington. I'm really amazed.

Unfortunately, Washington is so far away from me, but I hope that I will one day come and visit all these beautiful places. Thanks for sharing this with us!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 08, 2013:

Thank you genna! We do live in a great area. You have a long drive ahead of you, but once you get here you will love it.

Genna from Tampa, FL on March 08, 2013:

I would love to make it out to Washington state some day. Thanks for this article. It has some wonderful ideas!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 07, 2013:

Kristin, thanks for the follow.

Kristinmcr from Wisconsin on March 07, 2013:

Yes, it is :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 07, 2013:

Kristin, thanks for stopping by. You are right about Seattle on a clear day. Wisconsin is pretty, though, in its own way.

Kristinmcr from Wisconsin on March 07, 2013:

Beautiful pictures! I grew up on the eastside, there is not a whole lot that beats the beauty of Seattle on a clear, warm day with Mt. Ranier and the Cascades in full view. Washington really does have it all - skiing, camping, boating, long as it's not raining! Seattle will always have a place in my heart : )

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 04, 2013:

Daena, I agree..that's why I wrote another article with more sites to see. :) Thank you for the visit. It's always nice to hear from a Wenatchee native.

Daena B. from Wenatchee, WA on March 04, 2013:

I am a big fan of Washington. Have loved being a native. I'm from the Wenatchee Valley, which is not very rainy. The places you mentioned are great. The list could have pretty much gone on forever, probably good you stopped where you did. For instance, Leavenworth, the Enchantments, and Stephen's Pass Ski Resort. Really great. I voted up!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on March 04, 2013:

Thanks Tiffany! You were in Seattle and that thingie was and is called the Space Needle. I'm glad you had a chance to visit our state and thank you!

Tiffany Delite from Wichita, KS on March 03, 2013:

thanks for this hub and for the amazing pics of the beautiful scenery in washington state. i visited there about 30 years the summer around july 4th lol...i remember because we went somewhere to watch an awesome fireworks display. we were in everett and seattle - went to the top of some huge needle thingy that turns around (i think that was there anyway). rode on a ferry, saw mt. rainier from a distance, went to see mt. st. helen's up close - somewhere where they had a place for tourists to find out lots of info about the mountain. i'm recalling all of this from my 6 - 8 year old brain! lol! anyway, thanks again for this fantastic hub...blessings!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on January 08, 2013:

Well Kathryn, I'm glad I can help. If you have any questions, drop me a's my email...we old teachers still like to

kathryn on January 08, 2013:

i'm doing a state report on washington and i just love your help! And i am going to move to washington this summer :)

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 17, 2012:

Okay....thanks, bn9900, although I'm not sure who Deb is. :)

Clayton Hartford from Alger WA on November 17, 2012:

Deb, If you have the time and cash, think about taking the train from NYC to Seattle via Chicago, trust me you will not regret it.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on November 16, 2012:

Deb, I hope you get the chance to visit our state. I don't think you will be disappointed. Thank you for the visit to my humble site.

Deb Welch on November 16, 2012:

My daughter's grandmother lives in Everett and I would love to visit Seattle - too. Beautiful country for sure. Another item on the Bucket List - thanks for confirming it. Nice Hub.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 09, 2012:

India, thank you for the visit! There is room for you should you ever change your mind. :)

India-Online Tour from New Delhi, India on October 09, 2012:

Thanks great hub...such a beautiful state and would really love to visit one day...never dream of moving in of course!!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 02, 2012:

Fantastic PS! See you then!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 02, 2012:

I definitely will be sometime next summer.....

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on October 02, 2012:

PS, you just have to let me know when you are visiting; I would love to meet you somewhere for a cup of coffee and a few laughs. That would be great fun! Mildew??? How did you know? LOL

Thank you are appreciated!

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on October 02, 2012:

Hi BB...good morning....

I have always wanted to visit Washington and my sister and I do plan to travel there next summer. You have showcased some places that we have already included on our itinerary. The mountains...they just scream at me. Ever since I climbed up Fuji I have been enthralled by them. Despite the mildew in the clothes. you are so fortunate to live in a state that offers so much diversity. As always I am happy I stopped by, my Friend. Pinned

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 09, 2012:

And a third thank you, Ronny!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 09, 2012:

LOL...thanks again, Ronny!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 09, 2012:

Thank you Ronny; I hope you get a chance to visit these places.

ronny2005 from HubPages on July 09, 2012:

Well written Hub and good selection of sites of Washington State.

ronny2005 from HubPages on July 09, 2012:

Well written Hub and good selection of sites of Washington State.

ronny2005 from HubPages on July 09, 2012:

Well written Hub and good selection of sites of Washington State.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2012:

Oceansider, I'll be here when you get here and the offer is open-ended. :)

oceansider on July 07, 2012:

Thanks Billy, and if I ever get up there again to WA, I will take you up on that offer! Take care, Helen

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 07, 2012:

Oceansider, hello! Well, your profile says you are from San Diego, so I imagine Washington did look lush and green to you....and it is. I forget how green it is until I go somewhere else on vacation and then I'm blown away by it when I get home.

Thank you for the visit; if you ever get back here I'll buy you a mocha.

oceansider on July 06, 2012:

Hi Billy,

I really loved your article and the photos of Washington!...I've been to Washington, but it was many years ago. We went to Vancouver to visit some friends and then to eastern WA to Kennewick. I didn't really get to see that much while there, since I was there only three or four days. (My family and I had first visited family in Oregon for about a week or so and then went on up into WA. I do remember the beautiful spruce and evergreen trees, I can't forget how lush and green it was up in Washington and Oregon.

Clayton Hartford from Alger WA on July 01, 2012:


Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2012:

Thank you bn9900!

Clayton Hartford from Alger WA on July 01, 2012:

I just emailed the address.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on July 01, 2012:

bn9900, yep, Olympia for sure. Funny, I don't even know where the railway museum is. I'll have to look it up and come see you. Thanks!

Clayton Hartford from Alger WA on June 30, 2012:

billy, it says olympia wa next to your name? I volunteer at the railway museum in town, don't know if your interested in that sort of thing.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2012:

bn9900, we live about two miles from Boulevard Park...let me know when you are in the neighborhood and we'll have that coffee.

Clayton Hartford from Alger WA on June 30, 2012:

Bill, next time your up here, we'll meet and have a coffee at Boulevard Park.

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 30, 2012:

Eden, I wish I had known you then; I would have met you and bought you a cup of coffee. I'd love to actually meet one of my followers some day. Thank you my friend and have a great weekend.

Christine C from Houston, TX on June 30, 2012:

Thanks for sharing a hub about amazing places to visit in your home state. I wish I could turn back time and could have read this a couple of months ago. I just took a trip up to Washington and Oregon a few months ago! :) This would have been helpful!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 28, 2012:

Vellur, this is, indeed, a beautiful place to live. So glad you enjoyed it.

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on June 28, 2012:

Enjoyed your hub about a beautiful place - nature in all it's glory. Great hub, enjoyed the pictures. You live in a great place. Voted up, beautiful and awesome!!

Bill Holland (author) from Olympia, WA on June 19, 2012:

bn9900, I definitely know where you live. Been there and it is beautiful in that part of the state. Have a great day on the river and thank you for the visit.

Clayton Hartford from Alger WA on June 19, 2012:

Beautiful, hub and beautiful state, right this moment as I type this I'm looking out my window looking at the Chuckanut ridge, Been up here for 13 years, moved out here when I was 18 with my folks. Beautiful...Where else can you go play in the snow in the morning, have lunch on the river, and then boating in the evening?