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The Best Places to Visit in Washington State

Here are 9 things in Washington state that you have to check out.

By Kari Kynard Ridge on January 3, 2018

Places to Visit in Washington
Washington / Courtesy of Wayne Boardman under a CC 4.0 license.

Washington state features an abundance of activities, scenic vistas, natural wonders and fun things to do. Nine of these are so awesome (and necessary) they should be on your personal bucket list. As you accomplish each feat, you check off your list and move on to the next item.

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1. Climb Mount Rainier

At an impressive 14,410 feet above sea level, Washington’s highest peak is there for climbing, hiking and bicycling. You also can drive on one of many loops in the 263,000-acre wilderness surrounding Mount Rainier to admire the enormous old-growth forests and stunning alpine gardens.

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2. Ride a Ferry

The Washington State Department of Transportation has an extensive network of ferries shuttling passengers from Seattle through Puget Sound and Elliott Bay. You might want to make a stop and check out Bremerton or Bainbridge Island, or you could simply take a round-trip ferry ride from Seattle to the Kitsap Peninsula, to see the city from a new perspective and to experience the area’s unbeatable scenery.

3. Shop at Pike Place Market

Whether you’re there for fresh fish and local produce, to shop for some Pacific Northwest First Nations artwork or just to see the bustle, Pike Place Market is the perfect spot to get a taste of Washington. Located on Seattle’s waterfront since 1907, the nine-acre market also features 80 restaurants and more than 200 owner-operated shops.

4. Watch for Another Mount St. Helens Eruption

With occasional ash plumes shooting high into the air, volcano-watching and photographing the world-famous mountain have become popular activities in Mount St. Helens National Park. The volcano’s last major eruption was in 1980, when 57 people lost their lives, homes were destroyed and the surrounding landscape filled with ash and lava.

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5. Go East to Chelan

Entering Chelan along the Columbia River, you leave deep evergreen forests behind for a sunny, high desert environment. The area features Lake Chelan — the third-deepest lake in the country — and orchards, vineyards, wineries and recreational activities such as boating and snowshoeing. The area is one of the largest apple-producing regions in the country, with dozens of U-Pick fruit and berry farms.

6. Visit the San Juan Islands

Seattle residents looking for a rural escape often head to the San Juans, an archipelago that was once the seasonal grounds of Coast Salish tribes. Features include old-growth forests, mountains, seaside towns and plenty to do, including whale watching, hiking, horseback riding, boating and driving the San Juan Islands Scenic Byway.

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7. Go Up in the Space Needle

The 605-foot Space Needle, which was constructed for the 1962 World’s Fair, is one of the most visible icons in the Seattle skyline. Stop at the observation deck, or dine at 500 feet in the rotating SkyCity Restaurant, to enjoy panoramic views of the city, Puget Sound, mountain ranges and, of course, great local food.

8. Check Out Snoqualmie Falls

The most famous waterfall in Washington state is a whopping 100 feet higher than Niagara Falls! The 270-foot-high Snoqualmie Falls is a popular spot for picnicking. Be sure to walk the nature trail to the observation platform to witness the water hurtling into a moss and rock gorge and gain a true appreciation of Snoqualmie’s power.

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9. Visit Bavaria via Leavenworth

If you can’t get to Bavaria, it’s easy to imagine you’re in the German region when you enter Leavenworth, Wash. with its gingerbread-trimmed buildings, German restaurants, specialty shops and year-round festivals and events such as Oktoberfest, Alefest and a Christmas Lighting Ceremony.

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