North America Travel

My Favorite Things in Washington State USA

Location: Washington State USA

How to talk about my favorite things in Washington State? There is NO WAY I can list all the wonderful things about my home state of Washington. No doubt someone reading this blog will think I have left something out. And so I encourage everyone to comment at the end of this blog with additional FAVORITE things about Washington State.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Lake Chelan
Lake Chelan

I was born in Washington 60 years ago and I know a lot of great places in the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA. As we travel the world I often reminisce about Washington, comparing other places around the world to her. I’m looking forward to getting back there, and once again enjoying my favorite things in Washington State.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Tacoma

If you have never visited the Pacific Northwest corner of the USA you are missing out on something pretty special. It is certainly one of the most beautiful places in the entire world. I feel quite qualified to say that, having visited 110 countries myself. Nicknamed the Evergreen State, it has both a very green side (west of the Cascade Mountains) and a gold side (east of the mountains) and I love them equally. Raised on the west side but going to college and spending a great deal of time on the east side, I have learned to appreciate and admire the beauty and diversity of this spectacular little piece of paradise – Washington State.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Seattle
Seattle’s Lake Union


Seattle – Washington’s largest city is cosmopolitan, delicious, cultural and ethnically diverse. It is the number one place to visit in Washington.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Seattle
Seattle’s Big Wheel

Spokane – One of my favorite cities in Washington and the largest city on the east side of the state, Spokane has grown from a sleepy agricultural town to a wonderfully diverse and interesting city.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Microbrews
Boundary Bay Brewery Bellingham

Bellingham – Tucked in the Northwest corner of Washington State very near the Canadian border, Bellingham offers a waterfront location with wonderful history. Home to Western Washington University, the student life brings a mix of culture and dining to this medium size city.

Tacoma – the second largest city in the state, Tacoma has long battled a poor reputation. But today’s Tacoma is a far cry from that of yesteryear. A cleaned up downtown and port area, multiple first class museums and a great selection of parks and restaurants makes T-town one of my favorites.

Small Towns

Gig Harbor – I lived in Gig Harbor for 25 years and watched it grow. And despite the traffic I still love this maritime village that has the single most beautiful view in the entire state.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Gig Harbor
Gig Harbor

Sequim – Much like Gig Harbor but without the traffic, Sequim’s location overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca and in the shadow of the Olympic mountains makes its temperate climate perfect. Throw in the amazing lavender farms and bike trails there is a lot to love about this town.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Pullman

Walla Walla – when I was growing up Walla Walla was just the town with the funny stuttering name. Today it is one of the premier wine regions in the world and has a wonderfully restored downtown.

Pullman – home to my alma mater Washington State University, Pullman is an upcoming destination even if you don’t say GO COUGS. Today’s Pullman has parks and trails and a much larger selection of dining and hotels than it did forty years ago when I was in school. And I love the weather.


Lena Lake – One of our favorite hikes in the Olympics, the hike to both Lower Lena and Upper Lena can be done by most hikers with minimal experience.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Lena Lake
Lena Lake

Skokomish River Lower South Fork – This is always a great hike and mostly flat…easy to reach and makes a great day hike.

Mount Rainier – If you can catch Mount Rainier on a sunny day any hike will be enjoyable. A wide variety of hike options can be found in the Mount Rainier National Park. This summer I did the Summerland Trail for the first time. I loved it.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Hiking Mount Rainier
On top of Crystal Mountain
My Favorite Things in Washington State Hiking Skokomish River
Hiking the Lower Skokomish

Crystal Mountain – hike up and ride the gondola down, or ride the gondola up and hike down…either way you will enjoy panoramic views of Rainier and on a good day, you can see four other volcanoes beyond.

Cycling Trails

My Favorite Things in Washington State Cycling Spokane
Centennial Trail Spokane

Olympic Discovery Trail – I love this cycling trail and rode on it twice this past summer. The trail runs from Port Townsend all the way to the Pacific Ocean. However from Port Angeles west it is mostly on roads. Since we like to stay on trails, we usually start in Blyn and ride to Port Angeles and back, about 50 miles round trip.

Centennial Trail – Spokane has several cycling trails and one of our favorites is the Centennial Trail that winds its way from Spokane into Idaho and Coeur d’Alene.

Chehalis Western – I’ve spent hours and hours training for long rides on the Chehalis Western, located near Olympia. You can start and stop many places on this trail but if you ride the entire trail round trip it’s 90 miles.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Cycling the Chehalis Western Trail
Chehalis Western Trail

Interurban/Burke Gilman – So many options with this very popular cycling and walking trail. We rode the Burke Gilman this year from Gas Works Park in Seattle to Woodinville (forty miles round trip). If you really want a long and amazing ride start the Interurban in Pacific (near Auburn) and connect in Seattle with the Burke Gilman to Woodinville. This round trip is about 90 miles.


Puget Sound – Western Washington’s beauty can be attributed to water, both that which falls from the sky and that which surrounds it as the Puget Sound. With several cities and towns perched on the Sound, access to it is plentiful, and it is certainly one of my favorite things in Washington State.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Discovery Park
Discovery Park Seattle

Lake Chelan – Washington’s favorite lake is found right in the middle of the state, the 55 mile long, 1500 feet deep natural lake of Chelan. Both a summer and winter playground, Washingtonians from the westside flock to Chelan in the summer.

Columbia River – Roll on Columbia still rings true, and visiting this amazing river that flows both south and west through the state offers a variety of recreational activities and history lessons along the way.

Pacific Ocean – spending time enjoying the crashing waves of Washington’s Pacific Coast is a must when visiting the state. My favorite places to access the Pacific Ocean are Neah Bay or Ozette in the far northwest part of the state or Kalaloch or Long Beach further south.

Green Lake – walking or cycling the 2.8 mile loop around Green Lake is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. Greenlake is a wonderful little gem of a natural setting right in the heart of north Seattle…treasured by locals.

San Juan Islands – To really see how glorious the Puget Sound is, taking a ferry to one or more of the San Juan Islands and enjoying a few days island hopping is sublime.

Gig Harbor Gondola – if you visit tiny and scenic Gig Harbor on the Kitsap Peninsula don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy a gondola ride in the harbor in an authentic Italian gondola.

My Favorite Things in Washington State San Juan Islands
San Juan Islands

Snoqualmie Falls – Just about 40 min drive east of Seattle you will find the amazing Snoqualmie Falls….higher than Niagara. Depending on the time year Snoqualmie falls can be a slender and beautiful falls or a thunderous monster of a waterfall. Worth the drive and also if you are fit the hike to the bottom is breathtaking.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Gig Harbor Gondola
Gig Harbor Gondola
My Favorite Things in Washington State Klaloch Beach
Kalaloch Beach

Food Experiences

Tillicum Village – Visitors and locals should experience Tillicum Village at least once in their lifetime. The getting there is half the fun, but the food and authentic Native American entertainment is incredible.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Geoduck
My first Geoduck

Pike Place Market – known for the throwing fish, there is a lot more to enjoy a Seattle’s Pike Place Market, even if you don’t buy a thing it is a not-to-be-missed Seattle institution.

My Favorite Things in Washington State clamming
Harvesting oysters and clams

Geoduck Hunting – I went Geoducking for the first time this year on the Key Peninsula just west of Gig Harbor. If you have an opportunity, I highly recommend it. So much fun.

Oysters – take the Olympic Peninsula loop drive and stop for oyster at Hama Hama Oyster Company. Or if you can’t drive the loop, pick up fresh oyster or order oyster on the half shell…usually available in a month with an R. Some of the world’s finest oysters come from Washington State.

Dungeness Crab – If you grew up thinking Maryland Crab was crab you are in for a real shock when you eat Washington’s own world famous Dungeness Crab. Rich, buttery and delicious, Dungeness crab is best without any accoutrements…just eat it like nature intended.

Boehm’s Chocolates – still hand made daily in Issaquah Washington you can have a taste of old European Swiss Chocolate just like the old country. Boehm’s has locations in Issaquah, Poulsbo and Yakima.

Cafe Campagne – my favorite Seattle restaurant I go back to again and again with French food as good as any bistro in Paris.

My Favorite Things in Washington State Cafe Campagne
Steak Tartar at Cafe Campagne
My Favorite Things in Washington State Luna
Scallops at Luna

Luna – just discovered this Spokane gem this summer and I will certainly be back. Possibly the best meal I had all summer.

Brix 25 – in my hometown of Gig Harbor, this little gem is always spot on. Try the Beef Bourgignon. You won’t be disappointed.

Tony’s Fillipis Pizza – growing up in Bremerton this was the place to get pizza, and still today Tony’s Fillipis Pizza is my favorite pizza anywhere in the world.

The Valley Cafe – tucked into an old drug store in Ellensburg Washington, I stop to eat here anytime I am in this Central Washington Rodeo town. And you should too.

The Pink Door – my second favorite Seattle restaurant (and just down the alley from my first) I try to visit in the summer and get a table on their deck. I have never had a bad meal at this iconic Seattle restaurant.

Black Cypress – Pullman isn’t known for fine dining, and yet, the Black Cypress is an absolute find, and a must dine when in the tiny college town of Pullman.

Wineries and Breweries

Washington has become an award wining wine producing state over the past several decades as well as one of the launching places for many now famous microbrews. Washingtonians are well-known to be entrepreneurial and creative (think Bill Boeing, Bill Gates, Howard Schultz, Jeff Bezos) and this local trait shows in the wide variety of first rate wines and beers. Here is a list of my local favs;

My Favorite Things in Washington State Jones of Washington
Jones of Washington from Quincy

Jones of Washington

Seven Seas

Bale Breaker Yakima


Gig Harbor Brewing


Georgetown Brewing


Since I live in the state part of the year I don’t often stay in local resorts, but over the years I have had the opportunity to visit several. Most resorts here focus on the beauty of the natural surroundings as well as the farm and forage to table dining Washington offers. Here is list of my favorites;

My Favorite Things in Washington State Campbells Resort
Campbells Resort at Lake Chelan

Suncadia Cle Elum

Campbells Chelan

Rosario Resort Orcas Island

Historic Davenport Spokane

Willows Lodge Woodinville

Alderbrook Inn Hood Canal


My Favorite Things in Washington State Point Defiance Rose Garden
Point Defiance Rose Garden Tacoma

I love gardens, and even if you aren’t a gardener yourself, you can’t help but appreciate and admire the beauty of some of these stunning gardens throughout the state of Washington.

Point Defiance Rose Garden – Tacoma

Olympic Sculpture Garden – Seattle

Volunteer Park Conservatory Seattle

Seattle Arboretum

Lakewold Gardens -Tacoma/Lakewood

Ohme Gardens Wenatchee

Bloedel Reserve- Bainbridge Island

Nishinomiya Japanese Gardens – Spokane

Rhododendron Species Garden Federal Way

Also seasonally don’t miss the blooming Cherry Blossoms at the University of Washington Seattle (spring), the Sequim Lavender Festival (July), Hulda Klager Lilac Gardens in Woodland (April May) and the Bob’s Pumpkin Farm in Snohomish (October)


My Favorite Things in Washington State The Gorge
The Gorge

Since one of the reasons people LOVE Washington so much is the beauty, finding the best views in the state is something visitors always are looking for. For me personally the list below offers amazing views, history and recreation from ocean beaches to mountain tops and everything in between. These are all great options that fit most, budgets, fitness levels and schedules;

Green Mountain Kitsap County

Dry Falls State Park Vista, Coulee City

Washington State Ferry

Kerry Park Seattle (cover photo)

Space Needle Seattle

Discovery Park Seattle

Vista House at Crown Point on the Columbia River Gorge (technically in Oregon but with a great view of Washington )

Dungeness Spit Sequim

Kamiak Butte Palouse

North Head Light, Cape Disappointment, Long Beach

What else?

Oh my goodness I have so many favorite things in Washington State! I know I have missed some things – I didn’t even touch on museums or tours. I could write an entire blog about festivals, art and music. But the things I have listed here are the things I have experienced and personally enjoy going back to again and again. My Washington from my point of view. Please add your favorites to the list in the comments below. Get out and enjoy surprising, diverse, beautiful, delicious and friendly Washington State. I sure have these past four months. Washington my home.

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  • Reply Nancy

    Without a doubt my number one is STEHEKIN.

    August 23, 2019 at 8:05 am
    • Reply Laureen

      The first photo of Chelan is taken from Stehekin. It’s a beautiful spot indeed.

      August 23, 2019 at 8:16 am
  • Reply Michael Söhlke

    Laurie, you nearly named it all! Great job and I am totally in line with your perception about Washington State, especially in times of good weather . I want to add one thing: The winery Chateau Ste. Michelle – yes, there are plenty of other fabulous wineries, but actually I learnt about this wine in Germany first. Today I know that they have many more wines which they don‘t even export and in general these are the even higher quality wines – more pricy but compared to other good wines totally ok! AND: this winery has a history of splendid concerts with high ranked and very famous artists on their property (Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Gypsy Kings, etc….). To sum it up: it‘s a blast; one should definitely plan a visit!

    August 23, 2019 at 10:56 am
    • Reply Laureen

      I definitely agree!!

      August 23, 2019 at 11:56 am
  • Reply Dennis White

    I’ve packed up everything to travel off to exciting places and see new things all my adult life. Like you I LOVE to travel….from Belgrade to Bangkok. I’ve even spent long periods living in London, Paris and Italy. But this post is a perfect example of why I always come back home.

    August 23, 2019 at 2:04 pm
  • Reply Candy

    What a beautiful love letter to your home! I love to travel, but can’t see myself living long term anywhere other than my home in Kentucky. I love the Pacific Northwest and hope to spend time outside of Seattle and Portland.

    August 24, 2019 at 1:59 pm
  • Reply Lauren

    I feel like Washington is so underrated especially for it’s nature–hiking and such. I guess now with social media it’s really picking up. I have a few friends in Seattle and used to think it was just a city kind of state but I hope to make it over soon and do some hiking! Great article, saving it for my travel planning 🙂

    August 24, 2019 at 6:47 pm
  • Reply Nancy Williams

    I’ve only been to Washington State once and did a few of these. Some really good ideas for my next visit! I want to do some more hikes and ride bikes, but I completely missed the wineries.

    August 25, 2019 at 2:15 pm
  • Reply Jan

    I love Washington state! But I have seen only a part of it driving up from Columbia gorge. My favorites apart from Snoqualmie falls are the Grand Coulee Dam and the Wild horse monument en route. I still have to cover all the lovely places you have mentioned though! 🙂

    April 21, 2020 at 11:47 am
  • Reply Ann

    The foodie in me kind of goes wild when I look at the images of your foods, especially the Steak Tartar!
    I can wait to sratrt travelling the world again, and have a taste of all its foods 😀

    April 22, 2020 at 12:23 am
  • Reply Nancy Hann

    Thank you for such an informative post! I love Washington state and have dreamed of living there. Our family has visited several times and we always love every place we visit. There’s so much to see and do. Maybe I missed it, but I don’t see where you mentioned Olympic National Park. We were so astounded by the diversity of nature there and I don’t hear many people talking about it. We made a lunch stop at Lake Crescent Lodge once and I always thought that would be a fun nostalgic place to stay. Have you ever been there? Your post makes me want to get back there. My son lives in Oregon, so hopefully we can make a side trip when we visit him next time.

    April 22, 2020 at 7:58 am
  • Reply Jay Artale

    I’d love to see more of Washington. I’ve only been to Seattle for a long weekend, but I loved the vibe of that city. Lots of great little foodie places, and of course, fabulous coffee!

    April 22, 2020 at 1:28 pm
  • Reply Andi

    I lived in Washington State for 3 years and my parents were there for over 20 – such an amazing place to live with so much nature and variety – if it wasn’t so darn expensive I would have moved there a long time ago!

    April 23, 2020 at 12:09 pm
  • Reply Yukti Agrawal

    Washington State looks beautiful with so many places and Seattle is very famous. Lake Chelan and San Juan islands look very beautiful. Gig Harbour Gondola looks like Gondola ride of Venice or Shikara ride of Sri nagar. Thanks for sharing all places to visit in this beautiful state.

    April 24, 2020 at 4:55 am
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