Travel Guide: Washington State

Washington state is located in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States — north of Oregon, west of Idaho, and south of the Canadian province of British Columbia on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. Most of Washington's residents live in the Seattle metropolitan area, along the Puget Sound region of the Salish Sea, an inlet of the Pacific consisting of numerous islands and bays carved out by glaciers. The rest of the state consists of deep temperate rainforests.

Washington is known for its coffee, software companies and music scene. You can also geek out on Twilight characters while visiting the Olympic Peninsula, shop for local fresh foods at Pike's Place Market and take a trip up to the top of the iconic Space Needle.

EXPLORER FACTS

  1. Washington state has more glaciers than the other 47 contiguous states combined.
  2. The highest point in Washington is Mount Rainier. It was named after Peter Rainier, a British soldier who fought against the Americans in the Revolutionary War.
  3. In 2004, Washington ranked first in the nation in production of red raspberries (90.0% of total U.S. production), hops, apples, sweet cherries, pears, Concord grapes, and Niagara grapes.
  4. By the turn of the 20th century, Aberdeen had come to be known as "the roughest town west of the Mississippi" because of excessive gambling, violence, extreme drug use and prostitution.
  5. The Lewis and Clark expedition entered the state on October 10, 1805.

CITIES TO VISIT

SEATTLE

The largest city in both the state of Washington and the Pacific Northwest region of North America. As of July 2013, it's the fastest-growing major city in the United States. In Seattle you can stroll though Pike Place Market and visit the original Starbucks or play catch with a fishmonger. In the heart of the city lies Chihuly Garden and Glass, which is sure to amaze you with its colorful and delicate works of art. For some of the best views of the city head to the top of the Space Needle, with panoramic views of the surrounding mountain ranges and Puget Sound that are sure to amaze.

SPOKANE

The second largest city in Washington located 92 miles south of the Canadian border, 20 miles from Idaho, and 280 miles east of Seattle. Spokane is blessed with an average of 260 days of sunshine a year, which is contrary to the popular belief that all it does is rain in Washington. The idyllic climate and location along with the many glistening lakes makes it a mecca for outdoor recreation.

TACOMA

Located 32 miles southwest of Seattle and 58 miles northwest of Mount Rainier, make it the perfect base point for exploring Mount Rainier National Park and its spectacular landscape surrounding. Due to recent improvements it now has the state's highest density of art and history museums; and a restored urban waterfront, the Thea Foss Waterway.

VANCOUVER

Listed as one of the best places to live in America and an explorers paradise. Vancouver is the perfect base for day trips to the Columbia River Gorge, or Mount St. Helens, the site of the famous volcano, both of which offer a number of outdoor activities. For those looking to relax, cruise the picturesque river in the Columbia Gorge riverboat, or visit Beacon Rock, the world's second largest monolith, where a walking trail leads to spectacular panoramic views.

NATURAL WONDERS

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

A U.S. national park located on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington. The park has four basic regions: the Pacific coastline, alpine areas, the west side temperate rainforest and the forests of the drier east side. Its million acres encompass several distinctly different ecosystems and protects a rich mosaic of natural and cultural history. Enjoy an afternoon at the mystical Ruby Beach or walk through old-growth rainforests such as the Hoh Rain Forest, the only rainforest in the continental United States.

MOUNT RAINER NATIONAL PARK

Established on March 2nd, 1899 as the fifth national park in the United States, the park encompasses 236,381 acres including all of Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier is an active volcano and the most glaciated peak in the contiguous United States, which is why it stands as an icon in the Washington landscape.

MOUNT ST. HELENS

Famous for being the only volcano in the contiguous 48 states to erupt in modern times. Its last large eruption occurred in 1980, with ash that could be seen as far as South Dakota. However, since then it has had numerous smaller eruptions and is currently in a quite phase. Visitors have the opportunity to explore the blast zone around Mt St Helens first hand through a network of trails, guided walks and presentations by volunteers.

PALOUSE FALLS STATE PARK

A 105-acre camping park with a unique geology and history. The park offers a dramatic view of one of the state's most beautiful waterfalls. Palouse Falls drops from a height of 200 ft.

SNOQUALMIE FALLS

One of Washington state’s most popular scenic attractions attracting more than 1.5 million visitors every year. At the falls, you will find a two-acre park, gift shop, observation deck, the Salish Lodge and the famous 270 foot waterfall.

THINGS TO DO IN WASHINGTON

  1. Stop to smell the fresh flowers, eat the fresh fruit or even play catch with a fishmonger at the famous Pike Place Market.
  2. Get wired off some coffee! You'll have plenty of opportunities to grab a fresh cup of joe at one of the may coffee shops around Washington.
  3. Dine 500 feet above the ground at the iconic Space Needle.
  4. Walk through the only rainforest in the United States, Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park.
  5. Observe Flattery Rocks National Wildlife Refuge, which consists of 870 islands, rocks, and reefs extending for more than 100 miles along Washington's Pacific coast.