From visiting Mount St. Helens to eating geoduck to spending the holidays in the Bavarian town of Leavenworth, these are the 25 experiences to add to your Washington bucket list as soon as possible.
Washington boasts some of the most picturesque landscapes in the entire world, but views aren’t all it has to offer. In the country’s northwesternmost state, you’ll find fantastic outdoor adventures, delicious food, and unique family activities.
You could be a sports fan, a hiker, a daredevil, a beer connoisseur, or just an all-around enthusiastic road tripper—no matter what, the Evergreen State can provide a lifetime of amazing experiences.
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Outdoor activities for your Washington bucket list
1. Visit Mount St. Helens
Why: Even if you aren’t ready to get a permit and climb to the top of Washington’s famous volcano, the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center at Silver Lake is a fantastic way to get a view of Lawetlat’la paired with a museum experience.
How much? $5 dollars for the visitor center, $15 per day for a climbing permit
2. See a legendary Cape Disappointment sunset
Why: One of the most beautiful points on the West Coast, Cape Disappointment is legendary for its foggy weather, but on days when the skies are clear, you’ll be treated to an incredible view, especially if you’re able to catch the sunset on the beach before crawling into your beachside tent.
3. Explore Deception Pass
Why: Another one of the most picturesque places in the U.S. is Deception Pass, a strait that connects Skagit Bay, Puget Sound, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Make sure to walk or drive over all the legendary Deception Pass Bridges, which are on the National Register of Historic Places.
4. Hike Mount Rainier’s Paradise Valley
Where: Pierce County/Lewis County
Why: The name Paradise brings to mind images of picturesque meadows with flowers of all sorts of different colors, and this is exactly what you can expect to find while hiking through Washington’s Paradise Valley, all before a backdrop of the majestic Rocky Mountains.
5. Ski or snowboard at Mount Baker
Why: Mount Baker gets the best snowfall of any ski park in Washington, and it’s legendary for its extreme terrain and acres of backcountry. For the slopes enthusiast, this should be right at the top of your Washington bucket list!
How much? $75.46 for an adult lift ticket
6. Embark on a journey through the Hoh Rainforest
Where: Olympic National Park
Why: Olympic National Park is a protected World Heritage Site and UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that contains three distinct ecosystems, including a temperate rainforest. A hike through the Hoh Rainforest will transport you back in time, as you walk among trees that have been growing for centuries—or even millennia!
7. Kayak, cycle, or visit the site of the legendary 1859 Pig War in the San Juan Islands
Why: You might see some orcas while kayaking near Orcas Island, you’ll be free from car traffic while biking on Lopez Island, and let’s just say, the Pig War is one of the strangest episodes of American history—you can still see a British war camp and American war camp standing on either end of the island.
How much? Access to the park is free!
8. Hike up to Wallace Falls
Where: Wallace Falls State Park, Snohomish County
Why: Wallace Falls State Park has some of the most exceptional falls in all of Washington, which is saying something considering how many waterfalls there are to see across the Evergreen State. You can take a relatively difficult hike to the top of the falls for gorgeous Skykomish River Valley views or just admire the falls from the more easily accessible Middle Falls Overlook.
9. Spelunk through Ape Cave
When: May through October
Why: Ape Cave is a lava tube that stretches for over two miles. You can walk through part of it on a short, paved trail or take the more difficult route, which requires bouldering and scrambling.
How much? $5/car day pass, plus a $2
reservation fee (reservations required)
The meals that should be on your Washington bucket list
10. Pike Place Chowder
Where: 1530 Post Alley, Seattle
When: 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sat-Thurs; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Fri
Why: Pike Place Market will be a top destination for much more than just clam chowder, so make sure you take the time to explore. Just do not miss out on “Seattle’s best, world-famous” sourdough bread bowl filled with your choice of eight iconic soups.
11. Alder-planked wild salmon at Chinook’s
Where: 1900 W. Nickerson St, Seattle
When: 5 to 9 p.m. Tues-Sat
Why: Chinook’s at Salmon Bay is one of the top destinations in Washington state for seafood, and they boast some of the tastiest planked salmon in the state!
How much? Price of wild northwest salmon varies by season
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12. Apple pancakes at Maple Counter Cafe
Where: 209 E. Alder St., Walla Walla
When: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Mon-Thurs; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Fri-Sat
Why: Maple Counter Cafe is one of the best places to get breakfast in the state, and all meals are made from scratch with locally-sourced ingredients. Their apple pancakes are simply legendary!
13. Craft beer and pub fare at Aslan Brewing Co.
Where: 1330 N. Forest St., Bellingham
When: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. every day
Why: Aslan Brewing is considered one of the best breweries in Washington state, and its brewpub is a fantastic place to sample a variety of beers while enjoying a meal in a family-friendly environment.
How much? About $20 for a beer and a meal
14. Pan-fried Pacific oysters at Elliott’s Oyster House
Where: 1201 Alaskan Way, Pier 56, Seattle
When: 3 to 9 p.m. Mon-Wed; 12 to 10 p.m. Fri-Sat; 12 to 9 p.m. Thurs and Sun
Why: Oysters are another one of Washington’s seafood favorites, and few restaurants in the state are more well-known for their oysters than Elliott’s!
15. Geoduck ceviche at Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar
Where: 222 Capitol Way N, Olympia
When: 12 to 9 p.m. Tues-Fri; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sat; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sun; closed Mon
Why: Voted Best Geoduck (pronounced “gooey-duck”) in Washington in 2018 by USA Today, the geoduck ceviche is just one of the many fresh, delicious options on the menu at Chelsea Farms Oyster Bar. Choose from a wide selection of oysters and draft beers to complete your meal.
16. Dick’s Deluxe with fries at Dick’s Drive-In
Where: Seattle and Spokane
Why: A 1954 Seattle original, Dick’s sells the best fast food burgers in Washington state, at unbelievably good prices. A Deluxe is made with two ⅛ pound fresh beef patties, melted cheese, lettuce, mayo, and a perfect house pickle relish.
Only-in-Washington experiences for your bucket list
17. Explore Seattle’s Underground
Why: One of the most quintessential Seattle tourism attractions is the
Seattle Underground Tour, which takes you underneath downtown Seattle, walking along the streets of the old city over which Seattle was eventually built!
18. Go to a Seahawks, Mariners, Sounders, or Kraken game!
Why: Seattle has all sorts of exciting sports teams to root for, and with baseball, football, soccer, and hockey all running at different times of the year, there’s almost always a game going on!
19. Visit the Bavarian-themed town of Leavenworth
Why: It might not be a real German Bavarian village, but it sure does feel like one! Leavenworth is especially fun around the holidays when you can watch the Christmas lighting ceremony, drink gluhwein, sing carols, and enjoy the festive decorations all over town.
20. Drive Washington’s picturesque highways
Why: The North Cascades Scenic Highway, Mount Baker Highway, and Coulee Corridor all offer some of the most incredible driving views in the country.
21. Take the family to the Woodland Park Zoo
Where: 5500 Phinney Ave. N., Seattle
When: 9:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily
Why: Woodland Park Zoo is a non-profit zoo dedicated to conservation as a priority through education, and it’s a fantastic day trip location for an outdoor family adventure!
How much? $24.25 for an adult, $16.25 for a child
22. See a concert at the Gorge Amphitheatre
Where:George (Grant County)
Why: Originally known as the Champs de Brionne Music Theater, the Gorge is a natural amphitheater that hosts some of the biggest names and festivals in the West. It’s by far one of the most impressive backdrops you’ll ever get for a daytime festival, making it no wonder why it’s been named Pollstar Magazine’s “Best Outdoor Music Venue” nine times!
How much? Ticket prices vary
23. Chew gum while walking around Seattle, then stick it on the Gum Wall
Where: Pike Place Market, Seattle
Why: The Gum Wall is an iconic Seattle oddity, and you’ve gotta see it at least once! Speaking of which, you can definitely pick up germs from another person’s fresh piece of gum, so take part in the Gum Wall tradition at your own risk!
24. Visit the Seattle Art Museum
Where: 1300 First Ave, Seattle
When:10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wed-Fri
How much? $18 for advance general admission; free on Thursdays
25. Stand on the world’s first all-glass revolving floor at the Seattle Space Needle
When: The Space Needle is open from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily; reservations for the Loupe Lounge are available in the afternoons and evenings
Why: Take in incredible views of Seattle from 500 feet in the air when you visit the Loupe Lounge, atop the only revolving glass door in the world. You can enjoy a cocktail while you rotate, or simply marvel at the city below you.
How much? $35 for general admission to the Space Needle; tickets for the Loupe Lounge start at $120
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