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Things To Do In Olympia

Olympia is enveloped by the luscious landscape of the Pacific Northwest region. The residents of Washington’s capital city, chiefly a community of artists, nature lovers, and liberal arts students, represent a progressive perspective. They encourage a “handmade” lifestyle – shopping local, crafting inhouse, and advocating the arts. Read on to learn more about the top things to do in Olympia, WA.

Olympia balances a small town feel with its identity as the capital of Washington State. The city is powered by a respect for the natural world and the dedication of the creatives who call this place home.

Some of the best attractions near Olympia include:

  • Strolling along Percival Landing boardwalk next to Budd Bay
  • Admiring the preserved estuary at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
  • Taking a tour of the Washington State Capitol
  • Eating a fresh seafood dinner at Squaxin Island Seafood Bar
  • Snapping photos of the cascades at Tumwater Falls Park

Olympia takes pride in its dedication to thought-provoking and functional public art. The city commits one dollar per person and 1% of government construction projects to displaying both major installations and pieces from local artists for all to enjoy.

Here are some cheap things to do in Olympia:

  • Priest Point Park, a hotspot for looking for wildlife
  • 5th Avenue Bridge, the best vantage point to see a salmon run
  • Marathon Park near Capitol Lake which is perfect for training for a race
  • The memorials on the State Capitol grounds that house a Territorial Sundial and the Du Pen Fountain
  • The Washington State Governor's Mansion has free tours on Wednesday

Seattle may be the home of the first Starbucks, but Olympia and its neighboring towns have just as strong a claim to world-class coffee as any contender. Be sure to check out the South Sound Coffee Trail to try specialty joe from a variety of local roasters.

Other popular activities near Olympia include:

  • The steep yet scenic trails around Watershed Park
  • A cruise around the Puget Sound with Mystic Journey Cruise
  • Meeting the wolves at the Wolf Haven International sanctuary
  • The State Capitol Museum and Outreach Center, full of local Olympia and Native American History
  • The Monarch Sculpture Park, a collection of modern art free to the public

One of Olympia’s most beloved festivals is the Procession of the Species held on Earth Day. The downtown culture comes alive with breweries, shopping centers, food trucks, and more.

Other exciting activities near Olympia:

  • Eat from a food truck while having a drink at the Top Rung Brewery Taproom
  • Spend the day browsing the Capital Mall
  • Grab an organic meal at i.talia pizzeria
  • Meditate by the koi pond at Yashiro Japanese Garden
  • Get your hands wet at the Water Education and Technology (WET) Science Center

An hour east of Olympia is the Starry Hill Observatory & Planetarium in Eaton. Starry Hill plays a number of special interest shows on the dome-shaped screen in the planetarium and often hosts Star Parties, an event that teaches party-goers how to target constellations and use telescopes to find them.

Some of the best nighttime activities near Olympia include:

  • Movie nights at the Brotherhood Tavern
  • Hitting it big at the Nisqually Red Wind Casino
  • Late-night meals at Fish Tale Brew Pub
  • Busting a move on The Society dancefloor
  • Open mic night at Oly Underground

The Olympia Farmers Market as been around for more than 40 years. It plays an active role in the businesses in and around Olympia. Patrons spend the day shopping for produce, fruit, meats, dairy, baked goods, and artisan crafts while listening to live music.

Some of the top weekend activities near Olympia are:

  • A visit to the farms and farmers markets on the Thurston Bountiful Byway
  • Tasting the vodkas, gin, and whiskeys at Sandstone Distillery
  • Snowboarding or skiing down Mt. Rainier
  • Olympia Farmers Market
  • Brunch at the Iron Rabbit restaurant & Bar
  • A performance at the Washington Center for the Performing Arts

Try taking the family to one of the unique museums in Olympia can be found moored in West Bat. The Tugboat Sand Man is more than 100 years old and contains a museum dedicated to the maritime history of the South Puget Sound. Little history buffs will learn a lot from the exhibits in the museum.

Here are some of the other family-friendly things to do near Olympia:

  • Learn about art and history at the Hands On Children’s Museum
  • Splash in the public fountain at Heritage Park
  • Strap on your skates and move to the music at Skateland
  • Go “glamping” with the whole family at Millersylvania State Park
  • Walk the paths that surround Capital Lake

Sometimes, the best way to show that you care is to do something as a couple in Olympia. Book a room for the weekend at the Little Creek Casino Resort, where you can hit the slots, watch a show, and relax together at the Seven Inlets Spa.

Other top date night ideas in Olympia:

  • Tour the farmland along the Thurston Bountiful Byway
  • Watch a production at Olympia Little Theater, the town’s oldest live theater
  • Sip some pinot together at Medicine Creek Winery
  • Sign up for a helicopter ride for two over olympia with Glacier Aviation
  • Have dinner for two at Gardener’s Seafood and Pasta

Get the gang together for a weekend trip to Mount Rainier, one of the active volcanoes in Washington. There are plenty of group activities within the Mount Rainier National Park, such as hiking, mountain biking, and year-round camping.

Here’re the best things to do with your friends near Olympia:

  • Take a bike tour with South Sound adventures (and beer!)
  • Catch a Seattle Mariners game in nearby in Seattle
  • Shop for new kitchenware at Bay Mercantile
  • Learn about airplanes at the Olympic Flight Museum
  • Have family dinner at local favorite Ramblin’ Jacks

For those looking to to get crafty indoors, check out the Arbutus Folk School. This non-profit, volunteer-run school is dedicated to preserving crafting knowledge from the past and present. Sign up for classes on pottery, ceramics, embroidery, and blacksmithing.

Some soothing things to do indoors in Olympia include:

  • A paint and sip session at Let’s Paint!
  • Ballroom Dancing classes at Absolutely ballroom
  • Chocolate tasting at Aunt Kate’s Chocolate
  • A drop-in class at Firefly Yoga
  • Comfort and relaxation at Antidote Spa & Salon

Sightseeing starts with the accessible public parks of Olympia. The Artesian Well and Commons is an urban park in Downtown Olympia centered around an artesian well. The water to the well is free to the public, and you can often see citizens bottling the water for home use.

The best outdoor activities near Olympia include:

  • Backpacking or lodging at the Olympic National Park
  • Learning to skateboard at the Friendly Grove Skatepark
  • Playing on the beach at Tolmie State Park
  • Camping at Mt. Rainier National Park
  • Exploring the Old Capitol Building, also known as The Castle

Evergreen State College is an experimental liberal arts college located in Olympia. This college has no “majors,” and instead encourages students to select programs of study that interest them to obtain a Bachelor’s of Arts or Science. This mindset has attracted restaurants, coffee shops, and other businesses that follow their own path.

Don’t miss these must-see attractions near Olympia:

  • A meal at local favorite Falls Terrace restaurant
  • The scenic drive to Hurricane Ridge at Capitol State Park
  • Bob’s Java Jive in Tacoma, housed in a giant coffee pot building
  • A last-minute meal at night at King Solomon’s Reef
  • The mystery meaning of the Mima Mounds