Olympia, Washington was named in honor of the majestic Olympic Mountains, which dominate the skyline. But there’s much more to this state capital than just the mountains. Olympia is a city with a history of artesian wells, Olympian beer, and an environment enriched by rainy Alaskan weather systems. Over the past 30 years, Olympia has had more rainy days per year on average than any other city in the continental United States. However, with ample attractions the citizens of Olympia rarely feel gray. Here are a few highlights:
Downtown Olympia is a cultural center. It boasts a 12-block historic district, with many buildings constructed in the early 1900s. Stop by the Capitol Theater. Built in 1924 as a combination movie palace/vaudeville theater, the theatre boasts gorgeous windows depicting the classical muses. You can even catch a show there – it’s still in business today! On Earth Day, the city hosts the exciting Procession of the Species, a parade and celebration of all living things on earth. If you can’t make it for Earth Day, the boardwalk, fountains, and public parks are a great place to celebrate nature year-round.
West Bay Drive
There’s no better place for a leisurely stroll than Olympia’s West Bay Drive area. In addition to unobstructed views of the Olympic peaks, the State Capitol building is also viewable from the drive. Stop by the Capitol Campus and take a look at the Legislative Building and the Temple of Justice. The Governor’s Mansion, built in 1909, offers free pre-scheduled tours. This is a great place to soak up some of the history of Olympia and Washington State.
The West Bay Park is currently being developed and will turn the area into a beautiful oasis.
Scheduled to be completed in late 2012, the drive borders Budd’s Inlet and will feature a
shoreline park and trail. Keep an eye out for boats coming in and out of the ship’s canal or
stopping at the marina.
East Bay Waterfront
The East Bay waterfront area is located on the other side of Budd’s Inlet, just opposite West Bay Drive. This area is rapidly developing into a scientific and cultural destination for Olympians. The WET (Water Education and Technology) Science Center opened in 2010. The center offers family activities, presentations, and interactive exhibits to teach children and adults about the many valuable properties of water. A public plaza and hands-on children’s museum are also in the works.
There are plenty of activities for those who love the great outdoors. This area is one of the
best places to birdwatch. Check out the boats at the marina and investigate the inner workings of the Boatworks. There are also excellent walking tours offered here, which provide a lot of information about the history and flora/fauna of the area.
Olympia, Washington is a hidden gem on the coast of Puget Sound and a haven for mountain and ocean-lovers alike. Add that to a lush cultural scene and a passionate arts and theater community, and Olympia is truly a great place to visit or live.