30 Best Things to Do in Olympia, Washington

|   Last Updated on March 27, 2020

Olympia, WA is a beautiful town located in the pacific northwest of the United States. With a homely, small-town feel and extremely beautiful surroundings, it’s the perfect place for the budding sightseer.

There are endless opportunities within Olympia to take in the local culture and history.

Secluded by various national parks and the beautiful Washington coastline, its perfect for outdoor enthusiasts. From fishing to hiking there is something for everyone in Olympia. Here are 30 of the best things to do in Olympia, WA.

1. Hands On Children’s Museum

Founded in 1987, The Hands On Children’s Museum is the perfect place to bring those kids with curious minds.

It is open 7 days a week and they have a variety of events and programmes to choose from. Perfect for an educational visit. Since 1998 the museum has outgrown its location three times and due to this has gone from a small fledgeling museum to a major landmark in Olympia.

An extremely popular place to go to in Olympia.

2. Washington State Capitol Building

No trip to Olympia would be complete without checking out the Washington state capitol building. Built-in 1928 it’s the legislative building and home of the government of Washington.

A historic landmark that offers free guided tours that last around 50 minutes long. There are also various special events on the campus plus people can also wander off on their own and explore. More than enough time to learn some of the histories of Olympia and Washington State.

3. Percival Landing Park

One of the three waterfront parks in Olympia, Percival Landing Park is a busy gathering spot for celebrations and social events. The original dock was built in 1860 and has since become an area of historic and cultural significance.

It’s a popular tourist destination right in the center of downtown Olympia. Check out the 0.9-mile-long boardwalk on the eastern shore perfect for those who want a nice stroll by the water.

4. Tumwater Falls Park

This 15-acre nature park located on a riverside is the perfect spot for outdoor enthusiasts.

Construction of the scenic park was started in 1962 and since then attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year.

The park is open from 8 am until 7 pm every day and boast several attractions including riverwalk tours, fisheries and waterfalls. This one is perfect for anglers and fishing enthusiasts alike.

5. Pioneer Park

Pioneer Park is the perfect spot for families. Located in the small town of Tumwater, WA just outside of Olympia it lies just on the Deschutes River. It is mainly used for sports games and boasts a baseball field, two softball fields, three soccer fields and two sand volleyball courts.

It also has a nice size children’s area and access to the river. Check out the 4th of July fireworks held here each year a major attraction.

6. Priest Point Park

Established in 1905 Priest Point Park was the city’s first waterfront park. Mainly known for its many trails the park is perfect for nature lovers.

Views of downtown Olympia and the capitol building can be found when up on the trail and views of the Olympia mountains to the west make the area a perfect sightseeing location.

The secluded nature of the park makes it perfect for hiking. The area is filled with different species of plants, mosses and ferns for those plant lovers too.

7. Capitol Lake

Capitol Lake sits at the mouth of the Deschutes river in-between Olympia and Tumwater. An artificial lake it was originally a basin that would gather up the wastewater from Olympia. Capitol lake was then built in 1951 and has since become a landmark in Olympia.

To this day the lake is 3 km long and around 260 acres in size and has numerous attractions including a beautiful sidewalk for walking and running, public parks nearby and an interpretive center.

8. LBA Park

For baseball lovers then the LBA Park is a must, as it’s the only park in Olympia built specifically for baseball. LBA stands for Little Baseball Association, the park was developed in 1974 in an arrangement between the LBA and the City of Olympia.

The LBA now holds priority on all field events on the park and in 2017 the park was expanded through the purchase of the neighboring property. Nonetheless, the park does boast several attractions for the regular public as well such as picnic areas and a running track.

9. Olympia Farmers Market

No trip would be complete to Olympia without sampling on the fresh produce grown locally. The Olympia Farmers Market is open Thursday- Sunday 10 am- 3 pm and is a busy marketplace of over 100 vendors. With an estimated 400,000 visitors a year it’s a true landmark of modern-day Olympia and has been since 1975.

All produce or goods at the market have been grown or made locally so you know you’re getting the best quality.

10. Washington Center For the Performing Arts

For those looking for more of a refined experience, the Washington Center for the Performing Arts is the perfect place to go. Opening its doors in 1985 over 2,000,000 have crossed their threshold.

They present a broad spectrum of artists from all backgrounds both nationally and internationally. They have events throughout the year. The center opens from noon to 5:30 pm Tuesday-Saturday.

11. WET Science Center

Another one for the kids, the WET science center provides a safe environment for kids to learn about water and its impact on the earth. They provide supervised experiments and a friendly team of staff.

Perfect for families and kids with curious minds. The center is open Monday-Saturday. A very popular attraction in Olympia.

12. Puget Sound Estuarium

Open only on weekends, the Puget Sound Estuarium is a marine life discovery center with several attractions available. Once again, the perfect place to bring the kids, Weekday private tours can be scheduled by phone.

There are plenty of live animals such as crabs and fish in their aquarium. Adults and kids alike will learn how to identify the various sea creatures living in Olympia. They also boast a natural history collection gifted to them by the Washington Department of Ecology. Perfect for sea creature lovers.

13. Olympic Flight Museum

olympic flight museum washington
olympic flight museum © Articseahorse Wikimedia Commons

Another major attraction, the Olympic Flight Museum is a must see when visiting Olympia. Established in 1998 at the Olympia regional airport, it’s the home of several different aircraft on display including the P-51D Mustang a WWII plane and the L-39Z0 Albatros the most used jet trainer in the world.

The annual air show is also held here alongside several different events throughout the year. This one is a must see for aviation lovers.

14. Bigelow House Museum

The oldest residence in Olympia, this museum is the former home of pioneer lawyer Daniel R. Bigelow, a pivotal figure in early Washington history. It is also one of the earliest houses still standing in the Pacific Northwest.

The museum is dedicated to preserving early Washington state history, it’s a must-see for a history lover. There are documents and artefact’s on display representing over 150 years of the Bigelow family’s participation in community matters.

15. Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve

Established in 1976, Mima Mounds is a state protected natural area in Washington state. At a size of over 630 acres, it comprises of oak, savanna and prairie grasslands.

There are various loops and trails in the area, with many suitable for kids and wheelchair accessible due to a low elevation. It’s a perfect area of natural beauty for the whole family to see.

16. Medicine Creek Winery

Located on a farm in the Nisqually Valley just outside of Olympia, the winery is a must-see attraction. It comprises of the farm, the tasting room, wine processing area, barrel room and even a dance floor. The barn also has availability for function hire.

The winery is like stepping back in time upon arrival and is the perfect place to visit while in Olympia.

17. Lattins Country Cider Mill & Farm

The farm was opened in 1956 and through the years has grown tremendously. There are several attractions on the farm including an Easter egg hunt and other activities for the family and children. On-site, there is the main store that sells produced cider and baked goods. Lattins Farm is a year-round experience for everyone.

18. Stottle Winery

Located just north of the city in the small town of Lacey, WA the Stottle winery is perfect for those wine lovers. The winery is a for-hire venue for private functions and boasts several attractions too.

On-site, there is the winery and a tasting room. The winery also hosts several events throughout the year. Stottle’s also has a dedicated wine club for the true wine lover, with access to exclusive club and wine events and regular shipments of the wine created by the winery.

19. Woodard Bay Conservation Area

This beautiful nature reserve is perfect for birdwatchers and wildlife seekers. Once used by the logging industry it was founded in 1928 and protected in 1991. It’s a sanctuary for many animals including birds, otters and bald eagles.

The perfect attraction for those looking for the natural beauty in Washington state. There are numerous facilities on site for visitors such as picnic tables, benches and toilets. There is a bike rack situated in the area too, however, bicycle riding is prohibited in Woodard Bay.

20. Marathon Park

This is a must see for those Olympic fans. This Waterfront park was used as the start and finish site for the 1984 U.S. trials for the first Women’s Olympic Marathon.

The park is within walking distance of downtown Olympia, perfect for visitors to the city. It’s a popular park for walkers and runners.

There is also a contingent of birdwatchers who visit the park each year due to its natural beauty and seclusion. The park is open between 7.am-9.pm, 7 days a week and there is even security on the park provided by the Washington State Patrol.

21. Heritage Park Fountains

One of the main attractions in Olympia, the fountains are known as Olympias swimming pool. Free to use and always busy on hot days, it’s the perfect attraction for families and kids.

Situated in the heart of downtown Olympia, its perfect for visitors to the city. The perfect spot for those days where it’s too hot.

22. Medal of Honor Memorial.

Located to the northeast of the Legislative Building or Washington State Capitol Building is the Medal of Honour Memorial. The memorial holds the names of all the recipients of the medal of honour from Washington state.

The Medal of Honour is the highest distinction awarded to U.S military personnel. The medal is always presented by the serving U.S president and to this day the memorial holds 91 names as of April 2nd, 2014.

The memorial is patterned after the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C and stands over 11 feet tall.

23. Watershed Park

At over 153 acres in size, the Watershed Park is a public rainforest park. This is a great attraction for nature lovers as there are numerous different plant and tree species within the park including big leaf maple and douglas fir trees.

There is also a huge contingent of wildlife within the park including trout and salmon with its creek. The G. Eldon Marshall trail stands at over one mile and a half long and takes you around much of the park. Perfect for hikers.

24. Old Capitol Building

One of the better attractions for history lovers, the Old Capitol Building was designed by Willis A. Ritchie and then built between 1890-1892. It was the seat of government in Washington State from 1905-1928 before moving to the current Capitol building.

The building has survived many disasters over the years including a devastating earthquake in 1949. The building is currently used by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

25. Winged Victory Monument

Unveiled on May 30th, 1938 the monument was dedicated to those who fought in World War I. The completely bronze sculpture stands at 12-foot-tall and features a soldier, sailor, a marine and a nurse.

It is located just north of Capitol campus and serves as the main attraction in many memorial events. A beautiful sculpture that deserves a visit.

26. Washington State Governors Mansion

No trip would be to Olympia would be complete without a trip to the governor’s mansion.

Designed in 1908 by architectural firm Russell and Babcock of Tacoma, it was then completed in 1909. The Georgian mansion offers guided tours regularly.

It is located on the grounds of the state capitol campus in Olympia with a great view of the mountains. There are some fantastic pieces of architecture within the mansion including the great hall and library. The library also holds books by various Washington state authors and many state-related books.

27. Hawk’s Prairie Casino

For those who fancy their chances, Hawk’s Prairie Casino is the perfect place to go.

They have several table games, off-track horse betting and various poker events. There is also the Riverbend restaurant with a huge variety in its menu from Asian to BBQ. If you feel lucky the Hawk’s Prairie is the place to visit.

28. Lake Lois Habitat Reserve

Another of Washington States beautiful nature reserves, Lake Lois has a large selection of wildlife including bald eagles, deer and squirrels. This one is a must for nature lovers.

Many of its features are a quarter-mile nature trail, bank fishing and benches all along the trail. Lake Lois Habitat Reserve was named after Lois McKinney, a woman who operated a resort on the lake.

29. Woodland Creek Community Park

At a size of 72 acres, the Woodland Creek Community Park is perfect for families visiting the area. Amenities include barbecue grills, paved walkways and restrooms. Pond fishing is also available year-round, perfect for anglers.

For families, picnic shelters are available to reserve. For kids, there is also a large open play area. The perfect park for families. There is also wildlife viewing available for birdwatchers and wildlife seekers.

30. Rutledge Corn Maze

And finally, one more for the kids, Rutledge Corn Maze is the perfect place to go. During the day there are numerous attractions including swing sets, wagon rides and zip swings.

After dark, there is the haunted corn maze which opens after 8 pm. Filled with scary stuff it is only recommended for ages 10 and up. After dark, there is also zombie paintball, a trailer ride through Zombie country to shoot zombies with 50 paintballs. For groups there are also fire pit rentals available year-round, pits can be hired in 2-hour blocks.

So, there you have it 30 things to do when in Olympia, WA. There is something for everyone ranging from kids up to the elderly. With plenty of parks and natural areas, it is a hiker’s paradise. Plus, with various wineries, there is something for wine lovers too.

There is so much in Olympia yet it keeps its small-town homely feel.

Last Updated on March 27, 2020


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