Five Great Attractions Within An Easy Drive Of Olympia

Washington State Capitol

Olympia is both an important and fun destination in Washington State. You can stop there on a road trip through the area and visit the State Capitol, several museums, breweries, and all sorts of local scenic attractions. Olympia is also popular because it is located very near some great things to see and do. Here are just five of the many great things to see and do within an easy drive of Olympia

Ocean Shores

Ocean Shores is located on the Pacific coastline just west of Olympia. This beachfront community that sits on a peninsula has a lot to offer. There are tourist activities available like bumper boats, go karts, moped rentals, miniature golf, and more. The best part of Ocean Shores though is of course the beach. There is plenty of beach space to explore and stake out for yourself too. There are also miles of drivable beach too which means you can roll down the window and feel the wind off the water while you motor down the beach and find a place all to yourself. Visiting Ocean Shores for a couple of hours or more while staying in Olympia is a great idea.

Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad

Travel east from Olympia to the tiny town of Elbe and you’ll be able to take part in a very cool activity, the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad. Here you’ll be able to climb aboard a historic train and enjoy a trip through the woods on a rail line that has been operating in the area for a very long time. The route gives you a view of many things you would never see from the road and you also get a chance to check out one of the best railroad museums in the region. There’s nothiung quite like a ride on the Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad.

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium

Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium is located in a scenic part of Tacoma known as Point Defiance. The zoo is historic in nature which is very interesting, but what will be even better for you and anyone you’re traveling with are all the animals there. The zoo includes great examples of exotic animals from around the world. There is also a nice section devoted to animals from the Pacific Northwest. You’re sure to leave Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium trying to decide which was your favorite animal that you saw.

Johnston Ridge Observatory

Located south from Olympia by about two hours is Johnston Ridge Observatory. This important scenic sight is the best place to observe the crater of Mt. St. Helens from. You can tour the visitor center and learn a great deal about the surrounding land and the eruption that changed the geography there in 1980. You can also venture out to the viewpoint and see the hugeness of this important location up close and in person. You’ll really want to have your camera along for this. It’s something you won’t want to miss.

Ferry Ride to Seattle

With a drive of a little over an hour north to Bremerton, you can drive or walk on board and take an hour long ferry ride across Puget Sound to the Seattle Waterfront. Once there, you can hang out in the waterfront area, get a bite to eat, do some shopping, and then get back on board for another ferry ride back. While the Seattle Waterfront is great and has a lot to offer, one of the best parts about this experience is the ferry ride across the water. Relax and watch the water go by and the scenery change. There’s always plenty of activity on the water too with other ferries, sailboats, and ships active in the area. A ferry ride to Seattle is a great way to make any trip to Olympia even better.

Five Great Seattle Attractions Within Walking Distance Of The Space Needle

Space Needle

Space Needle

The Space Needle is one of the most popular attractions in all of Seattle. It’s so popular and well known that it is really an iconic part of the city that is recognized by travelers around the world.

Usually we focus on attractions and destinations you can reach within an easy drive. If you’re already in Seattle and visiting the Space Needle though, you might just need a list of things to see and do within an easy walk from the Space Needle. Here, we’ll give you just that.

Check out these five great Seattle attractions within walking distance of the Space Needle.

The International Fountain

The International Fountain is located just steps away from the Space Needle. This is one of those featured Seattle attractions you’ll love spending time at if you are traveling with your kids. You can grab a bite to eat from a food vendor or a local eating establishment and head over to the fountain to enjoy the show. The pattern of water changes and includes the occassional huge cannon shot of water straight up. Relax and enjoy this free entertainment option while you eat or just kick back and take in the experience. If you dare, you can venture down the ramp and run around in the water too.

Olympic Sculpture Park

Located a few blocks southeast of the Space Needle, the Olympic Sculpture Park is something you may end up enjoying even more than you think you would. Enjoy the outdoors while still being in the city as you walk the pathways and stop and take in the interesting works of art there. This outdoor art gallery is really something to see. You can also get some great views of the waterfront and Puget Sound while you are there too.

Museum of Pop Culture

The Museum of Pop Culture is another attraction that is located very near to the Space Needle. It would literally take you a matter of minutes to walk from one to the other. This museum is a little different than most you have attended. It’s set up with the goal of preserving and presenting unique examples of American culture and includes items from rock music, science fiction, horror, advertising, and more. It’s even home to the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame. This is easily the most memorable museum in the Pacific Northwest.

Dick’s Drive-In

Some may see it as just another fast food restaurant. Residents and regular visitors to Seattle though know that Dick’s is more of a tradition in the city. Dick’s was first opened in Seattle in 1954 and over the years grew to multiple locations and to be part of the classic Seattle experience. It offers a very small menu filled with many of the items you’d expect to find there. Dick’s is dedicated to quality though and also dedicated to its community. The Dick’s Drive-In that is located just a couple of blocks northwest of the Space Needle is the only one in the local chain that offers inside seating. Go there, have a burger, get a milkshake, and enjoy one of the classic Seattle experiences yourself.

Elliott Bay Trail

West of the Space Needle, down on the waterfront is the Elliott Bay Trail. This trail connects to the upper city and offers walkers, joggers, and bicyclists the chance to easily get down to the water and the waterfront area. Once you reach the trail from the Space Needle, you can head north and see some of the very interesting cruise ships, docks, and marinas. You’ll also be seeing some of the less frequented parts of the Seattle Waterfront. You can also head south from where you’ll be joining the Elliott Bay Trail towards the more popular part of the waterfront that features the washington State Ferry terminal, restaurants, shops, and the Seattle Great Wheel. Taking the time to walk to the Elliott Bay Trail can make your visit to the Space Needle so much more enjoyable.

A Beautiful Mural In Small Town Concrete, Washington

Concrete, Washington Mural

Often, some of the nicest attractions to see when traveling aren’t always the biggest name or most popular. Looking for local artwork, scenic viewpoints, state parks, and downtown or waterfront areas. If you visit Concrete, Washington, you’ll see one of the more unique pieces of public art around.

Concrete is a beautiful little town located right on the Cascade Loop, in the Skagit Valley where the Baker River meets the Skagit River. If you’re driving over the North Cascades Highway, it’s a nice stop for a quick bite to eat or a walk around the historic downtown area. If you’re looking for a quiet place to get away too for a fun time in the Pacific Northwest, Concrete is perfect for that too.

Concrete, Washington Mural

Located on the east end of town in Concrete is an amazing mural. It’s impressive in both its size and its location. The mural stretches across the entirety of the local building labeled as housing the police and fire department. The mural depicts the North Cascades in detail, including the town of Concrete itself. One of the big payoffs to stopping and having a look at this mural is that you also get to stroll through the historic downtown section of Concrete.

Concrete, Washington Mural

Small towns are a real pleasure and well worth exploring on a road trip. You can almost always find something worth seeing. One of those things worth seeing in Concrete is this beautiful North Cascades mural.

Concrete, Washington Mural

The Henry Thompson Bridge in Concrete, Washington

The Cascade Loop and the Skagit Valley are filled with interesting things to see. Here’s one that’s easy as it’s right off of the highway and in the very welcoming town of Concrete, Washington; the Henry Thompson Bridge.

Henry Thompson Bridge - Concrete WA

Henry Thompson was a prominent settler to the Concrete area and also served as a Skagit County Commissioner. He played an active role in promoting the need for and then the construction of a bridge in the area it would eventually be built.

Concrete Washington ~83

The Henry Thompson Bridge has a unique white color and a very retro architectural look to it. At the time it was finished in 1918, it was the longest single-span reinforced concrete bridge in the world. Henry Thompson was killed in a logging train accident in 1918 and the bridge was named in his honor.

If you’re visiting Concrete, the bridge is easily reached from the main street that runs right through town. Below the bridge on the eastern bank of the Baker River is the Baker River Upstream Fish Trap which assists with the once struggling salmon populations on the river.

Baker River Upstream Fish Tramp - Concrete WA

You can have a lot of fun when you visit Concrete, Washington. The Henry Thompson Bridge is just one of the many interesting things to see there.

Three Great Places To See Near The Olympic Peninsula’s Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent

Lake Crescent is located on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula, right along the very popular to drive Highway 101. The lake is located less than 20 miles west of Port Angeles and the closes community is the tiny town of Piedmont. People visit Lake Crescent for all kinds of reasons including the opportunity to relax while getting away from it all as well as a wide variety of outdoor recreation possibilities. Lake Crescent is a popular getaway, and has been for a number of years.

There’s more to the area than that though. Take a look at these three great places to see within an easy drive of Lake Crescent.

Visit Hurricane Ridge

Located a little over an hour to the east of Lake Crescent, the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center sits high in the Olympic Mountains. To get there you have to drive to Port Angeles first and then head south into the mountains to the visitors center. A lot of outdoor recreation can be participated there, including hiking, bird watching, cross country skiing, sledding, and snowshoeing. The Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center itself is home to some great information about the Olympic Mountains, maps of the Olympic National Park, and very interesting local history items. The views from the center of Hurricane Ridge itself are extraordinary.

Visit Dungeness Spit

Dungeness Spit sticks out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca near the community of Sequim. It is a sand spit that stretches five and a half mile into the water and is the longest natural sand spit in the entire country. The entire sand spit is explorable to visitors going there. Those willing to make the journey all the way to the end are rewarded with the opportunity of seeing the New Dungeness Lighthouse which is maintained entirely by local volunteers. Enjoying Dungeness Spit though doesn’t have to be done with a five and a half mile walk as there are a number of great viewpoints to see it from.

Visit La Push, Washington

Located out on the open Washington coastline, the tiny community of La Push can be reached from Lake Crescent in a drive of just under an hour. Along the way, you will drive through the community of Forks. La Push features some of the most beautiful scenery on the Washington coast. There are a great many huge driftwood trees laying on the beach where they wash up in the surf. You can stay there a few hours and explore the scenic coastline or you can stay there overnight in the local resort that offers the choice of RV spaces, cabins, or a motel. La Push offers the kind of experience you can’t get elsewhere.

Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe – My Kind of Attraction

Buddy & Howie's Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe

Buddy & Howie's Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe

I remember back in 6th grade learning an interesting science lesson.   My teacher had laid a large magnet flat on a table and then rolled a metal ball bearing past the open end.  The lesson was in watching the metal ball’s trajectory curve right into the magnet.

I was reminded of this moment from childhood on a recent visit to Ocean Shores.  You see, I came rolling in on the main road into town when out of the corner of my eye I spied Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe.  My car then, seemingly at the mercy of an unseen force, curved right into the parking lot, coming to a rest right in front of the store.

Ahh, the magnetic power of candy.

Buddy & Howie's Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe

Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe is like a trip down memory lane.  You just don’t find many stores any longer than only sell candy.  They offer everyone’s favorites too so you’re sure to find something you like.  They also have a well stocked inventory of candy you’ll remember from your youth or that you haven’t seen in a long time.  As you browse the selection there you’re also sure to find a few candies that you’ve never tried before but look too enticing to just leave behind.

Saltwater taffy, chocolate covered Twinkies, sour balls, candy bars, Jolly Ranchers, sour gummies, fudge, peanut clusters, and more… Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe seems to have it all.

The kids didn’t even mind this stop.  It seems like I had stumbled on a shared interest of ours.  A particular favorite of theirs was a brick shaped candy that you could build with, like Legos, but then also eat.

When our visit to Ocean Shores was complete, a couple of days later, we made one more stop at Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe so we could each have our own small bag of hand picked treats on the way home.

Find out more about this great little candy store by the sea:  Buddy & Howie’s Old Fashioned Sweet Shoppe

Bring The Kids To Pacific Paradise In Ocean Shores, Washington

Ocean Shores - 2015 (49)

One of the challenges to going on a road trip with kids is to make sure they’re properly entertained. Few things entertain kids more than a good arcade or fun center. Luckily for those coming to Ocean Shores, they have just that in Pacific Paradise.

Pacific Paradise is located one block off the main road into Ocean Shores and can easily be reached, even on foot, from most of the more popular hotels in town. Walking up the street and seeing the flags fly and the signs on the sides of the building gets the blood pumping in the younger ones. And arriving there is sure to put smiles on their faces.

The main building of Pacific Paradise is filled with a nice selection of video games. Our kids enjoyed going from one to the next as they battled bad guys, drove off road vehicles, and played sports. They also got the chance to try games like skeeball, basketball shooting games, and more. There are even ticket games to play with prizes that can be bought.

Video games aren’t the only thing available at Pacific Paradise though.

Ocean Shores - 2015 (51)

Pacific Paradise is also home to a very nice miniature golf course and the whole family can have fun playing against each other. We had just as much fun as our kids walking around the golf course and trying our hand at some very tricky shots.

The most loved part of Pacific Paradise though, as far as our kids were concerned, were the bumper boats. Both kids took right to these little engine powered bouncy boats and had a blast sneaking up on and bouncing their sibling into the pool wall or another driver. We even had to give in and spring for a second ride too. It was worth it though when you saw them laughing and enjoying themselves so much.

Ocean Shores - 2015 (50)

A visit to Pacific Paradise is a great idea for any family.

Check out this wonderful Ocean Shores attraction online: Pacific Paradise

Waterslides At The Aberdeen YMCA

On a a recent trip to the ocean along the Washington coastline, I found myself with a car load of kids (okay… two) who were feeling a bit bored. We were staying in a rented house out in the Ocean City area, just north of Ocean Shores.

It’d been a fun road trip to the central coast area and we’d done all the favorite stuff, rented scooters on the beach, walked for hours, gone for beach drives, collected shells, ridden go karts, and more. The weather had been good but we all of a sudden had a day of rain and, after a nice relaxing morning of staying inside, the kids were going a bit stir crazy. I looked around for some indoor activities, we’d already been to the arcade in Ocean Shores, I found a link online to the Aberdeen YMCA.

I’ve never really thought of the YMCA as a vacation attraction, but as I explored their website I saw that they had a pool equipped with waterslides. Open swim time that day was from 2:00 pm to 5:00 pm and since we were not members, there was a minimal day pass fee for guests which was entirely reasonable.

Aberdeen YMCA Waterslides

Once inside, the kids had a blast in the pool, the hot tub, and of course on the waterslides. It ended up being the perfect rainy day weather escape plan and it was easy to get to from the beach.

The rest of our beach stay went perfectly, but I’m very grateful for our midday excursion to the Aberdeen YMCA.