5 Best Places to Visit in Washington This Summer
In recent years, Washington state has come to represent rain, coffee, and vampires, but it’s actually always been the beating heart of the Pacific Northwest—and it has much more to offer than you might think.
Yes, Seattle is a notoriously rainy city, and, true, Pike Place Market was the birthplace of Starbucks. Yes, Forks, Washington is a real town that inspired the Twilight novels. But Washington state also plays host to majestic parks, intriguing museums, and iconic landmarks. So if you intend to explore the state any time in the near future, cross Forks off your list and add one of these pit stops instead:
- Mount Rainier. Mount Rainier is not only a famous mountain peak—measuring a seemingly impossible 14,410 feet high—but also an active volcano. It also happens to be the contiguous United States’ most glacier-capped mountain, which is why views from a distance make the peak look heavily sugar-dusted. Don’t be afraid to explore the five developed regions surrounding Mount Rainier. The volcano will continue to sleep while you camp, get dinner at a fancy restaurant, or enjoy one of the other perks of a visit to Mount Rainier.
- Pike Place Market. First opened in the summer months of 1907, Pike Place Market was one of the nation’s earliest formal farmers markets. It was born out of sheer necessity as consumers and farmers quibbled over the ever-rising price of onions. Direct sale from the farmer bumped down the price of produce, just as it does today. More than 85 farmers from around the Seattle region continue to sell their bounty at the market, but Pike Place has also developed a large subset of independent businesses, restaurants, and gourmet food stores—and yes, they include the very first Starbucks.
- The Space Needle. The Space Needle distinguishes every panorama of Seattle, so it should come as no surprise that the landmark lands on our list of places to visit in Washington. Head up to the observation deck, which is perched 520 feet over Seattle, for breathtaking views of the entire city. In fact, from up here you can see far beyond the twinkling lights of downtown and all the way to Mount Rainier on the horizon.
- Cape Disappointment State Park. Don’t let its name fool you; Cape Disappointment State Park never leaves guests disappointed. At more than 1,800 acres, this sprawling state park resides on the Long Beach Peninsula. That means you’re privy to views of the seemingly endless Pacific Ocean at various points throughout the park. Follow trails through its ancient forests, take a self-guided tour of its two lighthouses, or set up camps at one of the designated spots in the park.
- The Museum of Flight. The exhibits at the Museum of Flight don’t just involve air travel—they also cover the subject of space travel. This all-encompassing museum makes for a fun spot for adults and kids alike with its 150-plus artifacts and engaging exhibits. Step inside the original Air Force One, check out planes that saw action in both World Wars, or get a glimpse of the museum’s model of the Apollo 17 space landing (including a recreation of the Challenger).