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Places to Visit in Seattle, Tacoma, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Washington Cascades

Things to do / Travel Guide

Places to Visit in Seattle

Seattle is the largest and most well-known city in the northwest Washington and Cascades region. Some of the city's nicknames are “Jet City” (because of the Boeing factory), the “Rainy City” (try not to find out why), and the “Gateway to Alaska” (true now more than anytime since the Klondike Gold Rush with the annual summer “Cruise Rush”). Seattle is also known as the “Emerald City,” in no small thanks to the abundance of lush green Evergreen trees that fill the city from one end to the other.
Among the landmarks in Seattle are the Space Needle, a futuristic remnant of the 1962 World's Fair (located at the Seattle Center and featuring an observation deck and a revolving restaurant at the top), Pioneer Square (a triangle-shaped cobblestone plaza characterized by a totem pole), and Seattle's famous Waterfront Park, which is home to commuter trolleys and Pike Place Market. Seattle is both a hub of tourist interest and a base for excursions into the surrounding area. Lifestyle, trends, culture, outdoors - its all in Seattle, with some rain thrown in to help you appreciate the sunny days.

Seattle Tourist Attractions

Everett, Washington, is home to Boeing Aircraft's main assembly plant, which includes the world's largest building (in terms of volume) and the world's most-popular factory tour. The city also boasts a historical district famous for many stately homes, running from Eighth Street to 25th Street and east-west from Broadway to Grand Avenue.

Federal Way, a classic “bedroom community” is regarded as a part of the Seattle metropolitan area. Federal Way is filled with many city and state parks such as Steel Lake Park on South 312th Street, Celebration Park on 11th Avenue, Dash Point State Park on SW Dast Point Road, as well as Five Mile Lake on Military Road and the West Hylebos Wetlands Park on South 348th Street. Federal Way is also home to the Six Flags Wild Waves and Enchanted Village theme park and the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Gardens.

Bellevue is a rapidly-growing city located on the east side of Lake Washington, across from Seattle. The fifth-largest city in the state, Bellevue's downtown area is undergoing major changes which include revitalization, urban renewal, and gentrification. Bellevue is also home to the largest Asian American population in the state, and more than 60 different languages and dialects are spoken in the Bellevue school district.

Places to Visit in Tacoma

Tacoma is located on the southern end of the Puget Sound, about 30 miles south of Seattle, and is a mid-sized urban port city. Home to the Tacoma campus of the University of Washington and the Tacoma Convention and Trade Center, the Tacoma-Pierce County area has been ranked as one of the most livable areas in the United States and also one of the most “walkable.” There are indeed many footpaths and bike paths throughout the city popular with local strollers. In addition, Point Defiance Park, located in Tacoma, is one of the largest urban parks in the nation. High prices in Seattle have made Tacoma a gentrification target, complete with the usual gamut of cultural attractions. Walking down a street in Tacoma may put you face to face with Mt. Rainier, while Mt. Olympus looms over your shoulder. Not bad for a city formerly known mostly for its many pulp mills.

Olympia, the state capital, is home to the State Capitol Campus and to Evergreen State College, a public university that boasts of alumnus Matt Groening, the creator of “The Simpsons.” Known for being laid back, yet hip, Olympia is mainly a college town that is perched on the forefront of local state politics.

San Juan Islands Places to Visit

The San Juan Islands is a collection of some 450 islands located in the northwest corner of Washington State near Canada, about 65 miles northwest of Seattle. The islands are a popular tourist destination with locals and visitors who come to these islands to enjoy the rural charm and a restful retreat while participating in activities like biking, kayaking, and whale watching. The largest town in the San Juan Islands is Friday Harbor, on San Juan Island, the most populated island in the group. The other major islands of interest to tourists are Orcas Island and Lopez Island. Mainland cities of interest nearby include the cultural college town of Bellingham and the quaint and historic harbor town of La Conner. These cities also serve as jumping off points to the nearby islands. Anacortes is the ferry departure point for the San Juan Islands.

Islands in Puget Sound Places to Visit

The Puget Sound is a large inlet of the Pacific Ocean that separates the Olympic Peninsula from most of the state of Washington. There are 14 prominent islands in the Puget Sound, including Bainbridge Island, Fox Island, Indian Island, and Whidbey Island. Whidbey Island is known for historic and quaint fishing towns, where visitors divide their time between nature walks, antiquing, and dining on fresh seafood. The island is more accessible than the San Juan Islands, but that access translates into crowds, especially on weekends. Bainbridge Island, a Seattle suburb is a good biking destination. One could say that half the fun is getting there - the popular ferry offers great views of Seattle.

Olympic National Park Tourist Attractions

Occupying most of the Olympic Peninsula, Olympic National Park has a split personality - part is perched on the edge of the wild and remote Pacific Ocean coastline and the other part is centered around the Olympic Mountains. The glaciated peaks include Mt. Deception and Mt. Olympus, and the slopes offer hiking and boating in spectacular temperate rainforests.

On the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula, about 60 miles from Seattle, is the town of Port Townsend, an important seaport since the 1880s. The city's main drag, as it were, is Water Street, which is line with Victorian homes built upon the bluff overlooking the wharf district. In 1976, the waterfront area and the residential neighborhoods up on the bluff overlooking the wharf were declared a National Historic District, which, in turn, spawned a revival of the town. Today, the city's waterfront district is home to art galleries, locally-owned boutiques and shops, and many of the Victorian homes that have been converted into bed and breakfast establishments. This town, one of the best-preserved examples of the Victorian period makes a great addition to a visit to the natural wonders of nearby Olympic National Park.

The North Cascades Tourist Attractions

John Muir called these mountains the “American Alps;” after seeing these peaks you might find yourself in Switzerland referring to the “European Cascades!” Covering a large, Vermont-sized chunk of the state, the area is a collection of federally-managed and -preserved lands. North Cascades National Park and several National Forests cover most of the land. There are very few roads; just enough to get you to views of hanging glaciers, pristine lakes and valleys, and to the jump-off points for the outdoor adventures they offer. One popular destination here for hiking, skiing or just admiring the glaciers is Mt. Baker. Nestled in an extremely remote area within the north Cascades is the town of Stehekin. Only accessible by boat at the end of 55-mile-long Lake Chelan, by 28-mile hike from the nearest road, or by plane, Stehekin is where to journey in order to really get away from it all and get in touch with nature.

The South Cascades Places to Visit

The large, volcanic peaks of this area are among the highest and most majestic in the United States - certainly among the most photographed and visited. The glacial peak of Mt. Rainier, which looms on the horizons of Seattle and Tacoma, can be found rising 14,410 feet into the air. Hikers can enjoy the view from walks along the base or can ascend through the snowfields up the slopes. Reaching the summit requires a technical climb. Isolated and much less visited, Mt. Adams, is one of the most beautiful of the Cascades peaks and features some excellent hiking trails. The summit can be reached in a non-technical climb. Mt. St. Helens was the scene of one of the most dramatic natural disasters in the history of the United States. In 1980, an eruption took off the top of the mountain and leveled a forest double the size of Seattle. Visitors to this remote area will enjoy a unique hiking and viewing experience. Most mountains are not going anywhere, but with Mt. St. Helens, one cannot be sure!

Winthrop

Located on the eastern slopes of the Cascades in the Methow Valley, a 240-mile drive east of Seattle, is the town of Winthrop which, looks very much like a movie set. The wooden sidewalks are covered and the town's Main Street looks like something out of the Old West, complete with a saloon and a blacksmith's shop. In 1972, the tiny hamlet of Winthrop put up some façades to cash in on its Wild West heritage in the hopes making the town attractive to tourists motoring along the North Cascades Scenic Highway. Winthrop has since become a tourist destination beyond the Old West theme, with cross-country skiing popular in the winter and mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding popular in the summer.

Leavenworth

The town of Leavenworth, also on the eastern slopes of the Cascades about 100 miles east of Everett looks like it was picked up out of Bavaria and dropped in Washington. Leavenworth is a precise replica of an Alpine village, right down to the lederhosen-clad locals and dancing music from polka bands playing the “oompah-pah.” The alpine ski-chalets style buildings may or may not convince you, but there is certainly no doubt that the mountain setting is beautiful. Buy cuckoo clocks, eat bratwurst, have a beer or two, and enjoy the rafting, hiking, biking, and skiing accessible from Leavenworth.

Places to Visit in Seattle, Tacoma, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Washington and The Cascades

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