When people think of the Puget Sound, they generally think of Seattle, WA, Spokane, WA or Tacoma, WA. However, these big cities have a beautiful little sister to the southwest: Olympia, WA. This gem of a city is a must-see for travelers to the Pacific Northwest. From the capitol building to the farmers market to the childrens museum, this delightful port town has something for everyone!
Rising high above the city skyline, visible for miles in each direction, stands the majestic capitol building. Visitors can take tours of the breathtaking building and even sit in on legislative meetings. After boning up on Washington State politics, one can take a stroll around the calming Capitol Lake or sip a coffee at one of the nearby bakeries.
For people more interested in shopping, the downtown area boasts an eclectic array of shops. There are plenty of used bookstores, spice stores, coffee houses, restaurants, craft shops, and other unique venues. Also, the wharf area is home to the farmers market, which operates April through December. The market is covered to protect goods and shoppers from seasonal rains. The market is truly a wonder! There, one can find organic fruits and vegetables, clams, flowers, plants, meats, cheeses, and other foodstuffs.
Families can definitely take advantage of all that Olympia, WA has to offer. This city is the proud home of the childrens museum. There, children learn scientific facts through fun hands-on activities. Parents will also want to take their children to the water spouts south of Capitol Lake. Children can run through the spurting water and cool off while their parents relax. Another great spot for children is the lookout tower on the docks. There, children can climb to the top and gain a panoramic view of the harbor.
Although Seattle and Tacoma are great cities to visit, travelers to the Puget Sound area should not overlook Olympia, WA. The charming capitol of Washington offers memorable experiences for all visitors. Anyone who visits will want to come back!
The site of Olympia, WA was home to Lushootseed-speaking peoples for thousands of years, including Squaxin, Nisqually, Puyallup, Chehalis, Suquamish, and Duwamish. The first recorded visit by Europeans was in 1792 when Peter Puget and a crew from the British Vancouver Expedition charted the site.
In 1846, Edmund Sylvester and Levi Smith jointly claimed the land that now comprises downtown Olympia, WA. In 1851, the U.S. Congress established the Customs District of Puget Sound for Washington Territory and Olympia, WA became the home of the customs house. Its population being steadily expanded from Oregon Trail immigrants, in 1853 the town settled on the name Olympia, at the suggestion of local resident Colonel Isaac N. Ebey, due to its view of the Olympic Mountains to the northwest. The area began to be served by a small fleet of steamboats known as the Puget Sound Mosquito Fleet.
In 1896, Olympia, WA became the home of the Olympia Brewing Company, which brewed Olympia Beer until 2003.
A 1949 earthquake damaged many historic buildings beyond repair, and they were demolished. Parts of the city also suffered damage from earthquake tremors in 1965 and the 2001 Nisqually earthquake.
In 1967, the state legislature approved the creation of The Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA. Because of the college's presence, Olympia, WA has become a hub for artists and musicians, and was recently named one of the best college towns in the nation for its vibrant downtown and access to outdoor activities.
Visit the Official Visitors site for Olympia, Washington, Lacey and Tumwater Find all of your resources here: lodging and dining information, modes of transportation, can't miss events, and endless things to see and do during your stay in Olympia, Washington. Make arrangements for your next meeting or download our latest visitor guide.