Living in Portland, we’ve definitely spent a lot of time in the Pacific Northwest. And while we’ve driven through Olympia a ton, either on the way to Seattle, or to visit one of my best friends, we haven’t spent a ton of time IN Olympia. Hard to believe because Olympia is the capital of Washington, and reminds us A LOT of Portland. Olympia is only an hour from Seattle and a quick day trip from Portland. We recently took a weekend road trip in the new Toyota CHR, to truly explore Olympia. While we wish we had more time to explore, here’s our guide on all the awesome things to do in Olympia, Washington.
Olympia, like most other places in the Pacific Northwest, has incredible scenery with a great mix of lush forests, beautiful water, and city life. Its incredibly close to the popular Seattle, the beautiful mountains, or the beaches. If you want to explore some of the beautiful Northwest, put Olympia on your list! With all the things to do in Olympia, you could spend a week here! Here’s some of our favorite things to do when you visit Olympia.
If you’re looking for a romantic place to stay, check out these awesome weekend getaways in Washington
Visit the Farmers Market
The Olympia Farmers Market is the second largest farmers market in the state of Washington, serving a variety of crafts, produce, meats, fresh seafood, flowers and live entertainment. Located downtown Olympia, across from Percival Landing. The market is only open certain days during the winter, so make sure to check the days online.
Drink at the Breweries
Oregon definitely has the best beers we’ve ever tasted, but we were surprised to find some great breweries in Olympia! its nice to find some new places that are exploring with IPAs and new kinds of beers. Here are some of our favorite breweries in Olympia.
Top Rung Brewing
Top Rung is located in Lacey, Washington, a 15 minute drive from downtown Olympia. The owners of Top Rung, Jason and Casey, both work as firefighters. The brewery is family friendly and they partner with local food trucks, to bring local, rotating food available to those who are visiting the brewery.
Get the Prying Irons IPA
Three Magnets Brewery
Three Magnets Brewery started as a dream. The owners of Darbys Cafe in Olympia, Nathan and Sara, dreamed of opening a brewpub, and now its a reality. They now have The Magnet, a restarant open for breakfast and lunch from 8am-2:30pm, and 3 Mag Pubhouse, a full pub house with rotating beers, open from 11am to 10pm (Midnight on the weekends).
The Little Juice IPA is amazing!
While Oly Taproom is not an actual brewery, you need to make a stop here if you love beer. They have a wide selection of beers on tap, and also over 600 bottles of beer available for purchase. The beers here go fast, so if theres something on tap that you might like, don’t wait or it might be out!
Explore the town with the beer and bike tour
If you’re looking for some fun things to do in Olympia, do the beer and bike tour! Robin took us on an awesome 3.5 hour bike tour around Olympia, including stops at 3 different breweries. It was the perfect combination of biking, beer and information of the city. You do not need to be an experienced biker to do this tour! Its only $40 for the tour, including a bike rental, which includes 3- 10 oz beer tastings. If you only have a little bit of time in the city, this is the perfect tour for a little bit about Olympia and some great breweries in town.
Read more: Make a trip to Leavenworth during the winter
A wine trail is always a fun adventure! The south sound wine trail includes 5 wineries stretching through Lacey, Olympia, Tenino, and Shelton. Each stop has their own wonderful wine. The wine trail is a great way to meet and experience some of the great wine makers.
Visit the Capitol Building
Since Olympia is the capitol of Washington, you can’t miss visiting the capitol building. Guided tours of the capitol building are offered seven days a week hourly between the hours of 10 a.m. and 3 p.m on weekdays, and between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on weekends. Tours are free and begin every hour on the hour and last 60 minutes.
Explore the outdoors
Percival Landing is one of 3 waterfront parks in Olympia and consists of 3.38 acres. Located right in the heart of downtown, its a great spot for a stroll along the boardwalk.
Tumwater Falls is a .5 mile roundtrip walk with a waterfall. Its open to the public for no fee, and very easy to get too. Its a great nature escape right in the middle of the city.
Tolmie State Park
Tolmie State Park is located on the outskirts of Olympia, with 105 acres of day-use park located on the Puget Sound. You must have a discover pass for vehicle access to the park.
Billy Frank Jr Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
The place to go to see wildlife and enjoy the scenery. Several hiking options, including the boardwalk trail. Trails are open every day from sunrise to sunset, cost to park is $3 a car.
A 1.5 mile trail surrounds the lake right in the heart of the town with views of the capital building. It’s a beautiful place for a walk, bike, or run around the lake.
Take a coffee cupping class
It isn’t a secret that coffee is a big part of Olympia. Olympia Coffee started in a warehouse in Olympia in 2005 and has grown to 3 locations around town. Olympia coffee has created direct trade partnerships with coffee farmers worldwide in 8 different countries. Every Friday you can take a coffee cupping class at Olympia Coffee, where you can learn about the growing, roasting and brewing that goes on behind the scenes of an exceptional cup of coffee.
Where to eat in Olympia
Dillingers Cocktail and Kitchen
Dillinger’s is a craft bar and restaraunt located in one of the oldest buildings in Olympia, the Security building. Authentically crafted cocktails and delicious food with a mix of past and present. A great spot to enjoy a coktail or get some food.
222 market is an artisanal market with multiple different restaurants, including The Bread Peddler, Creperie, Broth Bar, and Sofies Scoops. A food lovers dream with many various kinds of foods including dessert, from around the Pacific Northwest.
Budd Bay Café
Budd Bay Cafe is located right on the waterfront, the cafe has local and fresh ingredients, with a wonderful view of the water.
Pizzeria La Gitana
Pizzeria La Gitana uses only organic and high quality ingredients, and a wood fired oven, this might be the best pizza outside of Italy. While expensive, the pizza is delicious!
Where to stay in Olympia
Double Tree Hilton
We stayed at the Double Tree Hilton right near Percival Landing. The Double Tree iss the only downtown hotel right on the waterfront, and they give you fresh baked cookies right when you arrive! You can walk across the street and enjoy the Budd Inlet, or its only a couple minutes away from the site capital.
Airbnb is always a great option when you travel. We have found some great inexpensive options right in the heart of Olympia.
Getting to Olympia
Olympia is one hour south of Seattle, and 2 hours north of Portland. If you are arriving from plane, you will want to fly in to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Weather in Olympia
Being in the Pacific Northwest, you never know what the weather may bring. Like we said on our bike tour, we had snow, rain and snow. No matte when you travel, make sure you bring layers and a rain jacket. The average weather in Olympia is 50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Watch our video of our full weekend in Olympia:
Day Trips from Olympia
Olympia is a great place for doing more exploring of the rest of Washington (and also Oregon and Canada). Here are some of our favorite day trips from Olympia, if you have some extra time.
Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier is one of the most photographed landscapes in Washington, and an active volcano. Its a quick drive, only a little over an hour away from Olympia, with plenty of views and hikes to enjoy the day.
Mount St Helens
Mount St Helens is only 2 hours south east of Olympia, with ape caves, trailheads, and lakes. If you’re up for adventure, climb the volcano or hike the trails.
Olympic National Park
A park with almost a million acres with access to the mountains, beaches, and forest. A great trip for a scenic drive or a hike. Only an hour to the start of the park, but it takes a while to get around the whole park.
With Olympia being so close to Portland, we’ve a little embarrassed to say that we have never fully experience the city, until now. There are so many fun things to do in Olympia, Washington, it’s the perfect Pacific Northwest city, with great beers, coffee, hikes, and food. For only being a short drive from Portland and Seattle, we’re really surprised that Olympia is often overlooked. If you love good food, coffee, beer and outdoors, we promise you’ll love Olympia.
Have you been to Olympia? What are some of your favorite things to do in Olympia?
Thanks to Experience Olympia for hosting us for the weekend, as always, our opinions are our own.
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