Last updated: November 26, 2023
Are you looking for unique things to do in Washington state? Look no further than the list below. I’ve lived in Washington most of my life and being outdoors is a way of life for me. Lucky is a word I use often and gratitude comes easy when I’m outside.
What follows is my take on the very best adventures in Washington state. It’s organized by proximity to Seattle, to make it easier for trip planning. I will update it occasionally, as I discover more about this amazing region.
Unique Things to do in Washington State
Washington state is full of character and characters, most of them more than happy to share a smile and directions, or advice on what you should do while here. These are my favorites activities for the next time you visit our beautiful state.
Things to Do in Seattle
You can easily visit Washington and never step outside of Seattle city limits. There’s just that much to do. This list is mainly only about what there is to outdoors, because spending time outside on a regular basis is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.
1. Ballard Kayak & Paddleboard
- Shilshole Bay Marina, W-dock, 7901 Seaview Ave NW
- Hours: seasonal and weather dependent
Rent a paddle board or a kayak at Shilshole Bay Marina. They also offer fantastic tours and the tours are for every level, even beginners. Lunch tours at Discovery Point, sunset tours or tours customized to your liking.
2. Magnuson Park
- 7400 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115
- Hours: seasonal and weather dependent
Over 350 acres of walking trails, grass fields for flying kites, a mile of shoreline along Lake Washington, swimming beach, boat launch and art installations. There is something for everyone at this beautiful park.
3. The Great Wheel
- 1301 Alaskan Way, Seattle, WA 98101
- Hours: open 11 am to 9 pm
The Great Wheel is a 175 foot tall Ferris wheel at Pier 57. You can see it from all over Seattle, even across the water. It’s most beautiful at night, because it’s lit up with color and reflects over the water below.
4. Scavenger Hunt
- 85 Pike Street, Seattle, WA 98101
- Hours: variable
Pike Place Market should be on your list for Seattle character and vibes alone, but for a truly unique thing to do in Seattle you might also take the time to find the 7 pig statues, scattered throughout. Some of them take a little searching!
5. Gum Wall
- 1428 Post Alley, Seattle, WA 98101
- Hours: open 24 hours
Another quirky and entertaining thing to do at Pike Place Market is to contribute to the Gum Wall. The slightly disgusting wall is actually more of an alley and while it is periodically cleaned, the gum always returns and it is everywhere. Don’t forget some chewing gum!
6. Matt’s in the Market
- 94 Pike Street #32, Seattle, WA 98101
- Hours: hours are variable and reservations are required
The best dining at Pike Place Market is without a doubt Matt’s in the Market. Highly rated, offering a diverse menu based on the freshest foods available in the market. The clams are my personal favorite, but honestly I think you can’t go wrong with whatever you choose.
7. Seattle’s Underground Walking Tour
- Beneath the Streets black and purple sign, 104 Cherry St, Seattle, WA 98104
- 4.6 out of 5 starts, 536 reviews
Go on a guided tour of the ruins of old Seattle, buried after the 1889 fire. Learn all about the famous characters of Seattle’s past and see relics of the old city. We take out-of-town friends on this tour every time. It’s for all ages, and all will enjoy it!
8. Center for Wooden Boats
- Lake Union Park, 1010 Valley St, Seattle, WA 98109
- Hours: open 10 to 6pm, closed Monday and Tuesday
If you’re looking for non-touristy things to do in Washington, visit the incredible Center for Wooden Boats. Learn all about boats and the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest. While it is a museum, it also offers classes, workshops and even boat rentals.
9. Fremont Troll
- N 36th St, Seattle, WA 98103
- Hours: open 24 hours
Visit the Fremont Troll, inspired by the fairy tale Billy Goat’s Gruff, and soak up the vibes of Fremont, one of the most liberal and colorful communities in Washington state. This is a huge attraction and parking is severely limited, so plan to walk a ways.
10. Lake Union Hot Tub Boats
- 2401 N Northlake Way, Seattle, WA 98103
- Hours: variable
Rent a floating spa! Relax in a hot tub and boat combined on Lake Washington and enjoy a relaxing, peaceful float with some unbelievable views of the Seattle skyline. This is extremely popular on holidays and event days such as the Blue Angels Airshow.
11. Seattle Japanese Garden
- Washington Park Arboretum, 1075 Lake Washington Blvd E, Seattle, WA 98112
- Hours: open Tuesday through Sunday, with hours changing with the season
The Seattle Japanese Garden has 3.5 acres of gorgeous plants, animals, water and bridges and has something to offer whatever the season. Join a workshop, attend an event or just spend the day strolling through a peaceful paradise.
Things to do Near Seattle
It won’t feel like you’ve left Seattle when step just outside the city limits, but I’ve separated them here to make it easier to understand that where everything is.
12. REI Boathouse at Medenbauer Bay Park
- Meydenbauer Bay Park, 2 99th Ave NE, Bellevue, WA 98004
- Hours: variable depending on season; reservations recommended
There’s nothing sweeter than the cool waters of Lake Washington on a hot summer day. Rent a watercraft or go on a tour at Bellevue’s REI at Meydenbauer Bay Park. Paddling is one of the healthiest hobbies you can acquire. The sunset kayak tour is truly a hidden gem, even among locals.
13. Brothers Greenhouse
- 3200 SW Victory Drive, Port Orchard, WA
- Hours: 9 – 4:30 pm Monday through Saturday, 9- 3:30 pm Sunday
So much more than a greenhouse. This is a saunter through tomato tastings, local art and culture and serenity. They also have the most adorable hobbit house that you can rent for the little ones’ birthday parties.
14. Kitsap Peninsula Water Trails
The only naturally occurring saltwater trail in the United States, this system of trails covers 371 miles of shoreline and a variety of activities and attractions for everyone. Paddling, kayaking, boating, camping, beaches, wildlife and more. Experience nature at its best and on on your own terms.
15. Bainbridge Island on a Bike
Rent a bike on the island or bring one over across the ferry, but take at least an entire day and explore what the island offers by way of two wheels. While there are plenty of hills if you’re looking for them, there’s also flatter ground to stick with if that’s your preference.
16. Middlefork Snoqualmie Trail
Stroll along the Middlefork Snoqualmie Trail or Pratt River Trail in a hike tailored to you. Don’t let the mileage fool you, the beauty starts at the beginning and just keeps going, while you only need go as far as you want with little elevation gain in either direction. At least not at the beginning of the trail.
17. Oxbow Trail
Walk the loop of – less than 2 miles of delight for everyone, especially little ones. North Bend is well known for its’ hikes and hiking culture and offers something for every ability. View more easy hikes near to Seattle if you have time.
18. Sammamish River Trail
Take a bike ride along the Sammamish River Trail as far as you want to go and back. Just over ten miles from Bothell to Marymoor Park, passing through a scenic greenway on a relatively easy trail.
19. Iron horse tunnel trail to Rattlesnake Lake
Bike the 26 miles mostly downhill, from exit 54 along I-90 to Rattlesnake Lake in North Bend. Approximately 5 miles more and it takes you right onto the edge of town. We do this every spring, as soon as the tunnel opens for the season.
20. Edmonds Fishing Pier
- Edmonds Fishing Pier, 219 Railroad Ave, Edmonds, WA
If you get the weather right, you’re in for a beautiful sunset. If not, you’re still in for a sandy treat as Edmonds has made the most of their shoreline with beaches and parks for everyone to enjoy.
21. Fall City Wallaby Ranch
- Fall City, WA
A private ranch offering private or group tours. Wallabies and red kangaroos in the most unexpected and delightful place. Tours by appointment only.
22. Lora Lee’s A-Maze-Zing Sunflowers
- 17651 W. Snoqualmie River Rd. NE, Duvall, WA, 98019, US
Surrounded by sunshine in a maze of beauty. Lora Lee and her family offer entrance to the sunflower maze, access to their flower garden and an opportunity to pet their many goats. She says they nearly always have baby goats on the premises.
23. Tandem Paragliding
- 11206 Issaquah-Hobart Rd SE, Issaquah, WA 98027
Expensive, unforgettable and possibly a little scary. Or maybe a lot. This isn’t for everyone, but those who do it tend to come back for more. If you hike to Poo Poo Point on a sunny day you are likely to see them taking off, right in front of you.
24. Boehm’s Candies
- 255 NE Gilman Blvd, Issaquah, WA 98027
Offering classes and tours and perhaps best of all, chocolate. The class teaches you about the history of this adorable chocolate factory, all about it’s founder Julius Boehm and how he built an authentic Austrian chalet in Washington state.
Bonus: Sammamish Animal Sanctuary
- 16515 SE May Valley Rd, Renton, WA 98059
The Sammamish Animal Sanctuary is a Renton farm that provides a safe haven for rescued animals. It serves as the real-life home of the beloved animals featured in Diane Odegard Gockel’s Rescue Series Books.
This sanctuary warmly welcomes visitors, offering regular public access, as well as opportunities for birthday parties, corporate events, and other gatherings. Don’t miss it, even if you don’t have children of your own!
Amazing Olympic Peninsula Destinations
The Olympic Peninsula is famous for its’ beautiful beaches. Beaches are only the beginning though, as the peninsula offers all sorts of fabulous adventures, from hiking to camping, wildlife watching to fun festivals.
25. Sequim Lavender Festival
One week every July is set aside for the festival, but you can enjoy the beauty of the flowers and the farms all summer long. Sequim is the Lavender capital of the United States, but there are many other activities that make it a worthwhile visit.
26. Hoh Rain Forest
- Hoh Rain Forest Visitor Center, 18113 Upper Hoh Road, Forks, WA 98331
This temperate rainforest, with 24 miles of forest trails, is one of the more popular attractions in Washington state. And for a reason. The lush green foliage and smell of fresh sea air combine for a fantastic experience, whether staying a day or a week.
27. Washington State International Kite Festival
- World Kite Museum, 303 Sid Snyder Drive, Long Beach, WA 98631
From August 21-27, 2023. A celebration of anything remotely kite-related. The skies are filled with color and motion, while the beaches are overflowing with people. Reserve your accommodations early, bring a lawn chair or a beach blanket and enjoy the competition.
Or compete on your own!
28. Rialto Beach
- Near the mouth of the Quilayute River
- Olympic National Park
A must-see and must-do. A stunning walk along the beach viewing the famous sea stacks or countless stars in the night sky for campers. Lookout for wildlife on the beach, in the air and in the water. The tidepools are fantastic here at low tide, but you have to plan ahead.
29. Sol duc Sac Falls
- Just down the road from Sol duc Sac Hot Springs Resort and Campground
- Campground is at 12076 Sol Duc-Hot Springs Road
- Port Angeles, WA 98363
Possibly the most beautiful falls in Olympic National Park, or perhaps all of Washington. Certainly one of the most visited. This one is viewed from above, for a refreshingly different take on waterfalls.
30. Olympic Discovery Trail
- Olympic Peninsula, WA
A non-motorized trail starting in Port Townsend and ending at La Push, this trail is 130 miles long. Boasting magnificent views and wildlife sightings, it’s a treasure to appreciate for a day adventure or more. Walk, run or ride your bike at any point along the way and collect memories to last a lifetime.
Things to do in Northern Washington
Just a few hours north of Seattle is the most amazing playground for adults and kids alike. You could spend your entire life exploring this area and never see all that it has to offer.
31. Spark Museum
- 1312 Bay Street, Bellingham, WA 98225
The Spark Museum of Electrical Invention is one of my favorite museums, and not simply because my children begged to return for years after any of our visits. It’s yet another hidden gem in Washington state.
The museum hosts six galleries, several interactive displays and fantastic events on a regular basis. It is impossible to leave here without having had a blast or without a solid foundation for how electricity works.
32. Whatcom Falls Park
- 1401 Electric Ave., Bellingham, WA 98229
Whatcom Falls Park is conveniently located close to Bellingham, with several waterfalls and several miles of trails to explore in a park well over 200 acres.
The bridge alone is a stunning location for photo shoots and while it’s difficult to leave the beauty of this bridge in the sunshine, the park also offers playgrounds, picnic areas and a fish hatchery.
Whirpool Falls is a shallow falls where swimming is safely allowed, though it’s also rather popular in the heat of the summer.
33. Wildcat Cove Beach in Larrabee State Park
- 245 Chuckanut Drive, Bellingham, WA 98229
Explore tide pools at low tide, have a picnic, play in the sand, catch the sun setting over the water. Wildcat Cove was one of my favorite places when I was going to college in Bellingham.
34. North Cascades Hiking
- All along Highway 20, Washington
There are countless hiking trails just off Rt 20 that are worth a few hours, an entire day or even a long weekend. Permits are required to camp in many of the areas and early registration for them starts March 6, 2023.
The very best hikes, from my experience, are Chain Lakes, Sahalee Arm and Heather Maple Pass Loop, though each of them offers a beauty and charm all their own.
35. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival
- Mt Vernon, WA
Running the entire month of April, you’re sure to find a favorite farm and variety of tulip. Explore on foot, on bike or on e-bike, depending on your mood and time. Each farm has it’s own personality and style and they’re all beautiful.
36. La Conner Daffodil Festival
- La Conner, WA 98229
The only thing better than the simple beauty of tulips is the fragrant scent of daffodils in the air. The 9th annual Daffodil Festival is set for March 2023, and will have all kinds of fun events, exhibits and daffodils. There are more daffodils than tulips in at least one tulip farm.
37. Bob’s Corn and Pumpkin Farm
- 10917 Elliott Road, Snohomish, WA 98296
- Hours: seasonal
An absolutely fantastic place to spend an autumn day. They’ve got group events, U-pick pumpkin patch, apple launcher and a 12-acre corn maze that is not at all easy to navigate, even in the daylight. You can also rent a fire pit to make the day complete.
38. Neko Cat Café
- 1130 Cornwall, Bellingham, WA 98225
- Hours: 11 – 7 pm Monday through Thursday, 11 to 8 pm Friday and 10 to 8 pm on Saturday and Sunday
The place to go if you love cats. Looking to adopt a cat? This is the place for you. Looking to just spend time with a cat? This is also the place for you. Neko’s goal is to help the felines that are most in need. They offer playtime by reservation only.
39. San Juan Islands
There are multiple ways to get to the San Juan Islands but a ferry from Anacortes is the most common. The islands are arguably one of the most beautiful areas in Washington state and offer all kinds of fantastic outdoor adventures – swimming, biking, camping, hiking.
Plan ahead and book ahead, as far in advance as you can. You won’t regret it!
Activities in Eastern WA
Eastern Washington has a beautiful and diverse landscape and an entirely different weather regime than western Washington. The winters are colder and the summers are warmer, a lot warmer.
If you’re not a huge fan of high temperatures, take advantage of Spring and late Fall seasons to explore everything it has have to offer.
40. Rock Climbing
Leavenworth offers many incredible climbing destinations and rocks for every level. They also have several guide companies to get you and up, whatever your goals might be. If you’re not going with a guided company, contact the Wenatchee River Ranger District U.S. Forest Service for permits.
41. Whitewater Rafting
Floating, rafting or kayaking, the water is the place to be when Leavenworth gets warm. Tours and guides offer everything from a gentle float down the Icicle River to braving Class IV rapids. There is something for everyone here.
My family has loved every adventure we’ve had on these waters, and are working our way up, slowly for my own sake, to the high-pitched adrenaline courses.
42. Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area
If hiking is your thing, as it is mine, you will not be disappointed by the pristine beauty of the Alpine Lakes Wilderness Area. It’s popular, it’s crowded and there are limitations and reservations required for overnight backpackers.
If you’re thinking of the Enchantments thru hike, plan ahead and be prepared.
43. Palouse Falls
Washington’s state official waterfall, absolutely gorgeous in winter or summer but sunset or sunrise are by far the most beautiful. Palouse Falls State Heritage Site offers picnic tables and restrooms and a path for walking around the canyon for different views.
There are no other facilities or amenities here however, so fill up on gas before you go and bring food and water.
44. Gorge Amphitheatre
One of the most amazing outdoor concert venues in the United States. They offer regular events with the world’s most renowned performers such as Dave Matthews and Eric Church, some of this summer’s line-up.
Reserve well in advance for these concerts and come prepared to experience another world entirely.
Highlights in Southern WA
There are many ways to experience the unbelievably beautiful wilderness of southern Washington, just a few hours drive from Seattle.
45. Fremont Lookout
- Sunrise Visitor Center, Mount Rainier National Park, Ashford, WA 98304
- Hours: seasonal
Do a sunset hike at Fremont Lookout with a 5.5 mile round-trip hike and a 1200 feet elevation gain. While this one is not the easiest hike, it’s certainly not the hardest hike and definitely worth repeating every single year.
This classic hike showcases so much of what Washington state has to offer – epic views of Mount Rainier, wildflowers, marmots and goats and grand landscapes as far as the eye can see.
There’s also a long log bench at the beginning of the Fremont Lookout hike that’s perfect for laying down after sunset and enjoying the stars. The Perseid meteor shower will be from July 17 to August 24 this year, peaking on about August 13. Plan ahead to make the most of this fantastic opportunity.
- Paradise Visitors Center, Mount Rainier National Park, Ashford, WA 98304
- Hours: seasonal
Hike along one of their many paths or star gaze from the parking lot and beyond. Never has there been a place more aptly named than this one. Some of the popular and easier trails include Grove of the patriarchs, Myrtle falls, Alta Vista, Nisqually vVsta trail, Narada Falls.
It’s a fantastic destination for hiking, snowshoeing and camping, though restrictions apply. Check their website for up to date information and guidelines.
47. Wilderness Trek
- 11610 Trek Drive, East, Eatonville WA 98328
- Hours: seasonal
Experience the joy of Pacific Northwest animals in a 725 acre wildlife conservation park. Big cats, canines, moose, bears, owls and wetland creatures, this park has it all. Their goal is to protect and preserve wildlife and their habitat as well as rescue orphaned animals.
I highly recommend going on a sunny day, as there’s a lot of shade in the park and it can get chilly.
48. Crystal Mountain
- 33914 Crystal Mountain Blvd, Enumclaw, WA 98022
- Hours: seasonal
Take the gondola up to Crystal Mountain in August and a long leisurely stroll downhill through fields and fields of wildflowers.
The wildflowers peak at different times, so even if you go one week, you might just see a completely different set of flowers the following week. It’s truly an amazing experience.
Alternatively, you can ski, night ski, snowboard or snowshoe on a variety of epic trails in the winter.
49. Johnson Ridge Observatory
- Mount Saint Helens Visitor Center, 24000 Spirit Lake Hwy, Toutle, WA 98649
Catch a sunrise, hike on your own or tour the Mount Saint Helens’ crater with a tour guide, learn all about the history of this volcano, the most active one in the United States.
Participate in classes, field lessons, camps, campouts and more. The more you get to know and understand Mount Saint Helens, the more impressed you will be.
50. Cape Disappointment
- 244 Robert Gray Drive, IIwaco, WA
A king tide is described as the highest of the high tides. The term is also applicable to the lowest of the low tides, which while extremely fun for tide pooling, aren’t nearly as dramatic.
King Tides can be observed anywhere along the coast but are the most celebrated at the viewpoint of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse.
Visiting Washington State FAQs
The biggest tourist attraction in Washington is Mount Rainier National Park. The majestic Mount Rainier, standing at 14,410 feet (4,392 meters), offers breathtaking scenery, diverse ecosystems, hiking trails, and opportunities for outdoor activities, making it a popular destination for people from all around the world.
That depends entirely on your perspective. I think the coolest place is anywhere in the North Cascades.
That depends entirely on your perspective. I think the prettiest place in Washington is the San Juan Islands at sunrise or sunset. There are many stunning sites to see however, very popular places for photography.
Pack for spending a lot of time outside and as much time as you possibly can!
Washington State is famous for its stunning natural landscapes, including the Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier, and the Cascade Range. It is renowned for its thriving coffee culture, being the birthplace of Starbucks. Lastly, Washington is known for its vibrant music scene, tech industry, and aerospace contributions.
Unique Things to Do in Washington State
There you have it, 50 things to do in Washington State that will get you out and about whatever the season calls for. People often ask if one week is enough time to see all that Washington has to offer and I inevitably say no.
One week might be enough time to see one area of Washington, north, south, east or west, but even that would be squeezing a little too much into a very limited time period.
The beautiful thing however, is that once you see the magnificence of Washington in one region, you’re more likely to return for the rest of it.