It’s that time again when we take you on a journey to a new state and guide you through must-sees in our ‘What to do when in…’ series. Today, we’re going to be traveling to the northwestern most state where the greenery of nature appears to be teeming around every corner: Washington. As a student-athlete, you of course spend a lot of time on sports and studying. But there is also plenty of time to explore the country, so make sure you don’t miss out on the numerous sightseeing opportunities.
There may be instances during your time in the US when you become overwhelmed with your studies or training. But don’t worry! Washington is filled with a variety of tranquil places where you can place your mind at ease and relax as you become one with your surroundings. Don’t forget to keep on reading if you’d like to start planning your own Washington itinerary.
Olympic National Park
Considered one of the most diverse national parks in the US, Olympic National Park covers almost 1 million acres across the Olympic Peninsula located in Washington State. The park serves as a great way to reconnect with nature, given that it encompasses sights such as glaciated mountain peaks, lush river valleys, and tranquil lakeshores. You may even spot some wildlife, including sea otters, black bears, or elk! If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed with your studies, make sure to venture here and immerse yourself in its serene atmosphere.
Mount Rainier National Park
If you’re in the mood for a challenging climb, a camping adventure, or an escape from the city, then drive over to Mount Rainier National Park. The park is one of the most visited and oldest national parks in the US, given that it was established in 1899 and has 1.3 million visitors per year. Having erupted approximately 150 years ago, Mount Rainier is still an active volcano and claims the title of the highest mountain in the state at a height of 4,392 meters. Due to its various trails, the park is a perfect spot for hiking, mountain climbing, and backpacking.
The Space Needle
Noted for its futuristic design, the Space Needle is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, and it can be found in Seattle. This iconic structure was built for the 1962 World’s Fair, and it was meant to symbolize humanity’s Space Age aspirations. The Space Needle is 605 feet tall with a saucer at its top, which is Seattle’s only spot offering 360-degree indoor and outdoor panoramic views of the city and its various surroundings. All-glass floors and floor-to-ceiling glass can be found on the lower and upper levels, respectively, which makes for great photo opportunities!
Pike Place Market
If you like food, then make sure you’re paying attention. Pike Place Market is the oldest continuously operating farmers market in all of the US, attracting approximately 10 million people per year. The market’s history stems back to August 1907, when eight local farmers began selling produce directly to the public rather than through a middleman. Today, the market consists of more than 500 shops, vendors, restaurants, and bars. Walking along Pike Place Market, you’ll find notable farm-fresh produce stalls, fishmongers, and specialty food shops. Make sure you visit this must-see in the morning before it becomes very busy later in the afternoon!
Seattle Art Museum
It’s time to get artsy! Since 1933, the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) has been a hub for world-class visual art in the Pacific Northwest. SAM is located in the heart of downtown Seattle, and the museum is filled with light galleries and various collections from regions all over the world that bridge cultures and centuries. SAM is especially noted for its extraordinary Native American galleries and impressive collection of Australian Aboriginal art. The museum places a heavy emphasis on acknowledging that the building is located on Indigenous land of the Coast Salish people, and SAM strives to honor its ongoing connection to the past, present, and future of these communities.
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
As the name implies, Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is a monument to Mount St. Helens, an active volcano located in Skamania, Washington. On May 18th, 1980, the volcano erupted with an unprecedented amount of force, blowing down trees 16 miles away and creating 163 decibels of noise. The aftermath of its eruption was visible from space and left a massive crater on the mountain. The area has become a popular tourist destination with many hiking trails, picnic spots, and scenic views that can be enjoyed by car or on foot. Interestingly, you are allowed to climb to the summit of the active volcano even though it is classified as the most active volcano in the continental US.
Woodland Park Zoo
Woodland Park Zoo opened its doors in 1899, making it 123 years old! Located in Seattle, the zoo is nicely situated in a major city. Here you can enjoy viewing a plethora of animals, such as tigers, porcupines, rhinos, and penguins. Woodland Park strives to save animals and their habitats through conservation leadership and engaging experiences. The zoo is known for its wide array of creatures spanning the globe, and it has even received more than 65 awards across multiple categories for its exhibits. In total, Woodland Park is home to over 300 animal species and spans 92 acres.
Given that Washington State is known as the ‘Evergreen State’, it makes sense for it to offer a wide variety of nature. This is precisely the case with Lake Chelan. The lake boasts an impressive size of 50.5 miles and, before 1927, it was actually considered the largest natural lake in Washington State. Besides gorgeous views and water activities, the lake is known for its agricultural importance. Washington is the largest producer of apples in the US, with over half of the country’s production. World famous apple farms can be found on the shore of the lake, so if you’re in the area, you can take a dip in the lake, enjoy the views, and take a bite out of the world’s best apples.
The Museum of Flight
With over 175 aircraft, the Museum of Flight is one of Washington’s top attractions. Located near Seattle, the museum offers an interesting alternative to the city’s main attractions. Amazingly, the museum possesses some of the world’s rarest aircraft. These include the first Boeing 727, 737, the first Air Force One (the president’s airplane), the Boeing 247D, and the only Concorde on the West Coast. Apart from aircraft, the museum also boasts a collection of photos from millions of aircraft aviation historical moments.
San Juan Islands
The San Juan Islands are an archipelago located in Washington State. Known for their breathtaking natural beauty, the islands are characterized as having Pacific Northwest landscapes and wildlife. Here you can find sea lions, bald eagles (America’s national animal), and humpback whales. Apart from that, American icons such as Bill Gates, Steve Miller, and Tom Skerritt all own property in the area. Since the islands are so close to the sea, the seafood is amazing and you can have your appetite’s desire freshly caught!