Washington is the only US state named in honour of a president and the 42nd state to be welcomed into the Union. Lewis and Clark explored the state in 1805, and the first settlement was in Tumwater, formerly known as New Market, settled in 1846. The state’s location on the west coast has provided it with an incredible array of natural beauty, giving it the nickname ‘The Evergreen State’. Washington has more glaciers than any other contiguous state, and its landscape is dotted with mountains and volcanoes. The highest peak, Mount Rainer, was named after a British soldier who fought against the Americans during the Revolutionary War. The states insect, the Green Darner Dragonfly, is at home in its abundance of state parks and natural landscapes.
Aside from its beauty, the state also has strong links to history, manufacturing and music. The worlds largest building, the Boeing final assembly plant, is in Everett, which sees giant aircraft built and shipped across the globe. Both Jimi Hendrix and Bing Crosby were born in the state, allowing many bars and clubs to celebrate this musical heritage. Head to Seattle to be absorbed in the cities music scene in one of the many clubs and music bars.
Technology is huge within Washington, with head offices for Amazon and Microsoft based in its second city, Seattle. Washington is filled with pockets of history, breathtaking scenery, and plenty of coffee, as the first Starbucks opened in the 1970s in the state. There is something for everyone in The Evergreen State; here are 20 of our favourites.
- 20 Landmarks in Washington State
- Natural Landmarks in Washington State
- Historical Landmarks in Washington State
20 Landmarks in Washington State
Natural Landmarks in Washington State
1- Ginkgo Petrified Forest
Ginkgo Petrified Forest covers 7124 acres of protected landscapes and 27,000ft (8229m) of freshwater shorelines.
The forest is famous for its rare petrified Ginkgo trees, discovered in the park in 1932.
Alongside the ancient forest is evidence of an Ice Age river that once ran through the area.
Within the forest is a museum that showcases the natural history of the forest and samples of 30 different species of fossilised wood on display.
Ginkgo Petrified Forest is at 4511 Huntzinger R, Vantage, WA 98950.
2- Grand Coulee River Bed
The ancient river bed of Grand Coulee stretches for 60 miles (100 kilometres).
Grand Coulee is bisected by Dry Falls.
The river was formed between 40 and 60 million years ago and rests deep within the Earth’s crust.
The river bed is granite and the region is dotted with mountains, islands and an inland sea.
There are many pleasant hiking routes both in and around Grand Coulee and the many lakes in the area.
Grand Coulee River Bed is at Coulee Dam, WA 99116.
3- Point of Arches
One of Washington’s most stunning natural sights is the Point of Arches. Point of Arches runs along Shi Shi Beach on the edge of the Olympic National Park.
This particular stretch of beach is considered one of the most picturesque in Washington.
Head over to the beach to see the Point of Arches at sunset for incredible scenes and the best photographic opportunities.
Point of Arches is a popular location for beachcombing, camping and hiking.
Nature lovers also enjoy the area as eagles and whales have both been seen from the beach.
Point of Arches is at Shi Shi Beach, Olympic National Park, 3002 Mt Angeles Rd, Port Angeles, WA 98362.
4- Mount Rainier
Mount Rainer is a large and active stratovolcano in the Cascade Range.
The mountain’s peak is 14,411ft (4392m), making it the highest mountain within Washington.
The volcano is active but remains dormant and has not erupted in 500 years so it has a high probability of erupting soon.
Due to this status, it is considered one of the most dangerous volcanos in the world.
The volcano is topped with large quantities of glacial ice, making future eruptions highly dangerous, resulting in some spectacular photographic opportunities.
Mount Rainer is at Mount Rainer National Park, WA 98304.
5- Snoqualmie Falls
With over 1.5 million visitors flocking here each year, it is no wonder Snoqualmie Falls is recognised by many as one of the most famous natural landmarks in Washington state.
The waterfall cascades over 268ft (82m) down into the Snoqualmie River and is a picturesque scene bordered by thick pine forests and sheer cliffs.
The falls were made famous for appearing in Twin Peaks, which draws fans and hikers to the water.
Snoqualmie is a spiritual place filled with spirituality and legends.
One legend tells of the beaver who climbed up to the sky to bring fire and trees down to earth.
Native American tribes in the area who told this legend were known as the people of the moon.
Snoqualmie Falls is at Snoqualmie Falls is at WA 98024.
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6- The Ape Caves
The Ape Caves were formed 2000 years ago and consist of two main caves – Upper and Lower.
Upper Cave is a rugged 1.5 mile (2.41 kilometre) cave that you can only access one way.
Some areas of the passages within the cave are narrow and require visitors to squeeze between the rocks to reach the Skylight, which is 1.2 miles (1.93 kilometres) trekking through the cave.
Skylight is a hole in the cave ceiling that brings the only natural light into the cave except for the light from the entranceway.
The Ape Caves is at Washington, 98616.
7- Hoh Rainforest
The Hoh Rainforest is undoubtedly one of the most magical natural landmarks in Washington state.
The rainforest gets its name from the Hoh River that runs its way down from Mount Olympus.
Rain falls heavily and consistently throughout the winter months, causing the canopy to be thick and lush and allows moss, lichen and ferns to grow on the forest floor.
The rainforest once stretched down from Alaska to California.
Despite its land being dramatically reduced over the centuries as new cities and towns are built, the rainforest thrives and is one of the best examples of a temperate rainforest within the United States.
The Hoh Rainforest is at 18113 Upper Hoh Rd, Forks, WA, 98331.
8- The Enchantments
The Enchantments is a stunning natural landscape carved from granite within the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.
The Enchantments is an apt name for this parcel of natural wonder.
The landscape is dramatic, pristine and wild all at once.
Crystal blue lakes and pools dot the area, with lush forest to explore and challenging mountains to climb.
Visitors need a permit to enter The Enchantments, and each permit offers a different level of access, including some with overnight options.
The Enchantments is at Leavenworth, WA 98826.
9- Dry Falls
Dry Falls is one of Washingtons most spectacular geological sights and was once the largest waterfall in the world.
The falls were fully active 13,000 years ago.
Dry Falls was created when melting glaciers created a lake whose sides burst, causing them to flood the surrounding landscape.
The floodwaters carved a new river and cascaded over the falls.
Once the floodwaters subsided, the landscape dried out, with only scars in the land to show where the water had been and where it had poured over the cliff face.
The falls are close to the Grand Coulee river and dam and set within a 4027-acre park.
Dry Falls is at Grant County, WA 99115.
10- Mount St Helens
Washington is truly a state of volcanoes, with Mount St Helens adding to its list of active stratovolcanos.
Mount St Helens towers over the surrounding landscape at 8363ft (2549m) at its highest.
The peak is topped with glacial ice.
The volcano last had a significant eruption in 1980, which became the deadliest volcanic event in US history.
This eruption was so powerful that the volcano shrank from 9677ft (2950m) to its current height.
Despite its deadly nature, the volcano is still a popular tourist destination and sees many hikers aim to ascend to its summit.
Mount St Helens is at WA 98616.
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Historical Landmarks in Washington State
11- Arthur Foss Tugboat
A beloved historical landmark on Washington’s waterways is the Arthur Foss Tugboat.
Arthur Foss Tugboat began its life was the Wallowa and was built out of wood to tow tall ships across the Columbia River Bar.
David Stephenson, a prominent shipbuilder, built the Wallowa in 1889.
The boat had many guises in its life following its time as a tug.
When prospectors struck gold on the Yukon-Alaska border, the Wallowa navigated the narrow waterways.
The boat became the Arthur Foss when Foss Launch and Tug Co. acquired the boat in the late 1920s.
It had a famed life and was used by MGM Studios as a prop for the silver screen.
Arthur Foss Tugboat is at 860 Terry Ave N, Seattle, WA, 98109.
12- Fort Nisqually Granary
Fort Nisqually Granary is an important and must-visit historical landmark in Washington.
This living museum was the first trading post on Puget Sound and was established in 1833.
The fort initially dealt with the fur trade but moved to agriculture and animal trades following its decline.
As a living museum, the fort portrays what life was like during 1855 when trade within Puget Sound was vibrant and bustling.
The buildings have since been moved from their original location and rebuilt in Point Defiance Park.
Fort Nisqually Granary is at 5519 Five Mile Dr, Tacoma, WA 98407.
13- Burial Site of Chief Seattle
Seattle is the only main city in the United States to be named after a Native American and aptly so, as Chief Seattle is buried in Suquamish.
Chief Seattle of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes was accommodating to white settlers within the area.
He formed strong bonds with men such as Doc Maynard.
An important speech outlining the importance of respect towards Native American values and environmental concerns has been attributed to him.
The grave is within tranquil surroundings and is marked with a monument placed in 1890 by Seattle pioneers.
The Burial Site of Chief Seattle is at Suquamish Memorial Cemetery, 7076 NE South St, Suquamish, WA 98392.
14- Fort Worden
Built between 1898 and 1917, Fort Worden was an important military stronghold and today is a must-visit landmark in Washington.
The fort forms part of a defensive coastal triangle which was nicknamed the ‘Triangle of Fire’.
Forts Worden, Flagler and Casey were built strategically with hidden locations for their guns.
Today the forts are open to curious visitors.
An artillery museum, commanding officers house and a science centre dedicated to the Marines are all worth visiting.
Extend your stay with an atmospheric night sleeping in the barracks.
Fort Worden is at 200 Battery Way, Port Townsend, WA 98368.
15- Space Needle
Perhaps the most famous landmark associated with Seattle and indeed Washington is the Space Needle.
The Space Needle was built for the 1962 Worlds Fair, which had a theme of ‘The Age of Space’.
The Space Needle is 605ft (184m) tall and offers 360-degree views across the city and out towards the mountains from its indoor and outdoor viewing areas.
Renovations in 2018 have included the addition of the first and only rotating glass floor in the world, offering an alternative view that is undoubtedly for only the bravest of visitors.
It’s not surprising that one of the things to do in Seattle is to enjoy the view from the Space Needle.
Space Needle is at 400 Broad St, Seattle, WA 98109.
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16- San Juan Island
San Juan Island was once known as The American and English Camps.
They are now part of a national historical park preserving part of America’s military history.
The camps were used to house both British and American soldiers during the Pig War of 1859.
The English Camp occupies the island’s northwestern shore with buildings still standing, including a barracks and hospital.
The American Camp only has two surviving buildings; an officers quarters and laundry.
Both areas remain separate, however, access to both camps and the surrounding natural landscape is free and includes visitors centres where you can learn more about this turbulent time.
San Juan is at Friday Harbour, WA 98250.
17- Panama Hotel and Tea House
Sabro Ozasa, a Japanese Architect, built the Panama Hotel in 1910.
The hotel was a home for Japanese immigrants and fishermen and a hotel for tourists.
The hotel houses the only Japanese bathhouse remaining within the United States.
The bathhouse has been officially closed since 1950 but it was preserved in its original condition to save a piece of the hotel’s cultural history.
The hotel is by no means the most elegant hotel in the area, and it does lack some facilities.
However, its quaint charm, rich history, and classic Hollywood vibe from its shiny brass details and recessed lighting draw in visitors repeatedly.
Panama Hotel and Tea House is at 605 South Main St, Seattle, WA, 98104.
18- Old Capitol Building
Willis A. Ritchie designed the Old Capitol building, built in Olympia between 1890 and 1892.
The building was designed to serve as a courthouse and did not become the Capitol until 1905.
Following the construction of the current State Capitol building, it has gone through many guises and these days it functions as the Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
Fire damaged the building in 1928 and ravaged the central tower.
Another test to its structure was the 1949 earthquake, which left damage to the exterior of the building.
Old Capitol Building is at 600 Washington St SE, Olympia, WA 98504.
19- Benewah Milk Bottle
Benewah Milk Bottle is one of Washington’s more unusual landmarks and is a restaurant that is still open today.
Paul E. Newport designed the building in 1935.
The bottle is an example of mimetic architecture which combines form and function.
The bottle was the home of the Benewah Creamery Company and so aptly was built in the shape of a milk bottle.
The Benewah Milk Bottle is a true American roadside attraction, and it allures many road trippers to its site waiting to snap a photo of this unusual yet iconic landmark.
Benewah Milk Bottle is at S. 321 Cedar St, 802 W. Garland Ave, Spokane, WA.
20- Deception Pass Bridge
Deception Pass Bridge is a scenic marvel of Washington.
The bridge stretches over waters below that connect the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Saratoga Passage.
The bridge spans 1487ft (453m) and is 180ft (55m) above the waters below.
Construction began in 1934, and since then the bridge has wowed drivers with its incredible views over the natural landscape.
Deception Pass Bridge is at North Whidbey, Oak Harbour, WA 98277.
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