Washington State in the stunning Pacific Northwest is well-known for a lot of things – despite often being confused by visitors with Washington D.C. Washington’s location means it’s carpeted in beautiful scenery, such as mountains, forests and lakes, including multiple famous national parks like Mount Rainier and Olympic National Park. The state’s most famous city is Seattle, which is home to sights like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market, along with a wealth of fun things to see and do and which was the birthplace of multinational companies such as Starbucks.
Washington’s landscapes are also perfect for agriculture, meaning they’ve made a name for themselves as exporters of apples and timber, and the state nickname is the Evergreen State thanks to the year-round lush vegetation. Aside from George Washington, after whom the state was named, there are also plenty more famous faces to come from here, including superstar Jimi Hendrix and multimillionaire Bill Gates. Washington has so much to explore, from vibrant cities to the Rocky Mountains and amazing landscapes that are perfect for outdoor lovers, making it one of the fest states to visit in the USA. Here’s what Washington is famous for.
- What Is Washington Known For?
What Is Washington Known For?
Top Tours And Tickets
- Seattle CityPASS® – Save 44% or More at 5 Top Attractions
- Seattle: Mount Rainier Park All-Inclusive Small Group Tour – discover stunning vistas.
- Seattle: Tall Sailboat Sunset Harbor Cruise – a relaxing way to explore this city.
1- The Evergreen State
Washington’s prime location in the Pacific Northwest may mean that it rains (a lot), but this gives rise to its nickname ‘The Evergreen State’.
The landscape and constant rainfall means there are several evergreen forests in the west of the state, including the forests in the Olympic Peninsula, which are America’s only rainforests.
These forests cover more than half of Washington and can be explored year-round, with some trees growing hundreds of feet high and living for hundreds of years.
One of the best things to do when visiting Washington is to go hiking and explore some of these areas to see rare and ancient trees that can’t be found elsewhere.
Just remember that in the east of Washington, the temperature is much drier so for the best spots, stick to the east of the state.
2- George Washington
Washington state and George Washington are tied together closely, as it is the only state in America to be named after a President.
This happened back in 1853, when Congress decided the area should be named after the father of America, and the name remained when it became a state in 1889.
The other major place named after him is Washington D.C., and despite being a district, people often confuse the two.
George Washington is an important part of the state’s history, as they also are the only state to have a President – George Washington; on their flag, which features an image of him surrounded by a field of green.
For those who don’t know, George Washington was the first President of the United States from 1789 – 1797 and a Founding Father.
He led an army in the American Revolutionary War and even established the federal government of the USA, leading him to be one of the most important historical figures in America.
Seattle is the biggest city in Washington and where most residents of the state live.
Much like the surrounding state, Seattle is ringed by lush countryside leading it to be nicknamed the Emerald City.
However, the city isn’t just famous for its outdoors – it has a rich history, amazing food culture and a thriving music scene.
The city is the birthplace of bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam and still has a strong grunge movement.
It has iconic attractions such as Pike Place Market and the Space Needle, as well as incredibly fresh food, including seafood, which is fished in the nearby Pacific waters or grown locally.
Although it’s also well known for heavy rainfall, it’s got tonnes to see and do, and is a gateway to Alaska and the entire Pacific Northwest.
4- Pike Place Market
Pike Place Market is arguably the most famous famous market in America, and is certainly the most famous in the Pacific Northwest for impossibly fresh seafood and local produce.
The market has been operating since the early 1900s and has become such an iconic attraction that more than 20,000 people visit every day.
The market may attract tourists, but it still remains truly local, with aisles upon aisles of farmers and fishmongers displaying their goods, from fish and lobsters to fruit, vegetables, meat and more.
There are also lots of amazing baked goods such as pastries, cakes and breads, plus little shops selling handmade products like jewellery, art and souvenirs.
The fish market here is the most popular section, where fishmongers toss huge fish around in the air without dropping them – buy some to cook if you have the chance.
Shopping here is not only one of the best things to do in Seattle but also helps support the producers and generations of locals that sell here. A fun way to explore is to join this tour.
5- Space Needle
The Space Needle is one of the most iconic sights in Seattle.
The Needle is an observation tower which was built in 1962 for the World Fair, but still remains a famous landmark in the city and you may even recognise it from lots of films and TV shows that use Seattle as a filming location.
Although originally it was one of the highest buildings around, it’s actually just 184m high but still offers spectacular views over the entire city and surrounding mountains.
It’s a not-to-be-missed attraction when visiting Seattle and has a gift shop on the ground floor where you can buy lots of Seattle themed souvenirs, plus a rotating restaurant!
The observation deck is right at the top and can be reached by lift – you can either buy tickets or make a reservation at the restaurant for one of the coolest meals you’ll ever have!
You might love a pumpkin spiced latte or white hot chocolate from your local Starbucks, but have you ever wondered about the brand’s origins?
Starbucks was originally founded in Washington, with the first-ever Starbucks in Pike Place Market in Seattle in 1971 – an iconic location you can still visit to this day.
Starbucks changed the game in the coffee industry, transforming coffee from something enjoyed at home to something to sip on in one of their cosy shops or on the way to work, while sporting their famous logo.
Their coffee came and still comes in a myriad of different varieties from around the world, and they’re constantly inventing new creations and flavours of lattes and frappuccing’s to try.
Starbucks now has more than 35,000 shops worldwide and also led to Seattle being well-known for its great coffee and independent cafes, which popped up when Starbucks took off.
Starbucks isn’t the only corporation from here either – Amazon, Microsoft and Boeing were all born or have bases in the city.
Another famous face from Washington is tech entrepreneur Bill Gates, who was born in Seattle in 1955 and he wrote his first software programme while at school in the city.
Although he went on to Harvard and Microsoft was founded in New Mexico, the company now has its official headquarters in Washington, where it moved to in 1979.
in Redmond, the Microsoft campus is huge and employs tens of thousands of locals.
Originally, Microsoft developed systems like MS-DOS and Windows, which are still known worldwide, but now also encompasses services such as Linkedin and Skype.
The company’s incredible success led Gates and his two associates to become multi-billionaires, and he remains one of the richest men on earth, while Microsoft is currently the fourth most valuable company in the world.
Not many people know that Washington state is the heart of America’s aerospace industry.
The state Is one of the main producers of military aircraft and vehicles and aircraft for both air and space travel.
The most famous company in Washington is Boeing, which was founded here in 1916, is one of the biggest aerospace companies in the world and has a base in Everett where planes like the 747 are made.
You’ll also find Jeff Bezos’ company Blue Origin here, along with lots of specialist US military companies and research centres for NASA.
The aerospace industry here has become vital to the United States due to the pioneering research and development, and essential to Washington as it provides thousands of jobs throughout the state.
To see some of it in real life, you can visit the Museum of Flight in Seattle, which houses more than 175 air and spacecraft and fun flight simulators.
9- The Hanford Site
In southeast Washington, you can visit the mysterious Hanford Site, which was central to the development of the first atomic bomb.
The complex, which remained top secret for a long time, was used as part of the Manhattan Project to develop the world’s first atomic weapons.
The factory here was used to produce plutonium, which is used in nuclear weapons, but no one knew about the Hanford Site’s involvement until after the tragic bombings of Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
Although the history is sombre, the Hanford Site contributed to some of history’s biggest scientific and military weapons advancements, so it’s a fascinating place to visit.
You can check out the area and explore the B Reactor, which was the world’s first plutonium react
There are guided tours where you’ll learn all about the history of the complex and its wider implications.
10- Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier is the highest mountain in Washington and in the Cascades range, which sits to the south of Seattle in the beautiful Mount Rainier National Park.
The mountain is around 14,000ft tall and is an active volcano, and although it has not erupted in more than 150 years, it is still considered extremely dangerous due to the frequent earthquakes here and its proximity to Seattle.
Now an iconic symbol of the state that can be seen from almost everywhere, the mountain and park are heaven for outdoor enthusiasts, with over 236,000 acres of wilderness to explore via hiking, camping, climbing, skiing and snowshoeing.
You can summit Mount Rainier, or simply enjoy the various activities in the park, which is also home to various lakes, rivers and waterfalls.
11- Jimi Hendrix
Without a doubt one of the most famous people to come out of Washington state is music superstar and legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix.
Hendrix was born in Seattle in 1942, although his real name was James Marshall Hendrix.
He went to High School in the state and bought his first guitar aged 15, before starting a band and performing gigs in various locations around the city, which is also where he learnt to impressively play the guitar with his teeth.
Hendrix sadly died aged just 27 and was buried in Washington alongside his mother, but in his few short years of stardom he made a lasting impact on the music world and is still enshrined in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as one of the best musicians in history.
Nowadays, Washington still has a thriving music scene, with a big grunge movement and a variety of music festivals covering all genres such as rock, pop and hip hop which celebrate emerging artists.
Washington state has a huge apple industry, producing the majority of all apples throughout America.
Around 80% of all the fruit in Washington is just apples (about 12 billion apples per year), which is thanks to the state’s rainy climate and fertile soil which is ideal for apple trees to thrive.
Some varieties you may have heard of, which are exported around the world, include Granny Smith and Golden Delicious, although there are almost a dozen varieties in total.
The apple season in Washington starts in mid-August and lasts for a few months, and what you might not know is that every single apple in the state is picked by hand! For the most authentic experience, try visiting Wenatchee to pick apples.
Wenatchee is the Apple Capital of the World, with orchards dating back to 1872, however there are also a few great farms close to Seattle to try your hand at picking too.
13- Puget Sound
Puget Sound is the largest bay in northwest Washington and a must-visit if you’re nearby, and Seattle is on the Sound’s eastern shore, making it simple to explore.
The sound is one of the most beautiful areas in Washington, and features lush forests, stretching waterways and pretty islands.
It’s home to a wide variety of wildlife, including salmon, orcas, seals, sea lions and rare birds, plus other fish and shellfish which you can enjoy in local restaurants.
One of the best ways to explore is on a cruise through the Sound where you might spot some of this wildlife, but you can also go sailing, kayaking and paddleboarding in the area.
Fishing is the most popular sport here due to the range of fish, or alternatively you can take a trip over to one of the islands, such as Bainbridge or Vashon, which have tiny towns dotted with cute local shops and cafes that make for the perfect day trip.
14- Olympic National Park
Olympic National Park is one of the prettiest and most popular national parks in the United States.
The park is home to the Olympic Mountains, which lie in the northwest of Washington.
The park is unique as it has a range of ecosystems and climates, from icy glaciers to rainforests and coastline, plus hot springs and thermal spas.
The park is a designated biosphere reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site and welcomes over 2 million visitors each year.
Close to Seattle and Portland, its extremely easy to visit, although you need a few days to explore just the surface of its one million acres.
Hiking, backpacking, camping, fishing, kayaking and wildlife watching are just a few of the amazing activities on offer here, where you can experience epic landscapes and unique wildlife on your own or via a guided tour.
15- Seattle Mariners
Washington is well known for various sports and successful sports teams, but perhaps the most famous are the Seattle Mariners.
Seattle’s professional baseball team is a much-loved part of the state’s identity.
They played in Seattle’s Kingdome until 1999 before moving to its current home ground, the T-Mobile Park.
The Mariners are closely tied to their state, being named after the strong marine and fishing culture in Seattle and their sports colours are a fitting navy blue, green and silver.
Their team has had some resounding successes and produced players such as Edgar Martinez and Randy Johnson, who are now memorialised in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
If you’re visiting Seattle in season, make sure to try and catch a game along with the thousands of locals who turn up to cheer on their home team. Book your tickets online to not miss out.
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