Olympia (Washington)

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Olympia is in the South Sound region of Washington.

The State Capitol Building rises over Capitol Lake Park

Olympia is the capital of Washington State, and the Thurston County seat. The city reflects a diverse economic base and culture. It has a population of 46,478 (2010 Census) and is also home to The Evergreen State College, one of six public four-year schools in Washington.

Olympia's art and music scene is unusually large and active for a town of its size, and its identity as a city remains distinct despite strong influences from Seattle, Tacoma and Everett to the north and from Portland/Vancouver to the south. Olympia is somewhat of a breeding ground for Pacific Northwest alternative culture having spawned or influenced many of the region's better-known personalities.

The city's downtown core has been designated as a National Historic District.

The natural beauty of Olympia is of particular note. From downtown, one can see the Olympic Mountains to the northwest set behind Puget Sound's Budd Bay - and towering Mt. Rainier to the southeast set next to the state capitol building and Capitol Lake.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • Fly in through SeaTac Airport.
  • Olympia Regional Airport (private, charter)

By train[edit]

  • Amtrak. The closest station is 6 miles from downtown in Lacey. Takes 15-20 mins to drive there. Bus #64 goes to the station from both the Olympia and Lacey transit stations, about 40 minutes from the former.

By bus[edit]

  • Greyhound. The bus station is centrally located.
  • City buses are operated by Intercity Transit. Schedules available on their site. They also jointly operate with Pierce Transit the Olympia Express, running between Tacoma and Olympia; at Tacoma you can transfer from Sound Transit buses from Seattle. You can plan a trip from Seattle to Olympia using the trip planner on Sound Transit's website [1].
  • Grays Harbor Transit. Service to Olympia from Aberdeen on Route 40.

By car[edit]

Interstate 5 connects Portland to Seattle, and passes through Olympia.

Get around[edit]

  • Olympia's numbered streets run East-West, and the city is broken into four quadrants with the center point in downtown. Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast. These indicators come after any address.
  • Capitol Way is the main north - south street in the downtown area. Fourth Avenue is the main connector that runs through downtown east - west.
  • The city's downtown district lies in the middle of what residents refer to as the Westside and the Eastside. Most residents of the city will claim these two areas are distinctively different.

See[edit]

East Bay
  •    Bigelow House Museum918 Glass Ave NE +1 360-753-1215. Summer Sa-Su 1-4PM. Olympia's oldest surviving home, built in 1850s when Washington was a territory. Oregon Trail Pioneers Daniel and Ann Elizabeth Bigelow were early advocates of women's voting rights, public education and the rule of law. Home to the same family until 2005, it contains original furnishings, photos and documents dating back 150+ years. Donation.
  • The Washington state capitol building. One of the largest free standing masonry domes in the world.
  • The Evergreen State College - Public baccalaureate liberal arts college [2]
  • Puget Sound
  • Olympia Marina
  • Olympia has a thriving music community, with frequent local performances by rock, jazz, blues, folk, and other bands. Local noncommercial community radio station KAOS at 89.3 FM (which also streams live at [3]) features tremendous variety of independent artists, often live in their performance studio. The station is on the campus of The Evergreen State College.
  • Capital Playhouse612 E. 4th Ave +1 360 943-2744. Plays shows like Sweeney Todd (with Tony award winner Jarrod Emick), 1940's Radio Hour, 6 Women with Braindeath or Expiring Minds want to Know, Side Show, and Man of La Mancha.

Do[edit]

  • Budd Bay Charters +1 360 539-8981. Olympia Harbor. Budd Bay Charters provides boat tours of the Olympia harbor and beyond. Has 21' electric boats that tour the harbor or you can rent them. Also have tours on 38' Sailboat and 18' Runabout speed boat.
  • Chehalis Western Trail. Always open. Great rail trail for bicycling. The Trail is paved and close to 20 miles long. Goes along lakes, farms, orchards, and a river.
  • Hands On Children's Museum106 11th Ave. SW +1 360 956-0818. The Hands On Children's Museum stimulates curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children.
  • Washington Center For The Performing Arts512 Washington Street SE +1 360 753-8585. South Puget Sound's largest performing arts facility provides a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities.
  • Wolf Haven International, toll-free: +1-800-448-9653fax: +1 360 264-4639. Is a wolf sanctuary located about a half an hour from Olympia. Forty-seven wolves reside at the refuge and it can be toured by visitors. It has been listed several times in reputable wildlife journals as being one of the top wolf sanctuaries in the United States. 3111 Offut Lake Rd. SE Tenino, Washington 98589.
  • South Sound Wine Trail, e-mail: . The South Sound Wine Trail extends from Lacey through Olympia to Shelton and includes 7 wineries.

The South Sound Wine Trail includes stops at Medicine Creek Winery, Madsen Family Cellars, Northwest Mountain Winery, Stottle Winery, Olympia Wine Tasting Bar (McCrea Cellars & Vina Salida), and Walter Dacon. During your tour you will often have the chance to speak with the winemakers and owners to receive unique insight into their wines.

Buy[edit]

  • Olympia Farmer's Market. North End of Capitol Way near the waterfront. One of the largest in the state. The market's schedule is seasonal.
  • Tea Lady430 Washington Street SE +1 360 786-0350. Tea shop & bar, offer over 700 teas from around the world.
  • Wind Up Here, 5th & Washington across from the Performing Arts Center, (360) 943-9045. Toy store for kids of all ages. Educational, hard-to-find & zany toys, puzzles & novelties.
  • Last Word Books211 East 4th Ave (Across from Harlequin theater and the Reef diner.),  +1 360-786-WORD (9673). M-Th 10-8, Fri & Sat 10-10, Sun 10-6. A self-proclaimed "radical, independent bookstore" which deals almost exclusively in used-books, Last Word was started in 2002 by Evergreen College alumni. Crammed with every book you could want (other than current bestsellers, and romance novels) amid ambling, complex shelves which migrate every few months, it is difficult to imagine anywhere less reminiscent of Barnes & Noble. Chat with the cashier, attempt to pet the deaf (?) cat, and wander its weirdness. They also buy books for cash or trade.

Eat[edit]

  • Cebu Restaurant9408 Martin Way East +1 360 455-9128. Serves Filipino food in a friendly atmosphere. It's a little bit hard to find - it's in a strip mall next to a gas station. If you're heading east on Martin Way, it's not too far past Marvin Road.
  • Norma's at Tanglewilde7210 Martin Way East +1-360 456-6547. A local chain. Norma's won the Best Burger in Washington State for the year 2007, probably for their John Wayne Burger. Also serves breakfast, sandwiches, and seafood. $10/entree.
  • Norma's at I-510322 Martin Way East (Nisqually Exit 114),  +1-360 412-0333. A second location for this local chain.
  • O'Blarneys4411 Martin Way E (Near I-5 exit 109.),  +1-360 459-8084fax: +1-360 456-0674. If you like chicken, try the "Breasts and Jos".
  • Eastside Big Tom Drive Inn:2023 4th Ave E +1 360 357-4852. A Big Tom with the works. Milkshakes and crinkle fries are also excellent. Bring cash and a hearty appetite.
  • Anthony's Homeport704 Columbia Street NW +1 360 357-9700. On Olympia waterfront. Upper scale fine dining.
  • Lemon Grass Restaurant212 4th Ave. W +1 360 705-1832. If you love Thai food, this is the place.
  • McMenamin's Spar Cafe (The Spar), 114 4th Ave. E. +1 360 357-6444. 7AM - midnight (1AM F Sa). The oldest restaurant/bar in town, dating back to the 1930's. Great atmosphere, food and libations.
  • Vic's Pizzeria233 Division St Nw +1 360 943-8044. One of the most popular restaurants in Olympia with excellent and often unusual flavors of pizza. All of them are delicious.
  • Old School Pizzeria108 Franklin St +1 360 786-9640. Olympia, WA. Very similar to Vic's. Movie posters line the walls of this restaurant.
  • Brewery City Pizza. 3 locations in Olympia. Another very popular pizzeria.
  • The Urban Onion116 Legion Way. One of the finest restaurants in Olympia. A short walk from the Washington Center.

Drink[edit]

  • The lounge at King Solomon's Reef, 212 4th Ave E, 360-357-5552. is the quintessential Olympia dive-bar. Dark, tobacco-stained, with well drinks that bite back and bar food to match, The Reef is where the locals go after shows or just to hang out late at night. A good place to go absorb some drinks while avoiding Oly's meat-market scene. *Currently closed due to fire (Nov 2011)*
  • Jake's on 4th - A gay nightclub with dj dancing Th-Su.
  • The Urban Onion lounge - Gay lounge with dj's spinning on weekends.
  • The Mark407 Columbia Street SW +1 360 754-4414. The Mark is the only certified organic restaurant in Washington. Local ingredients are used when possible. Banquet facilities available. Hours are Th-Sa, 5PM – 1AM and M-W by private hire. Reservations recommended.
  •    Fish Tale Brew Pub515 Jefferson Street SE +1 360-943-3650.
  • Madsen Family Cellars2825 Marvin Rd NE Ste D +1 360 438-1286. 11-5PM. A small boutique winery that uses grapes sourced from Eastern Washington. The tasting room has dry whites, off-dry and sweet whites, a pink, Sangiovese plus the bordeaux reds - Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and a Bordeaux Blend called Othello.

Sleep[edit]

  • Phoenix Inn Suites415 Capitol Way N +1 360 570-0555. All suite accommodations with complimentary breakfast buffet, high speed internet, and 24 hr. business center
  • Swantown Inn Bed & Breakfast1431 11th Ave SE +1 360 753-9123. Check-in: 4PM, check-out: 11AM. A 1887 Queen Anne/Eastlake Victorian Mansion listed on both the city and state historical registers. Located in a quiet neighborhood in the heart of Olympia, Washington, the Inn can be your headquarters for exploring the Puget Sound region, or your refuge to escape from it all. Swantown Inn is available for special events, weddings, reunions, corporate meetings, seminars and retreats. $119 - $179.
  • Fertile Ground Guesthouse (space to be yourself), 311 9th Ave SE (2 blocks East of Capitol Way),  +1 360 352-2428. Check-in: 4 - 6PM, check-out: 11. Fertile Ground features green lodging. Organic breakfast, often featuring food from their large garden or other local sources. 6 chickens on site also do their part. You'll sleep in organic cotton sheets while resting assured that your waste will be recycled and composted for you. Fragrance-free environment as well - trying hard to provide a safe place for the chemically sensitive to relax. Best of all perhaps, is that we're right downtown - within walking distance to the Capitol and all the restaurants and coffee shops you'd ever want. The house is over 100 years old and has an eclectic decor. Even if you can't spend the night, drop by and enjoy the Commons. $100.

Connect[edit]

Go next[edit]

Routes through Olympia
SeattleLacey  N I-5.svg S  TumwaterPortland
Port AngelesShelton  N US 101.svg S  TumwaterEND
Aberdeen via US 12.svgElma  W WA-8.svg E  END


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