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 car[edit]

Olympia is located along Interstate 5 (I-5), approximately 65 mi south of Seattle (65 min), 100 mi (2 hr) north of Portland and 60mi east from Grays Harbor .

  • From Interstate 5 (I-5) Olympia is accessed from exits #99 ("93rd Ave SW") through #109 ("Martin Way E") along I-5. Downtown can be accessed from Exit #105 ("State Capitol City Center/Port of Olympia") from both directions. The off ramp comes into town as 14th Ave SE towards the state capitol. From the northbound lanes the off ramp from Exit #105 further splits to #105A which goes into 14th Ave SE or #105B which goes into Plum Ave SE on the east side of the downtown core. Or exit off at Pacific Ave at Exit #107 which comes into downtown as State Ave NE.
  • From US Hwy 101 From I-5 US-Hwy 101 is at Exit #103. The Evergreen State College (Evergreen Pkwy) exit is the second or third exit from I-5 going westbound on US-Hwy 101. The next exit after Evergreen Pkwy is the US-Hwy 101 turnoff going north towards Shelton and Port Angeles. The same highway continues westward as WA-Hwy 8 towards Aberdeen.
  • From Kitsap Peninsula Go south on Hwy 3 and follow signs for "Hwy 3 South Belfair" Continue south along WA-3 through Belfair and Shelton where it ends into US-Hwy 101 south of Shelton. Merges into a freeway continuing west into Olympia as US-Hwy 101 (or east to Aberdeedn at WA-Hwy 8).

By bus[edit]

  •   Greyhound107 7th Ave SE (7th Ave SE & Capitol Way S, south of Sylvester Park),  +1 360 357-5541, toll-free: +1 800 231 2222. Travels primarily on Interstate 5 (Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Centralia, Kelso/Longview and Portland.)
  •   Grays Harbor Transit Rt #40Greyhound station at 107 7th Ave SE +1 360 532-2770. Route starts from the front of the Greyhound Terminal, goes up to the downtown Olympia Transit Center and then to Aberdeen/Hoquiam via Elma, McCleary and Montesano in Grays Harbor County.
  •   Mason Transit Rt #6Intercity Transit Olympia Transit Center @ 222 State Ave NE (stop at NW corner of the transit center at Washington St NE & Olympia Ave.),  +1 360 360-427-5033, toll-free: 800-374-3747. Goes from Olympia to Shelton.
  •   Intercity Transit222 State Ave NE (An entire city block along State Avenue between Franklin and Washington Streets in downtown Olympia.),  +1 360 786-1881, toll-free: +1 800 287 6348. Operates local buses in and around Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater as well as express buses from downtown Olympia & Lacey to Lakewood and Tacoma. The following are bus routes connecting downtown Olympia to Lakewood, Tacoma and the :
    • 64 local route from Bay 'G' to the Amtrak Station in Lacey via College St. Makes multiple stops to pick up and drop off people on request.
    • 603, 605, 612 Express buses from Bay 'M' (NE corner @ Olympia Ave & Franklin) to downtown Tacoma & Tacoma Dome via Lacey & Lakewood. Look at schedules closely as they do not make all the same stops between Olympia and downtown Tacoma and not all routes continue from 10th & Commerce in downtown Tacoma to the Tacoma Dome Station either. Transfer to Pierce Transit Buses in downtown Tacoma, Tacoma Mall or Lakewood. Transfer to ST #594 bus to downtown Seattle or ST #574 to the airport in Lakewood.
    • 609 Express buses from Tumwater to downtown Tacoma via downtown Olympia, Lacey and Lakewood. Bus does NOT serve the downtown transit center but a limited number of stops on 11th with the nearest at Capitol & 11th.
    • 620 Weekend express bus from downtown Olympia to Tacoma Mall via Lacey & Lakewood. No service to downtown Tacoma or Tacoma Dome.
  •   Sound TransitIntercity bus transit center @ 222 State Ave NE (Bay 'M' towards NE corner of the transit center along Olympic Ave & Franklin St. Same stop as the 603, 605, 612 & 620 bus.),  +1 888 889 6368. The following ST routes serve Olympia:
    • #592 goes up to Seattle via Dupont and Lakewood during the morning rush hour and back to Olympia during the afternoon-evening rush hour. Not all #592 bus begin and end in downtown Olympia some begin/end in Dupont instead. Check schedules or get on Intercity #603,605,612 or 620 to Lakewood and transfer to one of the below routes.
    • #574 continues to the airport from Lakewood via Tacoma Dome, Federal Way, Kent & Sea-Tac though most of the day and weekends. Transfer to/from Intercity Transit buses in Lakewood & Tacoma.
    • #594 continues to downtown Seattle via Tacoma from Lakewood though most of the day and weekends. Transfer to/from Intercity Transit buses in Lakewood & Tacoma.

By train[edit]

Unlike the other cities where the Amtrak trains are in a downtown location, in the same location or close proximity to Greyhound and the local city buses Amtrak is located in a separate location 7.5mi/12km SE of downtown Olympia (where Greyhound is at). The #64 bus goes from the train station up into downtown Olympia

  •   AmtrakOlympia-Lacey Centennial Station @ 6600 Yelm Hwy Se (Along Yelm Highway SE, past Compton Blvd Se.). The following are the Amtrak routes serving Lacey/Olympia:
    • Amtrak Cascades... runs between between Seattle and Portland 4x daily serving Tacoma, Lacey, Centralia and Kelso in Washington state. They run from Seattle to Vancouver via Everett & Bellingham 2x daily and from Portland to Eugene via Salem & Albany 2x daily. Additional service from Seattle to Vancouver and from Portland to Eugene are provided on the Amtrak Thruway Bus.
    • Amtrak Coast Starlight makes a once daily trip in each direction between Seattle and Los Angeles along the same route with the same stops as the Amtrak Cascades (except Tukwila & Oregon City) between Seattle and Eugene, OR.

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 [1]
  • 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 [2]) 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 Charters525 Columbia St NW (Columbia St NW & 'B' Ave NW),  +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 (The   Norh end of the trail is in the Woodward Bay Conservation Area while the   South end of the trail is at 7300 Rainier Ave Se). Always open. Great rail trail for bicycling. The Trail is paved and close to 20 miles long. Goes along lakes, farms, orchards, suburban developments and a river.
  •   Hands On Children's Museum414 Jefferson St NE +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 (Along Washington St between 5th Ave & Legion Way Se),  +1 360 753-8585. South Puget Sound's largest performing arts facility provides a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities.
  •   Wolf Haven International3111 Offut Lake Rd SE, Tenino WA 98589 (13 mi southeast of Olympia, on Offut Lake Rd SE, just east of Old Hwy 99), 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.
  • 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 Market700 Capital Way N (north end of Capital Way @ Market St). Thur-Sun 10AM-3PM. North End of Capitol Way near the waterfront. One of the largest in the state. The market's schedule is seasonal.
  • Tea Lady420 Steele Street SE +1 360 786-0350. Tea shop & bar, offer over 700 teas from around the world. She could only be selling online. Address looks like a private residence.
  •   Last Word Books111 Cherry St NE (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 Burgers7210 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.
  • King Solomon's Reef (The Reef), 212 4th Ave E +1 360 742-3199. 8AM-3AM. A Olympia staple in the heart of downtown; a fun, off-beat but classic dinner. Has everything from burgers and shakes to sesame tofu. Plus there's the bar. $10.

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.
  • 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.
  • McCoy's Tavern (McCoy's), 418 4th Ave E +1 360 352-0696. 9AM-2PM. The best dive bar in Olympia. Loud music, graffiti, cheap strong drinks and a sweet outdoor patio. "Like hanging out with the roadies after an awesome show"

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


This city travel guide to Olympia is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page
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