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North America > United States of America > Pacific Northwest > Washington (state) > Puget Sound > South Sound > Olympia (Washington)

Olympia

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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]

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.
  • US Hwy 101/SR-8 From I-5 US-Hwy 101 is at Exit #103. If going west, the same highway becomes SR-8 after going past the US-Hwy 101 turnoff towards Shelton and Port Angeles.
  • 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 east into Olympia as US-Hwy 101 or west to Aberdeen as SR 8.

By bus[edit]

  • 1 Greyhound, (depot) 107 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.)
  • 2 Grays Harbor Transit Rt #40, Greyhound station at 107 7th Ave SE, +1 360 532-2770. Olympia Greyhound depot, downtown Olympia Transit Center, Elma, McCleary, Montesano & Aberdeen/Hoquiam in Grays Harbor County.
  • 3 Mason Transit Rt #6, Intercity Transit Olympia Transit Center @ 222 State Ave NE (stop at NW corner of the transit center at Washington St NE & Olympia Ave.), +1 360-427-5033, toll-free: +1-800-374-3747. Olympia to/from Shelton. Schedules are infrequent so check schedules closely if choosing to use public transportation to travel through the Kitsap Peninsula, west of the sound. An alternative to traveling to Bremerton by bus is to take Greyhound up to Seattle and then a ferry across or take Intercity Rt 612 or 620 to Lakewood or Tacoma and transfer to Sound Transit Rt #590 or 594 to reach downtown Seattle.
  • 4 Intercity Transit, (downtown transit center) 222 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. Listed are bus routes connecting downtown Olympia to Lacey, Tumwater, Lakewood, and Tacoma.
    • 13 Frequent local route from the Labor & Industries (L&I) office in Tumwater to the downtown Olympia Transit Center (Bay 'D') along Capitol Way/Capitol Blvd. Transfer to Rural Transit (see below) at Tumwater Square along Cleveland Ave SE & Emerson. (Rt #609 from Tumwater no longer operates)
    • 62a & 62b frequent local route from Lacey to the downtown Transit Center (Bay 'H') via Martin Way. The 612 express bus only make one stop at the Martin Way P&R.
    • 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.
    • 612 Express buses from Bay 'F to downtown Tacoma & Tacoma Dome via Martin Way P&R and Lakewood (Lakewood Sounder & Lakewood P&R). Transfer to Pierce Transit and Sound Transit buses in downtown Tacoma, Lakewood Sounder Station and/or Lakewood Park & Ride. Transfer to Rt #62a or 62b at Martin Way P&R to reach additional destinations in Lacey.
    • 620 Weekend express bus from downtown Olympia Transit Center (Bay 'M') to Tacoma Mall via Lacey (Martin Way P&R and Lacey Transit Center) & Lakewood. No service to downtown Tacoma or Tacoma Dome.
  • Rural Transit, +1 253 472-7846. Office Hours M-F 9AM-3PM; Bus services M-F 6AM-6PM check schedules. Rural Transit (rT) connects the communities of Rochester, Tenino, Bucoda, Rainier and Yelm, and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation to the greater tri-city area of Tumwater, Olympia, and Lacey. In the Olympia area they only go up to Tumwater Square where passengers transfer to Intercity Bus #13 or 68 (Cleveland & Emerson) to continue towards downtown Olympia.
  • Rt #2 Goes from Tumwater Square along Old Hwy 99 SE to Tenino and east towards Rainier along Sussex Ave E
  • Rt #3 Goes from Tumwater Square along I-5 and Case Rd Sw to Grand Mound P&R (Exit #88 from I-5) and then west on US Hwy 12 to Rochester and the Chehalis Tribal Center on the Chehalis Indian Reservation.
  • Rt #4 goes from Centralia to Grand Mount P&R, to Tenino (Tenino Library), Bucoda and back to Centralia from Bucoda.

By train[edit]

Unlike the other cities where the Amtrak stations are in a downtown location, Amtrak is located in a separate location 7.5mi/12km SE of downtown Olympia. The #64 bus goes from the train station up into downtown Olympia

  • 5 Amtrak, Olympia-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 Tukwila, Tacoma, Lacey (Olympia), Centralia and Kelso in Washington state. They run from Seattle to Vancouver via Everett, Mt Vernon & Bellingham 2x daily and from Portland to Eugene via Oregon City, 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 an 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.
  • Intercity Transit operates the bus system. $1.25 per trip or $2.50 for a day pass.

See[edit]

East Bay
  • 1 Bigelow House Museum, 918 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. Daniel R. Bigelow House (Q5218513) on Wikidata Daniel R. Bigelow House on Wikipedia
  • 2 The Evergreen State College, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, +1 360-867-6000. Public baccalaureate liberal arts college, known for alumni such as Kathleen Hanna, Carre Brownstein and Matt Groeing. Beautiful forested campus with miles of secluded hiking trails and beach access. Evergreen State College (Q941731) on Wikidata Evergreen State College on Wikipedia
  • 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 [1]) features tremendous variety of independent artists, often live in their performance studio. The station is on the campus of The Evergreen State College.
  • 3 Washington State Capitol Building, 416 Sid Snyder Ave, +1 360 902-8880, e-mail: . One of the largest free standing masonry domes in the world. Hourly tours free. Washington State Capitol (Q2620186) on Wikidata Washington State Capitol on Wikipedia

Do[edit]

  • 1 Budd Bay Charters, 525 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 2 North end of the trail is in the Woodward Bay Conservation Area while the 3 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.
  • 4 Hands On Children's Museum, 414 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.
  • 5 Washington Center For The Performing Arts, 512 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. Washington Center for the Performing Arts (Q43305409) on Wikidata
  • 6 Wolf Haven International, 3111 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: +1-800-448-9653, fax: +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. 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]

  • 1 Olympia Farmer's Market, 700 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.
  • 2 Last Word Books, 111 Cherry St NE (On State and Cherry across from Olympia Coffee Roasting), +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]

  • 1 Cebu Restaurant, 9408 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.
  • 2 Norma's Burgers, 7210 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.
  • 3 Norma's at I-5, 10322 Martin Way East (Nisqually Exit 114), +1-360 412-0333. A second location for this local chain.
  • 4 O'Blarneys, 4411 Martin Way E (Near I-5 exit 109.), +1-360 459-8084, fax: +1-360 456-0674. If you like chicken, try the "Breasts and Jos".
  • 5 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.
  • 6 Anthony's Homeport, 704 Columbia Street NW, +1 360 357-9700. On Olympia waterfront. Upper scale fine dining.
  • 7 Lemon Grass Restaurant, 212 4th Ave. W, +1 360 705-1832. If you love Thai food, this is the place.
  • 8 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 1930s. Great atmosphere, food and libations.
  • Vic's Pizzeria, 233 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.
  • 9 Old School Pizzeria, 108 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.
  • 10 King Solomon's Reef (The Reef), 212 4th Ave E, +1 360 742-3199. 8AM-3AM, Lounge 10am-2am. 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. $12.

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, 311 4th Ave E. 12pm-2am. A dance nightclub with dj dancing Th-Su. Features hot dog stand with walk-up window as Olympia Hot Dog Company cover varies usually $5.
  • The Mark, 407 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.
  • 1 Fish Tale Brew Pub, 515 Jefferson Street SE, +1 360-943-3650.
  • Madsen Family Cellars, 2825 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-2am. 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"
  • Le Voyuer, 404 4th Ave E, Olympia, WA 98501, +1 360-943-5710. 11:30 am-2 am. Arty dive restraunt, lounge and performance venue with a vegan heavy menu, particularly well fried garlic fries. Large diverse international and domestic bottle beer fridge and local/domestics on tap. All-age performance venue till 10, well known for its punk shows.

Sleep[edit]

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.