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.
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.
- 1 Greyhound, (depot) 107 7th Ave SE (7th Ave SE & Capitol Way S, south of Sylvester Park), ☎ , toll-free: . 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, ☎ . 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.), ☎ , toll-free: . Olympia to/from Shelton.
- 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.), ☎ , toll-free: . 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, and/or Tacoma
- 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.
- 5 Sound Transit, ☎ . ST no longer serves Olympia however you can transfer from a Intercity Express Bus (605, 603, 620) to:
- #574 Lakewood, Tacoma Dome Station, Federal Way, 272nd-I-5, Kent Des Moines Highway (SR-516), Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
- #594 Lakewood, Downtown Tacoma/UW Tacoma, Tacoma Dome Station, Downtown Seattle
- South Sounder Tacoma, Puyallup, Kent and Seattle transfer at Lakewood Station or Tacoma Dome Station
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
- 6 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.
- 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.
- 1 Bigelow House Museum, 918 Glass Ave NE, ☎ . 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.
- 2 The Evergreen State College. Public baccalaureate liberal arts college, known for alumni such as Kathleen Hanna, Carre Brownstein and Matt Groeing.
- 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 ) 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, ☎ , e-mail: email@example.com. One of the largest free standing masonry domes in the world. Hourly tours free.
- 1 Budd Bay Charters, 525 Columbia St NW (Columbia St NW & 'B' Ave NW), ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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), ☎ . South Puget Sound's largest performing arts facility provides a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities.
- 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: , fax: . 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: firstname.lastname@example.org. 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.
- 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), ☎ . 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.
- 1 Cebu Restaurant, 9408 Martin Way East, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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), ☎ . A second location for this local chain.
- 4 O'Blarneys, 4411 Martin Way E (Near I-5 exit 109.), ☎ , fax: . If you like chicken, try the "Breasts and Jos".
- 5 Eastside Big Tom Drive Inn:, 2023 4th Ave E, ☎ . 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, ☎ . On Olympia waterfront. Upper scale fine dining.
- 7 Lemon Grass Restaurant, 212 4th Ave. W, ☎ . If you love Thai food, this is the place.
- 8 McMenamin's Spar Cafe (The Spar), 114 4th Ave. E., ☎ . 7AM - midnight (1AM F Sa). The oldest restaurant/bar in town, dating back to the 1930's. Great atmosphere, food and libations.
- Vic's Pizzeria, 233 Division St Nw, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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.
- 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ .
- Madsen Family Cellars, 2825 Marvin Rd NE Ste D, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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, ☎ . 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.
- DoubleTree by Hilton, 415 Capitol Way N, ☎ , toll-free: .
- Swantown Inn Bed & Breakfast, 1431 11th Ave SE, ☎ . 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. $119 - $179.
- The Olympia Timberland Library, 313 8th Ave. SE, offers free wireless Internet.
- The Evergreen State College, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW. Has open free WiFi on campus
- Olympic National Park The diverse heart of the Olympic Peninsula offers jagged mountains, rugged coast and lush rainforests.
- Mount Rainier National Park Beautiful Mt. Rainer is crowned with waterfalls, meadows and glaciers.
- Mt. St. Helens This volcano, famous for its 1980 eruption lies just an hour from Olympia.
|Routes through Olympia|
|Seattle ← Lacey ←||N S||→ Tumwater → Portland|
|Port Angeles ← Shelton ←||N S||→ Tumwater → END|
|Aberdeen via ← Elma ←||W E||→ END|