If you take a quick browse through my blog or scroll through my Instagram, it’s probably pretty clear that I love to travel, take photos, and eat. Since I entered post-grad life a few years ago, armed with more disposable income and spare time, I’ve done a lot more of these things with my other half. We’ve gone near and far (to other continents!) and we love it all. Something else you might have picked up about me is that I am a die hard Washingtonian. I’ve lived in Washington nearly my entire life and I intend on staying here the rest of it. Staying local and traveling within the PNW is actually one of my favorite things so getting out of the city for a weekend in charming Olympia was amazing!
If you’re planning a day trip or a weekend getaway to Olympia, WA then keep on reading and add some things to do to your itinerary! You can also check out my blog post from our trip to Olympia in September 2017 here.
We started off our trip by stopping in Tukwila to get a few pastries and some caffeine from 85C Bakery Cafe then continued to Olympia. I love that it’s only an hour south of downtown Seattle, where we live, so we didn’t even have to get gas! The route to our first stop was very familiar because we stayed at Hotel RL, which I have worked with previously. (You can even find a picture of me on their homepage!) Hotel RL is a great spot to stay because it overlooks Capitol Lake and is in a quiet, serene spot despite being conveniently near the highway.
After we dropped off our bags and enjoyed a few moments on our balcony which overlooked the lake, we drove over to Tumwater Falls. Just a few steps away from the parking lot you’ll see the upper falls which are so cool! There’s a scenic 1/2 mile loop here too which we would have loved to take but as you can tell from my raincoat, it was pouring rain on us! This made the falls extra cool to see though, as the water was really powerful.
We heard a lot about Quality Burrito from a few people so we headed there next for a bite to eat. They have a huge variety of burritos, tacos, and even vegan options! Jared and I shared fish tacos and a burrito that had steak, bacon, and potatoes inside. This is a must visit in my opinion! If you like no-frills Mexican food at a place with a lot of character, this is definitely a stop to make.
For the remainder of the afternoon we visited a bunch of small businesses around downtown Olympia, had a beer at Cascadia Brewing Co., and experienced the fun Arts Walk activities. Arts Walk is a semi-annual event that occurs in spring and fall to celebrate art in the community. I’m so glad we were here for the Spring Arts Walk because there was a fun parade where hundreds of people dressed up. There were so many creative costumes and it was seriously so fun to experience.
There are so many amazing businesses in a span of a few blocks in downtown Olympia but here are a few standouts:
- Compass Rose: This is such a cute gift shop that donates 10% of its earnings to good causes. It’s a lot larger than one would expect for a gift shop and oh boy, it was really dangerous because I wanted EVERYTHING. I just found out that there’s another location in Tacoma as well but head to Olympia for the founding store :)
- Archibald Sisters: Also a great spot if you’re picking up gifts. This store has lots of fun, comical gifts as well as a huge selection of handmade fragrances, lotions, and other personal care items. It was almost overwhelming trying to smell all the scents!
- Captain Little: Admittedly I made us walk into this store because there was a huge, adorable dog inside with its owner. Once we went inside, however, we spent a good amount of time perusing all the stuff. While it is mainly a toy store, there are lots of fun things to see like puzzles, plushies, and even childrens books. This is such an amusing store, even if you’re an adult. I never knew I needed a stuffed cupcake or sushi plushie until this store…
- Browsers Book Store: Jared and I always like going into book stores when we see them. Both of us are bookworms and there really is no better time to buy a book than on vacation! Browsers is the cutest little spot with a big selection of books for everyone. The children section even had a small nook underneath the stairs that looked super cozy – even I would like to curl up there and read a book. I like Amazon just as much as the next person but it is great to support your local bookstores like this when you want to purchase a book!
After a few hours downtown, we headed back to our room to get ready for dinner where we had a reservation for Waterstreet Cafe. This spot is across from Capitol Lake and Heritage Park which means you’ll also get a great view of the Legislative Building. It’s an intimate, cozy spot that would be great for a date night or a small gathering of friends. We ended up splitting a bit of everything that we ordered – the calamari, linguini with prawns, and fried gnocchi. Unfortunately they were out of two dishes we wanted but at least they offered recommendations for other dishes. We also got drinks since happy hour is 2-close everyday – how can you say no to that?!
After dinner we ended up driving around Olympia and Tumwater during sunset (which was gorgeous) and we ended up going to a grocery store for a slice of cake which we ate later that night during a horror movie. Perfect end to an eventful day!
We took the opportunity to sleep in a bit later than usual thanks to the comfy beds and headed downstairs to the Hotel RL lobby for some coffee. Hotel RL is great and offers a free espresso drink to all guests each morning during your stay! We love that they serve Victrola coffee because it’s actually one of our local neighborhood coffee roasters. Plus, I did a project with Hotel RL last year for National Coffee Day. I’m practically a veteran when it comes to drinking coffee in this lobby! ;)
Then we ventured into the dining room in Hotel RL for some brunch while enjoying the lake views. Before I say anything about the food I have to say the dining room is huge and really, really nice! I was really surprised by how large the bar is and how nice of a room it is with big glass windows all along the back and sides. They even have board games for you to play in the dining room!
We might have gone a little overboard, but everything sounded sooo yummy that we couldn’t help ourselves! The crab cake eggs benedict was amazing and actually the best eggs benedict I’ve had in a long time. Jared really liked his scramble and we both tried our best to finish these ginormous, fluffy pancakes. (Are you drooling yet?)
After checking out of our hotel we drove over to the beautiful Percival Landing Park. One thing I really loved about our visit is how close in proximity everything is. Every destination seemed to be within five minutes of each other and the drives are always beautiful. Olympia really is a beautiful city and I am so appreciative of the pockets of sunshine we got on this trip!
The beautiful weather lasted long enough for us to snap some pictures and enjoy the views but then it started sprinkling again! We decided to head over to the Olympia Farmer’s Market which is open from April – October on Thursdays through Sundays. Much to my dismay, they don’t allow pets at the Farmer’s Market which foiled my plans to puppy watch. However the Farmer’s Market’s offerings totally made up for the lack of puppies and then some!! First of all, the market is actually under a huge structure so you’re still outdoors but shielded from the rain. There’s even a stage for live music! We sampled some local treats, smelled beautiful flowers, and saw so many amazing things. It’s a shame that we had stuffed ourselves at brunch because there was everything from jerky to fruit to pastries. Farmer’s market aficionados, this one is a must visit! I mean, look at these colors!
We also had plans to go to a coffee tasting at Batdorf and Bronson however we were already so caffeinated from brunch that we just decided to walk around the area more. There were plenty of dogs outside of the Farmer’s Market, don’t worry, and I have to say there is no shortage of nice people in Olympia either. People are so friendly here!
Overall we had such a fun, relaxing stay here in Olympia. I love how much history and culture there is in this city. Coming from Seattle is just too easy and if you’re coming from Vancouver/Portland (where I grew up!) then it’s also still a really easy trip up. Whether you’re a Washington native or not, I think a visit to the state’s capital is a must!
Thank you to Experience Olympia for hosting us in your beautiful city! All opinions are my own.