Tove and I have both called Washington home for most of our lives, but we’ve rarely visited Olympia. Sure, we went to the Washington State Capitol when we were kids, but we never really enjoyed everything the city has to offer. Well, we recently decided to change that by taking a day trip Olympia. What we found was a fun, beautiful, unique area that we’d like to visit again and again. Below are the highlights of our Olympia day trip!
Olympia Day Trip
Darby’s Cafe PERMANENTLY CLOSED
Tove and I randomly saw Darby’s Cafe on Diners, Drive-In and Dives, so it was the first stop on our Olympia day trip. The atmosphere (very alternative) was just like we saw on television, and the food was just as good as we’d hoped. I ordered the Oysters Creole (hand-dipped chicken fried oysters, grilled red pepper rings and poached eggs on an English muffin, topped with a creamy creole sauce), while Tove went for the Joey vs the Volcano omelet (spicy sausage, avocado, cilantro and pepper jack cheese, topped with red salsa and jalapeno nuggets). Don’t forget to order some fresh, hand-squeezed orange juice while you’re there.
Washington State Capitol
In our opinion, no Olympia day trip is complete without a visit to the Washington State Capitol. It’s home to government in the state of Washington. There are chambers for the Washington State Legislature, the governor, lieutenant governor, and many others. There are public tours seven days a week (on the hour) from 10am-3pm on weekdays and 11am-3pm on weekends. If you don’t want to take a tour, you can check out the inside of the Capitol on your own. Also on campus, you’ll find the Washington Supreme Court, the governor’s mansion, and other executive offices.
Heritage Park & Capitol Lake Trails
This 24-acre state-owned park is located adjacent to the Washington State Capitol, Capitol Lake and downtown Olympia. The biggest draw to Heritage Park (330 5th Ave. SW) are the Capitol Lake Trails that go around the perimeter of Capitol Lake, up the hillside to the Capitol, and all the way into Tumwater (and Tumwater Falls — if you’re willing to walk/run to 2.5 miles to get there). If you don’t feel like being active, there are several benches around the lake that are perfect for sitting on a nice day. There are also great views of the Washington State Capitol from across the lake.
Percival Landing is described as “the heart of downtown and is a hub for gatherings, social interaction and public celebrations” in Olympia. Sitting at 3.38 acres, Percival Landing is one of Olympia’s three waterfront parks. It’s located on the east side of Budd Bay on the southern most tip of Puget Sound. Percival Landing includes a boardwalk, harbor house, playground, public art, and much more. Not to mention, there are plenty of restaurants and shops in the surrounding area.
Priest Point Park
Established in 1905, Priest Point Park (2600 East Bay Dr. NE) is the first waterfront park in Olympia. Sitting at 314-acres, there are plenty of hiking trails to take you through and around the park. The featured path is the Ellis Cove Trail, which leads you to a mile of saltwater shoreline on Budd Inlet. Keep your eyes peeled for the numerous animal species at Priest Point Park. The park also features picnic tables, a playground, rose garden and basketball courts. The nature trails are the highlight to us, though.
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Located about 13 miles outside of downtown Olympia, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge (100 Brown Farm Rd. NE) was easily the best part of our Olympia day trip. Open everyday from sunrise to sunset, the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is a protected area in the heart of the Nisqually River Delta (where the Nisqually River meets the Puget Sound). With miles of hiking trails (including a fun boardwalk), there are plenty of opportunities to admire the wonderful animals that call the refuge home. On top of wildlife viewing, Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is also popular for photography, fishing, and hunting.
These ideas are just scratching the surface for an Olympia day trip. There are numerous other places to check out in the area. Our Twitter followers suggest visiting Skep & Skein Tavern, Fish Tale Brew Pub (with possibly “the best Reuben in the state”), Burial Grounds Coffee, Spar Cafe, and Mercato Ristorante. We didn’t have time to check all of these places out, but we’ll definitely go back to Olympia soon. With great food, friendly people and fun adventures, the state’s capital is a great place for a day trip from Seattle.
Have you ever done an Olympia day trip? Where did you go? What did you experience? We’d love to hear all about it! Please leave a comment below, or connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Don’t forget to also check out Seattle Bloggers for more exciting adventures around the Puget Sound!