The Evergreen State is one of the most naturally diverse places on the planet. From rainforests to deserts, it’s hard to capture the beauty of Washington in a single trip. At the heart of the Pacific Northwest, there’s so much to discover in this corner of the country. These 28 Washington State bucket list experiences are an absolute must.
Jump ahead to these sections:
- Washington State Bucket List Destinations
- Washington State Bucket List Activities
- Washington State Bucket List Hikes
- Washington State Bucket List Foods and Restaurants
Your travel bucket list can focus on any type of travel, and it’s an inspiring way to explore the world. However, finding ideas for your bucket list isn’t always easy. This list from a local is here to help. Explore the best parts of Washington, from the big cities to the farthest mountains.
Whether this is your first trip to Washington or you’re moving to the area, these 28 Washington State bucket list experiences, hikes, and more will keep you busy. No matter the season, there’s something new here to explore.
Washington State Bucket List Destinations
First, here are the destinations you must visit in the Evergreen State. Though there are a lot of cities, few sum up the vast culture and nature of Washington like these picks below.
To begin, no trip to Washington would be complete without visiting the iconic city of Seattle. Home to coffee culture, rainy weather, and grunge music, there’s so much to discover here.
2. San Juan Islands
Located between Washington and Canada in the calm waters of the Puget Sound is the San Juan Islands. With three main isles, San Juan Island, Orcas Island, and Lopez Island, this is a stunning oasis in the Pacific Northwest.
Tip: The San Juan Islands are bustling in the summer months, but they’re just as stunning in the winter.
4. Mount Rainier
Another must-see in Washington is Mount Rainier, lovingly referred to as “the mountain” by locals. Mount Rainier is a large active volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range. Peaking 14,410 feet above sea level, this is a beast of a mountain.
5. Olympic Peninsula
For something more laid back, head across the Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula. Home to the Olympic National Park, this place has more than meets the eye, including glacial lakes, stunning mountain peaks, and ocean views. Just look out for vampires!
Tip: Though you can drive to the Olympic Peninsula, the best way to get there is by ferry. You can take a ferry from around the Puget Sound, and it’s much faster than driving.
Explore the eastern side of Washington for a change in scenery. Spokane is on the Washington-Idaho border, and it’s home to its own stunning scenery and culture.
7. Columbia River Gorge
Head south from Seattle to the Oregon state line to take in the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge. This canyon in the Columbia River forms the boundary between Oregon and Washington, and it’s as beautiful as it sounds.
Washington State Bucket List Activities
Next, learn how to make a travel bucket list by adding some must-do activities. When in Washington, do as the locals do with these ideas.
8. Ride the Washington State Ferry
In Washington, most locals get around via the Washington State Ferry system. Though most cities are connected by highways, it’s usually faster to take a ferry. With terminals located in Seattle, Anacortes, and Port Orange, you can find your own way.
9. Climb a mountain
Mountaineering is a huge pastime in Washington, and it’s something people of all backgrounds enjoy. While you might not be ready to climb Mount Rainier, there are plenty of smaller mountains to try.
Tip: If you did want to climb Mount Rainier, however, it’s recommended to book an excursion through an experienced climbing group.
10. See a waterfall
Another must-do activity on your Washington state bucket list is to see a waterfall. Most of the waterfalls in Washington are found along some of the stunning hikes, but you’ll also discover some closer to cities. For instance, Snoqualmie Falls is just a short drive from Seattle.
11. Take a hot tub boat ride
Did you know you can ride around in a hot tub? It’s true. Seattle has recently started trending for its iconic hot tub boats like these found in Lake Union.
12. Sip Washington wines
Did you know Washington’s wine country is located on the same latitude as the great French wine regions of Bordeaux and Burgundy? This means Washington is the prime place to grow some of the top wines. Try a local favorite during your trip!
Tip: There are a lot of wineries to try, but the most famous are Chateau St. Michelle and DeLille Cellars.
13. Hop between islands
Island hopping isn’t just something done in the Caribbean. In Washington, locals are always jumping to-and-from islands for the day, from Vashon to the San Juans.
14. Visit an old western town
Sometimes it’s easy to forget that Washington state was part of the wild west in the 19th-century. Today, you can explore this excitement and history by visiting a town like Ellensburg or Winthrop.
Washington State Bucket List Hikes
The state pastime in Washington is hiking. It’s a way of life, and just about everyone escapes their homes in the summer to summit some of the best hikes around. With something for every experience level, here are your Washington State bucket list hikes.
15. Skyline Trail, Mount Rainier National Park
One of the best ways to experience Mount Rainier National Park is on your own two feet – hiking. The Skyline Trail look is a challenging trail featuring a waterfall and 1,788 feet of elevation.
16. The Enchantments Trail
Home to over 700 alpine lakes and ponds, this is one of the most beautiful, off-the-beaten-path hikes in the country. A very challenging hike, this is for serious, experienced hikers.
Tip: You need to apply for an overnight camping permit to do this trail.
17. Hoh River Trail, Olympic National Park
Located in the rainforest of the Olympic National Park, this trail is easier in some sections and becomes steeper as you reach Blue Glacier. Whether you hike a mile or 10, you’re sure to see some stunning views.
18. Steamboat Rock Trail
Explore a different side of Washington with Steamboat Rock. Rated as moderate, this 50-mile loop explores the eastern desert of Washington’s landscape. However, check the weather since it’s often closed depending on the fire risk.
Tip: You need a Washington State Discover Pass to park at this trail.
19. Discovery Park, Seattle
You don’t have to go far from the city to experience the best of nature. Discovery Park is located in the heart of Queen Anne, Seattle, and it boasts its own hiking trails and water views.
20. Mount Si
For a bit of a challenge, Mount Si is a right-of-passage. Considered a must-do by hikers in Seattle, this 4,000 ft. elevation climb is far from easy. However, the view of the region from the top might just be worth it!
21. Umatilla Rock Trail
Lastly, another Central Washington trail is found in Sun Lakes – Dry Falls State Park. Carved out by ice age floods, this region provides a glimpse into what Washington looked like hundreds of years ago.
Washington State Bucket List Foods and Restaurants
Last but not least, these food bucket list items are a must for any visitor or local in Seattle. With some of the best seafood, dairy products, and coffee around, you’ll be on cloud nine.
22. Sip at Starbucks Reserve Roastery
Skip the original Starbucks at Pike Place and head to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Capitol Hill, Seattle. Home to luxurious brews, coffee cocktails, and special finds, this is a real Starbucks wonderland.
23. Sample smoked salmon
Smoked salmon is a Washington staple. Cured with hot or cold smoke, this is a regional delicacy you can find at the many fish markets.
24. Experience local oysters
You’ll encounter a few different oysters in Washington state, and it’s worth comparing your favorite flavors. With five different types to choose from, this is one of the only states home to all US-based oysters.
Tip: Looking for the best oysters in Seattle? The Walrus and the Carpenter in Seattle is known to provide some of the best.
25. Delight in Beecher’s Cheese
Though you might not immediately think of cheese when you think of Washington, think again. Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is an artisan cheesemaker right in Seattle.
26. Warm-up with clam chowder
There’s nothing better than chowder on a cold, rainy day. Found throughout the state, chowder is a local comfort food.
Tip: It’s hard to pick the best chowder in the state, but most agree that Pike Place Chowder in Seattle is a must-try.
27. Swoon over Dungeness Crab
The Dungeness crab is found in the Puget Sound around Seattle, making it a popular seafood choice at local restaurants. This large crab is a delicacy throughout the year, but crab season officially starts in the winter.
28. Enjoy lavender ice cream
Lastly, don’t leave Washington without trying the infamous lavender ice cream. As the lavender capital of the world, there are few things you can get that aren’t lavender flavored, but the ice cream takes the cake.
Tip: The best time to enjoy lavender ice cream is during the Sequim Lavender Festival in the summertime.
Explore the Best of Washington State
As you can see, there are a lot of things to add to your Washington State bucket list. When it comes to exploring the best of nature, culture, and food, the Pacific Northwest has endless things to offer. From the mountains to the Puget Sound, what will you explore next?
Washington makes the perfect bucket list state thanks to its diverse list of things to do. You could spend weeks exploring and only touch the surface of what this Evergreen State has in store. What will you discover next?