We have so many fascinating places to check out in Washington. However, when family or friends visit from out of state, they’re usually inclined to go to the same old tourist traps around the big cities. Before they make typical plans to head up to the Space Needle in Seattle, here are some lesser-known spots you’ve got to introduce them to on their next trip to the Northwest:
1. Kubota Gardens, Seattle
If you and your guest will be near the city, the enchanting scenery here in the Rainier Beach neighborhood is worth stopping by to see. This gorgeous 20-acre Japanese garden dates all the way back to 1927, and features flowers, ponds, waterfalls and a dazzling moon bridge.
2. Grove Of The Patriarch's Loop, Mount Rainier National Park
This short route in the Mount Rainier National Park has a suspension bridge that crosses over the Ohanapecosh River, and leads to a small island of old-growth trees. The easy, pleasant adventure can be enjoyed by guests of all ages, and you'll be surrounded by some of the largest and oldest trees in the entire Cascades area.
3. Washington Pass Overlook, North Cascades Highway
Along North Cascades Highway 20, this is an amazing place to stop by the east end of North Cascades National Park to show off all of our state's natural beauty. There's a paved trail to the overlook that makes a loop, and features stunning views of Liberty Bell Mountain and many more jagged peaks.
4. Salt Creek Recreation Area, Port Angeles
With rocky bluffs, tide pools, forests, a sandy beach and several campsites, this is a wonderful place to take visitors for a tranquil vacation. The park offers panoramic views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Crescent Bay, and Vancouver Island, B.C. in the distance.
5. Center For Wooden Boats, Seattle
Seattle is home to many museums, but none are quite like this unique hands-on place that preserves and showcases wooden boats. You can rent and take some of the boats out on Lake Union with your guests, and on Sundays they even offer free sail rides, rain or shine.
6. Mount Constitution Tower, Orcas Island
You can hike, bike, or even drive up Mount Constitution to find this medieval-like observation tower. From the top of the stone lookout, you and your guests will be able to catch a 360-degree view of the surrounding islands and Cascade Mountains for miles.
7. LeMay Car Museum, Tacoma
Many people may be distracted by the work of Chihuly at the Museum of Glass in Tacoma, but this 4-story museum is not one to be missed. It showcases the world's largest private car collection, with up to 350 cars, trucks and motorcycles. Any car lover visiting will be absolutely amazed by the antique cars dating back to 1903.
8. Quinault Rainforest, Olympic National Park
With the only temperate rainforests in the contiguous U.S., showing off all of our Amazon-like scenery is a must. Many people have heard of the Hoh Rainforest, but we're home to two others as well. The Quinault Rainforest even offers mesmerizing tours you can take year-round.
9. Manito Park and Botanical Gardens, Spokane
This is one of the most lovely places you can go in Spokane without having to open your wallet. Opened in 1904, the park features an arboretum, a number of botanical gardens, and a conservatory that's open every day, free of charge. You'll be able to spot gorgeous roses, lilacs, plant gardens and a picture perfect pond.
10. Waterfall Garden Park, Seattle
Hundreds of people pass by this sanctuary in downtown Seattle everyday, never knowing that further back lies a hidden 22-foot waterfall flowing over beautiful granite boulders. The secluded park can be found near Pioneer Square on 2nd Ave S. and S. Main Street, with tables outside perfect for taking friends or family to sit and enjoy local coffee and food.
11. Wallace Falls State Park, near Gold Bar
Wallace Falls State Park is known for its many waterfalls, old-growth forests, fast-moving rivers, backcountry lakes and miles of trails. There's no doubt your guests will be completely blown away by all of the Northwest scenery here, including this 256-foot cascade.
Have you been to any of these hidden gems before? What are some other underrated places in Washington to take friends from out of state? Share your favorite spots with us below.