When most people think of Washington, they usually just imagine Seattle. But there’s a whole lot more to this diverse state than just one big, bustling city. We’re also home to some of the most charming small communities, with historic buildings and mountainous scenery right in our own backyards. Here are 15 of the lesser-known towns around here…how many have you heard of?
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
Ironically, you won't be able to get a Venti White Chocolate Mocha here in Starbuck. There isn't a single Starbucks anywhere in this teeny town of 125+. The community is luckily still in a great location, only about 20 minutes away from Palouse Falls.
Just north of Walla Walla, Waitsburg is an old, historic town with loads of charm and highly rated restaurants (like the Whoopemup Hollow Cafe). It's actually the only community in our state that still operates under their own Territorial Charter.
Raymond is just off Highway 101, and known as the gateway to Willapa Bay. Three of the buildings downtown hold a spot on the National Register of Historic Places, including their theater, library and post office. The small town was also home to Nirvana's first gig, back in March 1987.
4. Port Gamble
A New England-style village, Port Gamble has had a long, important history in Washington. It's the oldest company-owned town in our state, and their historic district is even registered as a National Historic Site. Downtown, they have a delightful antique shop and quilt shop, as well as a small, old-fashioned general store.
Located just east of Waitsburg, Dayton is a small town recognized for having a long, rich history. The community's home to the oldest train depot in the state, as well as the longest continuously used courthouse (since 1887!)
Nestled in the foothills just west of Mount Rainier, Elbe is a tiny town rich with German heritage. Train lovers could spend days here, exploring all of the railroad attractions.
The Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad kicks off their excursions here, in addition to: The Mt. Rainier Railroad Dining Co. (where you can dine inside of an old train car), The Hobo Inn (with rooms set in refurbished cabooses), and the Mount Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum.
Known as the gateway to Mount St. Helens, Toledo is a small town located along the Cowlitz River and Highway 505. It's a quaint little community to check out on the way to see our state's iconic volcano, or the nearby Ape Caves.
Moclips isn't as well-known as Ocean Shores or Westport, but the small coastal town is still just as serene to visit during the summer. It's a relaxing place to go for a walk on the sandy beach, digging for clams, or just to catch the sunset over the ocean.
Wilkeson is a tiny old town less than 20 miles from Mount Rainier National Park. Many of the community's historic buildings still stand, including an elementary school that dates back to 1909.
Glacier is the last town you'll pass through on Mount Baker Highway, before reaching the Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. The area draws in outdoor enthusiasts all year, for hiking and river rafting in the summer, and skiing/snowboarding in the winter.
Colfax is an old, small community by the rolling hills of the Palouse. The Waite Building and Ellis Block on Main Street are two of the many historical buildings you can see on the Historic Walking Tour through downtown, both constructed in 1893.
Darrington is only about a half hour away from the North Cascades National Park, so local residents are treated to an up-and-close view of "America's Alps" every single day. Every year, the community also celebrates "Darrington Day" to highlight their culture, heritage, accomplishments and unbeatable surroundings. Check out the celebration this year on May 28, from 10am to 3pm.
Situated among wheat farming land in north-central Washington, Waterville is known as the home of the Big Bend Round-Up every year. The annual event has been going on for over 100 years, with rodeo events like horse racing, bull riding and steer roping. The town's also proudly home to the historic Douglas County Court House (pictured above).
Wilbur is another small gem in eastern Washington's wheat country. It's a quiet, perfect place if you love to be outdoors, with the Grand Coulee Dam, Lake Roosevelt, and Banks Lake all only about a half hour away.
Concrete is only about twenty miles from the North Cascades National Park in Skagit County. The small town itself has a lot of key attractions, from the historic Concrete Theater to Silo Park, and the Henry Thompson Bridge, which spans the Skagit River.
Of course, this is only 15 of many charming communities you can find around here. The list could go on forever! What are some of
your favorite small towns in Washington?