Museums and Nature Along the Sound: A Weekend Exploration of Olympia and Tacoma
The first leg of this tour is a gorgeous southerly drive along the west side of the peninsula. Find tiny trees and the squee-inducing Bonsai museum before taking in ocean views at Browns Point Lighthouse Park, where you can dip your toes in the chilly ocean. Don't worry if you catch a chill, you can warm up with some local pho or bun cha at an iconic local Vietnamese restaurant before exploring the Museum of Glass, famous for housing hundreds of Dale Chihuly's glass creations. This trip continues with a gorgeous walk at a special wildlife refuge before landing in Olympia, a quirky town with lots of character.
Browns Point Lighthouse Park
Start your morning near the beautiful Puget Sound, scouring the beach for rocks. Not only is the lighthouse a modern point of interest, but Browns Point is well known as a place to find the perfect stone.
9.7 mi25 min
Pacific Bonsai Museum
Did you know that Bonsai cultivation began over 2000 years ago? Learn all about the Bonsai at the under-the-radar Pacific Bonsai Museum, which houses over 100 Bonsai from around the world. Note that parking is across the street from the museum, where the sign says "garden parking."
11.5 mi20 min
Washington State is full of great Vietnamese food, and Vien Dong is known as one of the best places for Bun Cha (a vermicelli noodle dish) in Tacoma. You can also fill up on pho, if that's what you prefer.
2.2 mi10 min
13:351 hr 30 min
Museum of Glass
The Museum of Glass isn't simply an art museum; it's also an interactive, all-ages science museum, with live glass-blowing demonstrations and glass fusing workshops.
21.6 mi30 min
15:452 hrs 30 min
Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
Whichever time of year you choose to visit, Nisqually Wildlife Refuge has an abundance of beauty (and birds). Expect to see herons, red-winged blackbirds, geese, and maybe even a thumb-sized hummingbird nest. Bring your walking shoes and if it's rainy prepare to get a little bit muddy, but all pathways are flat and relatively easy walking.
10.5 mi20 min
18:351 hr 30 min
McMenamins Spar Café
The Spar is an Olympia relic, and although it's now owned by McMenamins, it's got old-school charm. Check out old photos of early Pacific Northwest settlement and logging and enjoy a traditional burger (veggie or meat) along with a milkshake.
0.3 mi5 min
DoubleTree by Hilton Olympia
Rest your weary bones at the Doubletree Hotel, conveniently located in downtown Olympia.