Located at the south end of the Puget Sound, Olympia, Washington's state capital, is graced with elegant government buildings and gardens. Home to a flourishing population of about 43,000, this modest governmental seat has setting and cultural pursuits aplenty to balance out its political side, and visitors in town to catch a festival or enjoy some play in a waterside park won't leave disappointed.
As part of your comprehensive city tour, stroll across carefully groomed lawns for a closer look at the dome on the Capitol, the modern building a far cry from the log Capitol that stood on the site until 1903. Off the Capitol Campus is the Old State Capitol -- a stand-in while they built the present Capitol; enjoy the interesting exterior of this old stone building before wandering through the interior for a glimpse of Washington history and meandering on to view a living exhibit at the Capitol Conservatory, a greenhouse with desert and tropical plants that stand in sharp contrast to the tulips and daffodils blooming in Olympia's wet and mild climate during the spring.
Take a quick trip through the Temple of Justice, home to the State Supreme Court, and the State Library before complimenting your historical sight-seeing jaunt with a stop at the Washington State Capitol Museum. Here, South Sound Indian cultural artifacts and items related to Olympia's later development are supplemented with temporary exhibits, which offer an educational introduction to Olympia's people and past.
If you're seeking a more natural setting after exploring the inner workings of the State, mosey out to Capitol Lake Park for fun in the water and a picnic on the grass or take a walk along the harbor for a look at gleaming sail boats and raucous sea gulls.
Olympia is located 60 miles south of Seattle and 110 miles north of Portland.