10 Best Places to Visit in Washington State

The natural scenery in Washington is breathtaking. With nine ecoregions spanning from desert to rainforest, there is something for everyone. Have you tried dispersed camping? It takes some looking and a bit of extra packing (fresh water, shovel, a way to store trash) but it gets you out, away from people, and most importantly a sense of satisfaction that you successfully "Roughed it".

Go for a hike, there are thousands of miles of hiking trails and coastline in Washington State alone. Go for a walk, get your heart pumping, raise those endorphins, and release some of that stress. Take some photos. Take a tripod, take your time, learn how to get off automatic, and really frame the scene.

The Pacific Coast of Washington tends to have very cold water, and be significantly colder than the rest of the state. So, the coast can certainly be lovely, and a nice place to camp (assuming you don’t mind cool and damp. And have a bear canister). That all being said, it is beautiful. Great for hiking and camping.

But the thing to keep in mind, Washington Beaches are not like most other beaches in the USA. They tend to be colder, rockier, more overcast and foggy than most other places. The water temperature in the hottest part of Summer is usually in the low 50's.

For scenery Mt. Constitution on Orcas cannot be beaten for the view. San Juan for its history. Shaw is more private, Lopez is flattest and best for biking. Lummi takes the least amount of time and the cheapest to get to. Others like Sucia, Matia, Spiden all require some form of boat. Guemes has a ferry and a runway. Orcas and San Juan can also be reached by air.

Or drive past Crescent Lake, one of the most beautiful lakes in the USA. Or heck, stop by Sol Duc Hot Springs and soak your cares away. Or the Burls near second Beach. All are beautiful and have great places to eat. The most famous restaurant would be on Lummi Island. And let's not forget the Canadian Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.

From seeing comets to a stellar meteor shower at night, there is something calming about taking the time to sit back and truly appreciate something. If you're planning a trip to the Evergreen State, don’t forget to take along your prescription sunglasses.

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To help you narrow your options for where to go, here are the most beautiful places to visit in Washington.

1. Diablo Lake

This stunning lake is located in the North Cascade mountains. The mesmerizing turquoise water is straight from an artist’s palette. In this case, nature is the artist. The color comes from the glacial dust that settles into the water from the nearby glaciers. For the best views, hike up to the overlook.

2. Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest

For outstanding views from the top of the world, you can't beat Granite Mountain. You can take in Mt. Rainer, Crystal Lake, and an endless spread of surrounding peaks and valleys from the peak. You’ll have to work for your reward, with 1,000 feet of elevation gain per mile on the hike to the top.

3. Hoh Rainforest

And if you are taking the time to hit the coast, you must must must go to the Hoh River rain forest. The Pacific Northwest is home to one of the few remaining temperate rainforests globally, and the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park is one of the most iconic. The lush green canopy and thick growths of fern, mosses and lichen transport you to a fairy tale setting.

4. Deception Pass State Park

Stand atop the bridge that connects Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands and peer down the length of the saltwater canyon for views of unbelievable beauty. Slip on your prescription sunglasses to cut down on the glare of the sun’s rays bouncing off the water.

5. Palouse Falls

The official falls of Washington state take a 198-foot tumble from the overhead cliffs. This waterfall was formed when glacial floods carved out the surrounding landscape in the last Ice Age, and it’s the last of its kind. Hike the mile from the parking lot to take in the splendor of the falls and pool from below.

6. The Enchantments

If glacial-fed, high alpine lakes and multi-day, leg-burning hikes are your thing, you won’t want to miss the Enchantment Basin, located in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness. Don’t forget your prescription sunglasses; you'll need them at these altitudes.

7. Mount Baker

Mt. Baker is an active volcano, but it hasn't erupted since 1843. This is a popular destination in northern Washington at any time of year. In the winter, skiers flock to its slopes. During the rest of the year, nature lovers, backpackers and hikers explore its slopes and take in the splendor of the surrounding area.

8. Olympic National Forest

Located on the Strait of San de Fuca, the ever-changing landscape of the Dungeness Spit grows an average of 15 feet in length every year. It's the longest sand spit in the country, and it's located in a National Wildlife Refuge, making it a spectacular spot for nature lovers.

9. Lake Quinault

Lake Quinault is another beauty located in Olympic National Park. On a sunny day, take in crystal clear reflections of the surrounding mountains and the sky above. Make sure you bring along your prescription sunglasses when you visit this glacial lake.

If you like broad, sweeping views, pay a visit to Iceberg Point on Lopez Island. Standing on the rocky cliffs, you can take in the Olympic Mountains and the Olympic Peninsula. Keep your eyes peeled for the magnificent orca whales that frequently pass through the area.

10. Skagit Valley

You would love it when you are standing in a 300 acres field of colorful and bright tulips. Millions of tourists visit Skagit Valley Tulip Fields in April to witness the beauty of these flowers.

Head to Eastern Washington to see this last place on the list. This 11,000-acre state park is located just outside of Spokane. If you only have a day to visit, make sure you take in the Bowl and Pitcher area for some awe-inspiring natural beauty.

Kalyan Panja