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Olympia (Washington)

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Olympia [18] is in the South Sound region of Washington.


A fountain flows aside the State Capital Building in Olympia, Washington

Olympia is the capitol of Washington State, and the Thurston County seat. The city reflects a diverse economic base and culture. It is also home to The Evergreen State College, one of six public four-year schools in Washington. As of the 2000 census, there are 42,514 residents of Olympia.

Olympia's art and music scene is unusually large and active for a town of its size, and its identity as a city remains distinct despite strong influences from Seattle, Tacoma and Everett to the North and from Portland/Vancouver to the South. Olympia is somewhat of a breeding ground for Pacific Northwest alternative culture having spawned or influenced many of the region's better-known personalities.

The city's downtown core has been designated as a National Historic District.

The natural beauty of Olympia is of particular note. From downtown, one can see the Olympic Mountains to the northwest set behind Puget Sound's Budd Bay - and towering Mt. Rainier to the southeast set next to the state capitol building and Capitol Lake.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

  • The nearest commercial airport is at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA) [19] , which is 48 mi (76.8 km) north of Olympia. The following are the available transport down to Olympia from the airport:

Capital Aeroporter Tel: +1 206 244-0011 operates shared ride shuttles between Sea-Tac and your hotel or door in Olympia. The most economical into town is to take the Sound Transit #574 bus from the airport to the Lakewood P&R at SR-512, south of Tacoma and transfer to IT Transit Rt#603-612 [20] during the work week or 620 [21] on weekends.

  • If flying in on a charter or a private plane the Olympia Regional Airport [22] is the closest one in town, located along Capitol Blvd (Old Hwy 99) 6mi/10km south of downtown Olymia.

By train[edit]

  • Amtrak, [23]. The closest station is 6 miles from downtown in Lacey. Takes 15-20 mins to drive there. Bus #64 goes to the station from both the Olympia and Lacey transit stations, about 40 minutes from the former.

By bus[edit]

  • Greyhound, [24]. The bus station is centrally located at 107 7th Ave E. Buses go south to Portland via Centralia and Kelso with some continuing south from Portland to Sacramento and north to Seattle via Tacoma. Passengers typically transfer to other Greyhound buses in Seattle, Portland or Sacramento to continue to additional cities.
  • Intercity Transit, [25]operates express buses to/from Lacey, Lakewood and Tacoma throughout the workweek (Rt#603 - 612) and on weekends (Rt 620). In Tacoma or the Lakewood P&R transfer to other Sound Transit buses (Rt#590, 592 or 594) or the Sounder train to continue to Seattle.
  • Mason County Transit Rt #6 [26] goes from Intercity Transit's downtown transit center to Shelton in Mason County. To continue to Bremerton transfer to Rt#1 via US Hwy 101 & WA Hwy 3 or Rt#2 via WA Hwy 106 in Shelton to Belfair and transfer to Mason Transit #3 in Belfair to Bremerton. NOTE. It would be be quicker to travel through Tacoma and Seattle by bus and a ferry over to Bremerton than through Shelton and Belfair by bus as there are more frequent buses going via Seattle.
  • Grays Harbor Transit Rt #40, [27] goes from the Greyhound station (107 7th Ave E) to the Intercity Transit's downtown transit center (a few blocks up at 221 State Ave NE) and on to Hoquiam & Aberdeen via Elma and Montesano in Grays Harbor County.

Get around[edit]

  • Olympia's numbered streets run East-West, and the city is broken into four quadrants with the center point in downtown. Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast. These indicators come after any address.
  • Capitol Way is the main north - south street in the downtown area. Fourth Avenue is the main connector that runs through downtown east - west.
  • The city's downtown district lies in the middle of what residents refer to as the Westside and the Eastside. Most residents of the city will claim these two areas are distinctively different.
  • Intercity Transit [28] operates the bus system. $1.25 per trip or $2.50 for a day pass.

See[edit][add listing]

  • Bigelow House Museum, 918 Glass Ave NE, 360-753-1215, [1]. Summer Sa-Su 1-4PM. Olympia's oldest surviving home, built in 1850s when Washington was a territory. Oregon Trail Pioneers Daniel and Ann Elizabeth Bigelow were early advocates of women's voting rights, public education and the rule of law. Home to the same family until 2005, it contains original furnishings, photos and documents dating back 150+ years. Donation. (47.049847,-122.890983) edit
  • The Washington state capitol building. One of the largest free standing masonry domes in the world.
  • The Evergreen State College - Public baccalaureate liberal arts college [29]
  • Puget Sound
  • Olympia Marina
  • Olympia has a thriving music community, with frequent local performances by rock, jazz, blues, folk, and other bands. Local noncommercial community radio station KAOS at 89.3 FM (which also streams live at [30]) features tremendous variety of independent artists, often live in their performance studio. The station is on the campus of The Evergreen State College. Their local event calendar lists many performances in the area.
  • Capital Playhouse, 612 E. 4th Avenue, +1-360.943.2744. Plays shows like Sweeney Todd (with Tony award winner Jarrod Emick), 1940's Radio Hour, 6 Women with Braindeath or Expiring Minds want to Know, Side Show, and Man of La Mancha.  edit

Do[edit][add listing]

  • Budd Bay Charters, Olympia Harbor, (360) 539-8981, [31]. Budd Bay Charters provides boat tours of the Olympia harbor and beyond. Has 21' electric boats that tour the harbor or you can rent them. Also have tours on 38' Sailboat and 18' Runabout speed boat.
  • Chehalis Western Trail, [2]. Always open. Great rail trail for bicycling. The Trail is paved and close to 20 miles long. Goes along lakes, farms, orchards, and a river.  edit
  • Hands On Children's Museum, 106 11th Ave. SW, (360) 956-0818, [32]. The Hands On Children's Museum stimulates curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children.
  • Washington Center For The Performing Arts, 512 Washington Street SE, (360) 753-8585, [33]. South Puget Sound's largest performing arts facility provides a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities.
  • Wolf Haven International[34] - is a wolf sanctuary located about a half an hour from Olympia. Forty-seven wolves reside at the refuge and it can be toured by visitors. It has been listed several times in reputable wildlife journals as being one of the top wolf sanctuaries in the United States. 3111 Offut Lake Rd. SE Tenino, Washington 98589. Phone: (800) 448-9653, Fax: (360) 264-4639
  • South Sound Wine Trail, [3]. The South Sound Wine Trail extends from Lacey through Olympia to Shelton and includes 7 wineries. The South Sound Wine Trail includes stops at Medicine Creek Winery, Madsen Family Cellars, Northwest Mountain Winery, Stottle Winery, Olympia Wine Tasting Bar (McCrea Cellars & Vina Salida), and Walter Dacon. During your tour you will often have the chance to speak with the winemakers and owners to receive unique insight into their wines. contact at: [email protected]  edit
  • Whetstone Fitness, 1212 Black Lake Boulevard South West, (360) 956-3400, [4].  edit

Buy[edit][add listing]

  • Olympia Farmer's Market, North End of Capitol Way near the waterfront, [35]. One of the largest in the state. The market's schedule is seasonal.
  • Last Word Books, 111 Cherry St NE. (Across from Olympia Coffee Roasters.), 360-786-word (9673), [5]. M-Th 10-8, Fri & Sat 10-10, Sun 10-6. A self-proclaimed "radical, independent bookstore" which deals almost exclusively in used-books, Last Word was started in 2002 by Evergreen College alumni. Crammed with every book you could want (other than current bestsellers, and romance novels) amid ambling, complex shelves which migrate every few months, it is difficult to imagine anywhere less reminiscent of Barnes & Noble. Chat with the cashier, attempt to pet the deaf (?) cat, and wander its weirdness. They also buy books for cash or trade.  edit
  • Capitol Theater (Olympia Film Society), 206 5th avenue se, 360-754-6670, [6]. 5:30pm. 1920s theater hosting weekly movies, monthly concerts, and is volunteer run 5.5.  edit
  • Dumpster Values, 302 4th ave E (4th at Franklin), [7]. 11am-7pm. Used clothing. $.  edit

Eat[edit][add listing]

  • Cebu Restaurant, 9408 Martin Way East, +1 360 455-9128. serves Filipino food in a friendly atmosphere. It's a little bit hard to find - it's in a strip mall next to a gas station. If you're heading east on Martin Way, it's not too far past Marvin Road.  edit
  • Norma's at Tanglewilde, 7210 Martin Way East, +1-(360) 456-6547), [8]. A local chain. Norma's won the Best Burger in Washington State for the year 2007, probably for their John Wayne Burger. Also serves breakfast, sandwiches, and seafood. $10/entree.  edit
  • Norma's at I-5, 10322 Martin Way East (Nisqually Exit 114), +1-(360) 412-0333), [9]. A second location for this local chain.  edit
  • O'Blarneys, 4411 Martin Way E (Near I-5 exit 109.), +1-360 459-8084 (fax: +1-360 456-0674), [10]. If you like chicken, try the "Breasts and Jos".  edit
  • Eastside Big Tom Drive Inn, 2023 4th Ave E, +1 360 357-4852. A Big Tom with the works. Milkshakes and crinkle fries are also excellent. Bring cash and a hearty appetite.  edit
  • Anthony's Homeport, 704 Columbia Street NW, (360) 357-9700 on Olympia waterfront. Upper scale fine dining.
  • Lemon Grass Restaurant, 212 4th Ave. W, (360) 705-1832. If you love Thai food, this is the place.
  • McMenamin's Spar Cafe (The Spar), 114 4th Ave. E., 360 357-6444, [11]. 7AM - midnight (1AM F Sa). The oldest restaurant/bar in town, dating back to the 1930's. Great atmosphere, food and libations.  edit
  • Vic's Pizzeria, 233 Division St Nw, (360) 943-8044. One of the most popular restaurants in Olympia with excellent and often unusual flavors of pizza. All of them are delicious.
  • Old School Pizzeria, 108 Franklin St. Olympia, WA, (360) 786-9640. Very similar to Vic's. Movie posters line the walls of this restaurant.
  • Brewery City Pizza, [36] 3 locations in Olympia. Another very popular pizzeria.
  • The Urban Onion, [37], 116 Legion Way, one of the finest restaurants in Olympia. A short walk from the Washington Center.(Now closed)
  • Little Da Nang, 301 4th Ave W, (360) 534-9200. An excellent Vietnamese restaurant specializing in soups and sandwiches.  edit

Drink[edit][add listing]

  • The lounge at King Solomon's Reef, 212 4th Ave E, 360-357-5552. is the quintessential Olympia dive-bar. Dark, tobacco-stained, with well drinks that bite back and bar food to match, The Reef is where the locals go after shows or just to hang out late at night. A good place to go absorb some drinks while avoiding Oly's meat-market scene. Reopened after a fire in 2011.
  • Jake's on 4th - A gay nightclub with dj dancing Th-Su.
  • The Urban Onion lounge - Gay lounge with dj's spinning on weekends.
  • The Mark, 407 Columbia Street SW, (360)754-4414, [12]. The Mark is the only certified organic restaurant in Washington. Local ingredients are used when possible. Banquet facilities available. Hours are Th-Sa, 5PM – 1AM and M-W by private hire. Reservations recommended.  edit
  • Fish Tale Brew Pub, 515 Jefferson Street SE, Olympia WA 98501, 360-943-3650, [13]. (47.049847,-122.896492) edit
  • Madsen Family Cellars, 2825 Marvin Rd NE Ste D, (360) 438-1286, [14]. 11-5PM. A small boutique winery that uses grapes sourced from Eastern Washington. The tasting room has dry whites, off-dry and sweet whites, a pink, Sangiovese plus the bordeaux reds - Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot and a Bordeaux Blend called Othello.  edit
  • Le Voyeur, 404 e 4th ave (On 4th ave across from the artesian well), [15]. A classic Olympia bar and artsy hangout with live music in the back room most nights.  edit

Sleep[edit][add listing]

  • Hilton Double Tree, 415 Capitol Way N, Tel: +1 360 570-0555. [38]. All suite accommodations with complimentary breakfast buffet, high speed internet, and 24 hr. business center. This is no longer the Phoenix Inn. It's been bought out by Double Tree.
  • Swantown Inn & Spa, 1431 11th Ave SE, 360 753 9123, [16]. checkin: 4PM; checkout: 11AM. Olympia's Bed and Breakfast retreat. A 1887 Queen Anne/Eastlake Victorian Mansion listed on both the city and state historical registers. Located in a quiet neighborhood in the heart of Olympia, Washington, the Inn can be your headquarters for exploring the Puget Sound region, or your refuge to escape from it all. Featuring an onsite Day Spa, with professional licensed massage therapists (by appointment).The Grand Victorian Ballroom is available for special events, weddings, reunions, corporate meetings, seminars and retreats. $119 - $299. (N 47° 02.335,W 122° 52.915) edit
  • Ground Inn (Bunk & Breakfast), 417 Union Ave SE (Exit 105A from I-5), 360 539-8300, [17]. checkin: 4-6; checkout: aa. This super groovy and clean hostel provides easy access to the capitol and downtown. Plenty of parking, right on the bus lines and beautifully furnished. Men and Women's dorms have bunk beds with locking security plus two private rooms. An organic breakfast is included by Chef Christopher Cowan. $30 - $60.  edit


  • The Timberland Regional Library [39], 313 8th Ave. E, offers free wireless Internet.


Get out[edit]

Routes through Olympia
SeattleLacey  N noframe S  TumwaterPortland
Port AngelesShelton  N noframe S  TumwaterEND
Aberdeen via US-12.pngElma  W noframe E  END

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