I’ve been writing A LOT about my trip to Indonesia the past month. Writing about Indonesia has been a way for me to share what my experiences, but it has given me a serious case of wanderlust. Travel is addicting! I’ve found myself scheming new trips and looking for seasonal gigs abroad. While this isn’t a bad thing, I haven’t been appreciating where my roots are now – Olympia, Washington. I’ve lived in Olympia for three years now and it is beginning to feel like home. However, I’ve been hard on Olympia. We’ve had a rough winter and spring does not seem to be on the radar with the daily snow flurries and torrential rain. Despite the rough winter, Olympia is a wonderful place to live and I want to share 7 things I love about Olympia and why you shouldn’t pass it up on a trip to the Pacific Northwest.
1. Olympia is surrounded by nature.
Olympia is a small city of 46,000 people. Regardless of where you live in the city, you will probably see greenery during your day. We are a Tree City, which means our city has an urban forest management plan. The Puget Sound sits to the north of downtown, where you can kayak, sail, and stand-up paddle board and see all sorts of wildlife: harbor seals, jelly fish, birds, and even transient Orcas if you are lucky! I live outside the city limits in a rural area and I see owls, deer, opossums, bald eagles, and hawks on a regular basis. There are several city and county parks that are free and accessible to the public. If you become bored of Olympia’s natural features, we are an hour away from the Olympic mountain range and an hour and a half from Mount Rainier. We are also driving distance to Mount St. Helens and the coast.
2. The coffee is amazing.
As I write this, I am enjoying a latte at Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. They are an award winning coffee roaster and arguably make the best coffee in town. Olympia Coffee Roasting Co. does have some fierce competition in town. You could spend a couple weeks trying out all of the locally-owned coffee shops. Some of my favorite hang-outs include Batdorf and Bronson, Mud Bay Coffee Co., and Burial Grounds, that all have their own interpretation on the perfect cup of Joe.
3. You can always find something unique to do on the weekends.
I love to spend my weekends outside. From hiking, cycling, kayaking, and even snowshoeing, you can enjoy the outdoors. But when the weather is wet and cold, the last thing I want to do is spend time outside. Luckily, there is always something interesting happening in town. For example, you can check out an indie film or film festival the Olympia Film Society. You can see improv or a play at Harlequin Productions. During the fall and spring, you can go to Arts Walk in downtown Olympia and support various artists that live and work in the area.
4. And if you can’t find anything to do in Olympia, you can always drive to Tacoma, Seattle, or Portland.
On the rare occasion you can’t find anything to do in Olympia, you can always make your way to Tacoma, Seattle, or Portland. These three cities are larger than Olympia and undoubtedly offer more attractions. You can easily make a day trip visiting these cities, or you can make a weekend out of it, like Justin and I did for our anniversary last October.
5. There are restaurants for all tastes.
No, we don’t have as many hip restaurants as Portland or Seattle, but we do have a wide selection of culinary adventures you can embark on. We have multiple Asian restaurants downtown to choose from – Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Thai, and Vietnamese (I once made an interactive map for a class to mark all the Asian restaurants downtown!). We also have a great food truck lot downtown – my favorite truck being Arepa, which sells Venezuelan-style sandwiches and snacks. Several restaurants also feature fresh seafood and shellfish harvested locally.
6. We are the state capitol.
Yes, Olympia is the state capitol, not Seattle! Upon arrival, you’ll see our beautiful capitol building. You can even take a free tour of the capitol campus (I’ve done it three times and always learn something new!). It is also not surprising to cross paths with a state congressperson or even the governor! (I’ve seen Gov. Jay Inslee once at my Alma mater, The Evergreen State College).
7. The people are the best.
I’ve made a lot of great friends in Olympia! I met most of them from my graduate program, but I have also met other great people from work and the community. You probably will too if you stick around. 🙂