Western Washington’s natural charm extends from the state’s rugged coastal frontier to the edge of the impressive Cascade Mountains. However, despite being the home of bustling Seattle, there is much that remains undiscovered in other parts of the region. From lavender farms to quaint islands, the charming towns and villages of Western Washington await to be explored.
Western Washington has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, with lush evergreen forests, stunning ocean views, and snow-capped peaks in this picturesque location. A postcard-worthy view of the western half of the state can be seen, which is dotted with typical Pacific Northwest towns and villages, some of which have been built centuries ago. These small towns showcase the diverse natural wonders and rich history of the region.
From the Pacific Coast countryside to the snow-capped Cascade Mountains and through the lush evergreen woodlands, the heart and soul of Western Washington lies in its vast natural environment that stands out in the local communities. The small towns and villages of the region offer endless opportunities for the casual traveller and adventurer. In just a few hours, you can go from deep sea fishing off the coast to skiing in the nearby mountains, or spend the day perusing antique shops and chatting with locals at the craft brewery (or the authentic German beer garden) after dark.
Here are ten of Western Washington’s most charming towns and villages to get you planning a trip back in no time.
Located on the Quimper Peninsula, Port Townsend is named for its resemblance to the rugged Brittany region of France. Port Townsend was once pinned with high hopes of becoming the largest port on the West Coast and was also known as the City of Dreams. However, the port city’s inaccessibility has allowed it to maintain its original small town charm and laid-back lifestyle. The trip to Port Townsend is almost as picturesque as the town itself, either by scenic ferry or a long trek along Route 20. Surrounded by many parks and museums, it is frequented by curious tourists and locals alike. Downtown offers views of the Cascades and Olympic Mountains, and classic Victorian architecture meets modern brick houses, creating a fascinating juxtaposition for photographers and passersby.
The seaside town of La Conner is known by locals as a springboard for exploring the neighboring San Juan Island archipelago, which is full of nature and wildlife. Every spring, the fields of the surrounding Skagit Valley bloom with a rainbow of tulips, and the town hosts an impressive tulip festival each year, set against the snow-capped Cascades, attracting visitors from around the world. During the colder months, visitors can take a leisurely stroll through the town, which consists of several streets lined with a variety of antique shops and boutiques. Winding along the waterfront park, there are not only sweeping ocean views, but also natural habitats for local birds such as Trumpeter’s Swan and Snow Goose.
The small town of Sequim is located on the picturesque Olympic Peninsula in Sequim Bay, a seafood lover’s paradise. The nearby coastal area is rich in Pacific oysters and clams, but it’s worth noting that Dungeness crabs also come from this area. A walk along the water’s edge offers great views of the beautiful Northwest, and there are many shops selling local seafood. In addition to being a foodie’s paradise, and notoriously difficult to pronounce, Sequim is the lavender capital of North America. Although part of the area is located on the coastline, the interior is arid and hilly, making it an ideal climate for lavender to grow. Every July, the Sequim Lavender Festival begins to draw crowds and the whole town is dotted with different blues and purples.
The picturesque Bavarian town of Leavenworth, nestled high in the Cascades, puts you in a German town. Leavenworth is best known for its annual Oktoberfest, which is consistently rated as one of the best beer festivals in the country. Classic wooden houses and typical beer gardens (Biergarten) line the main road, and year-round German specialties such as kebabs, kebabs and, of course, beer can be enjoyed. The small town’s Nutcracker Museum houses the world’s largest collection of old-fashioned nutcrackers that curious people will love. For those who love the outdoors, the town of Leavenworth boasts a waterfront recreation area along the Wenatchee River, where rafting and boating are favorite summer pastimes.
Known locally as “the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula,” Gig Harbor is a bay town on Puget Sound, nestled between the bustling city of Seattle and the state’s westernmost tranquility. Once a fishing village and industrial logging town, Gig Harbor is now a popular and peaceful resort away from city life. Gig Harbor is a haven for boaters, cyclists and day trippers, accessible by car or boat: it has a large marina with a magnificent view of the snow-capped Mount Rainier in the distance. Gig Harbor’s waterfront is lined with colorful fishing cottages interspersed with coveted modern mansions, and these mansions are connected to the charming town center, which is home to a variety of cottage restaurants, cool bars, quaint boutiques, and an abundance of parks where you can picnic, play Frisbee, or simply enjoy the view.
Located in the Cascade foothills just 28 miles from Seattle, Snoqualmie is a quiet town surrounded by an impressive evergreen forest. Natural wonders abound here, and the town and surrounding parks, such as the 270-foot Snoqualmie Falls waterfall, attract many hikers, photographers and nature lovers. A stroll through the town offers visitors a glimpse into the laid-back lifestyle. The local businesses are quite diverse, including several galleries featuring Native American art, woodworking shops, knitting boutiques, and an emerging bar scene. The town is also home to the Northwest Railroad Museum and a full-service casino. In the colder months, locals head to nearby Snoqualmie Pass, the closest option to Seattle, for skiing.
Known for being the home of Penn Cove Mussels, Coupeville is an artsy seaside village on Whidbey Island that prides itself on offering some excellent shellfish. Travel to Coupeville by private boat or by ferry from Port Townsend or Mukilteo; both offer unspoiled views of the typical Pacific Northwest and the chance to see the region’s resident killer whales.Coupeville’s waterfront town center is full of bookstores, art galleries and craft breweries, a great option if you’re in the mood for low-key island living. Local seafood restaurants are plentiful, and you can dine on Penn Cove’s famous shellfish with the view of the Olympic Mountains in the background. The entire island is popular for its vast and endless bike paths, and in the summer, the island’s roads are lined with quaint picking stalls.
Known as “Little Norway” and by locals as the “City of Vikings”, Poulsbo has a rich history and Scandinavian town charm. The beautiful Poulsbo sits over Liberty Bay, where legend has it that Viking explorers settled. Strolling through the town is a favorite for visitors of all ages; the main street is lined with pink houses and boutiques, and the local Sluys bakery is nationally known for its delicious traditional Norwegian bread. On Saturdays from April to October, head to the Farmer’s Market for a taste of the local way of life and a chance to enjoy live music. The Naval Undersea Museum pays homage to the local Viking origins and is a great option for history buffs.
Gulf of Niya
Just 60 miles from Seattle and with a population of less than a thousand, Niagara Bay is a quiet fishing village and the westernmost fishing village in the continental United States. Despite its small size, Niagara Bay’s picturesque setting and pristine sport-fishing waters, located on the tree-lined Makah Indian Reservation, have attracted a number of enthusiastic fishermen and curious visitors each year. Once in Niagara Bay, visitors can explore the town’s impressive natural surroundings. Surfers, swimmers and hikers flock to Niagara Bay and the surrounding beaches during the summer for a peaceful holiday, but the brave know that Niagara Bay is worth a visit all year round. The hike to the famous Cape Flattery is just a 1-mile loop for jagged coastal views and a view of the rugged Tatos in the distance. Niagara Bay also includes Waddah Island, whose tidal waters have some of the best diving facilities in the country and can see creatures such as the giant octopus of the Pacific.
North Bend, US state
North Bend is highly sought after by fans and visitors alike due to its memorable feature in the cult classic Double R Diner, and you can still visit series attractions like Double R Diner. Despite the influx of tourists, North Bend has maintained its natural charm. Just a few minutes from Seattle on I-5, North Bend is surrounded by lush evergreen forests and mountains that keep the town itself rural and peaceful. For those looking for outdoor activities in North Bend, the neighboring Rattlesnake Ridge Park and the majestic Mount Si are both excellent, challenging day hikes or climbing activities.