You’ll know you’re in Washington when the wild and rugged scenery of the Pacific Northwest unfolds in front of you — and you only just left the big city of Seattle moments ago. (Plus, there’s at least one espresso shop on every block.) Washington is the only state in the ‘lower 48’ where you can explore a national park in a temperate rainforest in the morning, hike the trails at a National Volcanic Monument in the afternoon and smell the desert sage as the sun sets.
Seattle is the gateway to the Pacific Northwest region, where wondrous mountain ranges look over lush rainforests and dramatic coastlines. Two national parks -- Mount Rainier and Olympic – offer stunning encounters with nature as do the San Juan Islands just off the coast.
The region is also known as a darling of the music world, especially since the 1990s with the advent of alternative and grunge rock. The music scene flourished decades earlier and continues today. Document the history with a visit to the Experience Music Project.
Fans of the “Twilight” series will want to visit Forks, the town in which author Stephenie Meyer based the novels. International glass artist Dale Chihuly inspired a couple of attractions, the Museum of Glass in Tacoma and Chilhuly Garden and Glass in Seattle.
Visitors won’t go hungry or thirsty here. More than 900 wineries cultivate 40 grape varieties in 13 growing regions. The first Starbucks opened in Seattle in 1971, and independent shops contribute to the city’s 2.5 coffee shops per 1,000 people, the greatest concentration in the country. Rich coastal waterways and the state’s agricultural abundance provide for a booming food scene and the opportunity for visitors to interact with farmers, artisans and chefs specializing in local locally grown and sourced fare.