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25 Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Washington State

Written by Brad Lane Updated Aug 1, 2023 We may earn a commission from affiliate links ( )

The natural world is larger than life in the state of Washington. The state is stacked with sleeping volcanoes, lush rainforests, and islands full of attractions. And surrounding these verdant landscapes are cities big and small, brimming with cultural appeal.

Gig Harbor, Puget Sound

Washington State attracts millions of tourists each year. These visitors and potential transplants descend upon the state for various reasons. For those that haven't explored the massive appeal of the Evergreen State, from world-class adventures to one-of-a-kind music and artistic scenes, there's no better time than now to find out what makes Washington so special.

Fun things to do and exciting places to visit are found in every direction in Washington, including the more arid eastern side of the state in cities like Spokane. One trip to Washington will never be enough, and even living there for years won't uncover the entire splendor of the state. Plan your trip with our list of the top attractions in Washington State.

1. Olympic National Park

2. seattle center and the space needle, 3. san juan islands, 4. mount rainier national park, 5. seattle downtown, 6. leavenworth, 7. north cascades national park, 8. puget sound, 9. mount st. helens national volcanic monument, 10. deception pass state park, 11. port angeles, 12. riverfront park, spokane, 13. bellingham, 14. mount baker-snoqualmie national forest, 15. sol duc hot springs, 16. pacific crest trail, 18. snoqualmie falls, 19. fort worden historical state park, port townsend, 20. bloedel reserve, bainbridge island, 21. winthrop, methow valley, 22. palouse falls, 23. washington state capitol building, 24. vancouver, 25. future of flight, everett.

Author, Brad Lane, at lateral moraine of Blue Glacier

From ocean beaches to glaciered mountaintops, Olympic National Park overflows with incomparable scenery. The park covers most of the Olympic Peninsula, and roads only circle the wild terrain, never cutting through the park's mountainous heart. While auto-touring is fun, the best way to experience Olympic is by hiking trail.

Iconic coastal areas like Ruby and Rialto Beach define the rugged western edge of the park. This stunning slice of the Washington coastline is only a short drive from the oversized trees and abundant foliage in the Hoh Rain Forest . Other popular attractions at the park include the snowy peaks of Hurricane Ridge and the welcoming waters of Sol Duc Hot Springs .

Hoh River Trail

The hiking trails at Olympic National Park traverse many different landscapes, including a Hall of Mosses and the family-friendly Marymere Falls . The Hoh River Trail is an absolute must-do hike for all ages. This lush hiking trail explores the rainforest and river corridor with a flat path for 13 miles before ascending to the lateral moraine of Blue Glacier on Mount Olympus.

For excellent places to spend the night, the campgrounds at Olympic National Park put visitors close to the awe-inspiring scenery presented by this wild western region of Washington. Camping is easier in Olympic NP than in other national parks in Washington, with more campgrounds also dispersed throughout the adjacent Olympic National Forest .

Official site: https://www.nps.gov/olym/index.htm

Seattle Center

Of all the top attractions in Seattle, the Space Needle within the Seattle Center is perhaps the most iconic. It was built for the 1962 World's Fair and stands today as a centerpiece of the sprawling Seattle Center . Surrounding the spinning observation deck are more of the city's most iconic attractions , including some of Seattle's best museums .

Alongside the Space Needle, the Seattle Center's 74-acre campus is home to the Monorail, parklands, museums, and restaurants. Among the indoor sightseeing options are the colorful glass artworks at Chihuly Garden and Glass and the Frank O. Gehry-designed Museum of Pop Culture .

Other fun things to check out at the Seattle Center include a plethora of art installations, various theater and stage accommodations, and multiple garden and fountain settings, and on any sunny day in Seattle, the campus offers an excellent place to stroll outside.

Author's Tip: Look into the official Seattle CityPass if you're considering visiting more than one big attraction. This discounted package includes a ride on the Space Needle and automatic entry into the Seattle Aquarium. It also includes three admissions into a selection of other nearby places to visit.

Official site: http://www.seattlecenter.com/

San Juan Islands

The San Juan Islands are north of Puget Sound, off the northwest mainland. They are a collection of 174 named islands, with the four largest readily accessible by ferry. These four islands are San Juan Island, Orcas Island , Lopez Island, and Shaw Island . The county seat, and most populous city, Friday Harbor , is on San Juan Island and is often a jumping-off point for bigger adventures.

Each main island has a mix of galleries, seafood restaurants, and parks, including San Juan Island National Historic Park. The historic park encompasses both a British and an American Camp that date to the mid-1800s. Here, the park details life at the camp and the conflict known as the Pig War dispute.

Mount Constitution, Moran State Park

Popular destinations within the San Juan Islands include Friday Harbor , Eastsound, and Moran State Park, where visitors will find one of the best campgrounds in Washington . Favorite things to do on the San Juan Islands include sea kayaking, whale watching, and dining on local fare.

Mount Rainier from Paradise

Mount Rainier is an iconic Washington landmark seen miles from every direction, including certain vantage points in Seattle on clear days. It's the tallest peak in the state (14,410 feet) and is at the center of its namesake national park.

Two areas of particularly stunning interest include the Sunrise and Paradise regions of the park. The road to Paradise is open, weather permitting, year-round, allowing visitors to reach high elevations for hiking in summer and snowshoeing in winter. The Sunrise area, on the park's northeast side, lives up to its name and is well worth a pre-dawn drive.

Hiking trails at Mount Rainier National Park tour mountain meadows, massive waterfalls, and groves of ancient forests, including the around-the-mountain Wonderland Trail . The country-spanning Pacific Crest Trail also passes through the park's boundaries.

Four auto-campgrounds are among some of the best campgrounds in Rainier . Two of the campgrounds, Cougar Rock and Ohanapecosh , accept reservations and often book out fast. Visitors also find several other places to pitch a tent or park an RV in the national forests surrounding the park.

Other attractions are within easy distance of the park, including Northwest Trek wildlife park in Eatonville and the Mount Rainier Scenic Railroad in the little town of Elbe.

Seattle Downtown

It's a large, densely packed city, but downtown Seattle reveals its more relaxed side at the waterfront. Here, piers and parks rim the shoreline, and the chatter of visitors, traffic, and fish throwers add to a vibrant summer soundtrack. Pike Place Market is the standard draw for tourists, but other historic buildings and venerable institutions add diversity to a visit.

Visitors will likely wish to catch an underground tour near Pioneer Square or a performance at Benaroya Hall. And back on the waterfront, a sea-level exploration takes you from the Olympic Sculpture Park in the north to the Seattle Aquarium and ferry terminal farther south. The waterfront is also a popular spot to depart on some of the best day trips from Seattle .

Read More: Best Beaches in the Seattle Area


After the town of Leavenworth experienced the bust following a boom in the logging industry, city leaders rallied and decided to change the town's image. Today, the town of Leavenworth proudly recognizes itself as a Bavarian Village , and it's common to see residents wearing lederhosen or blowing a morning serenade on an alphorn.

Alongside the encompassing Bavarian theme of this tourist town comes several annual festivals. Perhaps one of the most spirited is the annual Christmas Lighting Festival , where the nighttime streets transform into something of a surreal snow globe scene.


Outdoor recreation is also a primary draw to Leavenworth. Craggy Cascade mountains backdrop the town to the west, with iconic destinations like the Icicle Gorge and Alpine Lakes Wilderness nearby. These mountain playgrounds comprise several of Leavenworth's best hiking trails , including the world-famous Enchantments Thru-Hike .

  • Best Things to Do in Leavenworth
  • Best Campgrounds near Leavenworth

Ross Lake

The North Cascades are one of the most unspoiled tracts of country in the United States. And the national park encompassing these mountains caters to anglers, walkers, and nature lovers. To the north, the park shares a border with British Columbia, Canada.

A drive through the park on the North Cascades Scenic Byway is rewarded with fantastic views. Some of the many highlights of this drive include the Washington Pass Overlook, the aquamarine waters of Ross Lake , and the western-inspired town of Winthrop in the Methow Valley.

Lake Chelan National Recreation Area borders the southern edge of the national park and is home to one of the deepest lakes in the country. It also provides a stunning backdrop for the mountain town of Stehekin (only accessible by foot, boat, or seaplane).

Many hiking opportunities in the North Cascades are steep, though some of the best hikes in the area also incorporate family-friendly treks with stunning mountain views. Head to the North Cascades Institute within the park for other family-friendly adventures in the North Cascades. This non-profit institution offers educational opportunities and overnight visits.

Whidbey Island, in Puget Sound

On the state's western border, separating the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle, Puget Sound is a watery region filled with inlets, islands, and unique worlds to discover. Several cities and harbors surround all sides of Puget Sound, offering endless access and places to visit. Some things to do in Puget Sound include sea kayaking, whale watching, and visiting the vibrant communities that define the islands.

An extensive ferry system accesses the different destinations in Puget Sound, allowing for easy day trips and island hopping. A top spot to visit is Whidbey Island , the largest island in the Sound. It's home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island and the adjacent city of Oak Harbor , located on the island's north side. The island's north side is also home to Washington's most visited State Park: Deception Pass State Park .

South of Oak Harbor, the rest of the island has a quieter tone and more rugged landscapes to explore. Here, Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve encompasses several seaside state parks and historic farmlands. It also includes the charming community of Coupeville , where fresh seafood restaurants serve meals by the water.

To look into the native cultures that once inhabited the region, the nearby Tillicum Village on Blake Island Marine State Park offers another popular day trip from the city.

Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument

Mount St. Helens erupted on May 18th, 1980, reducing its peak by 1,300 feet and leveling much of the surrounding area. A cloud of ash rose 13 miles into the air, houses were overwhelmed by masses of water and mud, and almost 150 square miles of forest were destroyed. And most tragically, 57 people lost their lives.

Mount St. Helens's landscape is still rebounding from the massive event. Today, visitors are encouraged to learn more about the geological processes underway at the Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument.

One of the most popular places to observe and learn about the mountain is the Johnston Ridge Observatory at the end of the Spirit Lake Highway (SR 504). This unique visitor center offers further insight into the eruptive history of the mountain and is a launching point for many of Mount St. Helens' best hiking trails .

Mount St. Helen's summit

A bucket-list adventure at Mount St. Helens is hiking/climbing all the way up to the remaining crater. This challenging endeavor is usually done from the Climber's Bivouac trailhead on the south side of the mountain. Permits are required for any summit attempt on Mount St. Helens.

Official site: http://www.fs.usda.gov/mountsthelens

Read More: Best Campgrounds near Mount St. Helens, WA

Deception Pass Bridge

The Deception Pass Bridge is an iconic landmark of the region and a civic achievement dating back to the Civilian Conservation Corps. The historic bridge spans Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands in Puget Sound, and on both sides of this scenic bridge, Deception Pass State Park easily ranks high as one of the best state parks in Washington (and most visited).

Activities like tide pooling, hiking, and boating are some of the most popular things to do at the park. Several campsites spread across three campgrounds within the park, facilitating multiple days of adventure. Knowing the tides is the key to success for those interested in passing under the bridge with a boat.

Address: 41229 State Route 20, Oak Harbor, Washington

Official site: https://parks.state.wa.us/497/Deception-Pass

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

The town of Port Angeles lies along the northern shores of the Olympic Peninsula, across the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The region is known for the huge number of things to do outdoors, such as hiking, biking, golfing, boating, kayaking, fishing, birding, and more.

Port Angeles is also an access point to Olympic National Park , including nearby areas like Hurricane Ridge . At this high alpine recreation area, hiking trails fan out from the visitor center leading to wildflower meadows in spring.

Back at sea level in Port Angeles, the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center features changing Northwest exhibits in the semi-circular hilltop gallery. On the extensive grounds, visitors will find a museum without walls featuring over 100 sculptures along rustic trails.

Port Angeles has many great hotels, eateries, and a waterfront downtown district. It's also where ferries depart for Victoria, Canada. And even if you're not interested in active days taking in all the natural wonders, you'll enjoy the laidback nature of the town and the plenty of bench seats overlooking the water.

Read More: Best Things to Do in Port Angeles

Japanese Gardens, Manito Park

Eastern Washington is notably different than the west side of the state. The weather is considerably sunnier; farmland dots much of the landscape; and the population is less dense in much of the region, besides in the major cultural hub of Spokane – the second largest city in Washington.

A crown jewel of Spokane attractions is the illustrious Riverfront Park. This sprawling parkland received a massive revitalization just in time for the 1974 World's Fair. Today, it's dotted with community attractions, including a hand-carved carousel made in 1909. The Spokane River also rushes through the area, with several vantage points overlooking its falls.

Riverfront Park, Spokane

Other places to visit in Spokane include gardens, parks, and museums. And for the adventurous, the city offers access to several outdoor playgrounds, including the extensive Riverside Park . Skiing and year-round adventures are also available on the nearby Mount Spokane . Take some time to visit the historic Manito Park , established in 1904 and located south of Interstate 90 and the Spokane River.

Whatcom Falls Bridge

Bellingham is north of Seattle, less than an hour from the Canadian border. It's an access point for several iconic Pacific Northwest adventures, including Mount Baker . The town also has a notable collegiate appeal and culture, known for its laid-back vibe and a community emphasis on outdoor adventure.

For a quick introduction to this corner of the Pacific Northwest, stroll through Fairhaven Historic District and duck into local art galleries or catch some sun on a restaurant patio. Outside of this historic district, Western Washington University has amassed an excellent Outdoor Sculpture Collection among its academic offerings, and its campus is dotted with works small and large.

Skagit Valley tulips

In the surrounding area, visitors can take scenic drives through the mass fields of Skagit Valley tulips in spring or follow the twisting, narrow route of Chuckanut Drive year-round. The Chuckanut Mountains, or the Chuckanuts , are a recreation staple in the area, home to many of the best kikes and best campgrounds near Bellingham . Another popular outdoor attraction is Whatcom Falls Park, with four sets of falls and numerous walking trails.

  • Read More: Top-Rated Tourist Attractions & Things to Do in Bellingham

Mount Baker

The Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest runs along the slopes of the Cascade Mountains, with North Cascades National Park to the south and the Canadian border to the north . The wide range of recreational opportunities includes numerous hiking trails, forest cabin rentals, alpine climbing, and one of the best ski resorts in Washington state .

On the Mount Baker Highway (SR 542), the town of Glacier is the closest base camp to the peak. The very small town does offer limited tourist amenities, such as restaurants and lodging. At the end of the highway, the stunning Artist Point area of the mountain offers jaw-dropping views of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan. Here, several hiking trails, like Yellow Aster Butte and Winchester Mountain Trail, expose beautiful views of both peaks.

Mount Baker is also a major ski and snowboard destination come winter. Mount Baker Ski Area consistently ranks high as one of the best ski spots on the West Coast. The steep 1,000 acres encompassed by the ski area are best suited to moderate or advanced downhill enthusiasts.

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort

The Sol Duc region is at the heart of Olympic National Park and an hour's drive from Port Angeles. The area has several visitor attractions, including iconic hiking trails and the namesake waterfalls. One of the steamiest reasons to visit is the relaxing pools at Sol Duc Hot Springs.

The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is operated by a concessionaire and features rooms, cabins, and suites adjacent to the Sol Duc River. Those staying within the resort have free access to the mineral pools and spas, and anyone interested in checking out the rejuvenating water can pay a day-use fee.

The resort also operates a nearby campground for pitching a tent or parking an RV. The only way to stay within the campground or at the resort is with advance reservation.

Goat Rocks Wilderness

Spanning the entire length of the United States from Mexico to Canada, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) traverses some of its biggest landscapes as it travels through Washington. Beginning at the sea-level Columbia River Gorge, the PCT heads north to hit such iconic landscapes as the Goat Rocks Wilderness, Snoqualmie Pass, and the mountain town of Stehekin before arriving at the Canadian border.

You don't have to be a long-distance hiker to enjoy any part of the PCT – some of the best day hikes on the Pacific Crest Trail span Washington, Oregon, and California. A few recommended day hikes on the PCT in Washington include Lake Valhalla , north of Stevens Pass, and the challenging but rewarding Kendell Katwalk , north of Snoqualmie Pass.

Bridge of Glass

Located between Seattle and Olympia, Tacoma is one of Washington's larger cities. Once industrial in feel, the city has developed a variety of exceptional museums and cultural venues. Perhaps the most notable, The Museum of Glass features exquisite, translucent pieces by world-renowned artist and Tacoma-native Dave Chihuly.

Extending from the Museum of Glass, a walkway decorated with glass sculptures, known as the Bridge of Glass , allows visitors to reach the nearby Washington State History Museum.

Tacoma Museums

Be sure to spend time at Point Defiance Park when visiting Tacoma. This signature outdoor space encompasses a peninsula jutting into Puget Sound with amazing views across the water. It's also home to the world-renowned Port Defiance Zoo & Aquarium , the Fort Nisqually Living History Museum, Owens Beach , and a vast network of hiking and biking trails connecting them all.

Read More: Top Things to Do in Tacoma, WA

Snoqualmie Falls

This stunning 270-foot waterfall is one of the most popular natural attractions in the state. Its accessibility from Seattle, less than a 30-mile drive to the west, adds to its popularity. But its sheer stature also lends credence for a visit.

A two-acre park near the falls offers a popular observation deck with different vantage points. The Salish Lodge & Spa is also nearby, offering one of the nicest places to stay within an hour's drive of Seattle. All the rooms at this four-star hotel are spectacular, but the ones facing the falls offer an unbeatable view.

Read More: Top Things to Do in Snoqualmie

Fort Worden, Port Townsend

Port Townsend is a charming seaport city on the northeast edge of the Olympic Peninsula . It's a spot of cultural and historical value and home to Fort Worden – once part of the coastal defense center known as the Triangle of Fire . Today, visitors to this decommissioned military fort enjoy walking through history and the seaside scenery.

The park encompasses over 400 acres, with several batteries and barracks spread throughout. For those looking to explore the densest collection of these cement structures, head to the park's Artillery Hill. Other on-site attractions include the Coast Artillery Museum and the Point Wilson Lighthouse .

Victorian architecture in Port Townsend

After exploring Fort Worden, the rest of Port Townsend also deserves some attention. The city's most defining feature is its several pieces of 1800s Victorian architecture throughout its uptown and downtown district. These storefronts and homes offer a particular type of charm that pairs well with the saltwater smell of the ocean nearby.

Read More: Top Things to Do in Port Townsend

Bloedel Reserve, Bainbridge Island

The Bloedel Reserve is a magnificent 150-acre property on the north side of Bainbridge Island. It once belonged to Virginia and Prentice Bloedel, who amassed their fortunes in the timber industry. And the Bloedels spent more than 30 years cultivating the natural and landscaped gardens still seen today.

The Bloedel Reserve opened to the public in 1988 and has been a top place to visit on the island ever since. For the price of admission, visitors are welcome to take the two-mile looped hiking trail throughout the property. A must-see stop is the Residence itself, surrounded by some of the most intricate gardens.

Bainbridge Island's proximity to Seattle makes it a popular weekend destination . Several other attractions on the island also demand attention, including a Grand Forest laced with hiking trails. And head to Fay Bainbridge Park , near the Bloedel Reserve, for one of the best places to camp and spend the night on the island. It's also a great park to catch a stunning sunset across the water.

Hot air balloons over snow covered cabins in Winthrop

The Old West-inspired town of Winthrop in northern Washington is worth more than a weekend visit. This uniquely themed town is within the stunning Methow Valley and is a gateway to the big world of North Cascades National Park . Its year-round adventure status also adds to its appeal.

During the summer months, take some time to mosey about the downtown district, made to resemble the 1850s Old West. Along the wooden boardwalk and within the old-timey storefronts, several modern establishments offer places to shop and dine.

The summer is also the time to explore the expansive Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest surrounding the town.

Come winter, the Methow Valley has a world-class reputation for its extensive collection of cross-country ski trails. The non-profit Methow Trails organization oversees a remarkable 200-plus kilometers of groomed cross-country routes, all open to the public for the price of a day or season pass.

Read More: Top Things to Do in Winthrop, Washington

Palouse Falls

Ice Age floods over 13,000 years ago carved the present-day Palouse Falls in southeast Washington. And today, this stunning display of gravity is one of the last active waterfalls along this ancient floodway. That's why, in 2014, the Legislator named Palouse Falls the state's official waterfall .

Designation or not, the 200-foot Palouse Falls is quite a sight. For those looking for the best vantage point, head to Palouse Falls State Park . Here, three designated viewing areas offer commanding looks at the falls and interpretive information about their creation.

The park's semi-remote location makes visiting a challenge. The park has minimal camping, but a nearby KOA has spots near the Snake River. This area of Washington is prone to intense heat during the summer, and visitors should check out Palouse Falls as early in the day as possible this time of year.

Washington State Capitol Building

Set against the southern end of Puget Sound, Olympia is a relatively quiet state capital. Here, the grand white dome of the Washington State Capitol building rises 287 feet above the tree-lined streets and center of town. It's hard to miss the eye-catching architecture when visiting, and the landscaped grounds deserve special attention, especially when the sun is out.

Free, guided public tours highlight the building's interior, including the five-ton Tiffany chandelier and permanent sculptures. Other top attractions of Olympia surrounding the Capitol building include The Olympia Farmers Market, the Hands On Children's Museum, and the nearby Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.

Address: 416 Sid Snyder Ave SW, Olympia, Washington

Salmon Run Bell Tower at Esther Short Park

In southern Washington near the Columbia River Gorge, Vancouver is a city filled with history and cultural appeal. Some of the attractions of Vancouver include Esther Short Park and Playground, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site , and a summer farmers market filled with live music.

History and natural appeal run deep in Vancouver, and places like the Waterfront Renaissance Trail and Officer's Row add even more unique things to do. With easy access to the vibrant city of Portland, Oregon, across the Columbia River, Vancouver is also a popular jumping-off point for exploring the City of Roses.

Large cargo carrier plane

Even those who aren't plane buffs will likely be impressed by this jet assembly plant tour at the Boeing Factory, located north of Seattle in Everett. Detailed tours through the facility happen daily under the attraction name Future of Flight.

These popular tours take members of the public through the assembly process of some of Boeing's biggest planes and throughout the working environment of the world's biggest building (by volume). Those interested in taking the tour are advised to book their spot beforehand.

Address: 8415 Paine Field Boulevard, Mukilteo

Official site: http://www.futureofflight.org/

Read More: Top-Rated Things to Do in Everett, WA

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Washington Travel Guide: Plan Your Perfect Trip

Top 12 Washington State Attractions

Pierre Leclerc Photography/Getty Images

The state of Washington is blessed with landscapes, whether created by nature or by humans, that are not only scenic but perfect for outdoor recreation—but that's not all the Evergreen State has to offer. Whether you like the view from the top of Seattle's Space Needle or shopping at the bustling Pike Place Market, Washington State has something for everyone. Here is a list of the 12 best attractions to enjoy in Washington.

Explore Olympic National Park

TripSavvy / Alisha McDarris

Olympic National Park , which is a unique and diverse wilderness preserve, is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a Biosphere Reserve. During a visit to the park, you can experience a number of different ecosystems, including alpine mountain, temperate rain forests, and rugged ocean beaches. The park's Hurricane Ridge can be visited on a long day trip from Seattle. If you wish to explore several sections of the park, plan to spend at least three days on a multiday loop around the Olympic Peninsula.

Drive Along Mount Baker Highway

TripSavvy / Chris VR

Mount Baker Highway begins in Bellingham on State Route 542, passes through a charming rural area, then enters Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. Along the way, you'll enjoy 60 miles of beauty and recreation. Be sure to stop at the U.S. Forest Service ranger station in Glacier for a map, recreation pointers, and the latest road and trail condition. There will be many places to stop and enjoy the scenery, hike, or picnic, including Horseshoe Bend, Nooksack Falls, Heather Meadows, and Artist Point. If you plan to head all the way up to Artist Point (which, along with Heather Meadows is the reason Mount Baker Highway ranks so high on this list), August or September is the time to go.

Hike (or Drive) in Mount Rainier National Park

The stunning beauty and dominant presence of Mount Rainier demands that all who see it on their horizon will want to visit in person. And the closer in you get, the more gorgeous the view. Mount Rainier National Park is accessible to all who wish to experience it; even if you're not up for a hike, much can be experienced on a driving tour with frequent stops at scenic viewpoints. Those who wish to explore the mountain landscape up close will find hikes that range from easy to difficult, from a few minutes to several days.

Drive the Coulee Corridor

The Coulee Corridor National Scenic Byway runs from Omak in the north, through Moses Lake, to Othello. Along the way, you'll take in stunning scenery, both natural and human-made. Grand Coulee Dam is a major highlight, where you can spend a good chunk of your day. Dry Falls Visitor Center, Banks Lake, Steamboat Rock State Park, Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, Lake Lenore Caves State Park, Potholes State Park, and the Columbia National Wildlife Refuge are all worthwhile stops along Coulee Corridor.

Take in Picture-Perfect Landscapes on the North Cascades Scenic Highway

Noah Krayenhagen / TripSavvy

The North Cascades Scenic Highway follows State Route 20 from Sedro-Woolley to the Methow Valley, passing through portions of both Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and North Cascades National Park. Along the way, you'll see sharp snowcapped peaks, historic dams and powerhouses, and blue-green lakes. There are numerous places to get out and stretch your legs at a scenic viewpoint or hiking trail. Must-do stops include the Diablo Lake Boat Tour , the North Cascades National Park Visitor Center, and the charming Western-themed town of Winthrop.

See an Active Volcano

Mount St. Helens and the lands preserved in Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument are fascinating places to visit for a number of reasons. First, getting up close to an active volcano provides a particular thrill. As you drive through the monument, you'll see evidence of the vast destruction from the 1980 eruption , but you'll also see signs of fantastic recovery in plant and animal life. Each of the visitors' centers does an excellent job of filling you in on different aspects of Mount St. Helens, before, during, and after the events of 1980, with photographs, videos, models, and interpretive exhibits.

Shop at Pike Place Market

Seattle's Pike Place Market is packed full of more stalls, shops, and eateries than you can explore in just one visit. Or even a few. But that's one of the things that makes Pike Place Market a favorite with both visitors and residents. You know you'll see a gorgeous array of seafood, produce, and flowers every time, and you know you'll also find nifty craft items, hear entertaining street musicians, and see numerous interesting characters. Along with these old favorites, you'll discover something new and unique to the Northwest.

Immerse Yourself in "Modern" Seattle

A legacy of the 1962 Century 21 Exposition, Seattle Center combines open park spaces with a number of attractions and performance venues. Many of Seattle's major annual festivals are held at Seattle Center, including the Northwest Folklife Festival, Bumbershoot , and Winterfest. The Space Needle , Museum of Pop Culture , the Pacific Science Center , KeyArena, McCaw Hall, and Intiman Theatre are just some of the places you can visit during a day at Seattle Center.

Cross the Puget Sound by Ferry

John & Lisa Merrill/Getty Images

Part of Washington's state highway system, the Washington State Ferries convey people and their vehicles to and from points around the Puget Sound . Not only are these ferries one way—and often the only way—to get to the many island communities scattered around the Sound, they are also a fun and relaxing way to experience the beauty of the region. Major ferry docks are located at downtown Seattle, Edmonds, Mukilteo, Clinton, Kingston, Bainbridge Island , and Anacortes.

Relax at Spokane's Riverfront Park

World's fairs and expositions have left Washington with beautiful community spaces, and unique structures that have gone on to become treasured landmarks and Riverfront Park is a stunning example. Expo '74 transformed Spokane's downtown railroad yards into lovely green spaces dotted with interesting buildings. Some of those structures remain, along with fun attractions such as the Spokane Falls SkyRide, the historic Looff Carrousel, an amusement park , and seasonal ice skating rink.

Admire Incredible Glass Art

Marc-Anthony Macon/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

No artist is more synonymous with Seattle than Dale Chihuly. The artist's colorful, spiraling works of glass can be seen around the world, but Seattle's Chihuly Garden and Glass is an astounding showcase of the Tacoma-born Chihuly's works. The garden's centerpiece is the 40-foot tall Glasshouse, home to a mesmerizing 100-foot long sculpture.

Marvel at the Science Behind Aviation at the Museum of Flight

Cord Rodefeld/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0 

Seattle's Museum of Flight is home to one of the most extensive air and space collections in the United States and attracts more than 500,000 visitors each year. In addition to ever-changing exhibitions, the museum's permanent collection includes a 1929 Boeing 80A-1, a Lockheed M-21, and a Boeing VC-137B. One of the museum's unique exhibits is a full-scale, interactive air traffic control tower, which offers visitors a glimpse in the work of an air traffic controller.

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The Best Time to Visit Seattle

The Ultimate Northern US Road Trip

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Welcome to Seattle

Your next great pacific northwest adventure awaits., celebrate seattle's black community, i know a place explore like a local, things to do, seattle museum month returns february 2024.

Guests who stay at participating downtown Seattle hotels receive half-price admission to the region’s favorite museums.

Soar through aviation history, explore the best of pop culture, walk through a garden of glass, dive into Pacific Northwest marine life, and so much more.

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Discover our excellent and varied museums  >>

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Music, Theatre, Museums, Festivals and More

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Sky Hopinka: Subterranean Ceremonies 

February 17-May 26 The artist’s first solo museum exhibition in the Northwest features four recent films and new photographs that focus on personal and political notions of Indigenous homeland.

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Wintergrass Bluegrass Festival

February 22-25 A four-day, family-friendly bluegrass and acoustic music festival with concerts and dances on four different stages.

A crowd of people gather for Lunar New Year's festival in the Chinatown-International District in front of the red arch at Hing Hay Park. Colorful flags and red and orange lion dancers are under the arch.

Lunar New Year Celebration

February 24 Enjoy vendor booths lining S King St, dance performances and music at Hing Hay Park, and the opportunity to explore 40+ food walk destinations.

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Something's Afoot

March 1-24 Prepare to laugh until it hurts with this musical spoof of the whodunit genre. Something’s Afoot pokes fun at Agatha Christie murder mysteries with comedy and toe-tapping music.

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Roots of Wisdom: Native Knowledge. Shared Science.

Through March 4 Stories from four Indigenous communities are explored in real-world examples of how traditional knowledge and new science can be blended together.

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March 15-31 “A captivating story that's intimate, funny, and heartbreaking in equal measure.” – The New Yorker.

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Teatro ZinZanni - 25 Years of Love, Chaos & Dinner

Now through March 31 Experience the magic of Teatro ZinZanni's cirque entertainment inside the luxurious Sanctuary Grand Ballroom at Lotte Hotel Seattle.

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Pulling Together: A Brief History of Rowing in Seattle

Through June 2 In celebration of the film The Boys in the Boat, directed by George Clooney, MOHAI is proud to display a selection of rare artifacts and photographs related to the 1936 champion crew.

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Calder: In Motion, The Shirley Family Collection

Through August 4 Discover the iconic American artist who revolutionized sculpture. This exhibition presents more than 45 works from the Shirley Family collection for the first time.

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Northwest Trolls: Way of the Bird King

Ongoing Danish environmental artist Thomas Dambo has a worldwide following for his large, inventive trolls made from recycled materials. Now you can discover six new friends in the PNW!

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Sound Check! The Music We Make

Ongoing Celebrate significant contributions of AANHPI artists in music. Produced in partnership with KEXP-FM, the Music of Asian America Research Center, UTOPIA, and Smithsonian NMAH.

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Hidden Worlds: The Films of LAIKA

Ongoing In 2009, studio LAIKA redefined stop-motion animation. This exhibit grants you unprecedented behind-the-scenes access to the legendary studio’s groundbreaking production techniques.

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Click here to learn more about the NW Trolls, Way of the Bird King

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Food and Drink

It’s hard to beat the Pacific Northwest when it comes to fresh ingredients, forward-thinking chefs, and an unparalleled dedication to all things local.

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Hotels & Accommodations

You won’t be left sleepless in Seattle.

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Getting Around

Seattle is easy to navigate with a wide variety of smart transportation options.

A photo of the cover of Visit Seattle's 2023-24 Winter/Spring Official Visitors' Guide displayed three times. The photo is of Mount Rainier which is cast in purple light with an orange and pink sunset behind it. The city is in the foreground with lit up buildings including the arches above T-Mobile Park, Lumen Field, and the sign on Climate Pledge Arena.

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Upcoming Events

Cesar Cuauhtemoc Garcia Hernandez

Law professor and immigration lawyer César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández presents a powerful case for divorcing immigration law from …

Not Fade Away – A Tribute to Buddy Holly

The Triple Door will host a tribute to Buddy Holly.

Dr. Charan Ranganath

Dr. Charan Ranganath, a leading memory researcher, unveils the surprising aspects of human memory in his new book …

Opera Talk: The Making of X

Learn how Malcolm X, a monumental figure of the civil rights movement, inspired the Davis family team of …

ATLUS headlines at Nectar Lounge.

Seattle Kraken vs. Buffalo Sabres

National Hockey League: Seattle Kraken vs. Buffalo Sabres at Climate Pledge Arena.

Cambodian Cultural Museum and Killing Fields Memorial

This collection of photographs and artwork testifies to the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge holocaust and honors the …

The Crocodile hosts a double bill featuring BAILEN and John-Robert.

Fall Out Boy

GRAMMY Award-nominated and multi-platinum selling rock band Fall Out Boy will take the stage at Climate Pledge Arena.

Featured Blog Posts

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Seattle Museum Month: Calling All History Lovers

This February, come and experience Seattle Museum Month! Discover the wonders of aviation history, take a deep dive into Seattle's innovative roots or hear about the stories of the Alaskan Gold Rush.

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Seattle Museum Month: Uniquely Northwest

This February, dive into one-of-a-kind places that can only be found here in the Seattle region.

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Seattle Museum Month: Fun for the Whole Family

The Pacific Northwest is home to so many family-friendly museums. Check out some ways to spend your family getaway this February during Seattle Museum Month.

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Seattle Museum Month: For Arts & Culture Fans

Calling all art lovers! Discover the wide selection of art and exhibitions that the region's museums have to offer with a little itinerary inspiration for your upcoming visit.

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The Return of Cloudbreak Brings Free Music Shows to Seattle This November

Cloudbreak returns November 1-22 with more than 70 shows featuring 100+ artists over 22 days at 30 venues, and if you stay in one of our 70 partner hotels, you get access to these shows for FREE!

A photo of a basket of mushrooms showing white Chanterelles on the left and orange Lobster mushrooms on the right.

Mushroom Foraging with Savor the Wild Tours

Seattle's surrounding nature is teeming with food. Enjoy foraging right at the source with Savor the Wild Tours and expand your knowledge on the fascinating mushrooms that are right here in the PNW.

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From Land to Sea: A Weekend in Seattle

From shopping to museums to whale watching, Seattle has something for everyone. Read on to discover an itinerary that will take you from land to sea in the Emerald City.

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Refract: A Glass Festival for Everyone

Why the 5th anniversary of Refract is a must-experience event, coming up October 12-15.

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Good things are happening in Seattle – join us in celebrating the stories of resiliency, hope and optimism that are taking place all around our city and region every day.

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Top 20 must-see tourist attractions in WA

Travel & Touring  |  WA Destinations

27 September, 2022  By: Monique Ceccato

No matter which part of WA you're planning on visiting, there'll  be no shortage of incredible wonders to keep you busy.

There are so many unique things to see and do in Western Australia, from sprawling forest and rugged coastlines to ancient gorges. Not sure where to start sightseeing? These top 20 WA tourist attractions are a great way to begin planning your trip.

1. Ningaloo Reef

People swimming over Ningaloo Reef near Coral Bay

Covering some 300km from Carnarvon’s Red Bluff, all the way around the tip of the cape, to Exmouth Gulf’s Bundegi Beach, the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Ningaloo Reef is the world’s largest fringing reef system, much of it accessible close to the mainland. It’s also the home of the world’s biggest fish, the whale shark .

Anywhere between 300-500 of these plankton-feeding giants frequent the reef throughout the year. From mid-March through to late July, the chances of seeing them swim along the reef are high. Watch them from the air or witness them gliding through the water in their natural habitat on a thrilling whale shark swim.

The whale sharks are in good company, with manta rays, turtles, and humpback whales also frequent visitors to Ningaloo’s waters. If you’re lucky, you’ll see them on a snorkelling, diving, or whale shark swim, too.

2. Valley of the Giants

The Tree Top Walk in the Valley of the Giants

If anything in WA is going to make you feel small, it’s the towering Tingle trees of the Valley of the Giants, between Denmark and Walpole . Endemic to the South West and Walpole Wilderness Area, the eucalypts can grow up to a whopping 24m in circumference and 45m in height.

The best living example is aptly named the Giant Tingle Tree. Follow the 1km loop trail from the Hilltop Lookout carpark, and you can walk through the hollowed-out base of the 400-year-old tree.

For a different perspective, head out on the Valley of the Giants Tree Top Walk . The 600m-long circular walkway is suspended 40m above the ground, enveloping you in the canopies as you wander your way around.

3. The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles in Nambung National Park

Taking a drive through Nambung National Park, 190km north of Perth near Cervantes , is as close as you’re going to get to feeling like you’ve just landed on another planet. Thousands of jagged natural limestone structures known as The Pinnacles jut out of the park's yellow desert landscape.

Formed 25,000 to 30,000 years ago from sea shell deposits left behind when the ocean receded, The Pinnacles have been whipped into their irregular shapes by wind and sand erosion. There are column-like structures that reach 3.5m in height and others that are shorter, smoother, and more like small domes.

4. Bungle Bungle Range

The Bungle Bungle Range with people walking in the foreground

Until 1983, the orange and black striped domes of the Bungle Bungle Range were known only to the traditional custodians of the land, the Karjaganujaru people. Shortly after a film crew ‘discovered’ the ranges, the Purnululu National Park was established, and, in 2003, the Bungle Bungles and park received their UNESCO World Heritage status.

Approximately 300km south of Kununurra , the sandstone cones – some up to 250m tall – are remote, accessible only by four-wheel drive or on a scenic flyover with Helispirit or AviAir. From above, trace the deep canyons and gorges as they snake through the Bungles. On the ground, don’t miss Cathedral Gorge, a red rock amphitheatre with near-perfect acoustics and a serene pool of water.

5. WA Museum Boorla Bardip

WA Museum Boorla Bardip exterior of building

After four years of downtime and $400m worth of upgrades, the impressive WA Museum Boola Bardip (meaning ‘many stories’ in Nyoongar language) reopened to the public in 2020. At four times the size of the old museum, there are almost 7,000 square metres of gallery to explore.

Eight permanent exhibitions are on display, each centring around either the people of Western Australia and their stories, the beautiful landscapes and fauna of the state, or Western Australia’s place in and impact on the world.

Taking pride of place in the gallery hall is Otto, a 24-metre blue whale skeleton that’s more than 120 years old. It joins many more displays of WA’s unique flora and fauna, installations on the state’s most recognised landforms, and information on the prehistoric creatures that once roamed the land.

6. Kings Park

Two people sitting on the grass at Kings Park

The best views of Perth city come courtesy of Kings Park . Sitting atop Mount Eliza just to the west of the city, the 400-hectare park looks out over the Swan and Canning Rivers, the city skyline, and the Darling Ranges in the distance.

Soak up the views by picnicking on the manicured lawns or wandering the Lotterywest Federation Walkway, pausing on the bridge for happy snaps. Keep following the many trails and walkways to immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of native bushland, which covers two-thirds of the park. The final third consists of playgrounds, grassed areas, and the native flower-filled Western Australia Botanic Garden.

Head up from late August to October to see the flower beds blooming with carpets of everlastings, kangaroo paws, and all kinds of West Australian acacias.

RELATED: Top 20 things to do in Perth »

7. Fremantle Prison

Fremantle Prison underground tunnel tour in a small boat

Only decommissioned as a maximum-security prison in 1991, the Fremantle Prison has a long history with some of Western Australia’s most hardened criminals. Built by convicts in the 1850s, the site now stands as the largest convict-built structure in all of WA. It’s also known as the best-preserved convict-built structure in Australia.

Entry to the site is free and allows visitors access to the museum, cafe, gift shop, and prison gallery, where you can peruse art created by current inmates in Western Australia. For a more in-depth introduction to the prison, three daytime tours are on offer. Each walks you through the stories of convict and prisoner life within the prison walls. Those with nerves of steel can opt to do a tour of the tunnels deep beneath the prison, including some water-filled sections of tunnel where you’ll make your way through in replica convict punts. (Prices vary).

8. Rottnest Island

People swimming near reef on Rottnest Island

Rottnest – or Wadjemup in Whadjuk Nyoongar language – has garnered plenty of international attention thanks to its cute, furry quokka population. But, the 19km2 island has so much more to offer than just a cheeky selfie with its most famous residents.

The shores of Thompson Bay are just 25-minutes by ferry from Fremantle (RAC members can purchase discounted tickets ). There, you’ll find the newly refurbished Isola Bar e Cibo, Hotel Rottnest, and Samphire Rottnest. Choose any one in the trio for an indulgent long lunch in the sun, complete with quokka visitors and impeccable ocean views.

Hire a bicycle from the nearby Pedal and Flipper, and spend the day bay-hopping around the island. There are plenty to choose from, but snorkelling fans should make a beeline for The Basin and sun-soakers, the stretch of sand at Pinky Beach.

9. Busselton Jetty

Busselton Jetty aerial photo

Wagin has the giant ram, Harvey the big orange. Busselton , 45-minutes south of Bunbury , is famed for its king-sized jetty. At 1.841km, the Busselton Jetty is officially the southern hemisphere’s longest timber piled jetty.

There’s a 90-seat electric train that runs the length of it, transporting passengers from the shores of Geographe Bay out to the underwater observatory at the end. It’s one of only six natural underwater observatories in the world and allows you a first-hand glimpse into what lies below the surface.

There, 8m down, you can watch southern calamari, decorator crabs, and, if you’re lucky, southern fiddler or eagle rays going about their daily business among the pylons.

10. Wave Rock

Aerial shot of Wave Rock near Hyden

Known as Katter Kitch to the Nyoongar people, Wave Rock near the town of Hyden is a significant site for many reasons. Not only was it a keniny (dancing ground) for the Ballardong custodians and an important part of their Dreamtime stories, but its unique formation was some 270 million years in the making.

Standing at 15m tall and 100m long, the multi-coloured granite landform gets its name for its likeness to a crashing wave. Even if you’re not a regular Kelly Slater, standing at the base of the wave for a photo ‘surfing’ it is customary.

Just 800m away you’ll find the Wave Rock Salt Bath. It’s a 6m-deep gypsum pool the colour of jade, with a higher salinity than the Dead Sea. Slide in for a relaxing, weightless float.

RELATED: Perth to Wave Rock road trip (3 days) »

11. Kalbarri National Park

Pot Alley coastal cliffs in Kalbarri National Park

Experiencing the beauty of Kalbarri National Park is now even more accessible, thanks to the dual cantilevered platforms of the Kalbarri Skywalk. Extending 25m out from the rim of the Murchison River Gorge, the universally accessible platforms project sightseers over the 100m high chasm for a view you just wouldn’t get otherwise.

To see the red and white banded gorges from a different angle, take the 9km grade 4 Loop Walk. It starts along the edge of the cliffs and winds its way down to the river bank below before climbing back up to end at the iconic Nature’s Window. Temperatures in the valley can reach 50 degrees in summer, so the trail is closed after 7.00am from November to March. It’s best to attempt it in spring and autumn.

RELATED: Perth to Kalbarri road trip itinerary »

12. Karijini

An aerial shot of Karijini National Park with a family walking

Tranquil, fern-lined swimming holes, arid plateaus, and deep rock chasms are hallmarks of Karijini National Park, a desert oasis 1,400km to the northeast of Perth.

Karijini is one of WA’s most unique and picturesque national parks, one that needs to be seen to be believed. Explore its deepest crevices and hidden swimming holes by taking one of the many walking trails that weave through the park. Fern Pool and Hamersley Gorge’s Spa Pool are some of the most popular routes. Fed by a small waterfall and surrounded by curved rock, the iridescently blue waters of the latter are an unforgettable place to take a dip.

It’s best to save your visit until late autumn, winter, or spring, avoiding the blistering heat and the deluge of rain the summer (and wet season) brings.

13. Albany’s Gap and Natural Bridge

People on the viewing platform over The Gap near Albany

Albany’s southern-facing coastline is one of the most exposed in the state. It’s also one of the most spectacular. Enjoy panoramic views from Bald Head to West Cape Howe from universally accessible lookout points at The Gap and the Natural Bridge.

At The Gap, a meshwork platform allows you to stand 40m above the surging Southern Ocean and watch it as it smashes against the granite cliff face below. In winter, a spraying of seawater is expected, so prepare well with ponchos and raincoats. For a less turbulent and altogether drier experience, the equally scenic Natural Bridge is a short walk away.

RELATED: Perth to Albany road trip itinerary  »

14. Stirling Range and Bluff Knoll

Bluff Knoll in the Stirling Range

If you thought it didn’t snow in Western Australia, think again. When the conditions are just right, a light dusting covers the Stirling Range’s tallest peak, Bluff Knoll , 415km from Perth. It’s a spectacle that draws tourists and hikers in from all around the state.

Climbing to the top of Bluff Knoll is a healthy challenge, the 6km round trip taking around 3 hours to complete. If you’re not up to the climb, there is a 42km scenic drive (on unsealed roads) that winds through the Stirling Range National Park, with plenty of lookout points along the way.

A short drive away is the Granite Skywalk in the Porongorup Range, another challenging uphill hike with a spectacular vantage point at the top.

15. Dolphins at Monkey Mia

Dolphin feeding on the beach at Monkey Mia

There are few places in Western Australia where you can get a close-up look at dolphins in their natural habitat. At Monkey Mia a small resort town fringing Francois Peron National Park on the Coral Coast, morning meetings with the bottlenose are a daily occurrence.

The wild dolphins cruise into the bay in the early morning, past a line-up of people in ankle-deep water, hoping to catch a glimpse. Anyone that’s paid the reserve fee on entry to the site can join in on the viewing, but spots are limited, so it’s best to arrive early.

Post-dolphin interaction, cool off in the bay's calm waters, have a bite to eat up at RAC Monkey Mia Dolphin Resort’s  Boughshed Restaurant or take a hiking trail through the national park.

RELATED: Things to do in the Shark Bay region »

16. Aboriginal rock art of the North West

Wandjina Aboriginal Rock art paintings on a rock wall

Western Australia’s most prized art collection isn’t housed within the Art Gallery of Western Australia; it’s in the caves and on the rock faces of Murujuga National Park, 5km northeast of Dampier.

Aboriginal engravings (known as petroglyphs) in this region have been estimated to be up to 40,000 years old, providing a pictorial record of anything that held meaning to the Ngarluma-Yindjibarndi, Yaburara-Mardudhunera and the Woon-goo-tt-oo Aboriginal people of the Pilbara at that time.

The most popular site to see the ancient artwork is Ngajarli Gorge. A 700m accessible boardwalk winds through the rock piles where you can find human figures, marine life, and birds etched into the stone, as well as other historical artifacts. Remember to tread lightly, respect the artwork, and, due to cultural restrictions, avoid taking photos of any petroglyphs of the human form.

RELATED:   Aboriginal rock art of the North West »

17. Horizontal Falls

A boat crossing Horizontal Falls in Talbot Ba

Western Australia’s Kimberley region is home to a rich Aboriginal cultural heritage, a long pearling history, and some of the most striking landscapes in the country. It can also lay claim to Australia’s largest tides. At its most extreme, the tidal difference can reach 10m or more, causing a rushing effect as the water ebbs and flows over the course of the day.

The fast-moving water can be seen all around the Buccaneer Archipelago, but it’s in Talbot Bay where the tide really puts on a show. Each day, water gushes through the narrow gaps in the McLarty Range, forming what’s known as the Horizontal Falls (or Garaanngaddim to the Dambimangari people). Witness it from the air on a scenic flight from Broome or Derby, or land on the water before jetting through the falls on a high-speed boat.

RELATED: Great drives in the Kimberly and Pilbara »

18. Abrolhos Islands

Aerial shot of Abrolhos Islands

Rottnest isn’t the only idyllic island that lies off the west coast. The Houtman Abrolhos – better known as the Abrolhos Islands – is a chain of 122 small islands and islets 90-minutes from Geraldton by fast ferry or even closer by light plane. With most of the islands nothing more than brilliantly white sand, turquoise waters, and coastal scrub, they’re a day-trip destination only.

Pack a snorkel and take to the waters, where seagrass meadows and tropical coral reef meet. The islands are home to the southernmost tropical reef in the Indian Ocean, a product of the warm Leeuwin current passing through the otherwise temperate waters. On dry land, get to know the infamous history of the islands (it includes shipwrecks and mutiny), and watch the sea lions and tammar wallabies bask in the sunshine.

19. Lake Argyle

 Aerial shot of Lake Argyle at sunset with boats in the water

Technically classified as an inland sea, the mammoth Lake Argyle is Australia’s second-largest artificial reservoir. The freshwater system just out of Kununurra covers approximately 1000km2 and holds 32 million cubic litres of water – that’s some 20 times larger than Sydney Harbour.

Fed by the fertile Ord River, the lake is a thriving marine environment. A wildlife cruise along the lake’s shoreline, its 70 islands, and up the Ord River will expose you to the region’s plentiful native flora and fauna, including wallabies, freshwater crocodiles, and more than 240 species of bird. Cruise at sunset and the odds of ticking them all off the ‘spotto’ list increase exponentially. But, to truly appreciate the size of Lake Argyle, it’s best seen from the air.

20. Mitchell Falls

Mitchell Falls three-tiered waterfall

There are arguably no Australian falls more beautiful than the Kimberley’s Mitchell Falls (known as Punamii-Uunpuu to the Wunambal people). An intercept along the Mitchell River’s path, the falls tumble down a series of red rock tiers, collecting in deep, emerald-coloured pool after pool.

Swimming is permitted in the top pools, where it’s safe to cool off without the threat of the local wildlife. A dip comes as a welcome treat after the 4.3km walk out to the falls, taking the Punamii-Uunpuu walking trail from the campground.

Less energy is expended seeing the icon by air, either on a scenic flight or helicopter tour departing from Kununurra.

Need a place to stay in the Kimberley?

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*Terms and conditions apply. RAC member discount not applicable on already discounted rates. Discounts available on direct bookings only made online or via phone. For more information visit our website.

Image credit: Tourism Western Australia

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The City of Edmonds is excited for the return of the Winter Market for 2024.

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Come as a family and bring the kids or on your own to our indoor carnival. $5.00 gets you 5 tickets to spend on games, food or drink.

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Amce creativ e arts, davidson gall eries, foster/white gal lery, g. gibson proj ects, galle ry 110, greg kucera gallery, harris harvey ga llery, jgo gal l ery, jeffrey moos e g allery, patricia camero n fine art, patricia rovzar gallery, ryan james fine arts  , shift gall e ry, stonington g a llery, traver gall e ry, wa na wa ri, winston wäc hter fi ne art, woods ide brase th g allery.

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10 iconic wonders to see in Western Australia

Carla Grossetti

Sub-Editor & Journalist

16 February 2023


Flip through WA’s look book and you’ll find everything from beautiful beaches to soaring sand dunes and some of the most dramatic rock formations in Australia. Here are 10 iconic wonders you need to see.

1. wave rock.

Wave Rock is a granite inselberg that has been weathered by wind and water over an estimated 2.7 billion years. Located near the Wheatbelt town of Hyden, the landform looks like a sepia-toned still from The Big Wave Project II produced by ocean cinematographer Tim Bonython. Follow the Pathways to Wave Rock self-drive trail to see the forces of erosion that have sculpted the 15-metre high granite formation, which lies 340 kilometres southeast of Perth.

Visitors snap selfies in the barrel of the giant wave that has brush strokes of ochre, yellow, brown and grey feathered into the sandstone, adding to the illusion of it moving like water. While there, check out other interesting formations within Wave Rock Reserve such as King Rocks, the Hippo’s Yawn and Mulka’s Cave, where you’ll find examples of ancient rock art.

Wave Rock, Iconic places in WA

Wave Rock is a granite inselberg that has been weathered by wind and water over an estimated 2.7 billion years. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)

2. Ningaloo Reef

The seas around Ningaloo Reef are so blue and so clear you will feel like you’re floating through space when you’re swimming here. Of course, most visitors come here to catapult into the waters to swim with whale sharks between March and July each year. But the world’s largest fringing reef system is also a destination in its own right and one lesser-known fact is that you can also swim with humpback whales between August and October each year.

Stretching in an azure-fringed ribbon some 300 kilometres from Carnarvon’s Red Bluff to the Muiron Islands, Ningaloo Reef was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Area site in 2011, a listing that loops in Ningaloo Marine Park as well as Cape Range National Park. Meaning ‘promontory’ or ‘deep water’ in the language of the Baiyungu, the name Ningaloo takes on new meaning when snorkelling through the coral gardens in an aquarium of colourful fish as the continental shelf comes closer to dry land than at any other point on the mainland. Don’t worry about buying postcards, you’re pretty much in one.

Ningaloo Reef, Iconic places in WA

The world’s largest fringing reef system is also a destination in its own right. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)

3. Horizontal Falls in Talbot Bay

The Horizontal Falls are formed by fast-moving tidal currents that thunder, tumble and rage through two narrow gorges of the McLarty Range in Talbot Bay, in the Buccaneer Archipelago. There are no roads to this section of the coastline so most visitors see this wonder from the air via seaplane, or for a best-of-both-world’s experience, Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures allows you to see them from both the air and the water. When luck is on your side there are whale-spotting opportunities in winter, which just adds to the thrill of soaring over this section of the Kimberley coastline.

Described by Sir David Attenborough as ‘one of the greatest natural wonders of the world’, the phenomenon occurs as torrents of water are sucked through a narrow gap between the gorges, creating a variation in sea level of up to about four metres. During an extreme high tide, about one million litres of water funnels through the two towering cliffs every second, creating currents that appear to pull the large volume of water sideways.

Horizontal Falls in Talbot Bay, Iconic places in WA

For a best-of-both-world’s experience, Horizontal Falls Seaplane Adventures allows you to see this icon both from the air and the water. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)

4. Kimberley Rock Art

The crumpled, ancient terrain of the Kimberley region in the most northern part of Western Australia is home to more than 100,000 pieces of Aboriginal rock art that date from the Palaeolithic to the modern era.

The images have been painted, engraved, sculpted and even moulded out of blobs of beeswax and spinifex resin in shades of ochre, sienna and rust in the sprawling gallery that covers an area of about 423,500 square kilometres. For context, that’s almost twice the size of the UK, making it one of the largest cultural landscapes on the planet.

Kimberley Rock Art, WA

The images have been painted, engraved, sculpted and even moulded out of blobs of beeswax and spinifex resin in shades of ochre, sienna and rust. (Image: Garry Norris Photography)

The rock art sites are sacred to the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley whose ancestors carried out ceremonies in the caves. Visitors to the area can take a self-guided tour of the significant rock art sites along the Kimberley coastline, from the Mitchell Plateau to Kimberley Coast and Gibb River Road, but the best way to see the art sites is on a tour with a cultural guide from the Worrorra language group who can explain the significance of the many images and motifs.

Jilinya Adventures ’ Rock Art by Air helicopter tour dips and dives around the dramatic sandstone scarps to access hidden caves where you’ll learn the ways of the Wandjina (Rainmaker Creation Spirit) that is depicted in caves all over the Kimberley.

Kimberley Rock Art, WA Icon

The rock art sites are sacred to the Traditional Owners of the Kimberley. (Image: Garry Norris Photography)

5. Lucky Bay

You can’t get more Australian than seeing kangaroos bouncing over a sugar-white sandy beach edged by dunes carpeted in wildflowers, which is one of the reasons Lucky Bay regularly ranks in lists of Australia’s best beaches. While the beach is renowned for its encounters with mobs of kangaroos, who appear to flutter their eyelashes at the mere hint of a photo op, it is equally popular for snorkelling in the crystalline waters and sprawling out under the sun doing not much of anything.

Located 45 minutes from Esperance in Cape Le Grand National Park, the area is rich in Indigenous history and brimming with wildlife; if you’re visiting between July and October there’s a high chance you’ll see migrating whales. During the day you can swim, fish, surf, while at night Lucky Bay Campground invites stargazing as you camp out under an ancient canopy of planets and stars.

Lucky Bay, Western Australian Icon

Lucky Bay regularly ranks in lists of Australia’s best beaches. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)

6. Staircase to the Moon

Time your visit to Broome to coincide with a full moon between the months of March and October and there’s a good chance you will witness the natural phenomenon that is the so-called Staircase to the Moon, when the Earth’s natural satellite lights up the corrugated tidal flats of Roebuck Bay. The lunar light show occurs during a low tide when the ridged flats transform into a dramatic golden staircase that looks like it is ascending to the heavens.

This stunning setting is an unofficial meeting place for locals who come as much to browse the stalls at the night markets (held on the first night of each full moon) as they do to wax rhapsodic about the night sky, pin-cushioned with stars. You can sample food that speaks to the multicultural heritage of the area, and buy souvenirs that range from candles to confectionery.

You can also see the Staircase to the Moon at Onslow, Cape Keraudren and Dampier Peninsula, Cossack, Point Samson and Port Hedland.

Staircase to the Moon, Western Australian Icon

Time your visit to Broome to coincide with a full moon. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)

7. Orcas at Bremer Bay Canyon

Local intel has it that you’re almost guaranteed a sighting of orcas at Bremer Bay Canyon over summer. According to Naturaliste Charters’ marine biologist Pia Markovic, more than 150 orcas and other apex predators gather off the coast of the township of Bremer Bay between January and April each year to feast on squid and pelagic fish. It is, says Markovic, “the largest known aggregation of orcas in the Southern Hemisphere”.

Bremer Bay is about a two-hour drive from Albany and the list of species you might encounter off the continental shelf, some 45 kilometres from the harbour, also includes sunfish, beaked whales, oceanic dolphin species, great white and hammerhead sharks, albatross and sperm whales. One of the best ways to observe orcas hunting in stealth mode, breaching and socialising, spy-hopping or slapping the surface of the water with their dorsal fins is by boarding Naturaliste Charters ’ 20-metre catamaran, Alison Maree, to Bremer Point, one of the least-explored places on the planet.

Orcas in Bremer Bay, WA Icon

More than 150 orcas and other apex predators gather off the coast of the township of Bremer Bay between January and April each year.

8. Margaret River’s Cave System

The labyrinthine network of tunnels, caves, and caverns in the Margaret River Region are estimated to be about one million years old and are one of Australia’s true lesser-known treasures.

Self-guided tours nudge visitors deep inside these gothic cathedrals, which have jagged stalagmites jutting upward from the cave floors and crystallised stalactites dripping down from the ceilings. You can also enter the caves like an action hero via an abseiling rope or tour the twisted tunnelways with a guide. Some of the real gems of the cave system include the giant stalactites in Jewel Cave, the ancient fossils in the aptly named Mammoth Cave and the passageway dubbed the Tunnel of Doom that you can crawl through at Ngilgi Cave.

Lake Cave is one of around 100 limestone caves that lie beneath the surface of the Leeuwin-Naturaliste Ridge and is, like one of Gaudi’s works of art, both strange, beautiful and grotesque. See the ‘Suspended Table’ reflected in the ‘lake’ like a crystal chandelier in this haunting hall of mirrors that reflects the misshapen pillars and melting walls of the chamber; the soundtrack of drips reminds visitors this is still a work in progress.

Cave systems in Margaret River, WA Icon

The labyrinthine network of tunnels, caves, and caverns in the Margaret River Region are estimated to be about one million years old. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)

9. The Pinnacles

The Pinnacles are stunning other-worldly structures that, according to WA’s Parks and Wildlife Service formed about 30,000 years ago when the sea receded and left deposits of seashells.

The landscape here is like an open-air museum, an archaeological wonderland studded with thousands of limestone pillars on the golden sands of the Pinnacles Desert, just south of Cervantes and about 200 kilometres north of Perth.

Visit this wild and beautiful location in Nambung National Park as the sun is setting and watch as the Pinnacles are painted pink, then gold, then as navy as the night. In the stillness, the columns resemble the remains of an ancient temple complex. In fact, when the Dutch explored this chunk of WA in 1650 they thought the craggy spires were the ruins of a lost city.

‘Nambung’ is said to mean ‘crooked’ in the language of the Noongar peoples, the Traditional Owners of the land, and is a possible reference to the seasonal river that twists around the formations that spike out of the shifting yellow sands like giant shards of honeycomb.

The Pinnacles, WA Icon

The Pinnacles are stunning other-worldly structures. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)

10. Bungle Bungle Range

Located within Purnululu National Park in the rugged Kimberley region, the quizzical Bungle Bungle Range is like an oversized children’s stacking puzzle rendered in rock. The orange and black beehive-like mounds, formed over 20 million years, rise and fall in hypnotic, undulating patterns across 450 square kilometres. As might be expected from such a wondrous anomaly, there is much to explore, discover and appreciate, all of which can be done by foot on a tour of its nooks and crannies, or from the air on a (seriously) scenic flight.

Bungle Bungle Range, Icon in WA

The orange and black beehive-like mounds, formed over 20 million years. (Image: Tourism Western Australia)


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Comments (10)

I’m shocked. I had no idea WA was such an Interesting place.

Really hope to see some of these one day

I’m amazed you didn’t feature the oldest living things on the planet. The Thrombolites at lake Clifton and Stromatolites up at Shark Bay. These are only found in WA and one or two other places in the world. The are older than dinosaurs and they needed to supply the oxygen for all later forms of life. I’ve just returned to Melbourne after time in Perth and made sure I went to Lake Clifton.

We have seen 50% of the top 10 sites in WA but look forward to doing more. A cruise up the Kimberley Coast would be good as well. Cheers Warwick Nelson

Amazing places and photos well done, I hope soon I will be able to visit all these places regards Bella

Simply fantastic & we’ve had the privilege of experiencing most of them. Aren’t we lucky!

The Bungle Bungles would have to be one of the least known and most speculator sites in Australia. The colours and the walks, and then Cathedral George. Just amazing.

One day! One day! Before I die,

What a most amazing beautiful place Western Australia is. How lucky are we in Australia to have such beauty. My husband and I Have been to 8 of these places and we definitely want to go back to see the others.

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Data & Research

Research and data are essential for State of Washington Tourism (SWT). They provide valuable insights for destination promotion and management, including travel patterns, market trends, and consumer behavior. SWT partners with industry-leading research firms to measure the performance of marketing campaigns and assess the impact of tourism around the state. Destination communities, businesses, and nonprofit organizations can utilize research and data to make informed decisions, plan strategically, and remain competitive. 

This page will continue to be updated, so check back regularly for more resources. For research inquiries, please contact Michelle Thana .

Economic Impact

State of Washington Tourism contracts with Tourism Economics to conduct an annual Economic Impact of Tourism in Washington State report. 

The economic impact of tourism is measured by analyzing data on tourist arrivals, tourism expenditures, and the multiplier effects of tourism spending on other industries in the economy. This data is used to estimate the number of jobs supported by tourism, the amount of tax revenue generated, and the overall economic activity that results from tourism-related spending.

State of Washington Tourism distributes these reports, along with county-level data, to local destination organizations or county contacts responsible for tourism.

If you would like to request a copy of the report for one-time usage, please email [email protected] with a summary of your request and how you would utilize the report.

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Advertising Effectiveness

State of Washington Tourism contracts with independent research firm SMARInsights to measure the effectiveness and return on investment of its integrated marketing campaigns. SMARInsights is a recognized leader in the industry, conducting custom research for destination organizations across the country. 

SMARInsights measures incremental travel. It can compare the travel patterns of audiences who have seen advertising and those who have not. This information provides a clear contrast between data sets and depicts a true return on investment value. The inaugural integrated campaign, True to Nature , has generated strong results, yielding an ROI of $33 to $1 spent on paid media in 2022, and a $69:1 ROI on paid media from September 2022 to March 2023.

The report also measures visitation to Washington’s different regions, and overlap in visitation amongst the regions.

View the Report

Visitation Patterns

Understanding visitor patterns and seasonality are important in developing a statewide marketing and stewardship strategy. State of Washington Tourism partners with Datafy to understand visitation patterns and visitor movement throughout the state. Datafy is a mobile geolocation data provider that tracks visitors based on cell phone data received from partner apps. Datafy also provides insight into visitor spending through credit card data from Mastercard.

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Pandemic Impact & Industry Recovery 

The COVID-19 pandemic had a profound and far-reaching impact on travel and tourism. Though some industries and destinations have recovered faster than others, the current economic climate threatens to slow recovery efforts. Persistent inflation and rising oil prices have triggered an increase in transport and accommodation costs. This could affect spending patterns for the remainder of the year, with tourists increasingly seeking ways to maximize their spending power with shorter trips closer to home.

It is important to note that the pandemic’s long-term effects on travel and tourism are still evolving. Consumer preferences, business strategies, and government policies will continue to adapt in response to the ongoing challenges. For more information on these challenges and to track recovery efforts, please review the following resources. 

Longwoods International – COVID-19 and American Travel Sentiment Research Longwoods International is a tourism research firm that has been tracking travel sentiment since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.

Destination Analysts – COVID-19 Travel Insights Destination Analysts is a tourism research firm that studies travel sentiment every week of more than 1,200 travelers.

Washington State Department of Commerce – COVID-19 Tourism Recovery Interim Report (September 2022) This interim report covers tourism marketing activities from July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022. Funding was provided by the Washington State Legislature in the 2021-22 operating budget (ESSB 5092), section 129(57). The legislation allocated $12 million to assist in the recovery of tourism in Washington state after the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Travel Association – Recovery and Growth Insights Dashboard As a member of the U.S. Travel Association, SWT has access to the Recovery and Growth Insights Dashboard, the most comprehensive and centralized source for high-frequency intelligence on the U.S. travel industry and the broader economy. The platform is powered by Tourism Economics and supported by more than 20 data partners.

Tourism, Indigenous groups welcome WA's South Coast Marine Park, but opposition from commercial fishers

A serious young blonde woman, hair tied, glasses on top, grey tee, jeans, stands on a fishing boat. Blue sky, scattered clouds.

The Western Australian government has proposed closing a quarter of waters between Bremer Bay and the South Australian border to all fishing under its new south coast marine park plan. 

The proposed park will span 1,000 kilometres of coastline, with the aquatic activities allowed in some areas unchanged, others reduced, and some banned altogether.

The announcement of a 25 per cent sanctuary zone comes after three years of consultation with community groups and users and is aimed at preserving the region's biodiversity. 

A grey-haired smiling Caucasian man stands on a street, background blurred, white shirt.

Minister for Environment Reece Whitby said the park's establishment would also create new opportunities for nature-based tourism and diversification of the economy. 

"I'm very optimistic about this, I think this will be a Marine Park that will rival Ningaloo and the Great Barrier Reef."

Minister Whitby said the consultation process had been extensive so far and dismissed concerns that the plan would put commercial fishers out of business.

"It is the job of the state government to reach a practical realistic balance, which balances the needs of commercial fishers, rec fishers, the conservation interests, traditional owners and the tourism industry. So I think we've done very well," he said. 

"I'm going to say very clearly that if there are extra concerns, new information comes forward, we will be prepared to change [the plan] again.

"We will be prepared to accommodate anyone that can point out an issue that we might have overlooked or draw more attention to an issue that we might have not put enough weight on.

The draft marine park plan was originally due to be released in August 2023 and will be open for public comment for four months.

Commercial fishers oppose plan

Manue Daniels has been fishing commercially from Esperance with her family for 15 years. 

She said the consultation process had been long, frustrating and taken a toll on her mental health.

"I think that I'm a tough one, to be honest. But it was really, really hard to see how much this industry is misunderstood and how much, really, we don't matter.

"The industry here is really, really small. It's very sustainable, it's family business. It's not a corporation. It's really people that are going to be affected people, their families, the kids."

A leafy sea dragon, lying in the seagrass under water.

Several months ago, the Western Australia Fishing Industry Council (WAFIC) put forward its marine park proposal, which outlined that anything above 11 per cent allocated to sanctuary zones would severely impact fishing families' livelihoods.

Ms Daniels said the plan, as it stood, would mean her business would not survive.

"Others won't be able to as well. [A] 25 per cent sanctuary zone is way too much, especially when you put it in the perspective of all the restrictions that we already have," she said. 

"We will not be able to survive this."

Ms Daniles said she still hoped the government would do the right thing. 

"I think it just shows that this government puts no value towards what we do. We are just second-class citizens," she said.

"I really, really don't know what we will do. I can't even bring myself to think because if I do start thinking about this, there's no point in me getting up in the morning."

Mixed response from recreational sector

The move has been welcomed by the state's tourism body, saying the plan would provide new opportunities for nature-based tourism.

However, conservation groups say the measures do not go far enough, and local recreational fishers are still hoping changes will be made before the plan is finalised.

A smiling middle-aged Caucasian man leans against wooden pylon at beach, overcast sky. Wears blue polo tee.

Esperance tackle shop owner Murray Johnson said the plan was a positive step forward. However, it would impact his business negatively.

"There's certainly areas I don't think are right or correct and need to be amended," he said. 

"I think Esperance has a perfect opportunity to look to the future.

"It's not about science anymore. It's actually about the economic and social benefits of what we need as people of this town."

Mr Johnson said he would make a submission to the South Coast Marine Park consultation process.

Native title holders excited to share knowledge

The South Coast Marine Park will be jointly managed by traditional owner groups, including Esperance Tjaltjraak Native Title Aboriginal Corporation.

A smiling Indigenous woman with black hair, glasses, stands in front of a foreshore. Wears blue polo tee with white logo.

Its chairperson, Gail Reynolds-Adamson, said it would give traditional owners the opportunity to share knowledge with the wider community and provide jobs for the next generation. 

"We see that this plan is a way of us allowing for future generations to share what we enjoy today."

"If we don't start looking at it and creating these marine parks today, we won't have the same opportunity or our future generations won't have the same opportunity to enjoy the fishing like we do today.

"It's not too dissimilar to how Aboriginal people would have managed the land for thousands of years. We're just formalising this process now with DBCA [Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions]."

"It's all of our responsibility collectively, as Esperance people, as a nation, to care for country."

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Guard shoots alleged robber at Chinatown Walgreens, a frequent target of crime

Police say the man who was wounded has targeted the store in six previous robberies.

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Six times since July, police allege, the same man robbed the same Walgreens in Chinatown, across the street from the Gallery Place Metro station. The FBI joined D.C. police trying to track him down.

Residents had long complained of crime and decay in the once-bustling downtown Washington neighborhood of shops and businesses that never seemed to fully recover from the coronavirus pandemic , and they had pressed city officials to take more aggressive steps to clean up the area. Prosecutors began seeking stay-away orders to keep those charged with crimes from coming back, and the city planned an initiative to offer resources for those in the area needing help.

Then on Sunday evening — the day before the city was scheduled to roll out that initiative — police said, 24-year-old Kamanye Williams again robbed the Walgreens at Seventh and H streets Northwest, taking a security guard’s gun and grabbing $4,200 in cash from a backroom.

But this time, D.C. police said another security guard shot the suspected robber, now carrying two firearms, sending him to a hospital with critical injuries. The guard, Police Chief Pamela A. Smith said, “did exactly what needed to happen.”

The robbery and shooting illustrated the challenge officials have faced in reducing crime in a central commuter hub and a destination for those coming to sporting events and concerts at Capital One Arena, a few blocks from the Walgreens.

Violent crime increased 12 percent last year in Chinatown, which saw 52 robberies, compared with 40 in 2022, according to police statistics for the patrol area that covers the neighborhood. Robberies, though, have gone down significantly so far this year. Through early February of this year, there had been just three, compared with 12 during the same time period in 2022.

On Monday, officials vowed to make more improvements so people feel safer. The police chief joined Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) to announce the opening of a new office a few doors from the Walgreens where police officers and health and other officials will offer services to residents, including help with substance abuse and mental health problems.

The Chinatown-Gallery Place area — where high-rise apartment buildings and hotels sit alongside major tourist attractions such as the National Portrait Gallery and government buildings including the FBI headquarters — is roughly sandwiched between Mount Vernon Square and Pennsylvania Avenue. It includes more than 1,100 businesses employing 28,600 workers, according to city planning documents, and permanent residents number about 3,800.

The troubles in Chinatown have built since the coronavirus pandemic shuttered offices across the city. Streets are pockmarked with vacant storefronts that used to be restaurants and retailers, and residents have complained that the area around the Metro station, devoid of the ebb and flow of office workers, is particularly desolate, though Metro’s general manager said Monday that ridership is “going up.” Last week, the system saw its highest 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. hour since the pandemic.

At a community meeting in August, residents and executives for Monumental Sports & Entertainment — which owns the Capital One Arena and its two principal tenants, the Washington Capitals and Wizards — complained of drug dealing , loitering and assaults. Some people told police they had seen drug deals under the signature Friendship Arch, and they described pushing through the illicit activity to get into the Metro station. Police made arrests, they said, but they would soon see the same offenders back in the area hours later.

Residents, business owners confront D.C. officials over Chinatown crime

Police stepped up patrols with officers on foot and bicycles, and federal prosecutors said they started charging more misdemeanor crimes and seeking court-issued stay-away orders for people they arrested at or near the Metro station, hoping to keep them from returning to the area. Asked if that initiative is working, Smith said she has been in close contact with the U.S. attorney’s office but did not directly answer the question. “When we have asked for stay-away orders, they have been granted,” the police chief said.

In December, the owner of the two sports franchises announced plans to move the teams to a new arena in Alexandria’s Potomac Yard neighborhood as soon as 2028.

Bowser is pushing Monumental to reconsider and to accept the District’s $500 million offer for upgrades. She said Monday’s announcement of the city’s first “Safe Commercial Corridor Hub” in Chinatown was one way of addressing the wide range of issues that can affect public safety, without relying exclusively on police. Monica Dixon, president of external affairs at Monumental, said the initiative “will make a big difference here, and we’re excited about it.” But when asked if Monumental was still considering Bowser’s offer, Dixon said the company was focused “100 percent” on Virginia.

D.C. officials said other hubs are planned this spring along the U Street entertainment area and in Anacostia.

The mayor said crime in Chinatown and across the city is down, but noted, “We have to work urgently to keep that up. We not only want people to be safe, but feel safe.”

Smith said the new office will ensure officers out on foot and on bicycles reach emergencies faster, and will make crisis counselors from the city departments of behavioral health and human services more accessible to people abusing drugs, experiencing homelessness or suffering mental breakdowns. Authorities said the office could also help free officers to concentrate on more serious criminal matters.

“This isn’t just about crime,” Smith said. “It’s about making sure we can quickly get services to people who are suffering.”

Before Sunday’s shooting, Smith said detectives and the FBI had been investigating armed robberies at the Walgreens, focusing on one man and possibly some accomplices. The robberies began in July and continued at pace of roughly one a month into the winter, authorities said.

Smith said investigators “were closing in on this suspect” when he “came back again” on Sunday.

About 6:30 p.m., police alleged, Williams, armed with a gun, walked into the Walgreens and forced a guard and an employee into a backroom. Police said he took away the guard’s gun, and stole money.

A second security guard then entered the backroom and shot Williams. A police report says authorities recovered $4,265, a black handgun belonging to the alleged robber and a Glock handgun that belonged to the guard.

Armed guards, called special police officers, are licensed by the District. D.C. police said their criminal investigation division and internal affairs are investigating the shooting. The guard who fired his weapons works for a private security company contracted by Walgreens. A representative of Walgreens did not respond to an interview request on Monday.

Smith said additional arrests are possible in the case. She said the suspect was being charged with assault with a dangerous weapon, kidnapping, armed robbery, assault on a police officer and carrying an unlicensed firearm in connection with Sunday’s incident. The chief said he faces six other charges in connection with the previous holdups of the Walgreens.

A police department spokesman, Tom Lynch, said the first robbery at the Walgreens that authorities attributed to Williams occurred July 18. The spokesman said one additional robbery occurred each month in 2023, except for October. Lynch said in each instance, a gunman forced an employee into a backroom. He said most occurred between 7:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.

Police said Williams remained hospitalized on Monday and he has not yet made an initial appearance in D.C. Superior Court. It could not be determined if he has an attorney.

A woman who answered a phone at an address linked to Williams identified herself as his grandmother, but declined to provide her name. She said she had not heard of the accusations against Williams. “I don’t have the full story, so I don’t want to comment,” she said.

Meagan Flynn contributed to this report.

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10 family-friendly winter weekend getaways in the US

When I'm looking for a surefire way to beat the post-holiday blues, I plan a winter weekend getaway for the family. With a couple of long weekends on the calendar in the first quarter of the year, plus the ability to create your own whenever works for you, winter is an ideal time to get a fun trip on the schedule.

Whether you want to play in the snow or escape the cold for a balmier location, there’s a winter weekend trip within an easy drive or flight from where you live. Here are 10 of my favorite ideas for a memorable and fun-filled, family-friendly long weekend trip.

WHERE TO GO: 25 best family vacation spots in the U.S.A.

1. Nashville, Tennessee

I took my teenage daughter on a winter getaway to Nashville, and it was a perfect destination for a not-too-cold long weekend. Each morning began with our own DIY coffee shop-boutique hotel tour, starting the day with breakfast, a cup of coffee, and a stroll through the lobbies at the Fairlane Hotel, Bobby Hotel, and Noelle Nashville.

Learn more: Best travel insurance

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Then we set off on foot (and one day by trolley) to experience Music City at spots like the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, Ryman Auditorium, and the highly impressive and interactive National Museum of African American Music. 

Food’s a big draw here, and we tried as much as we could by taking a food tour with Walk Eat Nashville and eating at Assembly Food Hall, which offers food and drink from more than 30 mostly local eateries and bars.

Where to Stay in Nashville: The Countrypolitan Nashville is a stylish and well-situated home base for exploring downtown Nashville, and you just might hear the next big thing performing at the hotel’s restaurant in the evening.

2. Crystal River, Florida

Winter is an ideal time to visit this city on the west coast of Florida, about an hour north of Tampa and less than two hours west of Orlando. That’s because winter is known as Manatee Season. Between November and March, hundreds of West Indian manatees head to the warmer spring-fed waters in these parts once the water temperature in the Gulf of Mexico drops. 

OCEANSIDE FUN: 10 best family beach resorts in Florida

The “Manatee Capital of the World” is the only place in the U.S. where you can legally observe manatees while swimming alongside them (accompanied by local guides who make sure everyone behaves properly). 

If you don’t want to get in the water, you can spot the gentle creatures on a boat tour or at places like Crystal River National Wildlife Refuge , the only refuge in the U.S. specifically created to protect habitats for manatees.

Where to Stay in Crystal River: There's nothing particularly fancy about the King's Bay Lodge , but its roomy suites sleep four comfortably, its spring-fed pool is a kid favorite, and its proximity to everything you'd want to do in Crystal River is unbeatable. 

3. Long Beach Peninsula, Washington

Want to make a dramatic getaway? Head to Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula during the winter. Not far from Portland or Seattle, the area rates as a great place for storm watching during winter, thanks to the combination of seasonal king tides, stormy weather at this time of year, and the rushing water from the Columbia River. 

COAST TO COAST: 7 charming coastal towns in the U.S. perfect for a family vacation

Bring your camera to capture the moody scenery, and take it with you when you wander the area’s seven state parks and five wildlife/conservation areas, where you might spot loons, chickadees, sparrows, and hawks during the colder months. 

The region also sits along the state’s Cranberry Coast, and the Pacific Coast Cranberry Research Foundation Museum offers a self-guided tour of its cranberry bogs year-round. Winter is also a great time for oysters on the Long Beach Peninsula, which you can enjoy at restaurants like Shoalwater Seafood and The Depot.

Where to Stay on Long Beach Peninsula: Book a room at the pet-friendly Oceanview Inn at the Arch and you’ll be within walking distance of the beach and downtown Long Beach and well situated for enjoying all that the area has to offer. 

4. Montgomery, Alabama

With winter weather that’s typically on the mild side, Montgomery offers a long weekend escape with lots of options. Outdoor fun can be found at spots like the Alabama Safari Park, Montgomery Zoo, and the Lagoon Park Trail. 

GO SOMEWHERE WARM: 10 tropical destinations you can visit without a US passport

This is an amazing place for the family to learn about the city’s important role in Black history and the American Civil Rights Movement at sites like The Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice, Civil Rights Memorial Center, and Freedom Rides Museum . Annual events on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day include a parade down historic Dexter Avenue, where you can find the Dexter Avenue King Memorial Baptist Church where King led the congregation from 1954 to 1960. 

Refuel along the way at Chris’ Famous Hotdogs, where everyone from Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dr. King to Elvis Presley has eaten.

Where to Stay in Montgomery: Occupying a century-old building, the newish SpringHill Suites Montgomery Downtown offers suites well-suited for family getaways and a downtown location that makes it easy to explore the city.

5. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

This northwest Idaho city not far from Spokane, Washington, boasts 109 miles of lake shoreline and snowy scenic vistas during the winter. Take a Scenic Hot Cocoa Cruise with Lake Coeur d’Alene Cruises, and you might spot bald eagles swooping overhead while sipping your sweet treat (they congregate around Lake Coeur d’Alene every year from November through February). 

SUN AND SAND: 12 best beach resorts in the U.S. for families  

Three ski resorts located within an hour of Coeur d’Alene are an easy day trip from town and offer trails and terrain for all levels of skiers and snowboarders, while Raptor Reef Indoor Water Park provides thrills of a different kind. An annual mac and cheese festival takes place in January, serving up comfort food just right for the season, and the Winter Lights outdoor art experience illuminates downtown Coeur d’Alene every evening from January 26 through February 4. 

Where to Stay: Set on the shores of Lake Coeur d’Alene, Coeur d’Alene Resort offers spacious rooms and suites (many with amazing views) plus amenities like a spa, fitness center, and indoor pool.

6. San Luis Obispo, California

Located between San Francisco and Los Angeles, San Luis Obispo (or SLO, pronounced "slow," as it’s known) offers a weekend getaway with a sustainable side. Many of its wineries are SIP-certified (sustainable in practice), and the city even uses herds of goats to clear out brush along its hillsides. Check out the area’s natural beauty while pedaling the city’s bike trails, hiking at spots like Irish Hills Natural Reserve and Reservoir Canyon, or strolling the area’s beaches. 

WORLD’S BEST: 10 best all-inclusive beach resorts in the world  

Head downtown for shops and restaurants, catch a flick at the Palm Theatre (the first solar-powered theater in the U.S.), and taste local produce and foods at the Downtown SLO Farmers’ Market that takes place every Thursday. And the kids will get a kick out of adding their own contribution to the quirky Bubblegum Alley.

Where to Stay in SLO: Tweens and teens will love the retro-modern, collegiate vibes and the on-site burger joint at The Wayfarer San Luis Obispo , located near the campus of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

7. Scottsdale, Arizona

Plan your escape to Scottsdale, where the sun is shining almost every day of the year and winter temperatures tend to be in the 60s and 70s. That means the weather is ideal for strolling through Old Town Scottsdale, exploring the Sonoran Desert at places like McDowell Sonoran Preserve and Pinnacle Peak Park, and frolicking at the kids’ splash pad and play area at the recently revitalized Scottsdale Civic Center. 

GO WEST: 7 West Coast vacations with something for everyone in the family

There’s always an interesting exhibit or programming to enjoy at Western Spirit: Scottsdale’s Museum of the West and Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West, and the kids will appreciate riding the train and carousel at McCormick-Stillman Railroad Park and enjoying something sweet at the 1950s-era Sugar Bowl Ice Cream Parlor & Restaurant.

Where to Stay in Scottsdale: The kids will be fans of the Sonoran Splash pool at Fairmont Scottsdale Princess , which features two waterslides and a zero-entry; the grownups will enjoy making use of the kids' club to hit the links or squeeze in a spa treatment.

8. Boston, Massachusetts

Bundle up and spend a winter weekend wandering around Boston, which is road trip distance from much of the Northeast. It’s an ideal time of year to visit the city’s many excellent museums, like the Boston Children’s Museum, Museum of Science, and Museum of Fine Arts art museum. Glide around the Frog Pond Ice Skating Rink or sled down Flagstaff Hill at Boston Common (the oldest public park in the United States), then warm up over a plate of pasta in the city’s North End. 

ATLANTIC COAST: 11 best seaside villages and coastal towns in New England  

After strolling picturesque (and potentially snow-covered) neighborhoods like Beacon Hill and the Back Bay, head indoors to browse and taste your way through spots like Boston Public Market, High Street Place, Hub Hall Boston, and the much-visited Faneuil Hall Marketplace and Quincy Market.

Where to Stay in Boston: Choose the Boston Marriott Long Wharf for your long weekend stay and you’ll enjoy views of Boston Harbor and be within walking distance of sites like the New England Aquarium, Faneuil Hall, and portions of the Freedom Trail.

9. Lake Geneva, Wisconsin

Make the most of the winter weather in Lake Geneva, which is within easy driving distance of cities like Chicago and Milwaukee. Head to spots like The Mountain Top at Grand Geneva Resort, Big Foot Beach State Park, and The Ridge Hotel for skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, hiking, and ice skating, or kick things up a notch with a winter ziplining and ropes course adventure or some ice fishing. There’s an annual snow sculpting event during the winter months, and the Winter Realms experience includes ice slides, ice sculptures, and other chilly fun. 

BRING THE KIDS: 10 best Caribbean family resorts

Where to Stay in Lake Geneva: Timber Ridge Lodge & Waterpark serves as a great all-in-one location for families, where suites offer lots of room for the whole crew and amenities include an indoor water park, mini bowling, and an arcade.

10. Washington, DC

Plan a low-cost, museum-filled winter getaway to Washington, DC. Admission is free at the city’s Smithsonian Institution museums, where the family can explore the history of flight at the National Air and Space Museum, the African American experience at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, and the natural world at the National Museum of Natural History. 

Head outdoors to admire the city’s many monuments and memorials like the Lincoln Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, and Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial (all free to visit), and take a spin around the ice skating rinks at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden or at The Wharf. Then warm up over dinner at family-friendly restaurants like Old Ebbitt Grill, Boardwalk Bar & Arcade, and Tonic at Quigley’s Pharmacy. FOR OLDER KIDS: 10 best family resorts with teen clubs and activities  

Where to Stay in DC: Four Seasons Hotel Washington, DC caters to families with amenities like baby gear and strollers; games, books, and sports equipment for use; an indoor pool; and sightseeing guides geared toward children. 

10 family-friendly winter weekend getaways in the US originally appeared on FamilyVacationist.com .

More from FamilyVacationist:

  • 12 Best Hotel Booking Sites for Cheap Prices
  • 10 Best Vacation Ideas for Families with Teenagers
  • 10 Best All-Inclusive Beach Resorts in the World

The views and opinions expressed in this column are the author’s and do not necessarily reflect those of USA TODAY. FamilyVacationist.com and TourScoop.com are owned and operated by Vacationist Media LLC. Using the FamilyVacationist travel recommendation methodology , we review and select family vacation ideas , family vacation spots , all-inclusive family resorts , and classic family vacations for all ages. TourScoop covers guided group tours and tour operators , tour operator reviews , tour itinerary reviews and travel gear recommendations .

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