Welcome to Washington: Michael Van Eaton shares the state’s 7 most beautiful travel destinations
Travelers flock to the Pacific Northwest to experience its natural beauty. Michael Van Eaton just has to look out his window.
Living in Federal Way, WA provides no shortage of picturesque views either. The Pacific Northwest is renowned for its snow-capped mountains and densely-populated forest, but it’s a much more diverse ecological system than many realize. The region extends across multiple states but most of these breathtaking landscapes are located right in Washington.
Hoping to share the beauty of his home state with others, Michael Van Eaton lists his seven favorite scenic spots.
Olympic National Park
Check every item off your “must-see” list in one day. Olympic National Park treats visitors to lush rainforests, alpine mountains, and rolling coastlines. Guests can choose from several activities too, including boating, hiking, sledding, and snowshoeing. Although Mount Olympus is the marquee landmark, Michael Van Eaton likes the Hoh River valley. Here, enjoy the serenity and quiet under the cover of its lichen-covered trees.
Have your camera ready when you visit Snoqualmie Falls. Framed by the forest and surrounded by rising mist on all sides, the iconic waterfall is both mystifying and eerie. In fact, it was featured prominently on the TV series Twin Peaks. Snoqualmie Falls is a popular tourist destination, attracting over 1.5 million visitors each year. Pro tip: Visit between November and March. Since this is during the rainy season, the water current is much swifter.
Mount Rainer is formidable. Not only is it an active volcano and the most glaciated mountain in the contiguous U.S., but Mount Rainer is also the tallest peak in the entire Pacific Northwest. It’s both dramatic and awe-inspiring. Yet it’s surprisingly accessible. Camping, hiking, and exploring are encouraged. The paved trails are littered with wildflowers throughout the summer.
If city vibes are more your speed, Michael Van Eaton recommends spending a night or two in Leavenworth. The Bavarian-themed village exudes charm and old-world sensibilities. Stay in an alpine chalet. Take in a polka performance. Ski down Mission Ridge. This makes for a perfect holiday getaway for the entire family.
It’s not all mountains and rock formations. Skagit Valley can easily be confused with a postcard from Holland. Its sprawling field of tulips are the real draw. Thousands attend the area’s annual spring festival. This event features guided bike tours and contests during April. This quaint destination is ideal for savoring local seafood or window shopping for antiques also.
San Juan Islands
Reconnect with nature at one of the San Juan Islands. On one of the 172 named islets, travelers can kayak or hike. Or, kick back and take in some whale watching. Visitors can even climb a replica of a Russian watchtower. On a clear day, guests can see into Canada. Nestled in Puget Sound, it is a favorite of both locals and out-of-towners.
Mount St. Helens
Since Washington is famous for its volcanoes, no list would be complete without Mount St. Helens. The geographical feature is still active but is home to typical activities found in other places along the Cascade Range. Horseback riding, fishing, and ziplining are enjoyed here.