Located a mere two-hour drive from Seattle is a Bavarian paradise that is renowned for a lively, authentic Oktoberfest and Christmas store. However, while Leavenworth definitely is a wonderful wintertime destination, summertime also offers a variety of activities for those who love the outdoors. Hiking, bird watching, fishing, paddle-boarding down the Wenatchee River, and more. You can also drink your fill at local breweries and chow on German food.
This historic town is at the center of Washington state, making it a smart place to go if you’re an art and history lover. For example, you can visit the Clymer Museum and Gallery before visiting the Central Washington University campus, where the Department of Art is open to the public every first Friday. But if art isn’t your thing, there are dozens of festivals and events held in Ellensburg throughout the year, like live music and wine festivals.
Due to the proximity of Tacoma, people often forget to visit the small town of Gig Harbor—but you’re missing out. Connected to Puget Sound via the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, Gig Harbor is a place of mesmerizing scenery and seaside amusements. Be sure to check out the Skansie Brothers City Park and Kopachuck State Park for your fill of nature before putting on your tourist hat to visit a local favorite, the Beach Basket Gift Shop. After that, get schooled at the Harbor History Museum.
Take an hour drive north of Seattle to visit the bayside town known as La Conner, which put the “small” in small town. There are just under 1000 residents here, but that doesn’t mean La Conner is without character. The independently owned restaurants, boutiques, culinary hotspots, and art galleries lend to the friendly atmosphere. Plus, there are 3 museums, the Skagit County Historical Museum, Museum of Northwest Art, and the Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Arts Museum to visit.
Found on the Olympic Peninsula, Port Townsend has a small town feel blended perfectly with the vastness of the ocean. Aside from water and maritime scenery, like sail boats, the town is comprised of many Victorian-era homes to view. Those who love the outdoors will enjoy the nature trails and Ford Worden State Park, a former military base with a lighthouse and beaches to discover.
Because of Scandinavian roots, Poulsbo has received the nickname, “Little Norway.” If you are looking for a Scandinavian item, check out the marketplace. There is also a selection of boutiques, pubs, microbreweries, and more along a scenic waterfront. The biggest draw to Poulsbo, however, is the romantic boardwalk running along Liberty Bay that has amazing sunset views.
Have a hankering for the days of the Wild West? Found in the Methow Valley, near the North Cascades Scenic Byway, Winthrop is the pit stop of your road tripping dreams. The entire town has Western-influenced facades, shops, galleries, restaurants, pubs, and more. Surrounding Winthrop is the ultimate cross-country skiing landscape with over 120 miles of trails. Alternatively, check out the horseback riding opportunities. Winthrop also hosts a three-day Rhythm and Blues Festival!
Pronounced “skwim,” this small town is an essential stop of flower lovers. Every July, Sequim holds a Lavender Festival, due to its title, “The Lavender Capital of North America.” Since the region sees abundant sunshine and little rainfall, people tend to head to Sequim to enjoy the perfect temperatures, beautiful nature, coffee shops, hiking in Olympic National Park (home of the Hoh Rainforest), and the New Dungeness Lighthouse on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Not only is the name fun to say, Walla Walla is full of amusements for people of all ages. There are entertainments that rival those of a bustling city, but you are wrapped up in the comforts and quiet of a small town. The main street of Walla Walla is where you will focus your senses, because there are enough boutiques, cafes, and other places to keep you busy. And if you love wine, there are over 120 wineries presently in Walla Walla Valley, so you can taste your way to nirvana.
Found on the San Juan archipelago is Anacortes. Though large in comparison to other small towns, Anacortes is the largest and most accessible destination on Fidalgo Island. Here, you can stay in a charming bed and breakfast before visiting unique stores, eating mouthwatering snacks, and exploring Orcas Island and Friday Harbor. Looking for more exercise? Be sure challenge Mt. Erie! For culture, don’t miss the Anacortes Art Festival, held in August.