For over 20 years I was an Olympia resident and now that I’m not, I sure do miss passing by our State Capitol frequently. Not only is it a breathtaking structure but the grounds offer an array of activities to enjoy and sights to explore. If you haven’t visited the State Capitol, add it to your bucket list - it’s well worth an afternoon!
Over the years I have explored the Capitol officially on school field trips, guided tours, and as a representative page. Unofficially, I’ve meandered, ran, and relaxed all over the grounds. The area is rich in history and beauty and I'm ready to share all my secrets.
It Feels Like a Castle
The Legislative Building is the star of the show at the Washington State Capitol Campus. It looks and feels so much like a castle! Standing at 287 feet tall, the Legislative Building is the tallest free-standing masonry dome in North America. It took six years to build and cost over $7 million. If numbers interest you, like they do me, don’t miss this fact sheet - it includes ALL the nitty gritty details. If the outside doesn’t impress you (which it will), inside the ornate rotunda and interior dome will leave you with a surreal “wow” upon entering the marble-covered space.
You Might Catch a Wedding
Is there anything better than witnessing a couple in love? Every few times I visit the Capitol grounds, I catch a glimpse of a wedding, because of the castle factor. It’s a gorgeous location to be married, celebrate a special event, or take family photos.
The Sunken Garden’s Beauty
Across from the Winged Victory statue you’ll find the Sunken Garden. During late spring, summer, and early fall especially, it is in full bloom and a beautiful spot to visit. Truly, all the landscaping at the Capitol is picturesque … definitely bring you camera and snap some still shots when you visit!
You Can Honor Our Veterans
You will find seven memorials and monuments around the Capitol Campus. Take a moment to visit one that resonates with you and say a special prayer or meditation to honor our veterans.
Face Time With Your Local Representative
Before heading to Olympia, pull up your local representative’s contact information and reach out. They are our advocates and truly want to hear from us! Whether you choose to send an email about an issue that is important to you or opt to schedule a brief appointment in person, choose to take an active role in Washington’s government. It really does make a difference.
Trees Fit For a Picnic
When the sun is beating down, there is no better place to find shade than the Capitol Grounds. Giant trees abound throughout creating a perfect place to picnic.
It’s Rich With History
If you have even an ounce of love for details, take the free guided tour at the Capitol. The tour is about 50 minutes long and they run every day of the week. Each tour is limited to 25 people so you definitely get a small group feel and thus have the ability to ask questions and learn about what interests you. From my experience, it’s a kid-friendly tour too. Parents can even supplement with Washington specific and government related worksheets and resources. One of our family’s favorites is the free coloring book.
You Can Try Out Dash
Dash is Olympia’s free downtown shuttle and it’s quite fun, especially for little ones. Not to mention it's convenient for those who want to take a peek at Olympia’s downtown shops and food scene. Dash is run by Intercity Transit and loops from the Capitol to the Farmer’s Market area with stops in between. You can find the specific day and time schedule for Dash here.
There Is Great Food Close By
Whether you’re looking for a quick bite or a more refined sit down meal, Olympia’s downtown area has a full menu of options. My top recommendations include Meconi’s for Italian sub sandwiches, Old School Pizzeria, Basilico Ristorante, or a little up 4th Avenue you’ll fall in love with the fare at Ramblin’ Jacks and Oly Rockfish Grill.
Ready to visit Olympia and check out all the Capitol has to offer? Get to it, you won’t be disappointed!