Washington State is one of the most beautiful parts of the country, and there are so many iconic things to do. Along with their numerous National Parks, which I will be hitting up later this month, the Seattle area also has a bunch of less well-known gems that are definitely worth a trip.
The first place I visited was Snoqualmie Falls. Located less than 30 miles east of Seattle, Snoqualmie Falls is a 268-foot waterfall that is part of the Snoqualmie River. The show Twin Peaks apparently made this a much more popular tourist destination in recent years, but, I don't know, I haven't seen it.
Next, I went to - what is now - my second favorite public library in the country. (My first favorite will be the topic of a blog post eventually!) This is the Maple Valley Branch of the King County Public Library system. I have visited A LOT of libraries in the past couple of years, and this was one to remember. It was built right in the forest with the parking lot seemingly designed around these gorgeous tall redwoods. And the library itself was covered in windows to help capture all the views. It was such a nice place to work for a few hours, and I just had to rave about it even though it's not making it onto any tourist lists.
Third, I spent a beautiful afternoon ogling Mount Rainier from Madrona Park. This locals-only destination isn't the most popular among natives, which means there was plenty of space. It's 31 acres on Lake Washington, and there was a small beach area and tons of grass. In addition to the expected hoards of sunbathers, there were swimmers, stand-up paddleboarders, and kayakers. I went into the water up to my thighs, and it wasn't as cold as I expected. Definitely warmer than Lake Michigan!
My fourth destination was the Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden. I happened here only to kill some time before my mom's flight got in, and of course, I loved it. This is a free community botanical garden situated on 10.5 acres. It's open from dawn to dusk, and there are so many beautiful plants to see. I really couldn't help myself from taking tons of photos.
My final spot before we crossed into Canada was Lake Ki. Under an hour north of Seattle, this charming spot was such a quiet and scenic place to camp for a night. It was surprisingly easy to get to, just off Interstate 5, and the exit in North Lakewood has plenty in the way of groceries and gas on your journey. We saw a lot of boaters, fishers, kayakers, and such. This is a great weekend retreat destination for Seattle residents, and it seemed a popular one.