The Getaway
Picturesque Retreats: Explore Small-Town Washington

Incredible national parks, beautiful islands, modern cities with luxurious amenities, and fabulous restaurants and shops make Washington State an exceptional place to visit. Hiking to the top of Mt. Rainier for the sunset or exploring the more than 3,000 miles of shoreline are a few things to do here. The state certainly has a range of big-name attractions and destinations. Yet, there's much more to explore. These are the best small towns to visit in Washington.

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01 Frolic in the lavender fields in Sequim

Sequim is one of the best small towns to visit in Washington for numerous reasons, whether you want to spend the day biking on the Olympic Discovery Trail, taking in the Olympic Theatre Arts for modern art displays, or visiting during the annual Sequim Lavender Weekend in July, when you'll be able to walk through fields of beautiful lavender. Golf, hike the pristine forests, or do some saltwater fishing. 

02 Explore the old west in Winthrop

In the Methow Valley, Winthrop attracted gold seekers in the 1880s, setting the tone for this truly Western town. Today, it maintains many of its Old West-style buildings but also offers a range of activities throughout the year, including snowmobiling, snowshoeing, and horseback riding. Many come to fish for trout in the alpine lakes. Spend some time at the Winthrop Gallery and Shafer Museum to experience more of the culture of this city.

03 Explore the waterfront in La Conner

As one of the best small towns in Washington, La Conner sits on the Swinomish Channel and is noted for its numerous waterfront restaurants. It has 27 buildings in its historic district that date back to the 1860s, many of which allow a tour. If you love antiques, shop along First Street for fantastic art or woodwork pieces. For some adventure, head to Pioneer Park for the water slides.

04 Catch the Cascades in Anacortes

About an hour and a half from Seattle, Anacortes has some of the most beautiful views of the Cascade Mountains. Its historic downtown area is the perfect place to stroll to see those views, do some artisan shopping, and enjoy a fabulous meal from a local eatery. Take the Ship Harbor Interpretive Preserve Trail to the sandy beach to walk in the water.

05 Sail Penn Cove in Coupeville

Coupeville is the second oldest community in the state and home to Penn Cove, a fantastic, protected harbor perfect for a simple sailboat excursion. Visit during the Coupeville Arts Festival or the Penn Cove Musselfest. Navigate the 100-year-old buildings in the historic district to learn about the area and enjoy a few wine-tasting opportunities. The Coupeville Wharf is also an excellent location for those looking to fish on the waterfront.

06 Explore the Bavarian village of Leavenworth

Step into a new world in Leavenworth, which maintains a strong Bavarian and Alpine charm. Eclectic dining and specialty shops make this a true destination city for those who want to explore the area's culture. You can do some geocaching here or check out the area's fruit orchards (many offer wine tasting, too). The area is also great for a long spa weekend, thanks to the holistic, wellness-focused industry here.

07 Discover a Victorian seaport in Port Townsend

Quite the unique history thanks to its Victorian roots (which is evident in its architecture), Port Townsend is a fantastic place for an adventure. It offers miles of beaches, numerous sailboat opportunities, kayaking spots, and live music and theater at the Centrum. Enjoy the fresh seafood and brews at locations like the Port Townsend Brewing Company, Wilderbee Farm (known for its mead), and Silverwater Café.

08 Go horseback riding in Prosser

Another of the best small towns to visit in Washington is Prosser, noted as the birthplace of Washington Wine. Numerous wine tours are available here, including craft breweries. It's also an excellent choice for those who want to explore the area's history, with several 100-year-old buildings to tour in the historic district. There's plenty of shopping there, too. Also, check out Red Mountain Trails, an opportunity to ride horseback through the valleys. 

09 Explore "Little Norway" in Poulsbo

Poulsbo Gazebo in waterfront park on Liberty Bay

Poulsbo is often called "Little Norway" on the Puget Sound, thanks to its seafront village and a huge marina. Rent a yacht, do some sightseeing, or spend the day fishing from the port city. You can also book a few boating classes if you've always wanted to learn to sail. You can also spend some time at the Muriel Iverson Waterfront Park for long walks along the waterfront or explore the Poulsbo Historical Society Museum, which paints a picture of the area's history.

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10 Go kayaking in Stehekin

Stehekin's scenic lake and mountain landscape make it a treasure for outdoor adventure. Many come to horseback ride along the waterfront trails or spend the day fishing from a sailboat. The North Cascades are peaceful and remote, creating an opportunity for both easy and more challenging hikes. Lake Chelan is the unspoiled treasure ideal for kayaking, especially in the upper estuary area. You can book a guided kayak trip, too!

11 Visit artisan shops in Langley

From waterfront cottages to fine dining locations like The Restaurant at The Inn at Langley or Prima Bistro, Langley offers plenty for those who may not want to spend all their time outdoors. It's ideal for artisan-inspired shopping with antique shops, art galleries, handmade jewelry, and many tasty treats from area bakeries. You can also book a mystery weekend at one of the local bed and breakfasts. 

12 Go whale watching in Friday Harbor

Another of the best small towns in Washington sits on San Juan Island. Friday Harbor is perfect for relaxation, with small shops and art galleries. Yet, the spectacular nature surrounding this community is what makes it special. You can spend time on a boat in the harbor whale watching and tour the Whale Museum to learn about the area's whaling industry. The Lime Kiln Interpretive Center is also a location to do some bird watching.

13 Go parasailing in Chelan

Chelan, a lakefront community, offers numerous perspectives of nature, from waterfront boating and fishing opportunities, forested trails, and live music at one of the outdoor vineyards making for an ideal romantic evening. You can also go parasailing over Lake Chelan and the Columbia River. Choose jet skiing or rowing if you want to stay closer to the water. Then enjoy a meal at Campbell's Resort or Vin Du Lac Wintery and Bistro.

14 Enjoy the performing arts in North Bend

North Bend is noted for numerous activities, including shopping and dining. It has great live music and various theater productions. You can visit the performing arts at the Valley Center Stage or JazzClubsNW Performance Center, with productions throughout the year. While here, check out the Northwest Railway Museum for its antique train excursions on the weekend.

15 Experience the Twilight series in Forks

Forks is a stunning natural oasis, as it's home to Olympic National Park and the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. With lush forests and pristine serenity, it's ideal for fishing, canoeing, rowing, and paddle boarding. For others, a trip here is about experiencing the Twilight series of books. You can visit during the Forever Twilight in Forks Festival and explore the self-guided tour of the Twilight locations. It's one of the best small towns in Washington for those who want to check out the coastal tribal sites, tour a logging mill, or hike in the emerald-green mossy forests.

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