Get to Know Washington State

The old cliché says you only get one chance to make a first impression. Here in Washington, we respectfully disagree. With a landscape ranging from pristine coastal beaches to stunning mountain vistas to windswept plateaus, our state has a wealth of natural beauty that makes every adventure a fresh one.

For starters, within our borders you’ll find three of the country’s most awe-inspiring national parks—Olympic, North Cascades, and Mount Rainier—not to mention more than 140 state parks and vast tracts of national forest. These parklands form the core of an unmatched outdoor playground in which families can pack a picnic for a hike, couples can sip wines while they take in the view, and thrill-seekers can careen down whitewater chutes. In Northeast Washington, my home base, I regularly golf when there’s no snow, ski when there is, and bike year-round.

Of course, the adventures in Washington are by no means limited to the outdoors. Seattle’s sleek skyline has become synonymous with innovation and style, and the city’s dedication to arts, culture, and refined living extends throughout the Puget Sound region, from the San Juan Islands to the cities of Bellevue, Tacoma, and Olympia. Some of our other larger cities, such as Spokane and Vancouver, boast revitalized historic downtowns alive with bustling restaurants and shops, world-class performing arts centers, and vibrant community events. And smaller cities such as Pullman, Walla Walla, and Chelan combine sophistication with down-home charm.

The only hard part about getting to know Washington, as it is with any introduction, is taking the first step. That’s where the Washington State Visitors’ Guide comes in. Consider it the warmest of welcomes to our state, packed with practical trip information and inside tips about what to do and see. We hope such insight not only inspires first-timers to explore the places we proudly call our home, but also serves as a valuable resource to longtime locals. No matter which camp you fall into, don’t be content with the first impressions offered in these pages—go out and form your own, again and again.

Todd Thoreson, ChA
Regional Vice President, Hotel Operations, Red Lion Hotels Corporation
Chairman, Board of Directors, Washington Lodging Association