Nestled on the southern tip of Puget Sound, Washington's state capital Olympia beckons to history buffs with its lovingly preserved buildings and charming museums.
Stroll through the Downtown Historic District to see leering griffins, Victorian pilasters, Neoclassical column and other stately period architecture. Must-see stops include the Security Building—at a whopping five stories tall, it was the city’s first skyscraper—and the Old Capitol Building, built in 1892 from sandstone.
In Sylvester Park, a humble stone monument marks one terminus of the treacherous, 2,000-mile-long Oregon Trail. Pioneers completing the trek fanned out and settled across the region, leading to Washington’s statehood in 1889 and cementing the city’s status as state capital.
The two-story Bigelow House Museum may look modest from the outside, but it's Olympia's oldest residence, with original documents, artifacts and furniture from the 1850s on display. Three miles south in Tumwater, the Crosby House Museum is one of the state’s oldest wood-frame houses and was originally owned by singer Bing Crosby’s grandparents.
Trace the region’s rich aviation legacy at the Olympic Flight Museum, where vintage planes from World War II mingle with modern aircraft. Then head to Percival Landing and step aboard the 100-year-old Sand Man, a restored tugboat that’s been converted into a floating maritime museum.