city in and county seat of Thurston County, Washington, United States, and Washington federated state capital city

Olympia is in the South Sound region of Washington.

The State Capitol Building rises over Capitol Lake Park

Olympia is the capital of Washington State, and the Thurston County seat. The city reflects a diverse economic base and culture. Olympia's art and music scene is unusually large and active for a town of its size, and its identity as a city remains distinct despite strong influences from Seattle, Tacoma and Everett to the north and from Portland/Vancouver to the south. Olympia is somewhat of a breeding ground for Pacific Northwest alternative culture having spawned or influenced many of the region's better-known personalities.

The city's downtown core has been designated as a National Historic District.

The natural beauty of Olympia is of particular note. From downtown, one can see the Olympic Mountains to the northwest set behind Puget Sound's Budd Bay - and towering Mt. Rainier to the southeast set next to the state capitol building and Capitol Lake.

Understand edit

It has a population of almost 56,000 (2020) and is also home to the Evergreen State College, one of six public four-year schools in Washington.

Get in edit

Map of Olympia (Washington)

By plane edit

By car edit

Olympia is located along Interstate 5 (I-5), approximately 65 mi south of Seattle (65 min), 100 mi (2 hr) north of Portland and 60 mi (97 km) east from Grays Harbor.

  • From   Olympia is accessed from exits #99 ("93rd Ave SW") through #109 ("Martin Way E") along I-5. Downtown can be accessed from Exit #105 ("State Capitol City Center/Port of Olympia") from both directions. The off ramp comes into town as 14th Ave SE towards the state capitol. From the northbound lanes the off ramp from Exit #105 further splits to #105A which goes into 14th Ave SE or #105B which goes into Plum Ave SE on the east side of the downtown core. Or exit off at Pacific Ave at Exit #107 which comes into downtown as State Ave NE.
  •   to   From I-5 US-Hwy 101 is at Exit #103. If going west, the same highway becomes   after going past the US-Hwy 101 turnoff towards Shelton and Port Angeles.
  • From Kitsap Peninsula Go south on   and follow signs for "  South Belfair" Continue south along WA-3 through Belfair and Shelton where it ends into US-Hwy 101 south of Shelton. Merges into a freeway continuing east into Olympia as US-Hwy 101 or west to Aberdeen as SR 8.

By bus edit

  • 1 Flixbus (Operated by MTR Western and Greyhound), ((bus stop) Olympia Transit Center @ 205 Franklin St NE (Bay 'N' at NE part of transit block towards Franklin St NE & Olympia Ave NE. Same stop as Greyhound.). Service from Everett to Eugene through Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Portland and Corvallis.    
  • 2 Greyhound Lines, (bus stop) Olympia Transit Center @ 205 Franklin St NE (Bay 'N' at NE part of transit block towards Franklin St NE & Olympia Ave NE), +1 360 357-5541, toll-free: +1-800-231-2222. Travels primarily on Interstate 5 (Seattle, Tacoma, Olympia, Centralia, Kelso/Longview and Portland.).    
  • 3 Grays Harbor Transit Rt #40, Intercity Transit Olympia Transit Center @ 222 State Ave NE (stop at NW corner of the transit center clock at Washington St NE & Olympia Ave), +1 360 532-2770. Stop at NW corner of the transit center at Washington St NE & Olympia Ave (same stop at Mason Co Transit #6); Elma, McCleary, Montesano & Aberdeen/Hoquiam in Grays Harbor County.
  • 1 Intercity Transit, (downtown transit center) 222 State Ave NE (An entire city block along State Avenue between Franklin and Washington Streets in downtown Olympia.), +1 360 786-1881, toll-free: +1-800-287-6348. Operates local bus service between and Olympia, Lacey and Tumwater and an express bus to Lakewood via Lacey.    
  • 1 The One is a direct and frequent cross-town route from Capitol Way Mall (in the west side) to Lacey Transit Center via downtown.
  • 13 Frequent local route from the Labor & Industries (L&I) office in Tumwater to the downtown Olympia Transit Center (Bay 'D') along Capitol Way/Capitol Blvd. Transfer to Rural Transit (see below) at Tumwater Square along Cleveland Ave SE & Emerson. (Rt #609 from Tumwater no longer operates)
  • 62a & 62b frequent local route from Lacey to the downtown Transit Center (Bay 'H') via Martin Way.
  • 64 local route from Bay 'I' to the Amtrak Station in Lacey via College St. Makes multiple stops to pick up and drop off people on request.
  • 620 Express buses from downtown Olympia Transit Center to Lakewood (SR-512/I-5 P&R and Lakewood Sounder Station) via Martin Way P&R in Lacey. Transfer to Sound Transit buses to downtown Tacoma/Tacoma Dome (594,574, Sounder); Seattle Tacoma International Airport via Federal Way (574); downtown Seattle (592,594,Sounder); Lakewood Mall (3,4,574). Pierce Transit operates local connections to Lakewood, Tacoma, Spanaway, and other areas of Pierce County.
  • 4 Mason Transit Rt #6, Intercity Transit Olympia Transit Center @ 222 State Ave NE (stop at NW corner of the transit center at Washington St NE & Olympia Ave. Same stop as Grays Harbor Transit #40 and Twin City Transit), +1 360-427-5033, toll-free: +1-800-374-3747. Olympia to/from Shelton. Schedules are infrequent so check schedules closely if choosing to use public transportation to travel through the Kitsap Peninsula, west of the sound. An alternative to traveling to Bremerton by bus is to take Greyhound up to Seattle and then a ferry across to Bremerton or Bainbridge Island; or take Intercity 620 to Lakewood and transfer to Sound Transit 594 to reach downtown Seattle.    
  • Premiere Airport Shuttle, (Door to door pick up/drop off), toll-free: +1-800-962-3579. Reservations/appointments required. Connections to Tacoma and Olympia from Sea-Tac International Airport.
  • Rural Transit, +1 253 472-7846. Office Hours M-F 9AM-3PM; Bus services M-F 6AM-6PM check schedules. Rural Transit (rT) connects the communities of Rochester, Tenino, Bucoda, Rainier and Yelm, and the Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation to the greater tri-city area of Tumwater, Olympia, and Lacey. In the Olympia area they only go up to Tumwater Square where passengers transfer to Intercity Bus #13 or 68 (Cleveland & Emerson) to continue towards downtown Olympia.
  • Rt #2 Goes from Tumwater Square along Old Hwy 99 SE to Tenino and east towards Rainier along Sussex Ave E
  • Rt #3 Goes from Tumwater Square along I-5 and Case Rd Sw to Grand Mound P&R (Exit #88 from I-5) and then west on US Hwy 12 to Rochester and the Chehalis Tribal Center on the Chehalis Indian Reservation.
  • Rt #4 goes from Centralia to Grand Mount P&R, to Tenino (Tenino Library), Bucoda and back to Centralia from Bucoda.
  • Twin Transit 'Green Line', Intercity Transit Olympia Transit Center @ 222 State Ave N (stop at NW corner of the transit center clock at Washington St NE & Olympia Ave. Same stop as Mason Transit #6 and Grays Habor Transit #40). Express bus to Centralia via Tumwater and Grand Mound via I-5. Passengers transfer in Centralia to reach Chehalis by bus.    

By train edit

See also: Rail travel in the United States
Historic King Street Station
  • 5 Olympia-Lacey Centennial station, 6600 Yelm Hwy SE (Along Yelm Highway SE, past Compton Blvd SE). The station is 7.5mi/12km southeast of downtown Olympia, in Lacey. Intercity Transit bus route 64 bus travels between the train station and downtown Olympia. See Lacey for details about intercity train services stopping at the station, which are operated by Amtrak, +1 215-856-7924, toll-free: +1-800-872-7245.

Get around edit

  • Olympia's numbered streets run East-West, and the city is broken into four quadrants with the center point in downtown. Northwest, Northeast, Southwest and Southeast. These indicators come after any address.
  • Capitol Way is the main north - south street in the downtown area. Fourth Avenue is the main connector that runs through downtown east - west.
  • The city's downtown district lies in the middle of what residents refer to as the Westside and the Eastside. Most residents of the city will claim these two areas are distinctively different.

By public transit edit

See edit

East Bay
  • 1 Bigelow House Museum, 918 Glass Ave NE, +1 360-753-1215. Summer Sa-Su 1-4PM. Olympia's oldest surviving home, built in 1850s when Washington was a territory. Oregon Trail Pioneers Daniel and Ann Elizabeth Bigelow were early advocates of women's voting rights, public education and the rule of law. Home to the same family until 2005, it contains original furnishings, photos and documents dating back 150+ years. Donation.    
  • 2 The Evergreen State College, 2700 Evergreen Parkway NW, +1 360-867-6000. Public baccalaureate liberal arts college, known for alumni such as Kathleen Hanna, Carre Brownstein and Matt Groeing. Beautiful forested campus with miles of secluded hiking trails and beach access.    
    • Olympia has a thriving music community, with frequent local performances by rock, jazz, blues, folk, and other bands. Local noncommercial community radio station KAOS at 89.3 FM (which also streams live at [1]) features tremendous variety of independent artists, often live in their performance studio. The station is on the campus of The Evergreen State College.
  • 3 Washington State Capitol Building, 416 Sid Snyder Ave, +1 360 902-8880, . One of the largest free standing masonry domes in the world. Hourly tours. free.    

Do edit

  • 1 Budd Bay Charters, 525 Columbia St NW (Columbia St NW & 'B' Ave NW), +1 360 539-8981. Olympia Harbor. Budd Bay Charters provides boat tours of the Olympia harbor and beyond. Has 21' electric boats that tour the harbor or you can rent them. Also have tours on 38' Sailboat and 18' Runabout speed boat.
  • Chehalis Western Trail (The 2 North end of the trail is in the Woodward Bay Conservation Area while the 3 South end of the trail is at 7300 Rainier Ave Se). Always open. Great rail trail for bicycling. The Trail is paved and close to 20 miles long. Goes along lakes, farms, orchards, suburban developments and a river.
  • 4 Hands On Children's Museum, 414 Jefferson St NE, +1 360 956-0818. The Hands On Children's Museum stimulates curiosity, creativity and learning through fun, interactive exhibits and programs for children.
  • 5 Washington Center For The Performing Arts, 512 Washington Street SE (Along Washington St between 5th Ave & Legion Way Se), +1 360 753-8585. South Puget Sound's largest performing arts facility provides a wide variety of entertainment and cultural activities.  
  • 6 Wolf Haven International, 3111 Offut Lake Rd SE, Tenino WA (13 mi southeast of Olympia, on Offut Lake Rd SE, just east of Old Hwy 99), toll-free: +1-800-448-9653, fax: +1 360 264-4639. Is a wolf sanctuary located about a half an hour from Olympia. Forty-seven wolves reside at the refuge and it can be toured by visitors. It has been listed several times in reputable wildlife journals as being one of the top wolf sanctuaries in the United States.    
  • South Sound Wine Trail, . The South Sound Wine Trail extends from Lacey through Olympia to Shelton and includes 7 wineries. Includes stops at Medicine Creek Winery, Madsen Family Cellars, Northwest Mountain Winery, Stottle Winery, Olympia Wine Tasting Bar (McCrea Cellars & Vina Salida), and Walter Dacon. During your tour you will often have the chance to speak with the winemakers and owners to receive unique insight into their wines.

Buy edit

  • 1 Olympia Farmer's Market, 700 Capital Way N (north end of Capital Way @ Market St). Th-Su 10AM-3PM. North End of Capitol Way near the waterfront. One of the largest in the state. The market's schedule is seasonal.
  • Last Word Books, 501 4th Ave E, +1 360-786-9673. M-Th 10AM-8PM, F Sa 10AM-10PM, Su 10AM-6PM. A self-proclaimed "radical, independent bookstore" which deals almost exclusively in used-books, Last Word was started in 2002 by Evergreen College alumni. Crammed with every book you could want (other than current bestsellers, and romance novels) amid ambling, complex shelves which migrate every few months, it is difficult to imagine anywhere less reminiscent of Barnes & Noble. Chat with the cashier, attempt to pet the deaf (?) cat, and wander its weirdness. They also buy books for cash or trade.

Eat edit

  • 1 Cebu Restaurant, 9408 Martin Way East, +1 360 455-9128. Serves Filipino food in a friendly atmosphere. It's a little bit hard to find - it's in a strip mall next to a gas station. If you're heading east on Martin Way, it's not too far past Marvin Road.
  • 2 O'Blarneys, 4411 Martin Way E (Near I-5 exit 109.), +1-360 459-8084, fax: +1-360 456-0674. If you like chicken, try the "Breasts and Jos".
  • 3 Eastside Big Tom Drive Inn:, 2023 4th Ave E, +1 360 357-4852. A Big Tom with the works. Milkshakes and crinkle fries are also excellent. Bring cash and a hearty appetite.
  • 4 Anthony's Homeport, 704 Columbia Street NW, +1 360 357-9700. On Olympia waterfront. Upper scale fine dining.
  • 5 Lemon Grass Restaurant, 212 4th Ave. W, +1 360 705-1832. If you love Thai food, this is the place.
  • 6 McMenamin's Spar Cafe (The Spar), 114 4th Ave. E., +1 360 357-6444. Su-Th 7AM - midnight, F Sa 7AM-1AM. The oldest restaurant/bar in town, dating back to the 1930s. Great atmosphere, food and libations.
  • Vic's Pizzeria, 233 Division St Nw, +1 360 943-8044. One of the most popular restaurants in Olympia with excellent and often unusual flavors of pizza. All of them are delicious.
  • 7 Old School Pizzeria, 108 Franklin St, +1 360 786-9640. Olympia, WA. Very similar to Vic's. Movie posters line the walls of this restaurant.
  • Brewery City Pizza. 3 locations in Olympia. Another very popular pizzeria.

Drink edit

  • The Mark, 407 Columbia Street SW, +1 360 754-4414. The Mark is the only certified organic restaurant in Washington. Local ingredients are used when possible. Banquet facilities available. Hours are Th-Sa 5PM – 1AM, and M-W by private hire. Reservations recommended.
  • 1 Fish Tale Brew Pub, 515 Jefferson Street SE, +1 360-943-3650.
  • McCoy's Tavern (McCoy's), 418 4th Ave E, +1 360 352-0696. 9AM-2AM. The best dive bar in Olympia. Loud music, graffiti, cheap strong drinks and a sweet outdoor patio. "Like hanging out with the roadies after an awesome show"
  • Le Voyuer, 404 4th Ave E, +1 360-878-9748. 11:30AM-2AM. Arty dive restaurant, lounge and performance venue with a vegan heavy menu, particularly well fried garlic fries. Large diverse international and domestic bottle beer fridge and local/domestics on tap. All-age performance venue till 10PM, well-known for its punk shows.

Sleep edit

Stay safe edit

Over the last few years there have been multiple marches by armed far right militias in both downtown and West Olympia. Be alert.

Connect edit

Go next edit

Routes through Olympia
SeattleLacey  N   S  TumwaterPortland
Port AngelesShelton  N   S  TumwaterEND
Aberdeen via  Elma  W   E  END

This city travel guide to Olympia is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.