Autumn afternoon at the Bavarian themed village of Leavenworth, Washington. Editorial credit: Kirk Fisher /

8 Best Towns in Washington to Visit in 2024

Washington is a lesser-traveled but beautifully golden state on the northwestern edge of the United States. It is a champion of winter sport and activity, like in Leavenworth, Gig Harbor, or Port Townsend. It is also home to magically lush natural beauty encapsulated in the rainforests and temperate coastlines of Olympic National Park. Plan your Washington getaway in summer or winter and confer this list of the nine best towns to visit in 2024.

Gig Harbor

Mt rainier and gig harbor; marina life, pink sunset, Washington state.
Mt Rainier and Gig Harbor; Washington state.

Gig Harbor is a small port town with a distinct connection to its maritime heritage. The town's natural harbor is capitalized by the Gig Harbor Lighthouse and the Old Ferry Landing; approaching vessels pass the beautiful marinas, docks, and stilted houses posted along the waterfront Skansie Brothers Park and Netshed, where markets and events are commonly held. The end of the harbor is home to the Harbor History Museum, the station of the popular Destiny Harbor Tours, and well-visited restaurants like The Gourmet Burger Shop, Devoted Kiss Cafe, and Anthony's Restaurant. Nature lovers will enjoy the cool air of Sunrise Beach Park and stay at the nearby No Cabbages Bed and Breakfast. 

Port Townsend

Mount Baker and lighthouse in Port Townsend, Washington
Mount Baker and lighthouse in Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend has magnificent seaside structures. These include the Point Wilson Lighthouse within the Fort Worden Historical State Park; the Jefferson Museum of Art and History, home to unique stories of local history; the Starrett House, a unique 1889 Victorian residence turned hotel; and the abandoned rustic brick structures of U.S. army forts scattered throughout the coastline of Fort Townsend Historical State Park. Travelers should visit Chetzemoka Park, a compact yet incredibly quaint and charming piece of greenscape complete with colorful picnic areas, small cottages, and a beautiful beach coastline. More ambitious visitors should take a ferry to the remote Fort Flagler Historical State Park for a storied history and majestic camping. 

Friday Harbor

Early morning sunrise Friday Harbor, WA USA.
Early morning sunrise Friday Harbor, WA USA.

Friday Harbor evokes a mythic golden sentiment in the spring and summer months. The lines of dories and sailboats on The Port of Friday Harbor are often beautifully shrouded in mist and fog, creating a truly majestic experience for both harbor walkers and outdoor enthusiasts who brave sea kayaking with Discovery Sea Kayak Tours or famous whale-watching season with Western Prince Whale Watching Adventures. Also near the central port is the San Juan Community Theatre, a popular performing arts theatre and a staple attraction. The Whale Museum is where artwork and artifacts present a compelling display of whaling history in the community. Drive across the peninsula to the Lime Kiln State Park for exceptional rocky coastlines and beautifully lush forests.

North Bend

Aerial North Bend, Washington Preacher Mountain and Snoqualmie River View.
Aerial view of North Bend

North Bend is renowned for its small presence within Washington's impressive mountain ranges. The South Folk Snoqualmie River cuts through the center town area, where EJ Roberts Park offers small-scale walking trails and canoeing opportunities and where most activity revolves around Twede's Cafe and the North Bend Bar and Grill. Most travelers, however, come to North Bend for the world-class hiking and camping in the surrounding area. The most popular is Rattlesnake Lake, where canoeing and walking along the Rattlesnake Ledge Trail is rewarding and scenic but not overly strenuous. Ambitious hikes take the Mount Si Trailhead to the top of Mount Si, while those that are more relaxed tend to the still-spectacular open and flat fields of Tanner Landing Park. 

Bainbridge Island

Bainbridge Island Harbor Panoramic View.
Bainbridge Island Harbor Panoramic View.

Bainbridge Island is a magical getaway from Seattle accessible by ferry. Upon docking, visitors are met by the beautiful marinas of the Waterfront Park and City Dock, made especially alluring at sunset, and often venture through the charming boutiques and attractions of the area, the most popular being the Bainbridge Island Historial Museum, the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, and the seafood of Doc's Marina Grill. Another unique and captivating piece of American history is on display nearby at the Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial. There is no shortage of scenic parks and greenspace: the Bloedel Reserve, Fort Ward Park, and Fay Bainbridge Park all battle for visitors' attention, making many natural areas quiet and secluded. 


Aerial View of John Wayne Marina, Sequim, Washington.
Aerial View of John Wayne Marina, Sequim, Washington.

Sequim is a beautiful coastal Pacific town with sea, forest, and mountains. There are pleasant attractions within the town for culture-savvy visitors, like the purple and pink fields of the Purple Haze Lavender Garden, the John Wayne Marina, perfect for afternoon and sunset strollers and boat-watchers, and the popular Olympic Game Farm that offers amazing drive-through tours of bears, big cats, bison, and other large mammals. Most visitors to Sequim, however, spend their days within the astounding natural scenery of the surrounding area. The most popular is the renowned Olympic National Park and its stunning rain forests, while travelers looking for a more reclusive getaway often camp along the calm waters of Sequim Bay State Park. 


Aerial view of Snoqualmie, Washington.
Aerial view of Snoqualmie, Washington.

Snoqualmie has diverse offerings in history and outdoor exploration within an under-appreciated corner of Washington state. It's worthwhile to spend time in downtown Snoqualmie, where the Northwest Railway Museum offers a vivid history of the region. Next door is the calm rolling waters of Snoqualmie River along Sandy Cove Park and popular rustic dining options like Snoqualmie Falls Brewery and Buckshot Honey. Those looking for easily accessible natural beauty drive to Lower Plaza Park, where a short trail leads to the Snoqualmie Falls Lower Observation Deck, a perfect lookout over the 268-foot waterfall; more active individuals can continue to the higher observation deck. Also nearby is the calm but majestic scenery of the Three Forks Natural Area, popular for off-leash dog walking. 


Aerial view of Leavenworth, Washington.
Aerial view of Leavenworth, Washington.

Leavenworth is a perfect wintertime destination in the central Cascade Mountains in Washington. The town is commonly recognized for its distinct Bavarian-style architecture, especially evident along the downtown streets: the Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum's unique displays, the Icicle Brewing Company's rustic environment, and the German München Haus restaurant's sausages and courtyard all effectively support the aesthetic. There are two principal wintertime attractions in Leavenworth. The first is the Leavenworth Ski Hill, a popular retreat for skiing, tubing, and other winter sports of all kinds; the second and more unique attraction is the Leavenworth Reindeer Farm, where families gather to interact with reindeer, chickens, and horses in a rustic farm environment. 

The state of Washington is a gem of Pacific culture, history, and natural beauty that can impress the most experienced of travelers in any season. World-class ski resorts in winter months turn to breathtaking hikes and trails in summer months, and vibrant and colorful town centers keep visitors busy in the moments between outdoor enjoyment. Washington should be high on the list for any traveler seeking adventure in a secluded and lesser-traveled corner of the country, and these small towns should be high-priority destinations.

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