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  • Travel and Explore Places Of Interest

     "Olympia, WA"
     Olympia, Washington

    Puget Sound southern most tip is home to the state capital, Olympia. Olympia was named for its spectacular view of the Olympic Mountains. The town was founded in 1846 by settlers Levi Smith and Edmund Sylvester. It has been Washington's capital since 1853, when the Washington Territory separated from Oregon Territory. Despite challenges from Seattle, Tacoma, Vancouver, Steilacoom and Port Townsend, Olympia clung to its capital status.

    Because Olympia is the home of Washington's state government, a large number of residents work in government positions. Government isn't the only employer, Olympia is also a port city that imports and exports products with considerable ease. Residents of Olympia enjoy a big city with a small town atmosphere. Elegant old homes, tree-lined streets and popular farmers' market add to its charm. Students attend schools in the Olympia School District, which is known for its community support and variety of educational program. For higher education, residents can choose from three local colleges: Saint Martin's College, a private, four year liberal arts college located near Lacey: The Evergreen State College, a nationally known, innovative four year liberal college, a two year public institution offering both day and evening programs.

    Olympia's stately Legislative Building was completed in 1928. The finished building stands 28 stories high, it was the last great domed capitol built in the United States. Its entrance is approached by 42 broad granite steps, representing Washington's place as the 42nd state in the Union.

    There are many things to do in Olympia, due to the city's location on the Puget Sound, and its easy access to both the Cascade mountain range and the Olympic Peninsula, outdoor recreation is big. Hiking, kayaking, skiing and sailing are all popular activities. An abundance of parks and forest in the immediate vicinity make getting away an easy feat. Tolmie State Park and Millersylvania State Park are among the popular destinations.

    Olympia's Washington Center for the performing arts presents a full season of performances by resident and touring groups, offering music, dance, theater and family entertainment. Groups in residence at the center include Ballet Northwest, Youth Symphonies, the Olympia Symphony Orchestra and the Washington Shakespeare Festival.

    At the waterfront, Percival Landing has a 1.5-mile boardwalk with artwork and interpretive displays outlined the history of the harbor. Two new fountains provide interactive fun for everyone. Olympia's waterfront comes alive in the summer with maritime activities, community festivals, music and art. Nearby is the Olympia farmer's market, the state's second biggest market only to Seattle's Pike Place market. If you have a taste for beer go take a tour at Olympia Brewing Company, home of the Rainier Beer.

     Capitol Campus, The
     south of downtown, on a hill
     Olympia, Washington
     (360)586-3460 or 586-8687
     The campus has buildings housing the legislative, administrative, and judicial offices.

     Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve
     South of Olympia off I-5 exit 95
     Olympia, Washington
     (360) 784-2383
     This 445-acre preserve surrounds a curious topography of regularly spaced hills.

     Olympia Brewing Co.
     Tumwater, Custer Way and Schmidt Pl.
     Olympia, Washington
     (360) 754-5177

     Olympia/Thurston County Chamber of Commerce
     521 Legion Way
     Olympia, Washington
     (360)357-3362 or (800)753-8474

     State Capitol Museum
     211 W. 21st Ave.
     Olympia, Washington
     (360) 753-2580
     The museum is housed in a California mission-style mansion, and offers photographs and historical documents about Washington territorial and state governments.

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