Washington, not to be confused with Washington D.C. (the capital of United States), is in the Pacific Northwest of the country, and is named after the first president of America, George Washington. Also, nicknamed as “The Evergreen State”, Washington is the 42nd state of the country.
The entire state of Washington comprises diverse scenic wonders such as mountains, jungles, deserts, seashore, volcanoes, canyons, several beach towns, and of course, The Cascade Mountains.
Mount Rainier, an active volcano, is the highest point in the state with an elevation of approximately 14,411 feet.
Washington offers a wide range of activities for the nomadic soul – scuba diving, fishing, bicycling, kayaking, killer whale-watching, rock climbing, and skiing in Mount Baker. However, there are some things that only a lucky few can claim to have seen or experienced.
Let us explore some of the best-hidden gems in Washington.
1. The Ape Cave, Skamania
Formed over 2,000 years ago, the Ape Cave is a result of lava that flowed down in streams out of the volcanic Mt. St. Helens, which cooled down to form an outer crust while the inner molten lava continued to flow, hence, creating a tunnel.
Considered an unusual formation in the Cascade Volcanic Range, the Cave was named after the group of foresters, Mt. St. Helens Apes, who was the first to explore the caves since their unearthing in the 1950s.
With around two and a half miles of a lava tube, the formation of Ape Cave is an interesting lure for cavers and geologists who love exploring the narrow crawlways, scattered rock piles, and the eight-foot-long lava fall that leads to a cathedral-like glass opening.
Apparently, the “Bigfoot” has been sighted to wander the caves, but, there is no proof to it yet.
2. Seattle Metaphysical Library, Seattle
Formally known as the “As-You-Like-It” Library, the Seattle Metaphysical Library has been serving the city and its occult readers since 1961.
With over 13,000 books, DVDs, newspaper clippings, and CDs on uncommon subjects such as shamanism, Martians and UFOs, magick and cult studies(sic), and parapsychology, the Library is free for all to browse and indulge in whatever intrigues their interest.
Set in the basement of Kress Building in Seattle, the Library can be spotted by an unmarked glass door and a sandwich board placed on the sidewalk. Unfortunately, the owners of the property won’t allow signboards but it is easy to find and is a lifetime experience if you manage to get in.
3. Olympic Hot Springs, Port Angeles
Tired of traveling around the state and want nothing more than a dip in a tub of warm water to relax those sore muscles? You are in the right place.
Set in a bank on Boulder Creek in Port Angeles, WA, the Olympic Hot Springs consists of 21 seeps of alkaline mineral water springs within the surrounding deciduous rain forest.
Most of the puddles are one-foot deep and are a series of rock-and-sand soaking pools which have been created by volunteers and maintained by visitors.
Located by the old bridge’s parking lot, the Hot Springs can be reached along a ‘mostly-paved’ trail. The uppermost pool is considered as the cleanest and most-likely to ‘clothing-optional’.
4. Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co., Seattle
Seattle, as mentioned in the beginning, is Washington’s largest state. Thus, it isn’t a surprise that the city is filled with several hidden gems and interesting spots. Among the many, Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co., operated by The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas (formerly known as 826 Seattle), is a fanciful space-themed store selling everything cosmic.
Aimed at kids and young adults from age 6 to 18, the Store is an almost-perfect fantasy land that gives into the imagination and curiosity of youngsters who like to believe that reaching the stars is just a click away.
Star maps, whimsical toys, astronomy books and a retro-futuristic spaceship hanging from the roof – Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. has it all.
Wish to teleport yourself or your young ones to the world of cosmic writing? Enter the “Atomic Teleporter.”
5. Afterglow Vista, Friday Harbor
Previously known as the McMillin Mausoleum after its creator, John S. McMillin, ‘Afterglow Vista’, as mentioned on the sign leading to the location, was intended to be the final resting place of McMillin and his family, but, the site is much more than just a burial ground.
McMillin, a mineral magnate, and a devoted Methodist, instilled all his religious values and family principles in the construction of the place. The structure of the mausoleum resembles an open-air chamber with a huge limestone table in the center with several stone chairs around it.
The chairs not only represent the tombstone and burial site of McMillin and each of his family members but also holds their ashes. The only empty space at the “family table” belongs to his son, who, apparently turned away from Methodism.
This wonderful and symbolic site is open to the public and can be accessed from Roche Harbor if you are taking a boat.
6. Wallaby Ranch, Fall City
Owned by USDA approved official breeders Rex and Tawny Paperd, Fall City Wallaby Ranch is more like a parallel world where a substantial population of bouncy, cuddly, and strangely joyful Bennett’s wallabies (also known as red-necked wallabies), red kangaroos, and wallaroos coexist peacefully and create the perfect happy world!
Located in Snoqualmie Valley (most popularly known as The Valley of the Moon), Wallaby Ranch serves multiple missions. Aside from being the perfect abode for the utterly cute critters, the owners also offer educational tours to young and adult locals, group tours to observe the living habits of the animals, and train the young wallabies to act as service animals for providing companionship to people with mental or physical conditions.
You may get a chance to hold, play with, and even feed the adorable creatures. While at it, go on, cuddle with them and see if that doesn’t bring a silly smile on your face.
7. Vashon Island Bike Tree, Vashon
The inspiration behind Author, Artist, and Cartoonist Berkeley Breathed’s children’s book, “Red Ranger Came Calling”, the Bike Tree is the real Vashon Legend that has roamed the island since time immemorial.
The old, rustic bicycle, which some believe to be from the 1920s, remains suspended 7-foot off the ground in the trunk of a tree!
There have been several stories surrounding the cycle-eating-tree, most common of which is that it belonged to a boy who tied it to the tree, went off to war, and never returned.
Another equally popular version narrates the story of a little child who chained the cycle to the tree and forgot about it, so the tree embraced the lonely, forgotten cycle to make it feel loved.
8. Hobbit House, Port Orchard
What is it with the United States and these secret gnome structures everywhere around?
Marilyn Davis and Cheryl Pelkey bought a 50-year-old plant nursery in 1996, but, it wasn’t until 2015 that they created the Hobbit House behind the nursery. Six months, a large frame built out of 14-gage culvert steel pipe, and a lot of love, dedication, and creativity later, the duo created a replica of a section of J.R.R Tolkien’s Shire.
Enter the door and you would be greeted by a heart-warming, functional fireplace. Further ahead, a carved wooden chair and a shelf with a lamp on it sit next to a round window, – a perfect place to pen your thoughts about the place or simply take photos. On the other hand, is a stone wall.
Resembling Tolkien’s Hobbit House, the exteriors of the structure have been designed to look like they were built into the side of the hill. Several different species of flowers decorate the elf houses. A large magnolia tree dominates the landscape and blooms during the summer.
Every plant around the Port Orchard Hobbit House is for sale in the adjoining nursery.
9. Thornewood Castle, Tacoma
What’s in a name? Nothing it seems, because, for the highly popular Thornewood Castle, it’s all in the reputation.
In 1911, Mr. Chester Thorne, the original owner, and resident of the castle, started construction on a demolished English house from the 15th Century. The palatial mansion, with its 32 rooms, 22 bathrooms, 35-acres of English gardens, and a hidden “Sunken” orchard, was absolutely magical and could easily be categorized as a “castle.”
Thorne lived in the castle until his death, after which the structure was inherited by his daughter, Anna, who has strict instructions to never part with it. However, it was promptly sold to a developer and was turned into a bed-and-breakfast.
It was rumored that after the filming of Stephen King’s horror movies, Rose Red and The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer, the castle became a center for paranormal activities. Since the vague stories intrigued visitors and were good for business, the owners ran with it.
After a while, the Thornewood Castle was sold again, and the new owners spun the story to an entirely different angle where the Castle was a symbol of love, built by Thorne for his beloved wife, Anna, and called it “The House That Love Built.”
10. Snoqualmie Tunnel, North Bend
A part of the 1,612-acre Iron Horse State Park, the Snoqualmie Tunnel is a 2.3-mile stretch of long, dark subway which was once a section of Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad.
The Tunnel passes right through a mountain and gets colder as you travel deeper into it. A great hiking option, the dark insides of the passageway require that you carry a torch/light, and most definitely wear warm clothes. Once you are in the middle of the tunnel, the lights at both the end become almost invisible, and the only thing surrounding you is the ghostly, gloomy feeling.
The surface of the Snoqualmie Tunnel is a flat and easy trail to walk on. There are picnic benches at the end of the tunnel.
Come winter, the tunnels are closed to all visitors due to the dangerous, icy weather condition.
11. Port Angeles Underground, Port Angeles
Imagine a street under a street.
In 1914, drastic measures by the residents of Port Angeles to fight the sewage flooding and constant stench surrounding the original street were taken, and consequently, the city council decided to raise the street approximately 10 to 15 feet above the actual street surface.
While the new streets were built and old buildings were torn down, some businesses opted to keep their stores intact by building a second floor on the existing structures.
Currently, the deputy Mayor of the town, Don Perry, offers walking tours of the town’s history while taking you through some parts of the original street that remained buried since 1914.
Among the structures from the era gone by, store fronts, a boxing gym, and an old bowling alley may be visited during the tour.
12. Northern State Hospital Farm, Sedro – Woolley
One of the productions facilities of the Northern State Hospital for the Mentally Ill built in 1909, the Farm was constructed on a 700-acre land, and enabled the hospital to be self-sufficient and highly successful. Not only that, the Northern State Hospital’s farm, along with its lumber mill and quarries, supported in feeding other hospitals in Washington.
The farms were home to almost all domestic animals such as cows and chickens, and, along with housing food and crop for the facility, it provided the patients with a great opportunity to work and socialize.
Once considered among the largest of its kind around the area, the farm, and its land was given away to the county when the hospital shut down in 1973.
The entire area barring the hospital facility has been transformed into a public park which still houses some of the original barns and milking houses.
Pack a lunch and make a picnic out of it!
13. Camlann Village, Carnation
Ever imagine if you could time travel to the past and live like a King/Queen from Medieval England? Well, now you can.
Located in Carnation, WA, the Camlann Village seems to be stuck in the 14th century with no interest in returning to the future.
The fictitious village strives to offer the perfect setting and ambiance for the medieval period, so much so, that it allows you to rent a costume and be an actual part of the fabricated era. That’s not all. Actors dressed as those from the era walk the streets of the Village and tell tales of their life in this make-believe English town. They even go to the extent of celebrating annual festivals such as St. James Fair, the Harvest Festival, and Michaelmas.
You can experience demonstrations on 14th-century archery, artwork, candle-making, and even blacksmithing.
Found your groove yet?
To take it up another notch, the Bors Hede, Camlann’s own restaurant, happily serves you with Fenberry Pye, Blamanger, and Burbelier de Sangle throughout the year.
14. Neukom Vivarium at the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle
Vivarium, in Latin, means “a place of Life”. Ironically, at the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, WA, the name symbolizes a ROTTEN TREE. And, it’s not your usual ignored detritus, in fact, it is an unusual work of art being displayed at the park alongside sculptures by contemporary artists such as Richard Serra and Claes Oldenburg.
Part sculpture, part nature, the Neukom Vivarium is a Western Hemlock transported by artist and arborist, Mark Dion, from the Green River Watershed in 2006.
Open for visitors under the supervision of a volunteer staffer, the exhibit involves a chalkboard for a lesson on trees and include magnifying glasses to examine the roots of the tree.
15. Leavenworth’s Bavarian Village, Leavenworth
Bearing an exact resemblance to Bavaria, Germany, Leavenworth’s Bavarian-themed Village is a tourist-oriented community, surrounded by mountains, which has been designed to comprise buildings and shops constructed in typical German décor. With faceted houses and wooden balconies, Leavenworth has been intricately decorated to replicate the German state.
Originally a classic mountain town in the Pacific Northwest, with a timber and railroad supported economy, the current day Bavarian Village is a communal effort of its residents who refused to give up on their homeland when the industries failed to remain in business.
Leavenworth’s Bavarian Village even has its own Maifest and Oktoberfest!
16. Mima Mounds, Olympia
Captain Charles Wilkes, the leader of the U.S. Exploring Expedition (also known as Wilkes Expedition), stumbled upon the hillocks in the mid-1800s. At the time of discovery, Wilkes thought that the mounds were, in fact, burial grounds of the Native American, but, no bodies or human remains were found.
There have been several theories behind the formation of the Mima Mounds including erosion, an earthquake, glacial free-and-thaw cycle, and even a supposed volcanic eruption. However, of late, the theory that has most resonated with the formation states that the hummocks were created by generations of gophers during the process of digging up their dens.
Even though none of the logic seems to stay for long enough and the Mima Mounds continue to remain a mysterious creation, the phenomenon has been listed as a National Natural Landmark.
17. The Junk Castle, Pullman
The 1960s were seen as an era of experimentation and unconventionality for a lot of creative minds. Among those was a former art teacher, Victor Moore, who dedicated the period to build his masterpiece – his Junk Castle.
Victor and Bobbie Moore moved into their exclusive residence soon after marriage and dedicated their lives to the improvement and growth of this ambiguous structure they called home.
Perched atop a hill, The Junk Castle has been made entirely out of scrap material – all kinds of it!
While the exteriors are a combination of reclaimed sheet metal, discarded automobile parts and old household appliances, the windows at the castle are crafted out of car windows and washing machine doors.
The couple recently sold the “Junk Castle” and the structure is being pushed by its admirers to be listed as a historical landmark.
18. Edith Macefield’s House, Seattle
Known today as the “Up” house after the 2009 animated movie, Edith Macefield’s Whitewood Cottage is a sheer example of holding onto something we love with all our heart and soul.
With urban development taking over the streets of Ballard, Edith was a woman of strong values and even stronger determination. While the whole town around her was being torn apart and transformed into an emotionless modern town, Edith stood her ground and refused a million dollar offer to sell her home.
Very much a mystery to everyone she ever knew and came across (except maybe her mother), Edith lived at the house since 1952 until 2008. It was only after she died of pancreatic cancer and left the house to Barry Martin, a construction employee, and her helper, that it was sold to a real estate agency.
Considered the inspiration behind the famous Hollywood movie, the house is as mysterious as its owner – maybe because no one knows who Edith Macefield was and how did she possess an autograph book which had hundreds of signatures from prominent personalities throughout the history.
19. One Square Inch of Silence, Forks
A tiny dot on the American map, One Square Inch of Silence is a small red pebble covering just one square inch of a moss-covered log which is presumably the “quietest outdoor place in the United States of America.”
Created by Emmy Award-winning acoustic ecologist, Gordon Hempton, who is also a celebrated author, One Square Inch of Silence is an independent project that is designed to preserve the tiny space from any sort of noise pollution.
This not-so-famous, secluded spot can be found via hiking a three-mile rainforest down the Hoh River Trail.
Hempton designed the place to distinguish between man-made noise and ‘the sound of nature’ and in the hope that the ambiance of this place will help connect visitors to their natural surroundings. In his attempt, the California-born artist is trying to create an epicenter for a process that can reverse the damage caused by noise pollution.
One of the only 12 quiet zones in the country, the silence of this “square inch” is at times jeopardized, but, shockingly, most of the times it is done by the US Navy who have been conducting training missions through the airspace since 2012, illegally!
20. Gravity Hill, Prosser
On an isolated road, north of Prosser lays a stretch of street that has been known to defy gravity. Known as the “Gravity Hill”, and also at times called a “magnetic hill”, the road has been witnessed to pull you uphill even when you shift your car into neutral.
More often than not, the phenomenon has been blamed on the supernatural, ghosts and aliens of various kinds, however, in reality, these kind of roads (there are more than one in the world) are only an optical illusion. What seems like an uphill inclination is actually a part of a larger downhill. The illusion occurs due to the lack of any substantial horizontal line.
Some admirer of the strange phenomenon has marked the beginning of the stretch as the “START.” So, you know where to begin as the road is a tad bit tricky to find.
21. Ape Canyon, Cougar
The location of one of the most prevalent “Bigfoot” attacks in the pseudohistory of the country and maybe even the world, Ape Canyon came to be called so when a group of five miners was supposedly attacked by a group of Apes in the middle of the night.
As per the story featured in several newspapers across Washington and Oregon, one summer evening in July 1924, the miners were resting at their hand-made cabin when, out of nowhere, huge stones started being fired at the cabin. One of the men, Fred Beck, claimed to have seen and fired at one of the beasts, who, as he recalled, plummeted into the gorge.
Though claims have been made that it was, in fact, a group of notorious youngsters, the narrowing gauge in the northeast of Mt. St. Helens still retains its reputation as the famous Ape Canyon.
22. “1000 steps” of Greenwood Cemetery, Spokane
Named “1000 steps” since no one seemed to have reached the top of the stairway, the staircase at Greenwood Cemetery is not just a regular haunted spot. As the local legend goes, anybody attempting to climb up the stairs without any lights sees faces of several dead men, women, and children. Continue climbing and you would hear their painful cries and eerie shrieks.
Supposedly, the staircase and the surrounding sites have been a part of dreadful satanic rituals.
Renovations around the cemetery have reduced the “1000 steps” to an unnecessary piece of structure and it now rests decayed and ignored (except for the many unseen residents).
The land is owned privately, so take permission before you enter.
23. Ladder Creek Falls and Gardens, Marblemount
Set amidst the gorgeous surrounding of the North Cascades National Park, Marblemount, WA, Ladder Creek Falls and Gardens are brutally underrated and unheeded.
In 1920, the then Seattle City Light Superintendent of Lighting, J. D. Ross initiated a luminescent show that involved the Falls being fitted with various colored lights and coupled with music that oozed from the garden atmosphere.
A well-admired piece of work at the time, the light and sound show went under renovation between 2008 till 2011 when City Light installed an all new lighting system with LED bulbs of varied colors – red, blue, green, and white.
24. Nutty Narrows Bridge, Longview
Speaking of animal-friendly, the late Amos Peters, a local builder who worked around Park Plaza, created a “squirrel only” bridge that made it easy for the squirrels of Longview to cross Olympia Way, a busy thoroughfare in Washington.
Known as the Nutty Narrows Bridge, the thought of the construction emerged when, Peters and a group of constructors sat down to discuss the safety of squirrels crossing the road to feast on nuts left by the workers at the Park Plaza over lunch one afternoon, and realized that they had to do something to minimize the threat of these cute, little creatures being run over by vehicles.
Peters and his colleagues presented the idea to the City Council who gladly approved the project, and, thus, the Nutty Narrows Bridge was erected as a safe haven for the squirrels.
25. Blue Lake Rhino Cave, Coulee City
Unlike most other landmarks that are named after something or someone, the Blue Lake Rhino Cave is not named after a rhino, IT IS a rhino – an adult Diceratherium (great or great-great-grandfather of the modern-day rhinoceros).
Theories say that a full-grown Diceratherium bull may have been grazing in the field when a sudden eruption of highly fluid, speedily-flowing basal started. The poor rhino was stuck within the prairie since its escape route was blocked by a lake. Thus, the lava covered his body and the corpse of the rhino hardened under the layer.
A cast of the cave’s interiors was made by a crew from Berkley in the late 1940s. The same rest on display at the University of Washington Burke Museum.
26. Piece of the Berlin Wall at Cafe Turko, Seattle
Wait! Café Turko isn’t really a hidden gem. In fact, it is quite popular for its exotic Turkish menu. So, why exactly is it on the list?
True that the neighbourhood café has become quite a craze amidst the residents and visitors in Seattle, WA, and the menu is on bright display on their website (if you don’t remember the endless variety of kebabs and hummus that they serve), but have you stopped to observe that ‘nondescript’ chunk of concrete that stands in front of the restaurant?
A rare segment of the iconic Berlin Wall, also known as the Iron Curtain, the structure stands at 6 feet by 12 feet and is perhaps one of the smallest of its kind as compared to other preserved sections. Be that as it may, the piece still reeks of the terrifying past from during the Cold War.
27. Twin Sisters, Touchet
Not just another intriguing natural wonder, the Twin Sisters, perched atop a plateau near Wallula Gap, Washington, are considered to be as old as 15,000 years.
According to Native American folklore, the two spires were two of three wives of trickster god, Coyote. Legends have it that three women were trying to catch a fish but their attempts were doomed when Coyote kept destroying their fish trap. Finally, when the women started starving to death, they were forced into a deal with Coyote who agreed to build them a trap only if they agreed to marry him.
Unfortunately, for the ladies, the deal didn’t bring much joy to Coyote, who eventually turned one of them into a cave and the other two into the Twin Sister out of boredom or jealousy.
Science, however, claims that the Twin Sisters are, in fact, a result of erosion in the area.
So, whether you are in for the fables or for the enchanted natural beauty, hiking the Twin Sisters will definitely make your trip to this part of the city worthwhile.
28. Wellington Avalanche Site, Leavenworth
At first glance, the rusting metal pieces scattered in the wilderness of Tye River Valley may seem nothing more than discarded pieces of junk, but, the scrap is actually from the Wellington Avalanche of 1910 – the deadliest catastrophe of its kind to have taken place in the history of the United States of America.
Originally a small rail station in what was then Wellington, the area suffered through a fortnight of blizzard and then stuck by lighting. Stuck at the station were two trains – a mail carrier and a passenger train known as the Spokane Express. While a few may have escaped the treacherous fate, 96 souls were brutally claimed by the ‘White Death.”
Today, the leftover remnants of the trains that rolled 150 feet down into the river valley wait for their final destiny as the surrounding foliage overtake whatever is left of them.
29. Winlock Egg, Winlock
First built and installed in the 1920s to commemorate the thriving egg industry in Winlock, the Winlock Egg greets its spectators from a high-rise podium that proudly displays the words, “World’s Largest Egg”, and rightly so.
The original piece was made of canvas drawn on a wooden frame and was strutted around before being covered in plaster and put on perpetual display. Unfortunately, the structure couldn’t last long and a plastic version of the egg replaced the first Winlock Egg in the 1940s.
Another replacement was made but this time the structure made of fiberglass and presumably looked more like a football.
Finally, in 1991, the present-day Winlock Egg was created out of Cement and has been on display ever since.
In 1989, Ripley’s Believe It or Not declared it the “World’s Largest Egg.