Washington State for the Summer

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By Ariel and Oscar - That Travel Nurse Couple

June 18, 2022

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Washington State for the Summer

Oscar and I have been lucky enough to call Washington state “home” for the last several months and cannot express enough how much we love this state. Our first assignment in Washington last summer took us to the Eastern side of the state, a part of Washington we didn’t even know existed until we arrived. Much like the deserts of Texas, where we are from, Eastern Washington provides a stark contrast to the evergreen, rainy Washington stereotype we all seem to know. With hundreds of vineyards, wineries, farmlands, and rivers (namely the giant Columbia River), Eastern Washington provided just a glimpse of what this state offers, and it was there where our love affair with the Evergreen State began.

We spent all last summer deep diving into all that Washington State had to offer. No matter how many road trips, hikes, and adventures we took, though, we knew we were barely scratching the surface and have chosen to extend several times since then in different regions of the state to explore as much as possible. We have worked in this state every season, but the summer is truly the most incredible. If you are fortunate enough to get a job opportunity in this part of the country during the summer months, do yourself a favor and take it! I promise you will not be sorry.

For any outdoor enthusiast, this state is an absolute dream. Three national parks, endless mountain ranges, hundreds of alpine lakes and rivers, forests that sit on and off beaches, curious wildlife, and infinite possibilities for camping, fishing, kayaking, hiking…you name it, Washington’s probably got it! Sometimes while driving through some mountain passes, it feels like you are in a different country. It can even sometimes feel prehistoric when you spot 1 of the five active volcanoes in the region. Not to worry, though, scientists keep a close eye on the activity of them all!

On the flip side, for any city or town lovers, this state also has tons to offer in places like Seattle, Olympia, and more. With breweries, concerts, professional sports teams, and cute-themed towns like Leavenworth and Winthrop, you truly get the best of both worlds when it comes to being surrounded by nature but also being out and about amongst the people. Not to mention, Washington borders some of our friendliest neighbors to the North, making weekend trips into British Columbia incredibly easy.

The summers in the Pacific Northwest are truly one of a kind. Most days are long and sunny, with an average sunrise time of 0500 and sunset time of 2100. Rain, although of course still a possibility, is seldom, and warm days take over. With so many things to do, it’s hard to make a list of the must-do’s, but here is our attempt. In this list, you will find a combination of outdoor and city activities, in no particular order!

#5: San Juan Islands:

a group of several islands located a few hours’ drive northwest (and a ferry ride!) from Seattle, WA. The ferry ride alone is enough to convince someone to visit here, but these islands have so much to offer. Whale watching, gorgeous sunsets, amazing food, and lots of opportunities to disconnect.

#4: Leavenworth:

over the last several months, we have been able to visit this German-themed town three times and have loved every visit. Nestled into the mountains towards the east, this little town has made a name for itself with its cute shops, fun food/drinks, and easy access to beautiful hikes (Lake Colchuck is still one of our favorites we have done!)

#3: Olympic National Park:

the diversity of this national park is not something easily described but something that everyone must see for themselves. Beautiful beaches (Ruby, Kalaloch, and La Push to name a few) are surrounded by endless forests and mountain ranges. Lake Crescent is also a must-see in this park, and one could easily spend hours exploring the Hoh Rainforest as well.

#2: Mount Rainier National Park:

There’s something quite unique about hiking around an active volcano, especially one as magnificent as Mt. Rainier. Summer days make viewing this beauty a breeze – I swear, every time we see her, we gasp! Paradise and Sunrise are popular places to visit here, but you can’t go wrong with any trail or region.

#1: Seattle:

This list wouldn’t be complete without including this lively city. The Space Needle, The Chihuly Glass Museum, the Seattle Great Wheel, and Pike Place Market are just a few of the must-see tourist spots here. Once you become more of a local, you can check out the dozens of breweries in the area (our favorite is Great Notion!) or spend some time hanging out at Lake Union in a hot tub boat (yes, really!). Seattle is also a really fantastic place to begin your adventures as most of the places mentioned earlier are within a 1-2.5 hour drive!

Honorable Mentions

North Cascades National Park: The third national park mentioned in this list, but still one of our all-time favorites. Surprisingly, this national park is one of the least visited in the country, and we aren’t sure why. Perhaps because many of the trails are not as easy to access as the trails in the other mentioned places, but that might also add to the beauty of this park as well. We’ve spent countless hours on Diablo Lake (the color of the water alone is enough to make you want to visit), driving through scenic roads, and hiking (our favorite was Maple Pass, but really this hike should be reserved for the Fall months!).

Columbia River Gorge:

We didn’t include this area in the main list because it is technically partly in Oregon (but also partly in Washington, too!). It is, however, extremely easy to get to (only about a 3-hour drive south from Seattle), and the scenery here still takes our breaths away. Great hiking to waterfalls (the most famous being Multnomah Falls), scenic vistas (we just recently hiked Dog Mountain, and the views were out of this world), and right along the massive Columbia River, where a host of activities take place (boating, windsurfing to name a few). This is a place we know we will continue to come back to as our time in Washington continues through this summer.

As we begin working our second summer in Washington State, I look back at all the things we have gotten to do and can’t wait to add more amazing things to the seemingly never-ending list that is Washington state.

We hope you found this article on Washington State and places to visit during the summer months while on assignment. Do you have any other places in Washington State that you think should be included on this list? Comment them below.

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