Best Washington Attraction (2017)


With Seattle as its cultural and artistic hub, Washington State enjoys a diversity that caters to nearly any type of traveler. From the Cascade Range to the Puget Sound, natural attractions in the state shine, but manmade offerings like the Pike Place Market or the Space Needle have become just as characteristic.

  • San Juan Islands

    San Juan Islands

    Off the northwest corner of Washington State lies an archipelago of some 400 islands and rocks famous for stunning sunsets, pristine wilderness, sandy beaches and stellar wildlife viewing. The San Juan Islands, accessible by boat or plane, get half the amount of rain as Seattle, making them a popular escape.
    Photo courtesy of Jim Maya / San Juan Islands

  • Point Defiance Park

    Point Defiance Park

    A 760-acre jewel in the heart of Tacoma, Point Defiance Park is not only a serene green space, it's home to smaller attractions like the Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium and Fort Nisqually Living History Museum. Primary and secondary recreational trails wind through the park, and Five Mile Drive gives vehicles access to all the park's attractions.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / irina88w

  • Cape Disappointment State Park

    Cape Disappointment State Park

    Cape Disappointment State Park occupies the land where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. The 1,882-acre park features wind-swept cliffs, old growth forest, freshwater lakes and two lighthouses standing watch over the coast. The clifftop Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center features interactive exhibits about the famed expedition.
    Photo courtesy of Long Beach Peninsula Visitors Bureau

  • Smith Tower

    Smith Tower

    Built in 1914, Smith Tower has long been an architectural icon in Seattle. Today, the city's first skyscraper still has one of Seattle's best observation decks alongside a speakeasy-style bar serving Prohibition-era craft cocktails.
    Photo courtesy of Christopher S. Maloney / Wikimedia Commons

  • Lake Chelan

    Lake Chelan

    Lake Chelan in Washington is known for its unusual shape and length. This long, narrow lake stretches 50.5 miles long. Fishing is popular here, as is exploring the 25 miles of trails in the surrounding mountains. But many more visitors make a trip out of Lake Chelan to hit up the 20-plus vineyards that dot the perimeter. Lake Chelan Wine Valley relatively new, but it’s already been named an American Viticulture Area.
    Photo courtesy of Stepanov Photography

  • Mount Rainier National Park

    Mount Rainier National Park

    Towering 14,410 feet above sea level, Washington's Mount Rainier has become a symbol of both Mount Rainier National Park and Washington State. An active volcano and the most glaciated peak in the lower 48, the mountain is ringed by subalpine meadows of wild flowers, giving it a distinctive look, particularly in spring.
    Photo courtesy of NPS Photo/ Jasmine Horn

  • Ballard Locks

    Ballard Locks

    The Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, also called the Ballard Locks, were built over 100 years ago to establish a commercial navigation route into Seattle. Today, the locks rank among the busiest in the country. Some 1.3 million people visit each year to take a guided tour, watch the ships come and go or see leaping salmon at a built-in fish ladder.
    Photo courtesy of iStock / SEASTOCK

  • Museum of Glass

    Museum of Glass

    A centerpiece of Tacoma's downtown revival, the Museum of Glass appears to have sprouted right out of the bank along the Thea Foss Waterway. The huge cone is both the roof and the chimney vent of the museum's Hot Shop Amphitheater glass studio – a working studio complete with stadium seating from which visitors witness a continual schedule of glass-blowing demos. World-renowned glass sculptor Dale Chihuly is a Tacoma native, and his hand was behind the Bridge of Glass, an elevated pedestrian walkway connecting the glass museum to the nearby Washington State History Museum.
    Photo courtesy of Casey Yee / Flickr

  • Olympic National Park

    Olympic National Park

    A single day in Olympic National Park in Washington takes visitors to wild Pacific beaches, colorful tide pools, alpine glaciers, pristine rainforest - some of the oldest in the USA - and meadows covered in wildflowers. Since no roads divide the interior of the park, the natural habitats remain largely untouched and the ecosystem rich with life.
    Photo courtesy of NPS Photo

  • Pike Place Market

    Pike Place Market

    It could be argued quite persuasively that Pike Place Market is Seattle's heartbeat. It's on everyone's must-see list, and it's worth the hype. Situated along the water, the market was originally founded to allow produce growers to sell directly to consumers. Today, it's a protected historic district that inundates visitors with sights, sounds, smells and the best people-watching in town. 
    Photo courtesy of Tiffany Von Arnim / Flickr


We asked USA TODAY 10Best readers to vote for their favorite Washington attractions, and after four weeks of voting, we have a winner. 

The top 10 winners in the category Best Washington Attraction are as follows:

  1. San Juan Islands
  2. Point Defiance Park - Tacoma
  3. Cape Disappointment State Park - Ilwaco
  4. Smith Tower - Seattle
  5. Lake Chelan
  6. Mount Rainier National Park
  7. Ballard Locks - Seattle
  8. Museum of Glass - Tacoma
  9. Olympic National Park
  10. Pike Place Market - Seattle

A panel of experts partnered with 10Best editors to picked the initial 20 nominees, and the top 10 winners were determined by popular vote. Experts Lara Dunning (Small Town Washington & Beyond), Mary Jo Manzanares (Traveling with MJ), JoAnn Roe and Corinne Whiting (10Best) were chosen based on their knowledge and experience of travel in Washington State.

Congratulations to all these winning attractions!

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AlertThe Experts

Lara Dunning

Lara Dunning

Lara Dunning

Mary Jo Manzanares

Mary Jo Manzanares

Mary Jo Manzanares

JoAnn Roe

JoAnn Roe

JoAnn Roe

Corinne Whiting

Corinne Whiting

Corinne Whiting