Ah,Washington State, the land of Puget Sound and Starbucks Coffee. Whether you're assigned to a hospital in Seattle or you're picking up an assignment in Olympia or any of the smaller Washington cities, you're likely to fall in love with something. There's nature, there's culture, there's great food, there are concerts and sports and ferry rides and so much more. When you have a little downtime, here are our top seven suggestions for things to do in Washington.
1) Hike, hike, and hike some more. Washington State is positively brimming with national parks and beautiful scenery. Get a great view of the infamous Mount St. Helens from Silver Star Mountain or visit Mount Rainier National Park. There's also Ruby Beach, Point Defiance Park, Enchantment Lakes, Deception Pass State Park, the Hoh Rain Forest, Snoqualmie Falls... you have your pick of beautiful hiking trails.
2) Visit museums galore. No matter what you love, there's a museum for it somewhere in Washington, we almost guarantee it. You can enjoy modern and historical art, science, music, cars, outer space, glass, even science fiction and fantasy at the EMP Museum. Grab a fellow travel nurse and make a day of it!
3) Flowers, flowers everywhere. There are a number of gorgeous botanical gardens throughout the state, but we recommend a least visiting Manito Park and Botanical Gardens while you're in the area. It's located in Spokane and features plants from many different environments, plus a large rose garden.
4) Enjoy great food and flying fish. Literally, if you visit Pike's Market. You've got to experience the fishmongers tossing the fish through the air at least once. After that, though, make sure to grab some of the absolutely fantastic local seafood, or even a hot dog at Mad Dawg's. If you're interested in coffee and craft beer, Washington hits it out of the park on both counts. You could even visit the original Starbucks!
5) Head to the top of the Space Needle. Sure, it may be the most cliché and tourist-y thing to do, but that doesn't mean it's not amazing. You can see everything from up there!
6) Put on your boots and go apple picking. It's every autumn-lover's dream. On a crisp fall morning, put on a coat and head to one of Washington's many beautiful orchards to pick your own apples directly from the tree. You can also pick up fantastic applesauce, apple butter, apple cider and more.
7) Take a trip to the "healing" Soap Lake. Washington has lots of natural wonders, but a naturally occurring soda lake is something special. This lake is meromictic, which means there are layers of water that don't intermix, and that gives the water a foamy, "soapy" appearance. It also feels slick on the skin thanks to 23 different minerals in the water. Those minerals supposedly have healing properties, but even if that's a bit of a stretch, it's still a one-of-a-kind place to relax.
These are the highlights, but there's still tons more to do in Washington, so don't let this be your only guide. If you are a WA state native, or have had assignments there - what are your suggestions?