30 Things Washington State Is Known And Famous For

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Washington state is known for its rich history and cultural heritage in the Northwest region. It one of the most popular states in the United States, named after George Washington, the first US president.

There is a wide range of things and experiences Washington is famous for and we will be exploring them.

What Is Washington State Famous For?

Washington is known for its mountainous landscapes, college basketball teams and headquarters of global companies like Microsoft. This iconic state has bustling metropolitan areas and attractions that make it a prime travel destination. That said, Washington state is also famous for its largest city Seattle, which draws millions of annual visitors.

History, Culture, And Traditions


Strong Art Culture

Washington state is known for its promotion of diverse art. The state is home to several theatres, where a wide array of performers take center stage to impress thousands of audiences that pack the arenas.

Museums and art galleries are also important features of Washington that preserve the rich heritage of the state. Explore the Asian art collections at the Seattle Art Museum, or wander the Thomas Burke Memorial Washington State Museum to learn about the history of the Pacific Northwest Indians.

Cougars-Huskies Rivalry

A long-running rivalry every Washingtonian is familiar with is the Apple Cup basketball game involving the men’s basketball teams of the two largest universities in the state, the Washington State University(WSU) and the University of Washington(UW).

The Cougars represent WSU. while the Huskies represent UW. What began in 1900 as a regular meeting between these teams grew into a traditional rivalry held just before Thanksgiving.

The teams have met 114 times and each meeting offers an opportunity for every Washingtonian, especially college students, to spur their team. It is one of the biggest sports events Washington state is famous for.


Native American Heritage

The origin story of Washington isn’t complete without its earliest settlers, the Native Americans, who habited the area thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans. The natives had two massive cultural areas peculiar to the Northwest Coast Indians and the Plateau Indians.

Some of the preserved items relating to the early Native Americans include hunting tools, clothing, basketry, and harpoons. These things are well-preserved at the Marmes Rock Shelter, together with some of the oldest skeletal remains in the Western Hemisphere.


Coffee Drinking Culture

A strong attribute Washington state is known for is its overwhelming coffee-drinking culture. This is especially common in the city of Seattle, which is the largest city that consumes coffee in the US.

In Washington, coffee is more than a drink. It is a badge that every Washingtonian proudly wears. If you are looking for the perfect icebreaker with a resident in Washington, talk about the lovely taste of their coffee and watch them warm up to you.


Washington Flag

The flag of Washington is one of the simplest flags in the US, yet it is also one of the most iconic flags. The flag features a green field and an image of George Washington for whom the state is named. It is the only state flag with the image of an American president and a field of green.

The flag was adopted in 1923, 34 years after Washington became a state. Following a series of minor revisions to the design, the flag was standardized in 1967. It being the only US state flag with the image of an American president makes it one of the most popular things Washing state is famous for.


Fall And Harvest Festivals

Washington is known for being an agricultural state, so be prepared to get dazzled by the locals when they show off the proceeds from their farms during the annual fall fairs and harvest festivals held in the state.

Some of the biggest harvest and fall festivals include Burlington Harvest Festival, Central Washington State Fair, and Fresh Hop Ale Festival, among others. The festivals are great opportunities to dine, dance, and play fun games.

Base Of Global Companies

Some of the biggest companies in the world have their headquarters in Washington, which is also the birthplace of a few of them. Companies like Amazon and Starbucks were founded in Washington, while the headquarters of Microsoft is located in the state.

If you are a businessperson or enthusiast, do well to take an inspiring and educative trip to the locations of these famed companies, as well as other Fortune 500 Companies that are based in the state. Some of them, such as Redmond-based Microsoft, have a visitor center where you are given a guided tour to learn about the company’s history.

Districts And Areas

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Fairhaven Village

This residential area used to be a settlement before it merged with Bellingham Bay to form the city of Bellingham in 1903. In the 1800s, Fairhaven was popular for salmon canning, boasting several salmon canning operations that employed almost 5000 workers. It would later be the home to the headquarters of the Pacific American Fisheries.

Now, Fairhaven is a lively community packed with bars, museums, shops, and other attractions that pull visitors of all kinds to the place. It was designated a National Historic District in 1977.


Queen Anne

Sitting on the highest named hill in Seattle, Queen Anne is a top affluent neighborhood Washington state is famous for. The neighborhood is an architectural delight, thanks to the first set of Seattle elites who built mansions in the neighborhood.

Though it is a popular destination for cultural festivities, skiing, and hiking, Queen Anne is best known as the home of the 605-foot observation tower, Space Needle. The tower is located in Lower Queen Anne and attracts over 1.3 million visitors annually.

You can catch some great views of Seattle and other parts of Washington from the observation deck of the tower.


Riverside, also known as Downtown Spokane, is one of the liveliest destinations Washington state is famous for. The neighborhood is located in the vibrant city of Spokane, offering entertainment opportunities to visitors.

From bar and restaurant hopping to clubbing, shopping, and wandering through diverse architecture, Spokane makes a balanced experience for every visitor.

Be sure to explore the fascinating architectural styles of the Spokane City Hall, the Masonic Center, The Parkade, the Legion Building, and so much more.


Bellevue Downtown Park

Bellevue prides itself on this beautiful public space that accentuates the beauty of its downtown district. The Bellevue Downtown Park spans 26 acres, accommodating a promenade and wide lawn bordered by a waterfall sculpture. and benches.

The space is open to visitors and families who can take a stroll or settle for a picnic. The benches around the area offer a beautiful view of the Bellevue skyline, while the trees direct breezes that immerse you into the natural feel of the place.

Architecture And Landmarks


Mount Rainier

The highest mountain in Washington, Mount Rainier stands at 14,411 feet and is a stratovolcanic spectacle located in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest.

The mountain sits in the Mount Rainier National Park, which features hiking trails, stunning waterfalls, and lush trees that blossom in autumn. These features make it a popular tourist destination and one of the best natural landmarks Washington state is known for.  

If you are a hiker or snowboarder, Mount Rainier promises to give you an entirely new and adventurous experience.

Fort Worden

Located in Port Townsend, Fort Worden Historical State Park is a National Historic Landmark that once served as a base of the United States Army Coast Artillery Corps, erected to protect Puget Sound from invasion by sea.

The fort was constructed between 1898 and 1920, becoming one of the largest forts built in the Endicott Period. Now it is an impressive district that offers over 36 historic houses for rent, allowing guests to take in the sun at one of the best beaches in Washington, explore the marine museum onsite, and enjoy other recreational activities.


Sky View Observatory

Located in Columbia Center, Seattle, Sky View Observatory is the highest public observatory in the Pacific Northwest. Do you know what that means? You are treated to an immersive view of the beautiful Seattle skyline and parts of Washington state.

Unsurprisingly, this is one of the landmarks that Seattle is known for. The tower’s observation deck is always open to visitors.

You can even seize the opportunity to set up a memorable date with your partner, dinner with your family members, or even your wedding reception. Just don’t end your time in Washington without the Sky View Observatory experience.

Photo Credit: bloodua / Depositphotos.com

Seattle Central Library

The Seattle Central Library is one of the most famous architectural structures Washington state is famous for. The glass and steel structure, which is the flagship of the Seattle Public Library system, was constructed from 2002 to 2004.

The 11-story building is 185 feet high and occupies 362,987 sq ft with a capacity of holding 1.5 million books and other materials. It was listed among the 150 favorite structures in America by the American Institute of Architects in 2007.


The Olympic National Park

One of the largest national parks Washington state is known for having is the Olympic National Park, spanning almost a million acres.

The park was established to protect a vast wilderness, glacier-capped mountains, and thousands of years of human history. During the winter, the park is busy with snowboarding activities. Other seasons provide suitable weather for camping and many lots of outdoor recreation.

>Check Olympic National Park Tour

Columbia Center

You cannot miss the imposing presence of this fixture in the heart of Seattle. The Columbia Center, formerly known as the Bank of America tower is the tallest building in Washington.

With a height of 933 ft, it has a staggering 76 stories with its spaces leased out as Class A offices. The building construction was completed in 1985, making it the tallest structure on the West Coast at the time. The skyscraper is home to the Skyview Observatory and a private club lounge.


Sports In Washington State

Seattle Sounders

Seattle Sounders FC is a men’s soccer team that competes in Major League Soccer(MLB). The team was founded in 2007 as a reinvention of the original club of the same name that was active between 1974 to 1983.

Sounders are the only Seattle-based team competing in the MLS and since it was established, the club has won two MLS Cup titles, one Supporters’ Shield, and four Western Conference(Playoffs) titles, among other trophies.

Their achievements in this short span make the club one of the most successful men’s soccer teams Washington is known for. 

OL Reign

Founded in 2012, OL Reig,  originally named Seattle Reign FC, is a women’s soccer team based in Seattle. The team competes in the National Women’s Soccer League(NWSL) and is one of the inaugural members of the league.

OL Reign has three Supporters’ Shield titles and has managed a record-best four semifinal appearances in the NWSL Regular Season Playoffs.

Seattle Mariners

The baseball team, the Seattle Mariners is based in Seattle and competes in Major League Baseball(MLB). The team, created in 1970, currently plays their home at the 48,000-capacity T-Mobile Park stadium.

The team’s major league titles include three West Division titles and two Wild Berth titles.

Seattle Storm

The women’s Basketball team, Seattle Storm is one of the sports treasures Washington state is famous for having. The Seattle-based team competes in the Women’s National Basketball Association(WNBA), which has experienced significant success since its membership in 2000.

The Seattle Storm has won four WNBA Championships. Their historic first Championship victory was in 2004, which saw Anne Donovan become the first female head coach to win the title in WNBA history.

Famous Food In Washington State


Rainier Cherries

Rainier Cherries is Washington’s variety of cherry, which was created from crossing two other types of cherries. The hybrid, created at Washington State University, has a bright yellow color with a blush of red.

Named after the iconic Mount Rainier, the sweet-tasting cherries are mostly used in preparing desserts and jams. 

Take a tour of the Pike Place Market in Seattle, and you are sure to find plenty of these on sale.

Almond Roca Candy

What was first an experiment with different confections became a popular brand of buttercrunch candy Washington is known for today.

Almond Roca candy is made in Tacoma — its sweetness and crunchiness is one of the favourite things visitors look forward to when visiting the state. Since its inception in the early years, it has grown to become one of the iconic foods in Washington State.


Cedar Plank Grilled Salmon

Restaurants and seafood markets serve this specialty grilled salmon to food enthusiasts and seafood lovers visiting Washington.

What makes this dish special is the marination of the salmon with spices and herbs, plus the added smoky flavor of the cedar plank it is grilled on.

The dish goes well with a variety of wines or beers served on a breezy seaside.

Famous People From Washington State

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Bill Gates

Bill Gates is perhaps the most famous person in Washington is known for. The billionaire co-founder of Microsoft sits pretty on this list of Washington famous people.

Gates was born and raised in Seattle. He attended a private school in Seattle, where he wrote his first program. Now, Gates is considered a major entrepreneur of the microcomputer evolution, thanks to his multi-billion dollar company.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan

Jeffrey Dean Morgan is an actor that has starred in prominent Hollywood television shows and films.

One of the most famous people from Washington state, Jeffrey is best known for his stellar portrayal of Negan in the AMC horror drama series. 

The actor was born in Seattle, where he attended Lake Washington High School from where he graduated in 1984. He would later attend Skagit Valley College for a short period.

Other notable series and films he has appeared in include Supernatural, The Good Wife, Red Dawn, and Watchmen.

Kurt Cobain

Kurt Cobain is a big name in the world of alternative rock. The musician was the lead vocalist and primary vocalist of Nirvana, which he co-founded with bassist Krist Novoselic.

Kurt was just as influential in the world of alternative rock as he was in the real world. He was very vocal and blunt about his ideals through the lyrics of his songs, which remains a big influence in contemporary years after his death.

Travel Insurance

Rainn Wilson

By now you should be reeling in delight to see this name if you are a fan of The Office. In case you don’t know, Rainn Wilson played the meme-cropped character of Dwight Schrute in the NBC sitcom.

The actor and comedian was born in Seattle and would later graduate with a bachelor’s degree in drama from the University of Washington in 1986.

Rainn’s performance in The Office earned him critical acclaim as well as three consecutive Emmy Award nominations. This makes him one of the top American entertainers Washington state is famous for producing.

Jimi Hendrix

Widely considered the greatest instrumentalist in the history of rock music, Jimi Hendrix is one of the most famous people from Washington state.

The Seattle-born guitarist, despite having one of the shortest mainstream careers, is easily one of the most influential electric guitarists in the history of popular music. That was how great his stringing prowess was.

Discovering More Things Washington State Is Known For

Washington offers plenty of prime attractions, some of which are even less known. You can only discover these gems if you visit the state. Nonetheless, you can rest assured to enjoy the experiences in the prominent places Washington is known for.



Book Your Flight

I usually use a combination of 2-3 of the following search engines to find cheap flights: Skyscanner, Momondo, Google Flights

Find Your Accommodation

Booking.com is my usual platform for finding accommodation options as they have one of the largest selections. Hostelworld is great for booking hostels. For more private or long term accommodation, Airbnb is my go-to platform.

Travel Insurance

Travel insurance is important for to protect yourself against unforeseen circumstances. I usually look at a few insurance companies depending on my travel needs.
  • SafetyWings for Travel Health Insurance
  • IMG Global for added Insurance when doing activities outside of usual coverage
Packing for your trip? Check out the packing list for ideas on what to bring

For more travel resources, check out my resources page for best platforms and companies to use when you travel.

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Welcome To NomadsUnveiled
This is Rax. For over a decade, I have traveled to over 60 countries - from a budget backpacker to a business traveler, expat and then a digital nomad. You can find insights and perspectives from myself and other world travelers that will inspire your journey of discovery.


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