Great Alternatives to Washington State Tourist Traps
Washington State is home to several great attractions. Here are some great life-hacks to get you and your family some great experiences that are affordable & less crowded.
Want Vegas, without the hype, cost and crowds? Check out the numerous tribal casinos throughout Washington. Some of these casinos, like 12 Tribes Casino in Manson offer good entertainment venues and restaurant/buffets.
Snoqualmie Ski Resort and Alpental are both popular ski and board destinations. Bear in mind these can be busy due to their proximity to Seattle. Visitors should consider other ski options, like Mission Ridge. The Ridge is 12 miles up the hill from Wenatchee and known throughout the Pacific Northwest for great powder. Us locals also love the shorter wait times to get back up on the lift.
Lake Chelan is a unique nature marvel, being one of the few freshwater fjords in the world. During the Summer tourist season (Memorial Day to Labor Day) the town can become overcrowded, and lodging can get expensive. Visitors can avoid the crowds by going after the holidays, from February through early to mid-May. Love wine and sprawling wineries? Chelan is your place.
Leavenworth, "Christmas Town," is magical - It can also be a tourist trap. The millions of Christmas lights are delightful, especially when there is fresh snow. A locals secret to avoid the crowds & enjoy the lights is to go on Thursdays or Sundays. You should keep in mind that most items in the Leavenworth shops are available for purchase online at a lower cost.
Mt. St. Helens and Mount Rainier are both worth a visit for those interested in natural history and a great hike. The Wonderland Trail around Rainier is World Class.
The North Bend Outlet Mall is an excellent place to stop for gas and snacks along I-90.
The Oregon Coast is a family favorite Summer vacation spot for me. I do admit that Cannon Beach and Seaside can get extremely crowded from late June through the month of August. To get yourself a great ocean experience without the crowds, consider Long Beach. Here you'll experience long and good stretch of coastline. If you bring your own picnic provisions, you can save a lot of money. Additionally, visitors who plan to camp or have a cookout should bring their own firewood or charcoal, as these items can be costly to purchase on site.
In Seattle, visitors should skip the Space Needle's overpriced elevator ride and instead go to the restaurant for lunch or brunch. Another great option (that gets you almost twice as high, for a lot less money) is the Columbia Tower Observation Deck.
The Duck Tours is a bit on the expensive side and and can get chilly and uncomfortable, unless the Seattle weather is Sunny and warm. If you try this very popular way to check out the city, then dress in layers. You'll thank me later.
Considering the Seattle Underground Tour? it's interesting, but it is essentially a nostalgic hike through stinky dirt tunnels.
Visitors should not miss Pike Place Market, which has something for everyone - Make you sure you check out the extensive lower level! The fish throwers are great, but the crowds can be a bit much.
The Pacific Science Center (under the Space Needle) is a great place for families and is more than visitors can do in one day. The Science Center has a HUGE IMAX screen (Where I saw Avatar Two).
The Woodland Park Zoo offers a rainy day discount, making it a good option for Seattle's wet weather.
Tacoma's Point Defiance Zoo is also a great place to bring the family.
The University District is a great place to explore museums, galleries, and cheap eats (including Voula's Offshore Cafe, a diner featured in DIners, Drive-ins and Dives)
Visitors can also appreciate the old gothic campus of the University of Washington: A must do on campus? Suzzallo Library. The inspiration to Hogwarts School in Harry Potter.
The MoPOP Museum of Pop (formerly EMP) offers interactive exhibits, and visitors can easily spend an entire day there.
Westlake Mall and the surrounding area are excellent shopping destinations, particularly during the holiday season.
For more info on places in Washington State, check out this website.