Laid-back living in Washington’s capital.
Olympia: College and Coffee Bars
Credit: Courtesy of Olympia Coffee Roasting Company

Hippie values and serious business commingle in this harborside capital city. It’s got a lovely small town vibe, with gardens, a bustling downtown, and a bluff-top state capital building. It also delivers its own take on romance, with pretty water views from practically every angle: It’s on Budd’s Inlet at the southernmost end of Puget Sound and is divided by Capitol Lake.

Capitol Campus

There’s no way to miss the Capitol Campus—you can see its regal, domed legislative building from almost everywhere in the city. Take a guided tour, and then stroll through the lovely conservatory and gardens.

Olympia Farmers Market

Between April and December, beekeepers, artisans, and local organic farmers gather here to sell their wares.

Fish Tale Brew Pub

The restaurant serves unusual pub grub (try the free-range emu burgers), and locally brewed organic ales.

Batdorf & Bronson

Just east of Capitol Lake Park, this downtown coffee shop is home to what many consider the best brew in the city. Now a small chain—which includes one branch in Decatur, Georgia—Batdorf & Bronson roasts and serves fair trade coffee from growing regions around the world, including Costa Rica, Colombia, Indonesia, and Kenya. At this flagship location, the shop’s interior is large and inviting, with a high ceiling, oversize leather couches, a fireplace, and free Wi-Fi. In addition to coffee drinks like espressos and vanilla lattes, the menu also includes fresh baked goods such as apple pumpkin muffins.

Swantown Inn

The ornate B&B in a converted Victorian mansion is a great alternative to downtown's boring business hotels.

Harlequin Productions

Harlequin Productions draws theatergoers to its unconventional shows here.

Oyster House, Olympia

Though vegetarians are plentiful in Olympia, shellfish fans are, too; find them slurping Fanny Bays, from next-door Puget Sound, at the Oyster House.