Washington State in the northwestern USA is a place full of natural wonders, vastness, and silence. This makes the "Evergreen State" the perfect travel destination.

Washington: mountains, sea, and rainforest

Unspoiled, beautiful, and cool at the same time - that's how "Washington State" looks to tourists passing through the area of the Pacific Northwest of the USA known as "Cascadia." With its lush green forests, crystal clear lakes, and extraordinary vulcanoes, Washington State captivates even the last USA doubter.

Washington facts

Capital Olympia
Area 184,665 km²
Population about 8 million
Location Northwest USA
Nickname The Evergreen State
State animal Orca, American goldfinch
Time zone Pacific: UTC-8/-7

Washington State: Location & Population

Washington State is located between the Pacific Coast and the Northern Cascades in the northwestern United States. To the north, the Evergreen State borders Canada, and to the east, southeast and south are Montana, Idaho, and Oregon.

Washington's residents are called "Washingtonians" and consist of approximately 13 % immigrants. The most common immigrant groups are German (about 19 %), English (about 12 %), Irish (about 11 %), Norwegian (about 6 %), Mexican (about 5 %), and Filipino (about 4 %).

Native Americans are located on large reservations and communities such as the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation, the Yakima Indian Reservation, and the coastal regions. There are 29 federally recognized Native American tribes in Washington.

The biggest cities in Washington

Attention: The identically named political headquarters of the USA is not located in the state of Washington, but rather far away in the east of the United States. Nevertheless, the Evergreen State has a vibrant metropolis and many exciting port cities and towns to offer.

The largest cities in Washington State are:

City Population
Seattle 740,000
Spokane 217,000
Tacoma 215,000
Vancouver 184,000
Bellevue 148,000
Kent 132,000

Spokane is the only one of these cities located in the eastern part of Washington behind the Cascade Mountains on the Montana border.

Climate and nature in Washington State

A gigantic amount of rain is coming down in Washington. However, the cascades divide the Evergreen State into two halves: West-Washington and East-Washington. Due to the rain shadow of the mountain range, both sides have different climates:


The climate in West-Washington is significantly more humid and temperate than in East-Washington. This is especially the case between September and early June. You can expect the harshest rainy days here between March and April. Summers are mild, and it rarely gets above 30 °C. Even in winter, sub-zero temperatures are not to be expected here. Snow is possible but usually does not last long.


East-Washington is much drier than the Pacific coastal areas. Summers are hotter, and winters are colder with much more snow.

What both parts of the state have in common: it rains more often in the winter than in the summer, and nature drives up with breathtaking scenery.

You'll find glaciers, deserts, rainforests, rugged coastline, and remarkable wildlife, from wild horses to gray whales in Washington. Its location in the Pacific Ring of Fire also makes it volcanic territory.

The ten volcanoes in the state include Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Glacier Peak, Mount Adams, and Mount St. Helens.

The best time to visit Washington

Since in the West only July and August are - at least partially - spared from rain, the optimal travel time for Washington is summer.

Washington in the summer

The low-rainfall period in midsummer creates the ideal conditions for tours through the national parks and cities in Washington State. Even swimming in the Pacific Ocean is only bearable during the summer because otherwise, the water is much too cold. Despite the rain, however, the Indian summer in Washington is also magical.

Washington in the winter

Although winter hikes in Western Washington often end up wet to the bone, there is one reason to visit the Evergreen State during the cold season: skiing. Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, or a hike to icy Palouse Falls is highly recommended.

How to get to Washington

There are 16 airports in Washington State. Those flying from Europe will be on the road for about twelve hours. Travelers from Africa, Asia, or Australia must allow between 20 and 30 hours.

The most important airports in Washington include:

  • Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
  • Spokane International Airport (Geiger Field)
  • Bellingham International Airport
  • Tri-Cities Airport

In most cases, the cheapest flight is to Seattle, from where you can easily get further by car. According to the travel search engine Momondo, flights are cheapest in February.

Flights to Washington

Washington entry permit

You will need an ESTA or a US visa for your trip to Washington if you do not already have a Green Card or are a US citizen.

ESTA – visa-free to the USA

With an ESTA, you can stay 90 days visa-free in the USA. Apply online now!

Washington airport transfer

Once you get off the plane in Washington and grab your luggage, you'll need a way to get around to your accommodations. Here are your options:


At the airport, there are various cab companies that will take you to your next stop. It is best to consult a cab calculator (e.g., an app on your smartphone) to find out the expected fare beforehand.

Shuttle bus

Several private operators provide group shuttles starting at $50. However, given the convenience of public transportation, you won't really need them unless you have special needs.

Public transport

Sound Transit provides the "Link light rail" in Seattle, which takes you from the airport to the city almost any time of day. Convenient: With the so-called ORCA Card, you can ride almost all means of transportation in Seattle. Buses, ferries, and trains crisscross Washington State.

Other options

The Lyft and Uber ride services will also get you where you need to go in Washington. You might want to consider a Greyhound bus or one of AMTRAK's legendary trains for longer distances. But be careful: You have to get from the airport to the nearest Greyhound or AMTRAK station first.

National parks in Washington

In Washington State, there is a natural wonder for almost every taste. You can choose between volcanoes and mountains, rainforests, deserts, and gorgeous places on the water. Here are the most beautiful national parks in Washington State:

Mount Rainier National Park

You can explore the fabulous area around the active volcano, Mount Rainier, on beautiful hiking trails. Expect mirror-like mountain lakes, craggy peaks, glaciers, waterfalls, and an incredible amount of untouched wilderness.

After an exciting day of hiking, pitch your tent in one of the blooming meadows, or book a room in the park. Mount Rainier, by the way, is considered to be Washington's most famous landmark and is an incredible 4,400 m high.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is a breathtakingly beautiful mix of rainforest, mountains, and wild Pacific coastline. In the middle of it gushes the Sol Duc River, where you can watch the migration of salmon once a year.

Spectacular waterfalls are hidden in the mossy forests, and there are many opportunities for boating. A bit west of the Hoh Rain Forest lies the glacier Mount Olympus. There are many campgrounds and lodges here where you can relax from your exciting days of hiking in Olympic National Park.

North Cascades National Park

When you see a bright green lake nestled between spectacular mountains, you've arrived at North Cascades National Park. Along with surreally beautiful Ross Lake and crystal clear Lake Chelan, this wild natural environment invites you to spend days hiking and camping. A convenient way into North Cascades National Park is to take the Lady of the Lake Ferry from the quaint village of Stehekin.

Deception Pass State Park

Have you ever seen an orca in the wild? At Deception Pass State Park, it may happen! Take a break on the legendary Deception Pass Bridge and enjoy the legendary view over and into the clear water. Our tip: Treat yourself to a hike from Rosario Beach to Bowman Bay. And if camping and lodges are too boring for you, you can paddle a small boat to an old remote cabin and spend the night there.

Top 10 sightseeing highlights in Washington

These must-see places in Washington should be on your travel list:

  • Olympic Peninsula
  • Mount Rainier
  • Space Needle
  • Mount Baker
  • Chihuly Garden and Glass
  • Museum of Pop Culture
  • North Cascades National Park
  • Hoh Rain Forest
  • Mount St. Helens
  • Snoqualmie Falls

Washington city trip

The most exciting cities in Washington State are in the Puget Sound Bay to the northwest and far behind the Cascade Mountains to the east. Don't miss the following city highlights:

City highlights Seattle

This beautiful coastal city has also been nicknamed "The Emerald City" because of its abundance of nature. Seattle's skyline is world-famous, as the "Space Needle" - a UFO-like observation tower in the middle of the city - is truly unique.

You should see the following places in Seattle:

  • Space Needle
  • Seattle Center
  • Pike Place Market
  • Gum Wall
  • Seattle Art Museum

Accomodation in Seattle

City highlights Olympia

The magnificent capital of Washington is famous for its oysters, enchanting nature, and commitment to wildlife conservation. Before settlers forced the Native Americans out, this beautiful place was called "The Black Bear Place."

You should see the following things in Olympia:

  • Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge
  • Hope Island
  • Tumwater Falls
  • Olympia Mountains
  • Washington State Capitol

Accomodation in Olympia

City highlights Tacoma

When you step out of the house in the morning in Tacoma, you will look up at the gigantic Mount Rainier. Also, the city offers plenty of art and culture and is the perfect base for touring the mountains.

These are the places you should see in Tacoma:

  • Tacoma Art Museum
  • Museum of Glass
  • Point Defiance
  • Mount Rainier
  • LeMay - America's Car Museum

Accomodation in Tacoma

City highlights Spokane

Located in Eastern Washington, Spokane is a perfect place for rafting trips, zip-lining, and strolling through blooming parks. The waterfalls in the middle of town are particularly impressive.

These are the places you should see in Spokane:

  • Manito Park
  • Spokane Falls
  • Riverfront Park
  • Riverside State Park
  • Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture

Accomodation in Spokane

Roadtrip in Washington

Washington is one of the most exciting US states for a road trip. Among the dark evergreen forests, you'll also pass through abandoned ghost towns and foggy stretches of coastline.

The best tours take you around the Olympic Peninsula, through Mount Rainier National Park, and along the North Cascades.

Twilight in Washington: A place for vampire fans

On your road trip through Washington, you will often notice a mysterious twilight familiar from moments just before a thunderstorm. Some days, this mysterious light-and-air condition doesn't seem to go away at all.

This typical Washington twilight may be one reason the state became the setting for the "Twilight" series of novels, in which young Bella falls madly in love with a vampire. Twilight fans will want to pay a visit to the small town of Forks on the Olympic Peninsula.

Instagram hotspots in Washington State

Washington is breathtakingly beautiful! Your fans and followers will be amazed! Here are our top 5 Instagram hotspots in Washington State:

  • Spirit Falls
  • Cape Disappointment
  • Mount Baker (Volcano)
  • Hoh Rainforest
  • Palouse Falls

Food highlights in Washington

Washington State is mainly known for good wine and seafood, but excellent fresh fruit is also served due to its own fruit cultivation. Otherwise, the cuisine in Washington is rustic and varied.

You should definitely try these dishes during your Washington vacation:

  • Half Smoke - a chunky hot dog made with smoked beef
  • Crab Cake - a cake made with crab, eggs, and vegetables
  • Seattle Dog - a hot dog with cream cheese and sautéed onions
  • Horseradish-Braised Beef

Fun facts about Washington State

We bet you didn't know these things about Washington State:

  • Washington's state motto is Al-Ki (Native American word for "bye-and-bye").
  • During World War II, a secret bomb factory in Washington was disguised as a typical small town by a Hollywood set designer.
  • More than 125 pairs of bald eagles nest in the San Juan Islands.
  • Washington is the birthplace of Jimi Hendrix and Bing Crosby.
  • There are huge numbers of wild horses near the Yakama Indian Reservation.

How to immigrate to Washington

If you're thinking about moving to Washington, you've made the right choice. The Emerald State is truly a jewel in the Pacific Northwest.

Working in Washington

Most employers in Washington State work in the construction, hospitality, and education sectors.

However, there is also a lot of fishing, hunting, and aircraft manufacturing. The best place to earn money - as is the case almost everywhere - is in the software industry.

In addition to the rapid growth in the tech industry, Seattle is also home to business giants like Boeing, Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks. Washington's largest employers also include Classmates, Whitepages, and Digital Properties, LLC.

Living in Washington

In Washington, the quality of life is very high, which is also - but not only - due to the breathtaking nature.

The cost of living and the average salary is slightly higher than in other parts of the United States. In Seattle, for example, people earn just under $70,000 a year, which makes life in an expensive state much easier.

Washington State is one of only seven states that does not impose an income tax. The sales tax is relatively high at 6.5 %.

Moving to Washington with a Green Card

With a Green Card, you can live and work in the US indefinitely. The US immigrant visa is much easier to obtain through the Green Card Lottery than, for example, through an employer in the USA.

Therefore, our recommendation is: take part in the annual lottery of the US government! Every year 55,000 Green Cards are distributed to US immigrants from all over the world. Sign up now - it's just a few clicks!

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