It takes about 21/2 hours to drive from Bellingham to our state capital, and while Olympia is smaller than Bellingham, it's chock-full of history (as you might expect) and offers much more.
Here's what to do during your visit:
Check out the Capitol, Legislative Building and Governor's Mansion. Free tours are available 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekends. Visitors can take self-guided tours, of course, and you can prepare by taking an online tour at ga.wa.gov/visitor/guide. Details: 360-902-8880.
Walk the historic downtown district. Attractions include Sylvester Park, Hotel Olympian, State Theater and the Rockway-Leland Building. Watch for historical markers along the way.
You also can tour neighborhoods that feature lovely Victorian architecture and homes of some of the state's earliest settlers. Details: 360-753-8031, or this olympiawa.gov webpage.
Bring the kids. They might enjoy a live show at Olympia Family Theater, 112 State Ave. N.E. Coming up this season: "The Wind in the Willows," Nov. 30-Dec. 23; "James and the Giant Peach," Feb. 1-17; and "The Somewhat True Tale of Robin Hood," March 29-April 14. Details: 360-753-8586, olyft.org.
Take a hike. Olympia has many trails and parks, including Olympia Woodland Trail, a 2-mile crushed-rock trail on an abandoned rail line. The trail, which is also open to bicyclists, extends from the main trailhead at Wheeler Avenue and Eastside Street to the Chehalis Western Trail. There's a shelter with restrooms and benches and the trail is ADA-accessible.
Eat local. Whether it's vegan biscuits and gravy, a sauerkraut burger or an apple crisp roller (apples, cinnamon, brown sugar and granola rolled up in a tortilla and fried, served with vanilla ice cream), you'll find it downtown at Darby's Café, 211 Fifth Ave. Darby's has been described as hipster and slightly grunge, but if you're looking for a place that locals frequent, it's your place. Details: darbyscafe.com, 360-357-6229.
Need more ideas? Visit the Olympia-Lacey-Tumwater Visitors and Convention Bureau, 103 Sid Snyder Ave. N.W., call 877-704-7500, or see visitolympia.com.
Reach MARGARET BIKMAN at email@example.com or 715-2273.