Washington State: Off the Beaten Path
With its eclectic blend of technology, history, and nature, Washington State is a popular tourist destination. The Space Needle, Cascade Mountains, and Puget Sound are among the popular sites, but there are other lesser-known places that are just as intriguing to discover once you know how to find them.
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Hidden Tidbits of History and Nature
There are several interesting sites where glimpses of history and nature can be observed. Marine Park in Vancouver, for example, was once the large Kaiser Shipyards of Vancouver, Washington. Kaiser claimed this shipyard was the most versatile in the U.S. It produced ten Liberty ships, thirty tank landing ships, fifty BB-3 escort aircraft carriers, thirty-one AP-5 troop transports, twelve C-4 transports and eight C-4 cargo ships during wartime. Today the land has been repurposed into a more general industrial area, but there is a viewing tower that replicates an aerial photo on one of the interpretive signs to allow a visitor to envision what this area was like at its peak.
Located inside the Nisqually National Wildlife Visitor Center, the “Boardroom” includes a broad window that overlooks one of the ponds next to the center. You might get closer to the wildlife on the pond than you would if you were on the outdoor observation deck. The window blocks the sound of your feet and the sight of movement, so the birds are unaware of the people inside. There are also very interesting and worthwhile displays, including the Junior Duck Stamp artwork collection. Entries are submitted from all over Washington state, and the best of the show competes in the national competition. Washington Best of Show entries since 1994 are on display here, plus the current year’s best entries in various categories. Plans for ongoing work at the refuge and what to expect in future visits may also be posted. Make sure to ask the desk if it is OK to go into the boardroom first. If the door to the room is open, there is likely nothing going on and a visit to this rare part of the refuge is welcome.
Touches of Culture In-State and Outside the Country
On Lopez Island, take the time to notice the local mailboxes! A number of resident professional artists have designed them. An increasing number of these roadside works of art are now faded. However, it is still possible to find others that remain in good condition. Some of these sport flower designs, or have something to do with island life. One mailbox that looks like the Washington State Ferry is one of the four Steel-Electrics built in the late 1920s and scrapped in 2009.
In Port Angeles, Washington residents and visitors can travel outside the country in a relatively short time on the Black Ball Ferry Line to Victoria in Canada. You can see it in a day or tarry longer in Victoria’s British-like cultural atmosphere. Victoria has plenty to keep you occupied and the best way to first see it is from the Inner Harbor, which you can get to via either a float plane from Vancouver or Seattle, a Clipper ferry from Seattle or Victoria, or the Black Ball Ferry Line’s M.V. Coho from Port Angeles.
More from SmarterTravel:
- Things To Do in Wenatchee, Washington State
- Things to Do in Yakima, Washington State
- Things to Do in Fremont, Washington State
- Things to Do in Whidbey Island, Washington State
- Things to Do in Bremerton, Washington State
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Editor’s Note: The information contained on this page was compiled using real traveler reviews about what’s off the beaten path in Washington State.