10 Great Ways To Spend Your Day In And Around Thurston County

by Coldwell Banker Evergreen Olympic Realty, Inc. on March 4, 2020

10 great ways to spend your day in Thurston CountyWe often talk about how much we love living here. From stunning parks and museums that take you back in time, to delicious eateries and tempting libations, and even places that make learning fun, we truly have it all. But with so many incredible things to see, eat, and do in and around Thurston County, it’s easy to miss some of our greatest attractions. Read on for our list of 10 ways to spend your best day in and around our special community. Bonus: now that nice weather is just around the corner, we’re finally able to start planning outdoor activities! 

Monarch Sculpture Park 


monarch sculpture gardenWith the sun finally peeking out, we can finally start thinking about heading outside! Have you ever been to the Monarch Sculpture Garden over in Tenino? Trust us when we say that this gem is the perfect place to walk around or even just sit and relax with your cup of coffee. This nonprofit 5-acre space features over 100 contemporary sculptures for visitors to admire as they walk around. Other amenities include:

  • Fantasy Garden
  • Bird and Butterfly Garden
  • Japanese Farden
  • Sound Garden (sculptural musical instruments)
  • Easy access from Chehalis Western Bike Trail
  • Butterfly Shaped hedge maze (currently being restored ) 

You can even bring your pets!

Lael’s Moon Garden


lael's moon gardenSpeaking of getting outdoors, if you haven’t made the trip out to Rochester to visit Lael’s Moon Garden, you are definitely missing out. This should be your go-to place for all your gardening needs, or even just when you’re looking for a little inspiration. This stunning nursery offers a vast variety of indoor and outdoor plants and trees, and they are all grown specifically to thrive here in Washington.

Rusty Wallace Racing Experience 


race with rustyDo you feel the need for speed? Head on over to the Rusty Wallace Racing Experience to fulfill all your adrenaline desires. You can drive the cars yourself with one of their many driving experiences, or if sitting in the driver’s seat isn’t your thing, you can choose to simply ride along with a professional! Who doesn’t want to say they’ve driven a NASCAR style race car?

Black Dawg Farm and Sanctuary 


black dawg animal sanctuaryIt may seem like a bit of a trek, depending on where you live, but trust us when we say that Black Dawg Farm and Sanctuary is well worth it. In fact, you may never want to leave this non-profit gem. You and your kids can tour the farm, learning about animal care and welfare, or take part in any of their amazing programs. You might even get the urge to come back and volunteer for yourself, it’s truly exceptional.

Sandstone Distillery


sandstone distilleryWith award winning vodkas, white whiskeys, and even a brand new gin, you can see why this spirits distillery has quickly become the popular cocktail spot for locals and visitors alike. And, true to craft, they handcraft all their spirits with fresh, Washington-grown grains. They even offer their very own sipping vinegars! Arguably the best part is Barley the distillery dog, who you’ll get to meet at your tasting.

Aunt Kate’s Chocolates 


aunt Kates chocolateSpeaking of tastings, did you know that you can do a chocolate tasting at Aunt Kate’s Chocolates? What could be better? Located in Tenino, Aunt Kate’s chocolatiers are dedicated to perfecting the art of chocolate for us. Each artisan batch of cacao is small and sourced from one region so that they accurately represent the flavors of the world. Aunt Kate is self-taught and creates her own recipes from scratch, so this is truly a unique (and outrageously delicious) treat.

Olympia Farmers Market


olympia farmers marketWhat Thurston County list would be complete without the Olympia Farmers Market? Open year round, you can always count on this this epic market for artisan foods and wine, the most vibrant produce, pasture-raised meat and poultry, dairy, seafood, fresh baked goods, confections, handcrafted gifts, fine art and more! They have great restaurants that sometimes offer specials for visitors and daily live music! Plus, we all know it’s a great idea to shop locally!

Puget Sound Estuarium


Puget Sound estuaryThe Puget Sound Estuarium is a unique marine education facility that marine life aficionados will not want to miss out on. The estuary center is home to two aquariums featuring South Puget Sound marine creatures, interactive exhibits and activities, and even a video room. With a mission to “foster learning opportunities that inspire people of all ages to connect with, protect, and enjoy the unique estuary environment of Puget Sound,” they also offer an array of educational activities and programs available for visitors of all ages. Yes, even the little ones! Their Pier Peer program even includes nighttime underwater viewings!

The Bigelow House Museum


bigelow house museumTo truly understand the area, a trip to the Bigelow House Museum is a must. Dedicated to preserving and interpreting Olympia’s rich history, this structure is actually the oldest residence in Olympia and one of the earliest in the Pacific Northwest. The near extinct Carpenter Gothic-styled house was built in 1850 for (you guessed it) a man named Bigelow and his wife and is surrounded by over an acre of original family land. Today, the house serves as a museum of early Olympia and Washington Territory history and contains displays of original furnishings, documents, and artifacts which represent the 150+ years of the Bigelow family’s contributions in important community, state and national causes.

Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve


Mima MoundsJust 20 minutes south of Olympia, this state-protected preserve is distinguished by its large concentration of grassy knolls, known as Mima mounds. What are Mima mounds, you ask? That’s a great questions, one that not even scientists have been able to figure out. The mounds, composed of loose, gravel-like sediment and averaging about 6 feet in height, are a surreal hight, but still the question remains. Geologists, scientists, and conspiracy theorists alike have since developed several dozen hypotheses, including glacial freeze-and-thaw cycles, erosion, the interplay between wind and vegetation, an earthquake or two, a tsunami, and even a volcanic eruption. Whatever the answer, the Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve is a great place to get outside this year, especially as the wildflowers are coming into full bloom.

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