Washington is tucked away in the most northwest portion of the United States and is the 13th most populous state. Similar to its Canadian neighbor, British Columbia, Washington is well known for its natural beauty. The western portion of the state consists of a beautiful pacific coastline while the remainder is full of lush forests and mountain ranges. Amidst all the nature is one of the United States most popular cities, Seattle. Seattle is perhaps the most attractive place to visit in the state and truthfully the only place that isn't a huge nature trip. However, if nature is your thing, you would be remiss to not visit one of the most popular volcanos, Mount St. Helens.
If you're visiting Washington, be sure to allow yourself a few days to really experience the whole city of Seattle. Many people will downplay the city because of its rather dreary and depressing weather throughout the year. However, many people rave about the city because of its culture and liberal, accepting nature of its residents.
Museums and Aquarium
One of the more popular places to visit in Seattle is the Experience Music Project. Named after the band of one of its most popular natives, Jimi Hendrix, Experience Music Project is an interactive museum serving as a tribute to American pop music culture. The museum was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and is dedicated to the history and exploration of popular music, pop culture, and science fiction. The souvenir shop on site carries a wide range of items. Many of the gifts found in the store are books, CDs, shirts, posters, toys, and games related to the museum's collections and exhibitions. Certain exhibitions come and go so the items at the store tend to change along with the museum.
Seattle's Museum of Flight is also a popular tourist attraction as it is the world's largest private air and space museum. In addition, it hosts the largest primary school educational programs in the world. Many of the souvenir items here are of the educational variety such as books and DVDs, but they also offer other gift items. Visitors can purchase coins, key chains, and clothing depicting some of the aircraft they have on display. All kinds of model airplanes can be purchased as well, including both desktop and die cast models. Posters, pictures, clocks, and even glassware can be found in the gift shop as well. All of which depict planes and space craft seen throughout the museum.
The Seattle Aquarium is a popular destination as well. Seattle is well known for its fishing industry and the aquarium is home to over 380 species of fish and other wildlife. Perhaps one of the biggest attractions is the octopus exhibit in which patrons can actually shake hands (or tentacles) with a live octopus! The souvenir shop in the aquarium has all kinds of intricate items such as jellyfish paperweights, shark tooth necklaces, and plenty of sea life stuffed animals for the children.
The Space Needle
Finally, the most toured and most symbolic icon of Seattle is the Space Needle. Constructed in 1962, the space needle reaches a towering 605 feet at its highest point. Nearly 20,000 people take the trip to the observation deck at the top each day. Very few people can visit the Space Needle and not take home a souvenir from Washington to remember their experience. That said, the souvenir shop on site offers a wide range of gift items with the space needle depicted on each. Miniature sculptures are always one of the popular items, but also available are mugs, glassware, ornaments, coins, picture frames, t-shirts, jewelry, pens, and plenty of posters. They even cater to the children with Space Needle kaleidoscopes, snow globes, and LEGO sets.
Mount St. Helens
After visiting Seattle, there is one more place you must see before leaving Washington. That is Mount St. Helens. Mount St. Helens is an active volcano located just 96 miles south of Seattle and is well known for its ash explosions. The volcano is notorious for its devastating eruption in 1980 that killed 57 people and destroyed 250 homes along 185 miles of highway. While visiting this 9,677 feet tall volcano, you should visit one of the many souvenir shops nearby. There are all kinds of souvenir items available, but what makes Mount St. Helens really unique is its jewelry. After the 1980 eruption, much of the ash and molten rock fused into silica with a natural green color. Much of the jewelry purchased here will be from the silica resulting from that 1980 eruption. Other minerals such as tanzanite and obsidianite found around Mount St. Helens can be found in the jewelry as well.
While Washington is a large state, most of its most appealing attractions to tourists will be located in Seattle and you would be encouraged to spend some time there and really enjoy the culture. However, if nature is truly your thing, Mount St. Helens is a must-see.