The first time we stumbled upon Olympia, WA was after a last minute trip to Seattle to visit dears friends who were visiting from Germany. We were making our way back home when we decided that we all needed a break from being in the car as well as some dinner before we finished our trip home. We were clueless as to where to go so we headed to the downtown area and found a beautiful park on the water to play at for a bit. We then made our way to a mediocre restaurant that caters to children so of course Edith asks to go there often. After this stop our interest was sparked and we knew we would have to return again. Since this trip back in 2015 we have been back a handful of times including two weekend visits, our most recent this past February.
Olympia is two hours (including a potty break) north of Portland and it is the perfect spot for a weekend getaway. I know for most Portlanders a weekend away is usually west to coast, east to the gorge or we completely pass over Olympia and head straight to Seattle but Olympia is filled with so many gems from an amazing children’s museum, great places to eat, nature to explore and one of the best toy stores in the PNW.
On our latest trip we stayed at the Hotel RL which is set up on the hill overlooking Capitol Lake. It has generous sized rooms with microwaves and a mini fridge which are essentials when traveling as a family. In the summer there is access to the outdoor pool.
On the agenda for our getaway was coffee, nature, and the toy shop.
We headed to Olympia on Friday afternoon once Neil was finished up working. We arrived fairly late in the evening so after checking into our hotel and getting some wiggles out we headed to dinner. We ended up eating dinner at a local brewery that was just meh.
First priority after a hotel sleep with three kids was coffee from Olympia Coffee Roasters aka the best coffee in town. They also make a really great kids hot chocolate and have some tasty looking baked goods. We opted for breakfast at Hart’s Mesa a little breakfast/brunch spot that has a great menu including a vegan specific menu. We ordered the taco special, the vegan benedict and the kids shared the vegan french toast with fruit and a side of toast.
Once our bellies were full we headed to Squaxin Island Tribe Museum Library and Research Center only to find that it was closed due to electrical issues. We ended up walking the property for a bit before heading to Tumwater Falls Park where we watched the rushing water of the falls and then walked the 0.6 mile loop making a number of stops along the way to check out waterfalls, plants, and the original power plant location. While the loop was short it took us over an hour to do with all the stops to explore and play. We were all surprised just how much we enjoyed this little nature excursion and we almost passed on it to return to Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Area (another great spot).
After our morning out we headed back to the hotel to relax for a bit and instead of eating out we snack on our stash of food at the hotel [editor: is this correct? i couldn’t recall going out to eat]. Once we had a bit of down time we decided to head a bit further north to Tacoma to get in a car nap for the littlest two and for all of us to get in bit more outdoor play and dinner in Tacoma. More on this in a future post.
The main thing on the agenda for the day was our promise to the kids that we would go to the toy shop. Since it was a Sunday and the toyshop still had a few hours before it would open we first headed to Zoe Juice Bar for a green juice and acai bowls. We then fueled up at Olympia Coffee Roasters before finally heading to what I consider one of the best toy shops in the PNW – Captain Little.
What makes it the best? It’s one of those toy shops that is just beautifully curated and filled with beautiful books, toys and gifts. It’s a spot where I could send grandma to pick out a gift and I would be happy with most anything there. I find myself flitting around the shop picking up toys and such, making note of things that would be good for gifts. The kids however beeline straight to the train table and the vintage robot that you can take a seat in.
After our morning out we had hoped to go to lunch at Little General Food Shop but they were having a special brunch so we picked up the very last tempeh sandwich from the cooler and then headed over to Olympia Co-op to pickup some additional provisions to eat at the hotel before starting our drive back to Portland.
Below you can find links to all the places mentioned in this post. Also stay tuned for additional guides to Olympia, WA.
Guide To Olympia
- Hotel RL, Olympia, WA
Food & Drink:
- Olympia Coffee Roasters, Olympia, WA
- Little General Food Shop, Olympia, WA
- Zoe Juice Bar, Olympia, WA
- Harts Mesa, Olympia, WA