Olympia is a city where everyone can find something to love.  It's a city fueled by government activity, but where people enjoy the outdoors during its mild winters and warm summers.  Splashed throughout the city, hiking and biking trails wander through the evergreen forests and lead to saltwater beaches.

From Past to Present

Native Roots

Canoes travelling Puget Sound located on the southernmost point of Puget Sound, the peninsula known as Olympia was "Cheetwoot" (the black bear place) to the Coastal Salish who occupied the site for many generations before the American settlement was established.

The end of what we now know as Budd Inlet was a favorite shellfish gathering site for many Coastal Salish tribes, including the Nisqually, Duwamish and Squaxin. Evidence exists that potlatches, the Northwest tribal custom in which tribal leaders shared their wealth with neighboring tribal groups, were held both east and west of the Inlet near Olympia.

The falls of the Deschutes River at Tumwater called "Stehtsasamish" by the Nisqually Indians may have been occupied as a permanent village site for shellfish and salmon harvesting for 500 years or more before the coming of white settlers.

City of Olympia | Capital of Washington State

With an economic engine fueled to a great extent by state government, Olympia enjoys the benefits of a stable work force, engaged and educated community, and well-supported school system.

Historic downtown Olympia offers a variety of eclectic shopping and dining experiences, while Olympia's westside is a regional shopping destination at numerous national brand stores and the auto mall.

Mild winters and pleasantly warm summers make the Olympia area an ideal place for outdoor recreation. In Olympia, you can "get out of town" without even leaving the city. Olympia maintains 40 public parks for your recreation enjoyment. Public trails lead to saltwater beaches where native tribes once met for potlatches through woods thick with big-leaf maples and towering Douglas firs. Salmon return to Budd Inlet each fall and run the ladder under the 5th Avenue Bridge.

Olympia's strategic geographic location along Interstate 5 at the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula, puts one within two hours or less of regional recreational attractions - from hiking and skiing in the mountains to beachcombing along ocean shores.

We might be small as far a cities go, but we have plenty of activities for every interest. With a rich history, vibrant culture, modern ammenities, and a beautiful setting on the Puget sound, Olympia is a great place to visit for work or play. 

Public Art in Olympia

In 1990, the City of Olympia passed an ordinance designating that one dollar per person and one percent of major City construction projects be set aside for public art. Projects range from small local artist projects in neighborhood parks to major installations and design teams.

In 1998, the Olympia Arts Commission created a long-range plan for public art in Olympia. The vision for the future states:

"We envision a public art program that is inspiring-thought provoking and functional, inclusive and diverse. We envision a public art program that is woven into the community and our daily lives-our neighborhoods, parks, buildings, infrastructure and public spaces. We invite all segments of our community to work with the City to sustain the current vitality of the arts and embrace new challenges".

Take a walking tour

Welcome to Olympia, Washington!