Nestled in the shadow of the majestic Mount Rainier and cradled by the serene waters of the Puget Sound, Olympia, Washington is more than just a political hub as the state’s capital; it’s a paddler’s paradise waiting to be discovered.
Imagine yourself gliding through crystal-clear waters, the rhythmic splash of your paddle harmonizing with the calls of local wildlife, as you navigate through Olympia’s intricate tapestry of lakes, rivers, and inlets.
Whether you’re a seasoned kayaker seeking your next big adventure or a beginner looking to dip your paddle into something new, Olympia’s diverse waterways offer a unique kayaking experience for every skill level.
From the tranquil reflections of Capitol Lake to the sweeping vistas of Budd Inlet, this article will guide you through the must-visit kayaking spots in Olympia, each promising an unforgettable aquatic journey through the heart of the Pacific Northwest.
So grab your paddle and life jacket, and let’s set course for adventure—Olympia’s sparkling waters are calling your name.
Overview Of The Places to Kayak in Olympia
Olympia, Washington is a nature lover’s paradise, and the kayaking options are endless. From the freshwater lakes scattered around the city to the saltwater Puget Sound, there is something for every level of the paddler in Olympia.
Along the shores of Capitol Lake, you can paddle near multiple parks or launch from permanently installed kayak launches for classes or races.
Budd Inlet offers kayakers opportunities for birdwatching, fishing, and exploring historic sites like Priest Point and Tumwater Falls.
Head down to Boston Harbor to embrace the wild and rugged coastline or take your kayak on a river tour filled with tidepools, waterfalls, and stunning views along the Deschutes River.
Whether you jump in your kayak for some leisurely fun or an adrenaline-filled adventure, Olympia has something to offer all watersport enthusiasts!
Why Scenic Drives Are A Great Way To Explore Olympia
Stunning Natural Landscapes
Olympia is known for its stunning natural beauty, including lush forests, majestic mountains, peaceful lakes, and picturesque coastlines. A scenic drive allows you to fully take in these breathtaking landscapes and appreciate the diverse ecosystems that make Olympia so unique.
In today’s fast-paced world, sometimes it’s necessary to slow down and unwind. Taking a scenic drive through Olympia offers a rejuvenating escape as you gently cruise through the tranquil countryside, soaking in the beauty and sounds of nature.
Olympia boasts a climate that allows for picturesque views and comfortable driving experiences year-round. Whether it’s the vibrant colours of fall foliage, the tranquil snow-covered landscapes in winter, or the serene beauty of spring and summer, there’s no wrong time to take a scenic drive in Olympia.
Easy Area Exploration
The zlower pace of a scenic drive allows you to truly immerse yourself in the surroundings and get a better feel for the local culture and lifestyle. It provides ample opportunities to stop at local shops, enjoy a leisurely meal, or chat with friendly residents along the way.
Photo & Sightseeing Spots
Olympia’s breathtaking landscapes and scenic vistas provide a wealth of opportunities for budding and experienced photographers alike to capture stunning images. Unique landmarks, historic sites, and charming towns are nestled throughout the region, just waiting to be discovered.
Escape the City’s Chaos
Amidst the hum of urban life, a scenic drive can whisk you away to a world of quiet beauty and solitude, where the only sounds you hear are the rustling of leaves and the chirping of birds, a welcome relief from the clamour of city life.
One of the great appeals of scenic drives is their affordability. With just a tank of gas and maybe a packed lunch, you can explore the outstanding beauty of Olympia without breaking the bank, making it an ideal activity for budget-conscious travellers.
Local Culture Deep Dive
Travelling through Olympia’s small towns and rural areas allows you to observe the local way of life and gain an understanding of the region’s history and culture. You’ll gain a deeper appreciation for the people and places that make Olympia truly special.
Family Fun & Learning
A scenic drive through Olympia can serve as a fun and educational outing for families with children. Along the way, you’ll find parks, museums, and historic sites that are both engaging and informative, providing valuable learning opportunities for kids and adults alike.
Outdoor Fitness & Fun
Scenic drives aren’t just for driving; they can also serve as gateways to outdoor recreational activities. Throughout your journey, you’ll find opportunities for hiking, picnicking, birdwatching, or simply stretching your legs and taking in the fresh air, making scenic drives an ideal option for those who wish to combine exploration with physical activity.
10 Kayaking Places in Olympia
1. Budd Inlet
Located at the southern end of Puget Sound, Budd Inlet is a popular kayaking spot in Olympia. Paddlers can enjoy views of the state capitol building, marinas, and wildlife.
Budd Inlet, located at the southern end of Puget Sound in Olympia, is a paradise for kayakers. An exquisite view of the state capitol building can be seen from the inlet, and paddlers may spot seals basking on rocky hillsides.
Not only does the inlet provide sightings of wildlife but it also has numerous marinas to explore. Be sure to bring your camera along, as this kayak experience will provide breathtaking views that are truly unforgettable.
2. Nisqually Reach Nature Center
The Nisqually Reach Nature Center offers guided kayak tours through the Nisqually Estuary. This is a great place to spot birds and marine life.
The Nisqually Reach Nature Center is a wonderful place to explore the natural beauty of the Nisqually Estuary. Experience nature up close with guided kayak tours, which are perfect for those who want to see birds, marine life, and other wildlife in their native habitat.
The beautiful vistas and tranquillity of the waterways make it an unforgettable experience that will lead you to explore even more of the great outdoors. It’s also a great way to learn about the ecology and importance of this unique environment.
Whether you’re an experienced paddler or a beginner, these tours offer something for everyone to enjoy. Visit today for a chance to create lasting memories with your loved ones on this inspirational journey through nature.
3. Percival Landing
Percival Landing is a public park on the waterfront in downtown Olympia. It has a kayak launch and is a popular spot for paddling.
Percival Landing is a picturesque public park located on the waterfront in downtown Olympia. This picturesque destination offers lush and tranquil views of the sound and even boasts a kayak launch, making it a popular spot for those keen to explore this stretch of water by kayak.
If you’re looking for some leisurely fun then there are plenty of shady spots to relax or take a stroll along the boardwalk shoreline.
The annual Percival Landing Summer Concert Series draws music lovers in from far and wide; whether you’re enjoying a picnic in the grassy park setting or relaxing on the dock – you’ll be guaranteed to experience plenty of waterfront festivities each summer.
4. Boston Harbor Marina
The Boston Harbor Marina is a good starting point for kayaking trips to Hope Island State Park and other nearby islands.
The Boston Harbor Marina is a welcome sight for anyone who loves to kayak in the area. This marina is the perfect place to start your journey into the waters surrounding Hope Island State Park or any of the smaller islands close by.
You can launch from the docks, or rent a kayak for the day and explore what these stunningly beautiful places have to offer – from their hidden beaches and remote coves to their diverse wildlife and lush vegetation, it’s all here at your fingertips.
Plus, you’ll be able to appreciate the great views of both land and sea as you venture along. So if you’re looking for a unique outdoor escape with plenty of adventure opportunities right outside your shores, then make sure to set sail with Boston Harbor Marina as your first stop!
5. Priest Point Park
Priest Point Park is a 314-acre park with two miles of saltwater shoreline on Puget Sound. It has a kayak launch and is a good place to explore the shoreline.
Priest Point Park is a nature lovers’ paradise. An expansive 314 acres of land with breathtaking shoreline views of Puget Sound, this park is an ideal place to connect with nature.
With two miles of saltwater shoreline, visitors can enjoy kayaking, beachcombing, and various wildlife observations – all while being surrounded by the majestic Northwest landscape.
Priest Point Park features boat launches, exercise areas, and picturesque trails perfect for joggers or quiet strolls. It’s no wonder why locals flock to the area in droves; after a visit to Priest Point Park, you’ll understand why it stands out as one of the top parks in Washington State.
6. Zittel’s Marina
Zittel’s Marina is a full-service marina on Totten Inlet. It has a kayak launch and offers rentals and guided tours.
Zittel’s Marina is a must-visit if you’re looking for unparalleled access to abundant marine life such as salmon and seals, breathtaking views of the Puget Sound sunsets, and recreation activities like kayaking.
Located on Totten Inlet, the marina offers a wide range of services including kayak launch and rentals. The marina also offers guided tours led by experienced hosts who can provide information about local marine life, geography, and many other topics that all visitors should explore.
Whether you’re planning a fun day out with family or friends or just want to relax in the beauty of nature for a few hours, Zittel’s Marina allows you to do both!
7. Tugboat Annie’s Marina
Tugboat Annie’s Marina is a good starting point for kayaking trips to nearby islands and the Olympic Peninsula. It offers rentals and guided tours.
Tugboat Annie’s Marina has something for everyone interested in exploring the stunning coastal waters of Washington State.
Located near nearby islands and the Olympic Peninsula, this marina offers rentals, guided tours, and various activities so visitors looking to discover the area on the water can do so with ease.
Whether it’s a day-long kayaking adventure or a leisurely sunset paddle tour, at Tugboat Annie’s Marina your only limit is that of your imagination! Come here to experience nature up close and take in all of the breathtaking sights nearby.
8. Penrose Point State Park
Penrose Point State Park is a 165-acre park on the shores of Puget Sound. It has a kayak launch and is a good place to explore the shoreline and nearby islands.
Penrose Point State Park is a true paradise tucked away on the shores of Puget Sound. Visitors will find a variety of activities to enjoy, from kayaking to exploring local islands.
Whether it’s watching the sun rise over the Seattle skyline or spotting tide flats creatures during low tide, there is no lack of things to do. With its rich history and abundant outdoor opportunities, Penrose Point State Park is sure to offer something memorable for everyone who visits.
9. Frye Cove Park
Frye Cove Park is a 67-acre park on the shores of Eld Inlet. It has a kayak launch and is an excellent place to explore the inlet.
Frye Cove Park, located on the serene shores of Eld Inlet, is an outdoor lover’s paradise. From its gorgeous 67 acres expanse to its kayak launch, there is plenty to explore and experience here.
Whether seeking out a tranquil moment near or on the water or an adventurous journey by kayak around the inlet, this park provides visitors with both abundant nature and the potential for thrilling activities. Get ready for fantastic scenery and a memorable time at Frye Cove Park.
10. Eagle Island State Park
Eagle Island State Park is a 10-acre marine park on the eastern shore of Eld Inlet. It is only accessible by boat and is an excellent place to explore the shoreline and nearby islands.
Eagle Island State Park is the perfect destination for nature lovers looking to enjoy a quiet and remote outdoor experience.
Sitting on the eastern shore of Eld Inlet, this 10-acre marine park provides visitors with breathtaking views from any angle.
Accessible only by boat, Eagle Island offers kayakers and paddleboarders a unique opportunity to explore its rugged shoreline and nearby islands for a truly one-of-a-kind adventure.
With abundant wildlife like eagles and adorable harbour seals, there’s nothing quite like it. Whether you’re just looking for a peaceful retreat away from city life or want an exciting spot for exploring wildlife, Eagle Island State Park won’t disappoint.
Tips for Safely Enjoying the Drive
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Olympia is in the spring and summer months when the weather is mild and temperatures are warm.
During these months, visitors can enjoy kayaking, hiking, biking, and other outdoor activities. It is important to check the forecast before planning a trip in order to be aware of any potential weather-related hazards.
Preparing for Kayaking
When preparing for a kayaking trip in Olympia, it is important to make sure that all safety equipment is packed and ready to use.
This includes life jackets, helmets, paddles, flares, and cell phones with fully charged batteries. Additionally, it is advisable to read up on water safety tips prior to embarking on any kayak adventures.
In addition to safety equipment, there are additional supplies that should be packed for a successful kayaking outing in Olympia.
These include sunscreen, sunglasses (to protect eyes from harmful UV rays), insect repellent (for mosquitos or other biting insects), a first aid kit (in case of minor injuries), snacks or food (in case of an unexpectedly long trip), and extra clothing in case of sudden changes in temperature or weather conditions.
Kayaking Laws Olympia
There are certain laws that all kayakers must follow when visiting Olympia. These include wearing a life jacket at all times while on the water, maintaining a distance of at least 100 feet away from powerboats, staying out of designated swimming areas, refraining from boating under the influence, notifying authorities immediately if an accident occurs, adhering to speed limits, following proper navigation rules; obeying “no-wake” zones, avoiding environmentally sensitive areas, and properly disposing of the trash while on the waterway.
All in all, the kayaking opportunities in Olympia offer a wide range of terrains and attractions to explore. From whitewater rapids on the Deschutes River to flatwater paddling around Capitol Lake, there are options for everyone regardless of skill level or interests.
A rugged coastline makes surprise views around every bend and a variety of bald eagles, seals, and other wildlife can be seen along the shore.
Whether looking for a peaceful afternoon paddle or testing their mettle with some challenging rapids, Olympia is sure to deliver with its impressive selection of pristine kayaking locations.