15 Best Things to Do in King County, WA

 King County, WA
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In Washington, King County offers a diverse blend of modern and urban areas, perfect for short trips and longer stays.

Established in 1852, this county holds the title of the largest county in the state by population.

It is also home to the Muckleshoot and the Snoqualmie Indian Tribe tribes, both of which are only two of the most distinguished Native American communities in the area.

Its county seat, Seattle, is a large hub of recreation, commerce, and arts and culture.

Similarly, its neighboring 39 communities—including but not limited to Bellevue, Vashon, and Kent—all have unique tourist spots to boast of.

King County also lies at the center of the Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue Metropolitan Statistical Area.

So, if you're making a must-visit list of the county, read on.

Here are the 15 best things to do in King County, Washington, to get you started:

See Nature while Horseback Riding at Bridle Trails State Park

Horseback riding area at Bridle Trails State Park
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In the cities of Kirkland and Redmond, Bridle Trails State Park offers a recreational sanctuary for residents and tourists alike.

It sits on an astounding 489-acre property that once gave life to several Native American tribes.

Featuring 28 miles of multi-use trails, it's a welcome place for equestrians and their horses.

But if you come with only your boots and your hiking gear, you are free to roam the area to your heart's content.

Tall trees at Bridle Trails State Park
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There's also an interpretive trail onsite that extends to about 1.6 miles.

Some other amenities you can expect to find at this attraction include picnic areas and show arenas.

Get a taste of "the wilderness in the city" at Bridle Trails State Park on 116th Avenue Northeast.

Trail at Bridle Trails State Park
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Admire the Flowers and Blossoms at Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden

Scenic view of Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden
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Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden is your go-to destination for an exploration of native flora in southern King County.

Aside from an all-around floral space, the spot is also one that represents heritage and history.

In fact, this place offers the best of the area's treasured gardens.

At over 10 acres, it features a multitude of plant and flower species, including beds of lilies and a pond with evergreen shrubs surrounding it.

Trail at Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden
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You can sign up for a docent-led tour of the place to fully immerse yourself in the area's local flora and fauna.

Best of all, this garden is free to the public!

Highline SeaTac Botanical Garden is on 24th Avenue South in the bustling city of SeaTac.

Freshen Up Your Knowledge of Marine Life at the MaST Center Aquarium

The MaST Center Aquarium is a dream come true for marine life explorers and researchers.

One of Des Moines' exceptional tourist attractions, this center has everything you might need to know about ocean life in Puget Sound.

Its large collection of tanks holds a total of 3,000 gallons.

With its recorded 250 species of marine life, there are many animals for you to discover and meet.

From sea stars and urchins to vibrant anemones and corals, the sky—or the ocean—is the limit!

Take a look at its Octopus tank or be in touch more closely with sea creatures at the touch tanks.

Located along Redondo Beach Drive South, the MaST Center Aquarium is an experience you shouldn't miss out on.

Learn About Modern Culture at the Museum of Pop Culture

Exterior of the Museum of Pop Culture
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Looking for a unique trip to the past?

Then, the Museum of Pop Culture may be for you.

This museum provides a modern take on music and art in the King County area, both in its exterior and programs.

Its building, designed by Frank O. Gehry, offers a vibrant representation of the long history of music with its aluminum shingles.

But what makes it stand out is its color-changing steel exterior that reacts to light conditions in varying degrees.

Guitar sculpture in the Museum of Pop Culture
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Inside, allow yourself to go back in time through the eyes of timeless music and film.

You can also find a collection of artifacts related to Jimi Hendrix, whose music career inspired the creation of this museum.

In the city of Seattle, the Museum of Pop Culture sits along 5th Avenue North.

Interior of the Museum of Pop Culture
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Browse through Experimental Art at Chihuly Garden and Glass

Exterior of Chihuly Garden and Glass
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If you're into arts, Chihuly Garden and Glass is a must-stop.

This urban art gallery is not your usual art gallery.

Nestled in the lively streets of Seattle, this gallery puts a spotlight on Dale Chihuly's creativity and works.

It comes with eight galleries, a magnificent Glasshouse, and a garden.

Its exhibitions display some of the artists' best creations, most especially his use of glass art.

Interior of Chihuly Garden and Glass
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At 40 feet, the Glasshouse takes you into a world of pure wonder and artistic talent.

It contains a singular installation sculpture in tones of reds, oranges, and yellows, that offer a different experience depending on the light conditions during your visit.

Further into the garden are luscious flowers and blossoms that serve to complement the public art pieces of Chihuly.

You can find Chihuly Garden and Glass on Harrison Street.

Glass sculptures in Chihuly Garden and Glass
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Sign up for a Wine Tasting Session at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery

King County has its fair share of local wineries and breweries just waiting for your adventurous tongue.

One of these is Novelty Hill-Januik Winery in the city of Woodinville.

This site is a combination of two wineries that share the same facilities, including a tasting room.

Established in 2000, it considers itself a modern oasis filled to the brim with an award-winning selection of wine.

And this is because of its winemaking process, fermentation procedures, and barrel aging measures.

You are welcome to reserve your own private tasting sessions at the winery.

Don't forget to bring home a bottle with you as a souvenir from your visit.

Start your epic adventure with wine at Novelty Hill-Januik Winery on Redmond-Woodinville Road Northeast.

Go on a Hiking Extravaganza at Redmond Watershed Preserve

Waters at Redmond Watershed Preserve
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If you've got time for a nature hike while in King County, Redmond Watershed Preserve may be a good spot.

This preserve, as the name suggests, has been a property of the city of Redmond since 1926.

Spanning 800 acres, its original purpose was to become a water supply for the community.

Several years later, the park has transformed into a natural getaway and habitat preservation site.

Some of its habitats onsite include wetlands and ponds.

But its charming features are its multi-use trails, where many hikers, bikers, and equestrians traverse.

Its trails span seven miles, with some of its sections designated for a specific trek activity.

Redmond Watershed Preserve is along Novelty Hill Road.

Meet Exotic and Unfamiliar Animals at Woodland Park Zoo

A gorilla at Woodland Park Zoo
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What better way to take your family out for a bit of sightseeing than King County's famous zoo, Woodland Park Zoo?

Founded in 1899, this zoo is a non-profit organization that aims to inspire a love for wildlife and science.

It has about 900 different kinds of animals within its perimeters.

250 of these species are part of the world's most endangered kinds.

Penguins at Woodland Park Zoo
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From tropical forest mammals to an assortment of fowl and reptiles, there are many animals for you to meet and interact with.

It also has a seasonal butterfly garden worth checking out.

Woodland Park Zoo is in Seattle and offers two entrances.

You can find these entrances on Phinney Avenue North and North 50th Street.

Lions at Woodland Park Zoo
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Explore the Grounds of Franklin Ghost Town

Interested in abandoned places?

Franklin Ghost Town is one of King County's best examples.

This coal-mining town was once a flurry of hustle and noise in the 1880s.

However, along with its interesting past is a tragic mine disaster that made the town the place it is now.

Shortly 25 years after a massive fire killed several miners while on duty, the townspeople slowly abandoned the town.

But even with the lack of people, the site is abundant with hauntingly beautiful structures.

Some of these are its cemetery and a powerhouse foundation.

Franklin Ghost Town sits along the Green River near the city of Black Diamond.

Go for a Swim at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park

Sunny day at Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
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Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is your best bet for a beachfront escapade.

This public park features an L-shaped beach and 40 acres of park property.

It comes with multiple trails, a seasonal off-leash dog area, and a playground too.

The waters of Richmond Beach Saltwater Park
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Aside from swimming and admiring the scenery, the spot is also a good place for orca spotting.

Come by during the winter months when they are more likely to make an appearance.

Richmond Beach Saltwater Park is on Northwest 190th Street in the city of Shoreline.

Wander the Marshlands at Point Robinson Lighthouse

Exterior of Point Robinson Lighthouse
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In the community of Vashon, Point Robinson Lighthouse offers more than recreation.

This park's lighthouse has continued to lend its services to vessels at sea since 1885.

Some of the amenities and habitats you can anticipate at this site include a saltwater marsh, walking trails, and upland woodlands.

Top part of the Point Robinson Lighthouse
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The trails also get you scenic vistas of the East Passage and Tacoma.

The place offers tours of the lighthouse from May to September, so you may want to mark your calendars for that.

Head over to Southwest Point Robinson Road for Point Robinson Lighthouse.

Enter Another World When You Visit Gnome Trail at Legacy Site

Maple Valley's very own Gnome Trail at Legacy Site is an outstanding attraction all on its own.

This trail is a fairytale come true in tiny form.

Despite its short hike of less than a mile, this wooded route offers plenty of opportunities to admire nature.

The trail allows you a gateway through dense trees and mushrooms, among many stumps.

But the highlight of this trail is its collection of gnomes, hiding in plain sight and all over the pathways!

Can you spot them all?

Bring your child along for a more enjoyable gnome-spotting journey.

Get going to Black Diamond Road Southeast to reach Gnome Trail at Legacy Site.

Visit the Colorful and Unique Gum Wall in Seattle

A bicycle beside the Gum Wall
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You haven't truly immersed yourself into Seattle's culture if you don't visit the famous Gum Wall at least once.

This eccentric work of art is just as its name indicates—it's a wall full of gum!

Started in the 90s, this wall was once bare before patrons and artists from Unexpected Productions began sticking their used gum along the brick surface.

Soon enough, many followed.

View of the colorful Gum Wall
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Several years later, the spot has become a tourist attraction with its colorful array of gums.

You may even add your own used gum to the collection, a token of your visit.

The Gum Wall is within Pike Place Market, specifically along Post Alley, in the city of Seattle.

Close details of the Gum Wall
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Enjoy the Scenery at Coal Creek Falls

The waters of Coal Creek Falls
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A part of the Cougar Mountain Regional Wildlife Park, Coal Creek Falls is a serene place perfect for meditation and nature exploration.

Its family-friendly trail ensures you have a fun time enjoying the view with loved ones and large groups of friends.

When you come by during spring, you'll find the trail alive in a vibrant scene of wildflowers and salmonberries.

Wooden benches near Coal Creek Falls
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And at the end of your hike stand the waterfalls at 28 feet!

So, be sure to add this wonderful hidden gem to your itinerary.

You can get to Coal Creek Falls via Coal Creek Falls Trail in the city of Bellevue.

Try Mountain Biking at Tiger Mountain State Forest

Trail lined with lush greenery at Tiger Mountain State Forest
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Calling all nature enthusiasts!

You are in for a blast at Tiger Mountain State Forest.

Established in 1981, this forest is one of the Washington State Department of Natural Resources' famous forests.

At more than 13,000 acres, it's easy to get lost in the sights and smells of nature all around.

Many come by this spot for an adventure across its day-use trails.

You can visit with your mountain bike and admire the scenery while on your ride.

For the more daring nature explorers, try out hang gliding or even paragliding.

Tiger Mountain State Forest sits near West Tiger Mountain Natural Resources Conservation Area a few miles away from the city of Issaquah.

Final Thoughts

King County has proven its worth as a place of culture, community, and new beginnings.

From world-class state parks and gardens to distinct museums and galleries, you have many to look forward to on your visit.

Now that you know the best things to do in King County, Washington, are you ready for an adventure unlike any other?

Safe travels, then!

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