Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Tumwater, WA

  • Published 2022/09/19

Tumwater is a small but progressive town south of Olympia in Thurston County, Washington.

This town has a rich history tied with the massive old breweries along the Deschutes River.

Tumwater features natural beauty, history, and a thriving community.

Early settlers called it “New Market” in 1845.

However, they later renamed it Tumwater, meaning “Waterfall,” after the Native Chinooks who once lived in the area.

Visitors can still feel and see Tumwater’s small-town charm despite the changes.

Prepare for an adventure that takes you into Tumwater’s famous historical attractions and parks.

At the same time, enjoy its festivals that will fill your belly with excellent craft beer and food.

Are you getting excited? Read this list of the best things to do in Tumwater, Washington.

Explore Nature and History at Brewery Park

The waters of Brewery Park

Kristin halverstadt /

Tumwater is a historic city in Washington, because of its well-preserved centuries-old buildings and ruins.

Some of these ruins are at Brewery Park.

This park encompasses over 15 acres of pristine natural area and year-round outdoor activities.

Likewise, it’s where you’ll find the old Olympia Brewery and its ruins constructed in 1906.

The brewery once produced some of the most excellent beer on the West Coast.

View of Olympia Brewery from Brewery Park

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

However, it closed in 1916 due to Prohibition and has never re-opened.

Today, the brewery remains standing, abandoned, and empty.

However, the town of Tumwater has revitalized the park and done numerous restorations to these buildings.

Thousands of visitors flock to Brewery Park each year for hiking, nature viewing, and photographing the old brewery and its scenery.

Visiting this park is an excellent way to get acquainted with the town’s rich history and laid-back vibes.

Appreciate the Outdoors at Pioneer Park

Get used to Tumwater’s local scene by checking out Pioneer Park.

This community park situated along Henderson Boulevard near Deschutes River is a popular venue for sports games and outdoor recreation.

At the same time, it’s a favorite destination for locals during the summer to swim in the Deschutes River.

It has a baseball field, softball fields, soccer fields, and sand volleyball courts, perfect for sports.

In addition, it has a children’s playground, walking trails, and convenient access to the river.

Pioneer Park is an excellent location for outdoor activities such as picnicking, sports, and simple relaxation with your loved ones.

Most importantly, you’ll enjoy watching the locals have fun outdoors while appreciating the park’s peaceful ambiance.

Hike through Tumwater Hill Park

For a relaxing hike, you can head to Tumwater Hill Park.

You can visit this park along Ridgeview Court, featuring its nine-acre greenery, known for hiking.

This park has a 2.3-kilometer looped trail and other amenities such as picnic areas and baseball fields.

The hike at this park has an elevation of around 83 meters.

Reaching the top offers a beautiful view of Mount Rainier from a distance.

Besides hiking, Tumwater Hill Park is famous for birdwatching and trail running.

At the same time, you’ll surely enjoy its solitude during mornings and sunsets.

This park provides fresh air, a tranquil environment, and a challenging hike.

Travel Back in Time at Tumwater Historical Park

Picnic area at Tumwater Historical Park

Joe Mabel, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The Tumwater Historical Park encompasses 17 acres of a gorgeous green open space established in 1980.

Tumwater planned to build a historic park near the historic district in 1951, but it took nearly 30 years to complete.

The park was once a muddy tideland near Deschutes River and now serves as one of the most beloved parks in town after its massive development.

The park has a covered shelter, picnic areas, a children’s playground, walking trails, and access to the river.

Visiting here offers a different and vibrant scene of Tumwater’s local parks.

Like most of the town’s community parks, the Tumwater Historical Park is an idyllic location for family bonding, relaxation, and outdoor activities.

Don’t forget to include this park in your itinerary during your visit to town.

Enjoy Quality Leisure Time at Craft District

Craft District is a commercial complex offering various leisure activities, including its craft beer experience.

Thanks to Tumwater’s local government’s partnership, the city has developed the district to pay tribute to the town’s rich brewing history.

Locals love to visit this place to unwind with good-quality craft beers.

At the same time, you can listen to musicians who perform live regularly.

Visiting the Craft District also lets you see and tour tasting rooms, production areas, cask clubs, and even watch events at its open space facility.

In addition, you can browse through its market building featuring restaurants, boutiques, wineries, and breweries.

Overall, it’s a nice spot to loosen up and shake off stress while enjoying the company of your loved ones or friends.

Remember the Early Days of Aviation at Olympic Flight Museum

The Olympic Flight Museum is a fascinating place to explore, especially for those who dreamed of flying an airplane at some point in their life.

You can find this museum along Tumwater’s Old Highway 99 SE near the Olympia Regional Airport.

Join guided tours that take you through impressive displays of vintage airplanes, helicopters, aviation equipment, and other memorabilia.

Amazingly, most of the displayed vintage planes are still airworthy.

This fantastic museum opened in 1998 and remained a famous historical attraction in Thurston County, welcoming thousands of visitors yearly.

Kids and adults will have fun browsing the museum’s displays and exhibits, especially the plane hangars.

While touring, you’ll also get history lessons from the museum guides with fascinating information about the displayed vintage aircraft.

Tee Up at the Tumwater Valley Golf Club

Another suitable location for some relaxing activities is the Tumwater Valley Golf Club.

This picturesque golf club is along Tumwater Valley Drive SE, featuring a 20-hole championship golf course.

It encompasses over ten acres of wonderfully landscaped greens and other features, offering enough challenge for newbies and seasoned golfers.

In addition, it has numerous tee boxes, practice areas, and a peaceful environment.

If you forget to bring your gear, check out its pro shop to suit yourself with all the essential golf apparel and equipment.

Overall, Tumwater Valley Golf Club is an ideal destination for golfers who happen to visit.

Admire the Beauty of Schmidt House and Centennial Rose Garden

The Schmidt House & Centennial Rose Garden is arguably the most noteworthy rose garden between Portland and Tacoma.

This place along Schmidt Place SW in Tumwater is famous for its beauty and rich history.

It was dedicated in 1989 as a Washington Centennial project through the Olympia Rose Society.

The garden is home to 63 heritage and modern rose varieties, which remain in bloom throughout the year.

Touring the garden also lets you see other rose varieties such as the grandiflora, hybrid tea, floribunda, and polyantha roses.

During your visit to the Schmidt House and Centennial Rose Garden, don’t forget to read interpretive signs, listen to the guide’s history lessons, and capture as many photos as you can to have a memorable experience.

Stretch Your Muscles at Defy Olympia

Head to Defy Olympia along Center Street SW for a fun, action-packed activity.

This massive indoor trampoline and obstacle course facility is a favorite place for kids to have fun through its themed sections.

The facility features a trampoline basketball court, extreme dodgeball court, toddler’s jump course, ninja obstacle course, zip line, parkour course, and battle beams.

Thanks to its vast array of featured trampolines, obstacle courses, and games, kids and adults will have a fantastic time at Defy Olympia.

It’s your go-to place if you’re looking for a wholesome place to have fun with your kids or friends.

Join the Tumwater Artesian Brewfest

The Tumwater Artesian Brewfest lets you celebrate and witness the town’s rich brewery history and heritage.

This festival happens every October, coinciding with the worldwide celebration of Oktoberfest.

Over 40 breweries serve their best signature craft beers, wines, ciders, and spirits to thousands of visitors.

At the same time, dozens of food vendors serve delicious dishes and specialties that complement the overflowing craft beer.

Schedule your visit to Tumwater in October to join the revelry with the locals and thousands of visitors across Washington State.

Besides food and beer, live music, games, and other fun activities happen during the festival, making it a recommended event to attend in town.

Sip Excellent Spirits at the Heritage Distilling Company

You should know by now that your visit to Tumwater will get you a bit tipsy because of the breweries and activities involving alcoholic drinks.

So, your next destination should be the Heritage Distilling Company along Capitol Boulevard SE.

This full-production distillery is in the Craft District.

This local distillery is famous for its premier spirits, such as rums, vodkas, whiskeys, and gins, using locally-sourced ingredients.

You can sample each drink at the tasting room and buy some to enjoy at home.

List the Heritage Distilling Company in your itinerary for a one-of-a-kind tasting experience in Tumwater.

Roam the Halls of the Henderson House Museum

Another historical attraction in Tumwater is the Henderson House Museum.

You can find this museum along Deschutes Way, featuring the well-preserved 1889 Harriet-Henderson House.

Florence Humphrey and her mother once lived in the house, which became a haven for abandoned children and former prostitutes in the area back in the day.

Today, the Henderson House Museum offers fascinating history through its exhibits and guided tours.

Likewise, visiting this museum offers a different perspective of Tumwater’s history, particularly how its former owners sheltered the neglected people back in the day.

Listen to the Rushing Waters of Tumwater Falls

Cascades of Tumwater Falls

GeorgeColePhoto /

Tumwater Falls is the focal point of the entire town.

It has existed since the first settlement and has remained unchanged.

Take a short hike through a looped trail meandering the Deschutes River, which leads to this waterfall.

Meanwhile, the historic Olympic Brewery House is near the waterfalls.

Bridge over Tumwater Falls

George Dodd III /

The entire waterfalls span 82 feet in height and 25 feet long with a picturesque landscape.

Upon reaching the waterfall, take photos for a memorable souvenir.

To complete your experience at Tumwater Falls, you can hang around for a few hours and listen to the peaceful gushing waters from the falls.

Trail at Tumwater Falls

Sveta Imnadze /

Get an Amazing View of Mt. Rainier at the Overlook Point Park

Lastly, don’t forget to see the majestic Mt. Rainier at Overlook Point Park.

You can visit this park along Barnes Boulevard SW.

Hike an elevated area to see an excellent vantage point of the famous mountain.

If you don’t have the time to reach the foot of Mount Rainier, visiting this park is an ideal way to see the imposing peak.

Reaching the top of Overlook Point Park is also a satisfying outdoor activity as you hike through lush greeneries and wooded areas.

Once you arrive on top, you’ll see a fantastic mountain view and a bird’s eye view of South Puget Sound.

You’ll also see Olympia and the Capitol from a distance, making your climb worthwhile.

Cast Your Line at Trosper Lake

Head to Trosper Lake for some relaxing fishing sessions.

You can find this lake on the western part of Tumwater near Littlerock Road SW.

Local anglers report they frequently catch some largemouth bass, rainbow trout, bluegill, white perch, and cutthroat trout, the most abundant fish in this lake.

Trosper Lake spans over 17 acres with a depth of about 12 feet.

The lake got its name from a pioneer citizen in Tumwater, John Trosper.

Today, it’s an idyllic fishing spot with a peaceful ambiance and lush greenery surrounded by trees.

It’s a perfect location for a lazy day where you won’t do anything but wait for the fish to take a bite.

So, double-check your luggage because you’ll likely enjoy a nice peaceful day at this popular fishing spot.

Final Thoughts

Tumwater is a fantastic weekend destination full of history, heritage, and natural beauty.

Beer connoisseurs, historians, and even simple travelers would surely appreciate a one-of-a-kind travel experience in this town.

Plan your trip today and discover the best things to do in Tumwater, Washington!

© All rights reserved.