I conceived of creating a post about the capitals of the Pacific Northwest in 2023. So in May of 2023 I visited Salem OR, July 2023 Olympia WA, and we had visited Boise ID twice: Spring Break 2021 and Aug 2022 (Boise is a favorite of my travel buddy). I've been trying to get to Victoria BC for years, but then COVID restrictions got in the way. I'd like to take the ferry from Port Angeles WA sometime, and try the Victoria Clipper from Seattle.
Kim Huong Vietnamese Restaurant--2950 Silverton Rd NE, Salem OR
Delicious food, friendly & accommodating staff, pleasant casual atmosphere.
Oregon State Fairgrounds--2330 17th Street NE, Salem OR 97301 (also accessed from Silverton Rd)
Bush’s Pasture Park--890 Mission St SE, Salem, OR 97302 (Bush St off High St)
(Including Bush House Museum & Bush Barn Art Center)
While the official address seems to be on Mission St, the Museums, rose garden, and playground are on or off Bush St, from High St. There's parking along Bush St, and a small lot at the end of Bush St. Googlemaps shows 3 additional parking lots off Leffelle St, on the south side of the park. Many amenities, and home of the Salem Soap Box Derby.
Churches near Bush's Pasture Park that caught my interest and/or imagination:
St. Paul's Episcopal Church--1444 Liberty St SE, Salem, OR 97302--around the southwest corner of Bush...Park
Calvary Baptist Church--1230 Liberty St SE, Salem, OR 97302--Liberty & Miller St
Deepwood Museum & Gardens--1116 Mission St SE, Salem, OR
(just east of Bush's Pasture Park, take 12th St off Mission to get to the parking lot)
The Museum is not wheelchair accessible, and some of the paths are borderline (wise to have a companion if you are in a wheelchair), but it's a picturesque place to picnic or plan an event.
Willamette Heritage Center--1313 Mill Street SE, Suite 200, Salem OR
Fascinating family centered place to learn about history, weaving, and mechanization, shop eat at the cafe or picnic. $10, Tues-Sat 10am-4pm
Salem OR Amtrak Station--500 13th St SE, Salem, OR 97301 (Southern Pacific RR Station--1918)
Although the address doesn't make it apparent, the Amtrak station is not far down the street from the Willamette Heritage Center. The adjacent Greyhound terminal is only a stop: buy tickets online. The Greyhound building announces Salem elevation 163’, 52.7 mi to Portland, 70.9 mi to Eugene.
Willamette University--900 State St, Salem OR 97301
Across the street from the back of the Oregon State Capitol, this is truly a handsome as well as an historic campus to wander/saunter.
Tues-Sat noon to 5pm (4pm entrance) Permanent exhibits "feature works by Pacific Northwest and Native American artists as well as a diverse collection of Ancient, European, American, and Asian art." Special exhibits display the spectrum of Art from the classical to the modern. Additionally, virtual axhibits are offered.
Oregon State Capitol--900 Court St NE, Salem, OR 97301; including the parks east, west, & north of the Capitol
(historic areas of the building interior were closed for reconstruction while I was there, see virtual tour below)
Wilson Park encompasses the Capitol building (east and west of it), while north of the Capitol is Oregon State Capitol State Park, with gardens, monuments, and pavers inset for each county (arranged alphabetically; only a few samples pictured below).
Riverfront Park--230 Front St SE, Salem, OR 97301
What a wonderful family-friendly park, full of amenities & activities for every age & interest! Playground, picnic, restrooms, amphitheater, carousel, huge EcoEarth Globe "sculpture" (repurposed sphere used in papermaking), paved trails to hike & bike, group facilities, events . . .
Gilbert House Children's Museum--116 Marion St NE, Salem, OR 97301 (access from Water St)
A great place to take young kids. Popular for tours/school groups. Unattended adults not allowed ;-)
Union St Bridge (across the Willamette River, aka Union Street Railroad Bridge)—Union & Water St, Salem OR
Walk or bike over the river to Wallace Marine Park/West Salem. The bridge is noted on Google maps as part of the Willamette River Water Trail.
Wallace Marine Park—200 Glen Creek Rd NW, Salem OR
Marion Square Park--551 Commercial St NE, Salem, OR 97301
"Marion Square Park was platted in the original William Willson 1846 plat of Salem. The park is bordered by Union, Commercial, Marion, and Front Streets and encompasses 3.2 acres. This block-square area was set aside as a park in 1846 and continues in that function today even though it is now somewhat isolated to pedestrian traffic by multi-lane highways. It is easily recognized by a stand of mature conifers planted more than a century ago. For hundreds of years before the Methodists arrived in the Salem area, the site of Marion Square Park had been the permanent camp site for the Chemeketa band and others of the greater Willamette Valley Kalapuyan "tribe". One of the last large encampments on the site occurred in the winter of 1847, according to Henry Brown, writing in 1878 of Chief Quinaby in the Marion County Historical Quarterly. Brown states that all of the Chemeketa and Chemawa Indians formed their winter camp in Salem that year, the camp commencing on the north edge of Marion Square and extending south to North Mill Creek. There were about 400 people camping there when an epidemic of measles broke out. The usual treatment was a stay in a sweat house and then a plunge into the icy water of the creek. This procedure, added to the lack of immunity among the Indians, took a toll of about half the population during the winter. Apparently the burying ground was some distance away from the park site itself. This was one of the last organized encampments at this particular location, however, the park continued as a traditional gathering place and in the 1870s the park was the site of a conference for a treaty. Early settler Fabritus Smith recollects logging in this park during the latter part of the 19th century. In earlier days, the park was surrounded by fine residential development on the river bank; a very small remnant today is nearby Heritage Village. A covered bandstand was built in the park c.1895. A contemporary photograph shows a thickly-wooded park, a 1920 photo, 25 years later, shows much thinning of trees had occurred. The bandstand was in use for about 50 years before its demolition in 1943-44."
Historic Downtown Salem
Naturally not every place could be included, but below are some that caught my interest or that I thought might be helpful for other travelers (as they would have been for me), narrowed down as best I could. In order to try to organize my wanderings, I went south on Commercial St, then north on Liberty, south on High St, north on Church, south on Cottage, north on Winter, and south on 12th. I have tried to integrate the east & west notables by their proximal north & south locations. Hope not to confuse myself or anyone else!
Commercial St (north to south)
Liberty St (south to north, with a bit of meandering)
High St (north to south)
Church St (south to north)
Cottage St (a couple at Cottage & Court)
Winter St (south to north)
Deepwood Museum & Gardens, Amtrak, Willamette Heritage Center, the east end of Willamette University, and the Oregon Supreme Court (I grouped with Oregon State Capitol) all border on 12th--see sections above.
Chira's restaurant--189 Liberty St NE Suite 111, Salem OR (the historic Reed Opera House Mall)
A better entrance is about 355 Court St NE. Great food, friendly helpful staff, nice atmosphere/décor.
Holman Riverfront Park Hotel Salem (Tapestry Collection by Hilton)--195 Commercial St SE, Salem OR 97301
Excellent location, easy walk & roll around historic downtown, Riverfront Park, the Capitol, shopping & restaurants, and more. Easy, friendly & helpful valet parking (costed $20/night). Some food options in the hotel.
Salem's wider region
OSH Museum of Mental Health--2600 Center Street NE, Salem, OR 97301
I arrived after hours (as I was exploring greater Salem), but took some exterior shots anyway. Hours: Thurs--Sat 12-4 pm (check the calendar on their site for weather and holiday closures). Across Center St and off 23rd is the site of the filming of "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975), an historic building now labeled "Board Parole-Post Prison Sprvs".
Schreiner’s Iris Gardens—3625 Quinaby Rd NE, Salem OR (actually a little north of Salem)
On the way to Salem one fine May day, my eyes were drawn to the magnificent colors displayed by these broad fields of iris along I-5. I just had to find the place on the way home. They also have gifts, supplies, daylilies, lupine seeds, alliums as well as iris, events and catalogue sales.
Powerland Heritage Park—3995 Brooklake Rd NE, Brooks OR 97303
(on my way to Willamette Mission State Park)
15 separate museums plus models, garden, blacksmith shop, country store, etc., gravel parking area. Apr-Sept, Wed-Sun 9am-4pm (and by appt & private events); for public events see:
Willamette Mission State Park--about 1/2 hr north of Salem OR, day use, fee
Out in the country: don't give up, you'll get there! Outdoorsy place for hikers/bikers, boaters/kayakers, fishers, horse and history lovers, not as much for wheelchair users. Restrooms said to be accessible.
Further afield . . .
The Oregon Garden--879 W. Main St. Silverton, OR 97381 (abt 1/2 hour NE of Salem), scroll down at
$6, Th-Sat 11-4pm, tours available--abt 45 min SE of Salem
Brochures below I collected from the Washington State Capitol, Olympia WA
In Olympia I explored
Washington State Capitol Complex
Washington State Capitol Campus, west off Capitol Way, Olympia WA
11 min video tour of the Capitol building
Cherberg Bldg-- Primary office building for the state Senate, from WA State Capitol bldg.
Inside the Washington State Capitol--416 Sid Snyder Ave SW, Olympia, WA
Veterans Memorials on the grounds of the Washington State Capitol Complex, both the west and east sides of Capitol Way between 11th Ave & 14th Ave/Syd Snyder Ave, Olympia WA
Memorials & Art
Washington State Capitol Campus, east off Capitol Way, Olympia WA
Heritage Park, Percival Landing & Marina, Farmers Market
There's a switchback path down the steep hill from the Washington State Law Enforcement Memorial at the Washington State Capitol west campus to the south end of Heritage Park. Heritage Park is connected to Marathon Park by a bridge across a narrow part of Capitol Lake. The state plaques along the Arc of Statehood are in alphabetical order. It's walking distance all the way up to Percival Park/Landing for a healthy person.
Percival Landing & Marina, and the Port of Olympia area
Percival Landing Park--217 Thurston Ave NW, Olympia, WA 98501
(Columbia St between Olympia Ave & Thurston Ave)
Recreation programs, classes, activities for all ages, events, Senior Services
Olympia Farmers Market—700 Capitol Way N, Olympia WA 98501
Restaurants, gardens, fresh produce & various vendors, parking includes EV charging
Gallacci Gardens nearby at Market St & Washington, Batdorf & Bronson Garden nearby on Market St between Washington & Franklin
Historic Downtown Olympia
What's to eat on Columbia St
Cutz Butchery & Seafood— 510 Columbia St SW, Olympia, WA 98501 (grill at home)
Cascadia Grill—200 4th Ave W, Olympia WA; fun focus on the Pacific Northwest for decor & dining
Red Lion Inn & Suites Olympia Governor Hotel--621 Capitol Way South, Olympia, WA 98501
Great location, if only Olympia had not let the historic downtown go down hill. It's a mixed neighborhood as far as attractiveness goes. But the hotel is so close to Heritage Park, restaurants, shopping, historic landmarks & architecture. Not far from the Capitol complex. Rolling/strolling distance to Percival Landing. They have a whole hallway of very cool historic photos (only a few could be included here). One of the staff at the hotel said they were going to be renovating, so I gave them some suggestions. Their ADA room was difficult for me--see photo captions below.
More historic downtown--in the vicinity of the Red Lion Inn
Other sights to see, things to do around Olympia
Hands On Children's Museum--414 Jefferson St NE, Olympia, WA 98501
9-5pm (arrive by 4:45pm), timed entry, $11 ($2 less online), EBT $3, 1st Fri Night $1 (4, 5, 6pm);
parking lot $1.50/hr (3 ways to pay) or street parking.Puget Sound Estuarium—309 State NE, Olympia WA 98501 (open Sat & Sun 11-4pm, $3-$5, $8/family)
Food Carts on 4th Ave & Plum St—most open 11am
Filling Station Espresso open 7am-4pm https://www.yelp.com/biz/filling-station-espresso-olympia
Whitewood Cider Company https://www.whitewoodcider.com/
My Thai Food Truck https://www.yelp.com/biz/my-thai-food-truck-olympia
California Tacos https://www.tacoscalifornia.com/?gclid=Cj0KCQjw_5unBhCMARIsACZyzS1x4YAKCv9ng8sQPZYQwy9dhMwIXIwhnzdp-lZbAk6vMp8Cu87b2JAaArbPEALw_wcB
Nineveh Assyrian food https://www.nineveholympia.com/
Arepa Latin-American/Venezuelan Food https://www.arepalatinstreetfood.com/
Yashiro Japanese Garden—2020 Plum St SE, Olympia WA
It's a little confusing about how to get to the parking, but turn into the parking for Lee Creighton Justice Center--900 Plum St SE. This little spot is well worth a stop.
Bigelow House Museum—918 Glass Ave NE, Olympia WA 98506, on a steep hill.
“Susan B. Anthony Visits Bigelow House . . . 1871”. She later worked with the Bigelows to win the vote for women in Washington (which passed in 1910).
Named for Rebecca & Alexander Howard, a black couple that settled in Olympia in the 1850s. I think it was on the paved walk & roll way around the south end of the bay. I took my shot from the road.
Squaxin Park—2600 East Bay Drive Northeast, Olympia, WA 98506
East Bay Drive is a divided roadway where it separates the east and west sides of Squaxin Park, with a bridge over East Bay Dr between the two. Otherwise, access the east side going north and the west side going south. Drive a bit beyond the entrances to make a U-turn if needed.
Tumwater & Lacey limited
Carlyon Bridge over the Deschutes River--Capitol Blvd, Tumwater WA
Brewery Park at Tumwater Falls—110 Deschutes Way SW, Tumwater WA (C St & Deschutes Parkway)
Fun & interesting place to picnic, ponder & wander, learn & leisure.
Crosby House Museum--703 Deschutes Way Southwest, Tumwater WA
Henderson House Museum—602 Deschutes Way Southwest, Tumwater WA
There are a few parking spots (including a handicapped one) just as you turn off Deschutes Way (Grant St SW) to go to the Crosby House & Tumwater Historical Park.
Tumwater Historical Park--802 Deschutes Way SW, Tumwater WA 98501
The Deschutes River flows into the south end of Capitol Lake here. Lovely place to eat, play, spend the day.
Towne Center area--north of Tumwater Blvd on & off Capitol Blvd, Tumwater WA
Lots of state offices in the area, as well as public art & fountains.
Toyota of Olympia (where I bought my van)--6969 Tyee Dr SW Tumwater WA 98512
Since they are a little out of the way, they really make an effort to keep their customers comfortable while waiting . . . food, massage chairs, glass-walled play area for kids, beside big screens & fireplace . . . When my grandson found the van I needed here, the salesman bent over backward to help me manage the transaction (2 hours' drive away from me).
George and Isabella Bush Homestead Historic Site--1400 85th Ave SE, Olympia, WA 98501
On my way to/from Tenino for Oregon Trail Days, I was too tired to get out, unfortunately, so my photos have something to be desired .
Idaho State Capitol--700 West Jefferson St, Boise ID 83702
This is a great field trip to learn about American government in a very visual way, for children and adults.
Boise & nearby ID (we made 2 trips to Boise: both with visits to the state Capitol, each with separate photos)
Provincial Capitals of Canada
I've been in a wheelchair for 30+ years. It poses some challenges for traveling. Maybe others can benefit from my experiences.