17 Charming Small Towns in Washington

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In case you haven’t noticed by now, we sort of have a thing for small towns. From the East Coast (Connecticut and Massachusetts immediately come to mind) to the Pacific Northwest (hello, Oregon) and everywhere in between (don’t forget about the treasure in Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina and Tennessee), the United States has so many cute little spots to discover. But back to Cascadia, are you familiar with all the endlessly enchanting small towns in Washington State? If the answer is no, keep scrolling and you’ll be able to say otherwise by the end of this article.


charming small towns in washington sequim
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1. Sequim

Perched on the Olympic Peninsula, sunny Sequim (pronounced “skwim”) receives relatively little rain compared to much of the Pacific Northwest. That's great news for outdoor enthusiasts keen to visit the New Dungeness Lighthouse on the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Olympic National Park and stroll through the lavender fields that look plucked off the pages of a travel brochure for Provence, France. Add Dungeness crabs and gourmet coffee shops to the already enticing mix.

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charming small towns in washington friday harbor
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2. Friday Harbor

A beautiful and charming seaside town on San Juan Island with just 2,000 permanent residents, Friday Harbor was originally claimed by the Hudson’s Bay Company. Today, it still feels like a quintessential coastal community where the past is very much alive. There are family-run shops, restaurants proudly serving locally grown produce and the San Juan Historical Museum. It’s also a popular departure point for whale-watching excursions.

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charming small towns in washington leavenworth
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3. Leavenworth

One of the best mountain towns in the United States, Leavenworth is an utterly enchanting Bavarian-style village full of authentic German restaurants (schnitzel and bratwurst, anyone?), beer halls, alpine-style buildings and picturesque views. OK, imagine Leavenworth covered in a dusting of fresh flakes. Now, you get why it ranks among the most romantic winter weekend getaways. Though, it’s honestly pretty fantastic any time of year.

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charming small towns in washington poulsbo
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4. Poulsbo

From Germany to Norway—or, rather, a Norwegian settlement in Washington—Poulsbo, which was named by the settlers who founded it back in the 1880s, is understandably referred to as “Viking Town.” Beyond its thriving heritage, this Liberty Bay gem invites visitors to experience the SEA Discovery Center, traverse the trails in Kitsap Memorial State Park and toss back a craft beer at Valhöll Brewing.

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charming small towns in washington gig harbor
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5. Gig Harbor

Across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge from the city of Tacoma, along a bay in Puget Sound, lies the maritime village of Gig Harbor. Billed as “the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula,” it’s the perfect launchpad for exploring a handful of beautiful state and city parks. When you’ve had your fill of hiking and watersports, head to the Harbor History Museum, go shopping or savor seafood at one of the many waterfront eateries.

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charming small towns in washington port townsend
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6. Port Townsend

Road trippin’ from Seattle to Olympic National Park? We’d recommend a pitstop in Port Townsend. Situated at the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, bordered by Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, this Victorian seaport really has something for everyone. Admire the historic architecture, visit the many art galleries, explore miles of beautiful beaches and soak in the waterfront views.

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charming small towns in washington winthrop

7. Winthrop

What's not to love about Winthrop? (No seriously, we can't think of anything.) It's pretty impossible not to fall for this gold rush town turned tourism darling. Besides the Old West-style storefronts and saloons, Winthrop ups the ante with a slew of adventurous pursuits, from horseback riding to rock climbing. And it goes without saying that proximity to North Cascades National Park is a major selling point.

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charming small towns in washington anacortes
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8. Anacortes

Fans of waterfront fun should head to Anacortes (which, let’s be clear, is a small city that reads more like a big town) for boat excursions, concerts in Seafarers Memorial Park and eating copious amounts of fresh seafood. Even the land-locked activities—like, for example, hiking—come with beautiful views of the San Juan archipelago. Plus, we love an island destination that’s easily accessible by ferry. It feels far removed from the hustle and bustle of the mainland yet doesn’t require an entire day of travel.

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charming small towns in washington cat
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9. La Conner

Not sure why we have the urge to say “oh la la” every time someone mentions La Conner. (Is that just us?) Anyway, this historic fishing village that’s sandwiched between the Swinomish Channel, Skagit River Delta and Salish Sea exudes an almost addictive quality with tons of cute shops, access to the great outdoors and a vibrant, art scene. No wonder it’s one of the top spots to visit and live in the Skagit Valley.

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charming small towns in washington prosser
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10. Prosser

Located along the Yakima River in the heart of the fertile Yakima Valley, Prosser is teeming with verdant vineyards and wineries. Fans of vino won’t want to pass up the opportunity to sip chardonnay and merlot straight from the source at local favorites like Alexandria Nicole Cellars. Because what goes better with great wine than delicious food? The cobbled lanes in the historic downtown are dotted with tasty restaurants. For a bit of high-altitude excitement, why not book a sunset hot-air balloon ride?

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charming small towns in washington langley
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11. Langley

At first glance, Langley looks very much like the type of town you’d see in Connecticut, Massachusetts or Maine. (It’s the sun-splashed waterfront and New England-style buildings that give off such an impression.) In reality, Langley sits at the southern end of Whidbey Island. Its picturesque streets are home to coffee shops, antique stores and quaint eateries. While the art galleries and live music speak to the deeply creative soul of this seaside village.

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charming small towns in washington ellensburg
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12. Ellensburg

Another town-like city (for the purposes of this piece, that totally counts), Ellensburg boasts a vibrant downtown area with loads of preserved historic buildings—including Ben Snipes Bank, Boss Bakery and Central Washington University’s Barge Hall—as well as art galleries, boutiques and museums. While Irene Rinehart Riverfront Park is the perfect spot to just chill out or go for a leisurely walk along the water.

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charming small towns in washington stehekin
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13. Stehekin

Washington’s most remote inhabited community, the tiny village of Stehekin (a name based on a Salishan word meaning “the way through”) is tucked away at the headwaters of Lake Chelan, deep in the North Cascades, and only accessible by foot, boat or plane. With spellbinding views at every turn, access to rugged wilderness and an almost wondrous sense of isolation, it’s well worth the trek.

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charming small towns in washington forks
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14. Forks

Fans of Twilight books and films will no doubt be familiar with Forks. But don’t worry if you’re not into the supernatural side of things. For the rest of us, this town on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula offers plenty of activities that have nothing to do with vampires.. Fish for steelhead trout and salmon, stroll around the charming downtown area and soak in the wonder of rugged Rialto Beach.

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charming small towns in washington coupeville
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15. Coupeville

The second-oldest town in Washington state, Coupeville is another waterside destination on Whidbey Island that’s definitely worth visiting. It’s packed with buildings that are listed in the National Historic Register—notably Captain Coupe’s original home, which was built in 1853. So, it’s easy to get your history fix. Between eating fresh mussels, snapping pics of the wharf and walking the wooden pier, time will fly by before you even know it.

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16. Republic

Founded by gold prospectors in the early 1900s, and originally named Eureka Gulch, Republic is a bit like a time capsule. The best parts of this darling town in North Central Washington remain well preserved for modern tourists. Dig for millennia-old artifacts at the Stonerose Interpretive Center & Eocene Fossil Site, go horseback riding, navigate the trails in Curlew Lake State Park and cap things off with a cold beer from Republic Brewing Company.

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charming small towns in washington twisp
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17. Twisp

The riverside town of Twisp is the bee’s knees (that’s funny because it was originally named for an Okanagan word meaning “wasp”). However, it’s more commonly known as “the heart of the Methow Valley.” Idyllic and brimming with a tractor-load of bucolic charm, Twisp treats travelers to hiking, fishing, scenic views and local organic markets.

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Freelance PureWow Editor

Lindsay Cohn is a travel writer and serial trip planner who has visited 46 countries across six continents (and counting). When not globetrotting, she’s most likely either doing...