Capitol Tour and Other Fun in Olympia

June 29, 2024 at 8:26 p.m.
Roger and Linda enjoyed their tour of the Capitol Building in Olympia
Roger and Linda enjoyed their tour of the Capitol Building in Olympia Roger Urbaniak

Let’s tour our State Capitol today,” Linda suggested out of the clear blue. 

Okay I thought, but are there tours offered and if so, when? A quick check of the web site for Washington State Department of Enterprise Services showed a schedule for free hourly tours during the week from 10am to 3pm, each lasting 50 minutes. Weekend tours are also available. With that information and some driving directions, we were off on another adventure.

The late Friday morning drive was unusually reasonable. We knew we were lucky, as traffic seems to get worse every month, indicative of Seattle’s robust economy. I resisted the temptation to become sidetracked by a visit to Cabella’s outdoor sporting goods store near Olympia but made a mental note to stop on my next trip. If you enjoy outdoor activities, you will love their creative native fish tank and wild animal displays.

The Capitol building was easy to find off the freeway and offered free visitor parking close by. When we entered the building, signs directed us to both the gift shop and tour starting location on the second floor. When we discovered a tour wouldn’t begin for twenty minutes, we killed time by shopping in the gift shop for souvenirs. When we have a fun adventure, we purchase souvenirs to help us remember it.

Dick, our tour guide, was well informed and interesting to listen to. A few of the information bits stuck with me, such as 49 senators, 98 representatives, and a short work session of only 2-1/2 to 3 months. Building material featured lavish granite floors and columns, dozens of Tiffany chandeliers, including the largest chandelier ever made by them. Its weight is over a ton, plus its chain had similar mass. Light bulbs for the large chandelier are replaced every three years, requiring a scaffold to do so. Carpet in some areas looked new but was actually 40 years old. 

Our State Capitol building also has the tallest freestanding dome in North America. The tour was highly interesting and lasted fifty minutes.

Our next stop was Olympia Oyster House for lunch. Linda was disappointed that she is not able to have true Olympia oysters as scarceness limits their availability on the menu. Producers are trying to rebuild their population, even shipping some juvenile oysters to Hawaii to grow faster in nutrient rich water piped to the surface near the Kona industrial park. High demand seems to be slowing the recovery process. 

I was able to enjoy some tasty oyster stew featuring mollusks grown in nearby Oyster Bay. On our way out, we noticed signs advertising an upcoming boat parade celebrating opening day of boating, a tradition we also enjoy in Seattle.

Linda refused to leave town without seeing the Farmers Market and it turned out to be a good stop. Parking was free and plentiful, and the shops featured a great variety of choices. Flowers, baked goods, living plants to purchase, carvings, and bakery items all beckoned to us. 

No one was throwing salmon around like at Pike Place Market, so we settled on a few tasty treats for desert as our entertainment. We tipped one of the freelance musicians performing on site who played a reasonable guitar but probably would need to take some singing lessons before making performing a lucrative career.

We returned home before rush hour traffic got in our way and congratulated ourselves on a day well spent. I like this retired life.

Roger Urbaniak writes about the Great Outdoors and other topics from his home on Mercer Island. “Rogers Outdoor Channel” is the place to learn about the adventures of Northwest Outdoor Enthusiast Roger Urbaniak along with his lovely wife Linda and trusty pooch Sparky. Visit for more information or email Roger at or visit

Share this story!