Likeable and vibrant, Seattle’s greatest asset may be its proximity to the glorious Puget Sound, the deep-water inlet around which much of the population of Washington lives, and which hosts the metropolis on its eastern shore. To the west is the Olympic Peninsula, whose mountains are home to rare elk and lush vegetation that merges into rainforest, and whose rustic beaches have remained pristine and protected. Not quite as rainy as the mountains to its north, the southern coast is flatter and more accessible but not as appealing. The nearest real attraction lies a few hours south, where you can marvel at the eye-opening volcanic scenery of Mount St Helens.

Dry and desolate, the sprawling prairie-plateau and flood-scoured “channeled scablands” that make up most of eastern Washington are a great, bleak expanse enlivened by the pleasant city of Spokane and the colossal Grand Coulee Dam. Otherwise you’re only likely to come out here if you’re travelling the Cascade loop, a memorable four-hundred-mile round-trip drive through the stunning Cascade Mountains.

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  • Seattle
  • Puget Sound
  • The Olympic Peninsula
  • The Cascade Mountains
  • Spokane