A Day in Downtown Olympia


Submitted by: Amy E.

If you are looking for a girl’s day out, need to do some back to school shopping, or just want a few downtown tips, here are some ideas for a great day in downtown Olympia.

On your way downtown, stop at your requisite coffee shop.  We won’t even try to tell you which one, because there are so many good ones and everybody has their favorite.  But you will need your strength, so make sure you are well nourished (and caffeinated) before heading out.

The first stop is Compass Rose.  Compass Rose is chock full of things you knew you wanted (Le Creuset cookware, clever books, to-die-for earrings) and an abundance of things you never knew you needed (vegan handbags, Moleskine notebooks, buttery soft baby blankets).  Compass Rose combines great style with a commitment to its employees and the community.  They are a perfect example of why we should all be shopping local.

After you have found the perfect gift at Compass Rose and had it wrapped up all pretty (complimentary gift wrapping!), head across the street to Bartel’s to pick up a snappy shirt for your husband/father/luva.  Bartel’s is known for their old-fashioned service and suit tailoring, but what you might not know is they carry a darn good selection of hip shirts, pants, and shoes for the modern man in your life.  On trend and stylish.  No need to go to Seattle for designer denim.

Now it’s girl time! Across the street from Bartel’s is Sweet Life.  (If you need another coffee or a num-num, Batdorf and Bronson is right next door, and Tasty Morsels is right around the corner.)  Sweet Life caters to the young (or young at heart) and has everything you need to stay trendy.  Their pink walls, welcoming staff, and fabulous decor will make you feel right at home.  Pick up a Tarina Tarantino necklace or Free People tunic and you will be the envy of all of your friends.

Just up the street is not-to-be-missed Jinjor.  The owner of Jinjor spent many years in Nordstrom’s lingerie department, and she knows her stuff.  If you are looking for quality undergarments with the right fit, there is nowhere better in town.  They also have a great assortment of frocks for your next charity auction/wedding/date night.  Yoana Baraschi, Trina Turk, and Butter by Nadia to name a few.  Tres chic!

By now, you must be getting hungry.  Double back for lunch at Acqua Via.  It has a an urban feel and exceptional light, regardless of the season.  They have wonderful salads and paninis, but you simply must get the Creme of Artichoke Soup.  A cup, a bowl, or the whole dang pot.  Order it.  Along with something sparkling.  You can thank me later.

Now that you have updated your wardrobe and filled your belly, it is time to move onto home decorating.  There are two perfectly complimentary home decor stores just down the street from one another.  They allow you to play with high-low, just like the designers do.  The first is Red Door Interiors.  They have a great collection of new and renewed home decor items from chairs to poker sets.  Everything is well priced and fun.  Their RD Shady interchangeable lamp shades (patent pending) are brilliant.  Because the lamp shade covers can be zipped on and off the lamp, these interchangeable shades allow you to update your look without spending a fortune (the mantra at Red Door).  They are just getting going, but are planning a full launch for October.  I predict the ladies at Red Door are going to be famous.  (And they are so nice!)

The last stop on the shopping route is Drees.  Drees is an Olympia institution.  Everything from Simon Pearce glassware to Crane stationery to a mohair couch to lovely hostess soaps.  You can pop in for a sweet gift or a whole new house.  If you are looking for a bargain, head to Marshall’s, but if you are looking for service and a beautifully curated collection, Drees is not to be missed.

Whew!  After all that, you probably need a cocktail.  Head over to The Mark for the Hustle  (sweet tea vodka, organic black jasmine green tea, and organic maple syrup) with some manchego cheese and grilled bread.  If you have time, stay for dinner.  Get the locally raised steak and goat cheese salad.  Again, trust me.  You won’t be sorry.

Hopefully, you will be heading downtown again tomorrow, because we only covered two blocks.  There is so much more to see!  Vivala, Hot Toddy, Matter… The list goes one.  Christmas shopping is just around the corner…


About the Author: Amy Evans is the Proprietress of Bon Lemon, a traveling jewelry and accessories boutique.  She loves calendars, charitable giving, 90’s country, dungeness crab legs, anything sparkly, goats, and spreadsheets.  She can be reached at amy@bonlemon.com

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