Olympia Picnic Spots

mcclane creek nature trail


Leftovers and deli foods never taste better than when you are outside, on a cozy blanket with a view in your horizon.  We are lucky to be surrounded by many local spots that are perfect for picnics.  It’s a great time to take advantage of these warm and sunny days, scoop up the kids and some grub, and head out to one of these Olympia spots:

Heritage Park on Capitol Lake

heritage parkThis is such an obvious choice spot for a picnic.  There is a great view of the Capitol Dome, walking access to wonderful restaurants and delis, and the people watching isn’t bad either.  There are quite a few vantage points in the park, benches, restroom facilities, and a great running or walking trail.  This is an ideal place to fly a kite, play catch, let your kids and pets run, and join fellow Olympians outside.

Directions:  From 1-5 take exit 105 and follow the signs towards Port of Olympia on Plum Street.  Take a left onto Fifth Street and follow to the north end of Capitol Lake. 




McLane Creek Nature Trail

mcclane creek nature trailThis park is on the eastern edge of the Capitol State Forest.  This is one of the best places in town to go birding, and depending on the season, you may see all types of critters including various water fowl, newts, and beavers.  There are facilities and a nice covered eating area right by the parking area.  If you head down the trails you run into a marshy pond, accented with cattails and pond lilies, and your pick of places to lounge.  There is a regular show of diving newts, performing blackbirds and tree frogs and flying teams of mallard ducks.  The family friendly 1.5 mile trail leads you around the pond, and besides McLane creek where, come fall, you can see the local salmon spawn.  There are many spots along the trail and around the marshes and beaver pond where you can stop on a bench for a bite to eat and enjoy the view.

I hesitate to write much about this park because there is so little traffic that stops here.  It is easy to feel that this park is “all yours”.  That being said, if you haven’t visited these trails, you should try to make a special trip out.

Directions:  To reach the park, take the Evergreen State College exit from northbound Highway 101.  Take the Mud Bay exit, and go left at the stop sign and left again onto Delphi Road.  Travel 3.4 miles and you will see the DNR McLane Creek Nature Trail sign on your right.


Yashiro Japanese Garden

yashiro japanese gardenI must confess that I have passed the walls of this garden for years, and have never ventured in until recently.  This little park, just under an acre, is situated right smack in the middle of the city.  Once inside the walls of the garden, it is easier to block out the road noise and walk the paths around this cozy arboretum.  It is a great place to stop for a coffee break, watch the koi swim and take a breath before heading back to the traffic and schedule of your day.  There is a little grassy spot, quite a few benches and even as my two children ran around from hiding spot to hiding spot… an atmosphere of meditation.

Directions:  From 1-5 take exit 105 and follow the signs towards Port of Olympia on Plum Street.  This park is located on the right at 1010 Plum Street SE, Olympia WA 98511 

One of the best things about picnics is that they can really happen just about anywhere.  Do you have a favorite picnic spot?  We’d love to hear about it – submit@thurstontalk.com

Print Friendly, PDF & Email