Made-in-Washington attractions deliver one-of-a-kind destinations
July 2, 2011
By Warren Kagarise
Washington, land of Sasquatch and the Space Needle, is unlike any other.
Evergreen State travelers can find kitchenware fit for King Kong, celebrations dedicated to unglamorous farm commodities and roadside oddities pulled from a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! guide squirreled in corners near and far.
“Washington Curiosities” and “Washington Icons” author Harriet Baskas said geography explains at least some of the strangeness.
“You’re on the edge of the country, you’re out here and there’s still that pioneer spirit,” she said.
Summertime offers a chance to journey to out-of-the-way attractions not as obvious as Mount Rainier or Lake Chelan. Discover 10 attractions off the beaten path — but unmistakably made in Washington.
World’s Largest Frying Pan
OK, so more than a half-dozen places in the United States claim a world’s largest frying pan, but the 9-foot, 6-inch diameter incarnation in Long Beach, a town awash in tourist traps (Jake the Alligator Man, anyone?), is a must see.
Turns out sun-splashed Sequim — inclement weather is prohibited in town due to a municipal ordinance — holds the largest lavender-related event on the continent. Come July, farms open for festivalgoers to pick fragrant blooms.
Nutty Narrows Bridge
Longview is, pardon the pun, nuts about squirrels. So, in the 1960s, a local builder constructed a bridge for the nut-toting rodents. The suspension bridge spans 60 feet across a bustling thoroughfare. Townsfolk even decorate the bridge for holidays. Oh, nuts.
World’s Largest Egg
Winlock used to rank as a major egg producer and, decades ago, townsfolk erected a 1,200-pound egg to reflect the accomplishment. The hamlet celebrates the scrambled and sunny-side-up heritage during the Egg Days Festival each summer.
Hat n’ Boots
The humongous Hat n’ Boots in a Seattle park resembles Western wear left behind by Paul Bunyan. The gear used to adorn a Wild West-themed gas station. Now, the restored Hat ‘n’ Boots saddle up inside Oxbow Park in South Seattle.
Neolithic people did not build the looming structure on a bluff along the Columbia River and Druids did not hold human sacrifices among the stone slabs. Instead, the monument honors Klickitat County soldiers lost in World War I.
Standing 15 feet tall and sporting a handle and a spout, the not-so-little teapot-shaped structure is a former service station. Zillah plans to restore the teapot — built in the 1920s to protest a political scandal — into a tourism information center.
Tyrannosaurus rex roams Granger, a dot on the map in Yakima County. Starting in 1994, the city added dinosaur sculptures — triceratops, pterosaurs and the like — in Hisey Park and other spots. Main Street even features a volcano-shaped restroom.
Georgia claims mild Vidalia onions, Hawaii boasts mellow Maui onions but in Washington, Walla Walla sweet onions reign supreme. The lineup at this festival includes onion-inspired foods — no word yet on complimentary breath mints — and onion decorating à la Mr. Potato Head.
The unassuming lentil does not seem like much, a nutritious-but-blasé side dish from the Moosewood Cookbook, maybe. But Pullman is nestled among the rolling Palouse, home to one-third of the United States’ lentil production — something worth celebrating.