Fast Facts about Olympia, Washington
Location: Olympia, Washington
Access: Seattle-Tacoma Airport is a one-hour drive to Olympia. Amtrak Cascades arrives five times daily.
Major Meeting Spaces: Great Wolf Lodge, Little Creek Casino Resort, Hotel RL Olympia, DoubleTree by Hilton Olympia, Comfort Inn Conference Center Olympia, and The Governor, a Coast Hotel
Hotel Rooms: 2,700
Off-Site Venues: Maryland Theatre and Performing Arts Complex, Washington County Museum of Fine Arts, Potomac Walk at Bulls and Bears, Seven Ten, Antietam Brewery, Big Cork Winery
Olympia, Washington, may be small, but it’s full of big opportunities for meeting groups.
The capital of Washington, this waterfront village is about an hour’s drive from Seattle and isn’t far from Portland, Oregon. Olympia is easily reached by the Seattle-Tacoma airport or its own county airport, as well as by train and bus lines. The natural beauty of the area makes for a relaxed retreat, with both hotel meeting venues and more offbeat locales for smaller groups.
Olympia may not have a convention center in the traditional sense, but it is home to three educational institutions, each with meeting space for large groups. Olympia has one of the country’s Great Wolf Lodge locations, fantastic for corporate groups and families alike. The smaller meeting venues are unique regional treasures, from restored historic mansions to lakeside retreats and spacious estates with manicured gardens.
“The region is a mecca for hosting meetings in a unique atmosphere,” said Jeff Bowe, director of sales for Experience Olympia. “If you’re looking to change your surroundings to really get your attendees engaged, there are a wide variety of options with awe-inspiring views.”
Local attractions are easy for attendees to explore during downtime, from cascading waterfalls to a tour of the Capitol building. Olympia is one of Washington’s cultural centers and is ripe with opportunities for team-building activities from watersports to coffee tastings.
At St. Martin’s University, the Hal and Inge Marcus Pavilion offers 17,500 square feet of exhibit space, a 13,600-square-foot mezzanine area, drop-down curtains to divide the room and retractable bleachers. At Evergreen State College, the traditional Native American Longhouse can seat up to 400 visitors for gatherings and be configured in a variety of ways. The college also offers an event hall, lecture halls and classrooms, and a zipline and obstacle course that sits on its 1,000-acre grounds. The South Puget Sound Community College offers venues for up to 500 guests, ranging from the Student Union and the Center for the Arts.
Great Wolf Lodge offers 21,214 square feet of meeting space alongside leisure experiences suitable for families. There are 13 separate and configurable conference rooms, 398 guest suites and spacious parking. The largest meeting room, the Chehalis Grand Ballroom, can accommodate a banquet for up to 816 people. The Little Creek Casino Resort offers 40,000 square feet of flexible meeting space at its Skookum Creek Event center, with a capacity of over 1,800 seats. It features built-in staging, retractable bleachers, private skybox seating, two cocktail bars and state-of-the-art audiovisual.
The Hands-On Children’s Museum is a distinctive meeting venue where groups can dine under the stars amid outdoor exhibits or enjoy city views from the lighthouse. The Lord Mansion and its Coach House were both carefully renovated and make unusual venues for receptions, meetings and presentations. The Stampfer Retreat Center features not only cabin accommodations but also a camplike atmosphere with a zip line, canoeing, kayaking and stand-up paddleboarding, an obstacle course and an outdoor amphitheater.
After the Meeting
The Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge is home to more than 200 species of birds and other wildlife; there, groups can take guided birding tours. Tumwater Falls Park, which receives 200,000 visitors each year, sits along the Deschutes River. Visitors can follow trails for an eyeful of natural beauty. Like nearby Seattle, Olympia likes its coffee, and the South Sound Coffee Trail is a collection of local roasters. Lined with restaurants, shops, sculptures and a playground, Olympia’s boardwalk is great for people-watching or looking at boats along the marina, making for a scenic place to sit and enjoy lunch from another of Olympia’s most popular attractions, the Olympia Farmers Market. The market is an indoor/outdoor space with more than 100 vendors that offer a wide range of products, among them baked goods, fresh meat and produce, crafts and artisan-made foods.