The streets of downtown Olympia offer water views aplenty, locally owned shops, vibrant characters and 70 colorful, creative murals. Did you know that each piece of art has a story? This guide to the city's murals will get you started. At the bottom you'll find a handy self-guided tour provided by the City of Olympia that shares the artist, vision and theme behind each piece or cut to the photo op with these top ten Instagram-approved options
Respect & Love: this iconic rainbow theme mural with the words “Respect & Love Olympia” represents Olympia’s loving, accepting and kind community located near the cross section of 4th Avenue and Franklin Street. The artist behind this mural is Olympia local Vince Ryland. This makes for the perfect backdrop with the array of color and positive message.
Super Hero Wall: from Captain America, Wonder Woman and the Hulk, if you can imagine a Super Hero, it’s most likely included on this giant Super Hero wall. The mural features 132 life-size characters, ideal for finding the perfect pose and is located on the wall of Old School Pizzeria at 108 Franklin Street.
Stop and shop
Everyone needs a little retail therapy once in awhile. While you're on that downtown stroll, satisfy that shopping sensation by navigating over to Archibald Sisters and grab some personal care items from what has been an Olympia staple for over twenty five years. Belleza Ropa and Hot Toddy are also great spots to snag that new summer outfit.
Need to pick up a gift during your trip? Childhood End's Gallery has featured local and regional art and artists with a focus on fine art, art glass, jewelry, ceramics and woodwork for over forty years.
The Great Wave Off Kanagawa: Located just outside of Childhood's End Gallery, The Great Wave off Kanagawa, also known as The Great Wave or simply The Wave, is a woodblock print by Japanese artist Hokusai and his most known piece of work. This mural that’s full of shades of blue and white is a beautiful representation by artist Joe Tongas.
Olympia Film Society: found at the Capitol Theatre, this mural was created in honor of the Olympia Film Society by a collaboration of artists Arthur Crews, Vince Ryland and Ira Coyne, all of whom have done other murals in Olympia. This vibrant mural is full of detail and pops of color.
Futuristic City: this fun piece by ‘Volunteers in Paint’ takes up the entire alleyway and shows a flock of birds flying across a city and a large sun. There’s a variety of color options and multiple backdrops within one mural. Located in an alley near Capital Way and Legion Way SW.
Make a pit stop
You may need a quick sugar and caffeine boost during your walking tour of Olympia's murals. In that case, make way to Hawley's Gelato & Coffee where you can get a little bit of both! Tasty sweets, including authentic Italian gelato of course, and fresh local coffee are on the menu here. Another gelato option is Sofie's Scoops, where their gelato is handmade with local cream from TUNaWERTH Creamery.
For quick, vegan bites there's no better stop than Little General Food Shop in the heart of downtown. For those who love healthy but need convenient! Perfect for a stroll through the streets and alleyways searching for the best and brightest of Olympia's murals.
If it's a little extra fuel you need, you can find a list of all of the best eateries here.
Photo by SeattleGents
Salmon: also located at the Capitol Theatre, this giant salmon mural screams Pacific Northwest. It consists of earthy, muted colors and the salmon appears to be swimming upstream. This mural was commissioned by a group called Procession of the Species.
The Watchers, The Givers & The Underground Rivers: this mural offers an artistic yet retro flare to show the water cycle. It looks like an underground river with a city atop with lots of fun shapes and line work located at 424 Jefferson St SE.
Flowers: artist Suzanne Sheppard describes this bold and bright mural with pops of blue, pink, green and yellow as having folk style flowers with a ‘Zen-Honeybee’ feel. Perfect for a Spring or Summer photo opportunity. Find this one on the wall of Primeval Ink downtown!
A Tale of Two Cities: the Olympia-Rafah Solidarity Mural Project is a colorful mural that celebrates the lives of all who struggle for justice. It was inspired by Olympia-native, Rachel Corrie, who was killed in the Gaza strip in 2003. Located at the corner of State and Capital, the mural is four thousand square feet and is an “interdisciplinary mural” that includes artwork from more than two hundred participants from all over the world. This mural even has its own website dedicated to its story.
The Beautiful Ones: found at the corner Capital and 4th Ave. this mural of a giant face looks like an album cover and is a tribute to Prince’s popular single, “The Beautiful Ones.”
Take a virtual tour of all of the murals and Instagrammable spots in downtown Olympia from behind the screen! The City of Olympia's created this great virtual tool to help you navigate as you make your way through the region's best artwork.