Looking for new places to explore that include memorable photo opportunities? The Greater Olympia area is full of possibilities.

We asked locals to suggest lesser-known photo spots around Thurston County. Following are their recommendations—plus tips from professional photographers for taking better pictures with your mobile phone!

Please continue to follow safe travel guidelines by wearing a face covering and keeping physically distant from others:

Best photo spots in the Olympia region:

Tumwater Falls

The colors, lighting and weather naturally change the setting for photos in nature. Your favorite park or trail can look different on every visit. Embrace it and experiment!

Update your virtual meeting background photo with the scenery on the trails at Tumwater Falls and Millersylvania State Park. Bring a camera—and binoculars—for the wildlife at the Woodard Bay Conservation Area.

The colors and scents of Evergreen Valley Lavender Farm are at their peak in July. And next time you’re driving on Corporate Center Drive in Lacey, pull over for a quick photo of the trees in bloom or flashing their fall colors.

Percival Landing Photo Opp

You’re not far from water anywhere you stand in Thurston County. For photos with the Olympic Mountains, head over to Swantown Marina or the Port of Olympia's Billy Frank Jr. Park at North Point.

At Percival Landing you can find interesting camera angles among the marina, park, public art and walkways.

An aerial view of central Yelm with Mount Rainier in the distance.

Olympia ranks 7th among U.S. capitals for affordability, safety and quality of life (Wallet Hub, January 2021). We’d add the beautiful Capitol Campus! Stroll around the Capitol and its vast front steps for light, shadows, railings and angles for more interesting photos. (Check for access restrictions before you go.)

Tenino’s historic sandstone buildings and quarry pool provide textures and shadows for captivating photos.

Creative photographers in Yelm have fun incorporating the city’s water tower and the vibrant blue metal wall of the PTL Hardwood Floors building at 310 Railroad St. NW.

Olympia Mural Walking

From superheroes to salmon, murals in downtown Olympia make interesting photo backdrops—and an interesting tour of outdoor art.

Artists often add to the Yelm graffiti wall, so you could see new photo potential on every visit. Find the graffiti wall at the beginning of the Yelm-Tenino Trail. (Park behind the Boys and Girls Club at 105 West Yelm Ave.) Wander over to 102 East Yelm Avenue to see a mural that honors the community’s history and Mount Rainier connections.

Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Selfie

Today’s cellphones are geared for taking photos worth sharing. We asked two local professional photographers for tips to make the most of your mobile photos when you visit Thurston County.

Stevie Simone of Enchanted Memories Photography and Gloria Towne of All Around Towne Photography/Towne Studios offer these suggestions:

  • Zoom in on your subject.
  • Try the manual mode, which lets you control focus, lighting, shutter speed and more.
  • Position your subject so the light source is behind them, coming in at a 45-degree angle.
  • Look for an angle with lines that lead toward your subject. You can find leading lines with trees, a pathway, a railing—lines are everywhere.
  • Use portrait mode. It can provide background softness around your subject and makes them pop. 


Thank you to our community members who shared their favorite photo spots!

John Bourdon, Sandstone Distillery

Thane Bryenton, Evergreen Valley Lavender Farm

Line Critchfield, Yelm Chamber of Commerce

Jennie Foglia-Jones, Port of Olympia

Stevie Simone, Enchanted Memories Photography

Elaine Tomita, LOTT Clean Water Alliance

Gloria Towne, All Around Towne Photography/Towne Studios

Shina Wysocki, Chelsea Farms


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