About Olympia

Boat on water at Percival Landing. Two kayakers in background.

Welcome to Olympia

With an economic engine anchored by state government, Olympia enjoys the benefits of a stable work force, engaged and educated community, and well-supported school system.

Historic Downtown Olympia offers a variety of eclectic shopping and dining experiences, while Olympia's Westside is a regional shopping destination with the Capital Mall and Olympia Auto Mall.

Over 40 public parks are available for your recreation enjoyment. Public trails lead to saltwater beaches where native tribes once met for potlatches through woods thick with big-leaf maples and towering Douglas firs. Salmon return to Budd Inlet each fall and run the ladder under the 5th Avenue Bridge.

Olympia's strategic geographic location along Interstate 5 at the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula, puts one within two hours or less of regional recreational attractions - from hiking and skiing in the mountains to beachcombing along ocean shores.

Historic photo. Frontier family in front of old growth tree

History of Olympia

Olympia has a rich history. With deep native roots, the town was platted by Edmund Sylvester in 1850. Olympia was named Washington's first territorial Capitol in 1855, although it was not officially incorporated as a town until 1989.

4 children eating lunch at school table


With three top-notch K-12 school districts and several levels of higher education in the greater Thurston County area, Olympia is a great place to lay the building blocks for the rest of your life.

Graphic map of Kato City Japan

Sister City Affiliation

On April 22, 1981 the City of Olympia signed a Sister City Friendship Agreement with Kato City, Japan (formerly Yashiro).

Since 1981, the two cities have exchanged visits of civic groups, students, community residents, teachers, business leaders, and elected officials. In Olympia, the friendship is nurtured and sustained by the volunteer work of the Olympia/Kato City Association. The organization encourages cross-cultural understanding and international friendship through its various projects and visits.

When Olympia dedicated the new Fourth Avenue bridge on May 16, 2004, the City Council officially named it the Olympia-Yashiro Friendship Bridge in honor of the longstanding friendship between the two cities. Bronze plaques mounted on the east and west ends of the bridge commemorate the relationship.

The Yashiro Japanese Garden, created in honor of the friendship, is located adjacent to Lee Creighton Justice Center (former City Hall) on Plum Street. On display in the Garden are granite lanterns and a granite pagoda which were gifts to Olympia from the people of former Yashiro town. Several other commemorative gifts from Yashiro are on display in the lobby of Olympia City Hall, 601 Fourth Avenue E, Olympia.

The main street in Kato City is named Olympia Avenue.