Located midway between Seattle and Portland on I-5, it’s easy to see why West Coast road trippers might stop for some grub in Centralia and keep moving along.
But a mile and a half down Harrison Avenue is the city’s downtown, packed with antiques in antique buildings, bookstores and all kinds of quaint shops. You can even learn glass blowing at Central Glassworks.
A highlight for travelers may be McMenamins Olympic Club Hotel, which opened in 1908 and underwent a lavish remodel shortly after that – in 1913. The hotel features 27 guest rooms with vintage furniture and lots of history.
The hotel touts that each room is named for the “colorful and worthy cast of characters who have left their mark on this place,” including the “gentleman train robber” Roy Gardner, who was captured at the hotel in 1921. They have a pool hall, some pinball machines, a movie theater, a café and a bar, too.
Outside of downtown, Fort Borst Park is a great option. At the confluence of the Skookumchuck and Chehalis rivers, it’s a fantastic area for tubing with the buds and a case of beer or enjoying a quieter kayak experience.
The park is also home to the Historic Borst Home Museum, built in the early 1860s. The city owns the property and offers occasional open houses (seven are scheduled for 2022).
While you’re in the neighborhood, and before you hop back on I-5, be sure to stop by Country Cousin Restaurant – open since 1973.