The 15-acre privately owned Tumwater Falls Park (330 Schmidt Pl. SW, Tumwater, 360/943-2550, www.olytumfoundation.org , free) is the site of the first American settlement in the Puget Sound region, founded in 1845. Situated within the Nationally Registered Tumwater Historic District, this is the site of the Schmidt house, a restored 1910 home built by the founder of the defunct but long-running Olympia Brewing Company. The neatly landscaped grounds include picnic areas, a boat launch into the Deschutes River, hiking trails, and lots of hungry ducks. You may see king salmon heading up the fish ladders late August–October; they spawn in nearby tanks.
Nearby, the Henderson House Museum (602 Deschutes Way, 360/754-4163, hours vary, $2 adults, $1 children) has photographic exhibits depicting life along the Deschutes River during the late 1800s and recent photos of Tumwater’s people and events.
Also within the historic district is Tumwater’s oldest home, Crosby House (adjacent to Tumwater Falls Park at Deschutes Way and Grant St., 360/943-9884, tours 12:30–2:30 p.m. Thursday, donation suggested). It was built in 1860 by Bing Crosby’s grandfather, Capt. Nathaniel Crosby III, who came around the Horn to the Oregon Territory in 1847 and inspired the whole Crosby clan to follow him out West.