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Olympic Peninsula

by giampiero6 Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 1:27 PM

Hi all. I'm very interested in exploring the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Can anyone please recommend favorite spots for low key nature enjoyment and neat little towns to stop in for a bite to eat and perhaps a glass of wine?

Thanks,

G

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20 Answers
  • Benegan's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by Benegan Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 2:19 PM

    Drive up Highway 101 along Hood Canal. It's a very pretty drive along a natural canal. There are some cute little places to stop for lunch/dinner and, if they're still there, some little wineries near Lilliwaup. From there, you can continue up the 101 to Port Townsend which is pretty. South of those towns, and covering most of the peninsula is the Olympic National Forest, which offers some great hiking.
    Or, if you'd like more ocean and less Sound you could go out to Ocean Shores which is a really sweet, West coast beach town. And not the typical Washington beach, because it's actually very wide and is sandy.
    Enjoy, be sure to bring a rain jacket and boots! And say hi to my home state for me! :)

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  • Basaic's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by Basaic Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 2:20 PM

    Anywhere in Olympic National Park is great. Try to hit all three areas the mountains (enter from the North); the beach (along the coast and the rain forest area (enter from the west). There is a nice resort near the Northwest corner of the park (and the coast) I do not remember the name (Lake something, I think). Forks is a pretty nice town on the west side of the park (it is also where they film parts of Twighlight). On the east side I liked Quilcene but do not remember what facilities they have.

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  • rexvaughan's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by rexvaughan Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 2:38 PM

    G, highway 101 that Benegan mentioned pretty well circumnavigates the whole peninsula and there are roads off it to all kinds of things. Several years ago my wife and I visited the rocky Pacific beach, Hurricane Ridge and the Hoh Tropical Rain Forest. The National Park Service website has tons of details about the peninsula. As best I recall we even stopped in the rain forest for a bite at the "Hard Rain Cafe." Have a great visit.

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  • ant1606's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by ant1606 Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 2:42 PM

    Don't miss Rialto Beach in the Olympic NP, I had camped there (self check-in) several years ago in August with my tent. Bleached logs in the mist and moss-covered trees were superb!
    Tip:
    members.virtualtourist.com/m...

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by goodfish Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 4:50 PM

    For neat little towns, highly recommend Port Townsend on the north side of the P: very scenic, has some fab Victorian architecture, and very friendly.

    ptguide.com/history-a-attrac...

    "City of Dreams" - Port Townsend by goodfish

    If you can trade wine for beer, there's a fab little fun craft brewery in Port Angeles:

    Peaks Brewpub: "Pints at Peaks" - Port Angeles Nightlife Tip by goodfish

    http://www.peakspub.com

    It's run by some old (friendly) hippies and it ain't fancy but the pints are good: worth a stop-by just for that. They killed one hell of a head cold I'd acquired in Seattle. :)

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by goodfish Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 5:00 PM

    Oops - Peaks is more active on FB and not their old website:

    facebook.com/pages/Peaks-Bre...

    Otherwise, PT is a way better spot for stop-through than PA.

    Forks is fine if you're staying to explore the coastal beaches or the Hoh but there wasn't much there otherwise. Maybe it has acquired a little more wine-and-a snuggle romance since we were there but not likely!

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  • giampiero6's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by giampiero6 Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 5:04 PM

    Guys.... this is wonderful advice! Thank you!

    Are there any towns between Aberdeen and Forks?

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by goodfish Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 5:14 PM

    Nope, not really BUT there is the lodge at Lake Quinault:

    http://www.quinaultrainforest.com

    I've no idea if the food is any good at all but it's a pretty spot - we've passed through there. The lodge does appear to have a bar.

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  • giampiero6's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by giampiero6 Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 5:17 PM

    goodfish wrote:  The lodge does appear to have a bar.

     I thought you said they weren't sure if they had food :)

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by goodfish Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 5:20 PM

    DOH!! No, I'm sure they have FOOD but no idea if it's edible! But a couple glasses of wine and who cares?

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  • giampiero6's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by giampiero6 Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 5:42 PM

    Now, we're talkin' :)

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  • rexvaughan's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by rexvaughan Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 7:07 PM

    G, don't know if you are looking for accommodations, but in Port Townsend there is a wonderful hotel in Manresa Castle and they have good food there as well. There are a number of these castles that were built as private residences late in the 19th Century and this one was later a Jesuit school before becoming a hotel. (Manresa is, I think, the name of the town in Spain where Ignatius was founded the Jesuits). It is a neat place.

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  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by glabah Online Now Mar 19, 2013 at 8:34 PM

    Are you planning this trip by car or by public transit? I know there was recently an adventurous British tourist that published a book or some such about his adventures in doing the Olympic Peninsula by public transit and I imagine there are some that will read that and want to have a similar adventure. It is actually possible to make the entire circle by transit, but of course because these are lightly populated areas the transit service isn't very frequent except in Neah Bay (the most remote part of the Olympic Peninsula has transit service until later at night than I do here in southeast Portland!). You can't get to certain parts of the national park by public transit, such as hurricane ridge.

    Please note that highway 101 doesn't follow the coast except for a small section south of Ruby Beach. If you want to see the best of what is out there, you will need to follow a bunch of dead-end roads that go to small communities you won't see mentioned much.

    Port Townsend has all sorts of odd little places to stay. This includes some of the guest houses and one hostel that are all located in the old military fort just north of town. There are also nice little hotels above the storefronts in downtown. If you have time, walk on the ferry and take it over to the state park on the other side of the Strait (don't take your car unless you have to because the wait is horrid - it is best to be a walk-on passenger). In the state park on the other side you can get a much better view of the Olympic Mountains towering over the city of Port Townsend.

    The Olympic Peninsula is filled with odd little towns - and quite honestly I suggest staying away from Ocean Shores for the most part. There are much better parts of the Olympic Peninsula to visit. It is kind of fun to see the Olympic Mountains from Damon Point state park on the south end of the peninsula on which Ocean Shores sits, but other than that and the big tribal casino and a small community museum there isn't really that much of interest there that can't be found elsewhere. It's too bad the ferry from Ocean Shores to Westport has stopped running, as that is a much more interesting little town, I think. Westport is more of a traditional northwest town: sidewalks, stores, restaurants, and places to eat all in a small downtown area, with some stuff scattered south of there through its suburbs. Ocean Shores was designed by someone from Los Angeles and (no offense really intended G!,,...but.....) the town is really only accessible by auto with no real central area - just everything scattered around with fairly long distances between everything. The most interesting things to visit (Damon Point and the small local museum) are at the far southern end of the Ocean Shores peninsula, and most of the restaurants, the casino area, and the one public restroom are at the far northern end, with about 15-20 minutes of driving between the two areas.

    You may want to also investigate the Crescent Lake Lodge. Its a bit close to but it is a nice place to stay if you don't come during the peak traffic season.

    If you have the time (and the Olympic Peninsula really takes an entire week to see the whole thing) I do suggest going all the way out to the end of the Peninsula at Neah Bay. Few venture out that far, but many regard the tribal museum out there as top notch. Supposedly the Makah are the only First Nations people in the lower USA to never have been displaced from their home land.

    I've got a bit of information on the area on my travel pages (I've made the entire loop around the Olympic Peninsula but haven't been able to sort everything accumulated over some years), scattered to the appropriate communities. I've attempted to concentrate on things that most people haven't documented yet, or in the case of Port Townsend previous certain visitors didn't document on VT very well or accurately.

    I already know you know how to find my travel pages, so here are the places you might want to take a look at from my pile:

    Ocean Shores (see also Damon Point)
    Hoquiam
    Port Townsend
    Sequim
    Lake Sylvia State Park
    Indian Island
    Fort Flagler State Park
    Fort Casey State Park
    Indian Island
    Mystery Bay State Park (not much there except the interesting name and a decent place to go if you have a shellfish collecting license and are visiting in the correct season).
    Olympia (you have to go through there if you make the loop anyway - and it is a nice little town)

    I also have some stuff that is relevant in the Washington State area (transportation & etc, because it is really relevant to more than one small community and thus has to be at the state level), and also those things that are relevant to the Olympic National Park in particular I have put there - but not that much just yet.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by goodfish Online Now Mar 20, 2013 at 2:20 AM

    Just throwing in my vote to skip Ocean Shores: with apologies to the locals there, it was a low point in our trip after the scenery/vibe of the rest of the peninsula.

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  • baddog34's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by baddog34 Online Now Mar 20, 2013 at 8:20 AM

    Don't forget to visit Sol Duc hot springs in the Olympic National Park. Wonderful way to relax.

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  • detroitdb's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by detroitdb Online Now Mar 20, 2013 at 9:45 AM

    Naturally, you must visit Olympic National Park. Marymere Falls is a good spot for a light trek. The rainforest is a magical place with lots of old growth and green moss. Lake Crescent is also nice.

    "Marymere Falls" - Olympic National Park Things to Do Tip by chewy3326

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  • giampiero6's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by giampiero6 Online Now Mar 20, 2013 at 9:58 AM

    You guys are the bestest in the land!

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  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by glabah Online Now Mar 20, 2013 at 10:38 AM

    baddog34 wrote:
    Don't forget to visit Sol Duc hot springs in the Olympic National Park. Wonderful way to relax.

     There are quite a number of hot springs in and around the area.  Sol Duc is only one of them.

     

     

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  • glabah's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by glabah Online Now Mar 20, 2013 at 10:41 AM

    goodfish wrote:
    Just throwing in my vote to skip Ocean Shores: with apologies to the locals there, it was a low point in our trip after the scenery/vibe of the rest of the peninsula.

     And keep in mind Goofish visited the industrial wasteland around Tacoma as part of that trip (see Neko Case's lyrics to "Thrice All American" for some insight into that place - or my introduction page for it) so saying Ocean Shores was a low point of her trip is really saying something.

     

    Hey, at least Tacoma has four museums in it, two of which are known to be "best in class" type places.

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  • goodfish's Profile Photo

    Re: Olympic Peninsula

    by goodfish Online Now Mar 20, 2013 at 3:02 PM

    Crikey, Glenn, I'd wiped poor Tacoma from memory. What saved THAT day were some hours spent in Olympia: nice place, that.

    And I'd almost forgotten about Kalaloch. When you're running down south from Forks, Kalaloch (KLAY-lock) is the NPS coastal lodge partway between Forks and where 101 shoots off east to Lake Quinault. It's on a nice piece of beach.

    thekalalochlodge.com/Dine.as...

    Again, can't vouch for the vittles but the view is nice. And yes, DO stop at Ruby Beach - just north of Kalaoch. It's a real purdy one - but then, they're ALL real purdy.

    "Olympic NP West: Ruby Beach" - Olympic National Park Things to Do Tip by goodfish

    Hope you hit some low tides so you can see some starfish!!

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