Mountains, rainforests, and beaches…oh my!
Just across Puget Sound lies an array of natural wonders, all conveniently located in the beautiful, yet compact, Olympic Peninsula. You may only know this region of the Northwest for Olympic National Park, but lately, tourists have been trekking to this region for so much more.
With numerous places to explore, eat and drink, the Olympic Peninsula is the perfect place for a family trip, a romantic weekend getaway or a quick out-and-back day trip.
Don't take our word for it? Here's what people are saying about five of the top Olympic Peninsula attractions, all the way from canal to coast.
1. Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail
The Waterfall Trail offers year-round adventure and amazingly dramatic beauty. From the cliffs of Cape Flattery, to the glacial fjord of the Hood Canal, to the Enchanted Valley of the Quinault Rainforest, waterfalls of all shapes and sizes await you. Some contain easy walks on well-paved trails, while others are better-suited for experienced hikers looking for a challenge.
"Short and sweet hike with a stunning waterfall at the end!" said one reviewer on AllTheTrails.com of the Murhut Falls trail. "There was still a lot of ice which made for a beautiful picture. The water is clear and mountain blue."
"The Olympic National Park coastal trails are magical, simply put," said another Allthetrails.com reviewer, this time for the Olympic Coast South trail. They also mentioned seeing harbor seals and whale bones!
2. Kalaloch Lodge
Set high on a bluff overlooking a wild stretch of Pacific Northwest coast, Kalaloch Lodge is a classic Oceanside retreat where you have access to miles of driftwood-lined beaches (perfect for whale watching). Guests can fill their days with hiking, fishing, and of course, great food.
"Can I rate this lodge higher than 5?" one TripAdvior.com reviewer asked, mentioning the beautiful accommodations and friendly staff.
"I have to say, I was quite impressed. The lodge is one of the few places for food in the area, so I was expecting mediocre food at high prices. Not the case! I had the clam chowder in a bread bowl, which was the perfect cure for a cold and rainy day, with blackberry ice cream for desert. Breakfast was on the house since we were AAA members, and my smoked salmon omelette was great," said a second TripAdvisor.com reviewer.
Many other guests loved the how close the lodge was to other Olympic National Peninsula attractions, like the Hoh Rain Forest and Lake Quinault.
3. The Culinary Loop
No round-up of tourist attractions would be complete without a mention of the local food. According to their website, The Olympic Culinary Loop is "the most mouth-watering way to experience Olympic Coast cuisines on the Olympic Peninsula," and we couldn't agree more. Complete with sustainable, locally grown and harvested produce, Peninsula-gathered game, bountiful seafood, and handcrafted wine, you're going to need at least an entire weekend to indulge.
The Culinary Loop map is packed full of delicious destinations-we recommend starting the day on an empty stomach, you'll need all the room you can get. Below, a few stand-out Loop restaurant reviews:
"To have this quality of food available in the middle of a national forest is unreal," said a Yelp.com reviewer of The Olympic Timberhouse Restaurant. "The quality, preparation and taste of the food here was exceptional."
"It's not that often I inquire about the details leaving to write up a review but this place warranted it," said another Yelp.com reviewer about the Gear Head Deli. "The place was bustling with locals and visitors…They just recently opened but I tell you I will be back. The sandwich was truly one of the best I have had in years."
4. Port Townsend
One of only three Victorian Seaports in the United States and one of the few cities to have two National Historic Landmark Districts, Port Townsend is an irresistibly charming waterfront town. Guests can spend the day wandering around the abundant shops and galleries in town, buying tickets to one of the many arts-based workshops and music festivals, or kayaking along the water.
"Summer in Port Townsend is an unending series of festivals and special events," said one Yelp.com reviewer. Other reviewers commented on how wonderful it is that people travel from all over the world to take part in the concert and festivals in Port Townsend.
Another Yelp.com reviewer loved the Puget Sound Express whale watching tour. "The PSE Captain, Trevor was a fantastic, knowledgeable whale and boat guide. He was clearly enthusiastic about the whales, and shared a lot of information about the ecology and natural history of both orca whales and grey whales - and we saw both!"
5. The Olympic National Park
You didn't think we'd leave this gem off the list, did you? The Olympic National Park spans nearly a million acres and provides three distinct ecosystems-glaciated mountains, rugged Pacific coastline, and lush temperate rainforests. Over 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness, giving city-dwellers the opportunity to experience remoteness and silence in a way that few other places can.
The activities are endless: boating, fishing, camping, hiking, backpacking, wildlife viewing, star gazing, and more.
"One of the most spectacular places on earth," said one reviewer on Google reviews. "From pristine beaches to rainforest this place has it all. Our family's vacation to the Olympic peninsula left an impression on us all. As a business traveler I've seen our great nation coast to coast and Olympic National Park is one of my favorite places to be. No trip to Washington is complete without visiting."
"Despite being relatively close to Seattle, this park is still not as well-known as some of the more prominent parks--but it is certainly as spectacular," another Google reviewer wrote. "Well worth the visit, this park offers a wide variety of landscapes, including the mountains of the Olympic Range, beautiful mountain lakes, rain forests, and superlative coastal scenery. Abundant and unique wildlife. Highly recommend. It is a large park--it will be a day or more to visit even just the highlights."