The Olympic Peninsula is absolutely incredible, where else can you get beaches, mountains, waterfalls, rainforests, and beaches all in one area? Each of these sites is so unique that a weekend road trip is well worth the drive. The Olympic Peninsula is a must see addition to a Seattle vacation.
You have a few choices when doing the Olympic Peninsula, as there is no way to cut through the middle of the park.. 1) make a loop; 2) just do the top part; 3) just do the bottom part. If you are pressed on time, you can easily do parts of this itinerary. We chose to make a loop stopping at as many places that we could possibly fit in, but you can easily extend your road trip or cut out a few places, staying longer at favorite sites. Make sure to download a map/directions before heading out because coverage can be spotty!
We chose to to do the bottom part of the loop first and stop at Quinault Rainforest. If you are coming from Seattle like us, it is about a 2 hour and 30 min drive. There are so many hiking options here, you could literally spend an entire day here. Make sure to stop by and see the World’s Largest Sitka Spruce (shows up on Google Maps as Big Spruce Tree) and Lake Quinault.
Next stop was the beautiful Ruby Beach, named for its ruby red sand. Ruby Beach is one of my favorite beaches because you get sand, ocean, rock formations, driftwood, and an island all in one area. Make sure to walk down the beach towards Abbey Island for an amazing picture!
Two rainforests in one day? Yes! They were both so incredibly different and absolutely gorgeous. Hoh Rainforest was absolutely spectacular, we took so many pictures here, each bend was prettier than the last. Make sure to take the Hall of Mosses hike, it was seriously stunning, think Enchanted Forest. This was definitely a place we wish we had a little more time to take another hike.
Twilight in Forks
There aren’t very many options for hotels around this part of the peninsula, so plan ahead, or plan to camp. Next time we will totally camp, it is just too pretty not to. Forks is also the setting for the popular Twilight book series, so if you are a twihard fan, definitely check it out.
La Push Beach
The first stop is La Push beach area, which is made up of multiple connecting beaches. This beautiful Pacific Northwest beach runs along the coast with beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. We chose to stop at Second Beach, which would be an absolutely fabulous place to spend some time in the summer sunshine. If you have time, head up to Rialto Beach and check out the tide pools and look for sea glass.
Sol Duc Falls
After seeing the beautiful PNW coastline, it’s time to head back into the Olympic National Forest and check out Sol Duc Falls, sometimes spelled Soleduck Falls. Take the short hike to the beautiful waterfall and make sure to look down from the bridge, you won’t believe how tall these falls are. There are also pretty stop offs, like the Salmon Cascades, on the drive to and from the falls, so make sure to stop and check them out.
Next stop, Lake Crescent, for beautiful crystal clear water. Lake Crescent is a glacier carved lake with hiking, canoe, and picnic options. Olympic Highway 101 goes right by Lake Crescent and there are a few places to stop off the highway for gorgeous views.
By now you are surely ready for some food and drinks, so stop into Port Angeles for some well deserved food and rest! Port Angeles has a lot of food and lodging options so it makes for a great stop. Head to Next Door Gastropub for some amazing food and great craft beer selection. Make sure to look across the water to see Victoria, BC. Looking for a great hotel? I can’t say enough nice things about the Olympic Lodge, we had a great stay and it will definitely be our go to coming back to this area.
Hurricane Ridge was definitely one of our favorite stops along this trip! Fair warning, the drive up the mountain is full of switchbacks, but is absolutely gorgeous and worth your white knuckles. There are multiple hiking options and views galore. It is significantly colder up in the mountain, so make sure to bring extra layers.
Finish out your scenic trip with a stop at Dungeness Spit, the longest natural sand spit in the United States. Also make sure to save room and stop at Oak Table Cafe in Sequim (pronounced “squim”). It was definitely the best meal we had all trip and some of the best food we’ve had since moving to Seattle. The portions are huge, but the food is so good, I don’t think you will want to share!
Back to Seattle
Heading back to Seattle, you have a couple of different route options. All of the ways route you through Port Gamble. The New England Style homes and businesses are gorgeous and also houses one of my favorite restaurants, Butcher and Baker Provisions.
You can drive the whole way, which is a great option if you did not buy your ferry tickets ahead of time or just don’t want to mess with the ferry. You can also go through Poulsbo (I love this Norwegian town) and catch a ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle. Bainbridge is also a wonderful place to spend extra time if you have it. We go there often and the ferry ride is beautiful! Your last choice is a ferry ride from Kingston to Seattle.