The Olympic Peninsula, the large arm of land in western Washington state that lies across Puget Sound from Seattle, has nine free things to do to help you have an affordable family vacation.
It is bordered to the west by the Pacific Ocean, and the western most point of the continental United States is located on this peninsula. Geographic highlights include several salmon-bearing rivers, the Olympic Mountain Range, and some of the world’s only temperate rainforests.
The Olympic Mountain Range helps spare the peninsula some of the rain common to Seattle. Summer temperatures rarely exceed the 70s and winter highs are often below freezing. Affordable family vacation ativities include hiking, fishing, water-related activities and a plethora of parks – anything that celebrates Washington’s natural environment.
1. Twilight Tours – Stop by the Forks Chamber of Commerce to pick up a Twilight map. Then take a self-guided tour, searching for the vampires made popular by Stephanie Meyers book series. While at the Chamber you can see a replica of Bella’s truck!
2. Big Trees – The Quinault Valley has some enormous living trees. The largest in the world of their species are Western Red Cedar, Douglas Fir, Sitka Spruce and Mountain Hemlock. The Yellow Cedar and Western Hemlock are the largest in the United States.
3. The Olympic Peninsula Waterfall Trail – Offers year round adventures and dramatic beauty. From the cliffs of Cape Flattery to the glacial fjord of the Hood Canal, waterfalls of all sizes and shapes abound, including one that can be seen from a paved, wheelchair accessible path. There’s another that can only be reached by kayak or raft and some that require a short hike. Some can be seen from the car, while others require route finding skills or a backpack trip.
4. Lavender Fields – Sequim Valley is the Lavender Capital of North America. More than 40 farms produce this fragrant and useful herb. The U-pick season typically lasts from July-September and America’s largest lavender festival is held the third weekend in July.
5. World War II Forts (Fort Worden or Fort Flagler) – Three forts offer history buffs an opportunity to see where guns were located to protect Hood Canal, or check out the still-in-place bunkers, or visit the museum at Fort Worden in Port Townsend. Hiking, camping, tide pooling and other activities are also available in the area.
6. Tide Pools – Salt Creek offers views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and Victoria, British Columbia, and includes several tide pools. Visitors can see starfish, sea cucumbers, crabs, sea anemones, and urchins, particularly at low tide. Many of these tide pools are located at the Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary, which is under water at high tide. Slip Point near Clallam Bay and areas in Port Townsend also have tide pools.
7. Petroglyphs – A nine-mile triangle hike (three miles into the beach, three miles along the beach, and three miles back to the trailhead) can be customized to your hiking level. Do the complete nine-plus mile triangle or opt to walk the northern trail to Cape Alava to see ancient petroglyphs of humans and whales.
8. Outdoor Art Gallery – Part of the Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, the Webster’s Woods Art Park features art in many mediums from metal sculptured ferns to a small field of knit sweaters to a large labyrinth. The Woods are open all daylight hours year round and have recently added a 3 p.m. Saturday tour led by an art ranger. Port Angeles also has an 11 a.m. start free Art on the Town guided sculpture walk through downtown with its award-winning Avenue of the People.
9. Native Cultures – Each Tribal community offers places and/or activities for respectful visitors. In late winter and spring in La Push, watch the migrating gray whales, or join in traditional song with the Wednesday night drumming group.