This past summer I spent a week in the beautiful state of Washington with my mom and her partner. Four days in Olympic National Park, three on Orcas Island and one in Seattle. I’ve visited Washington a handful of times now and always think to myself, ‘I could definitely live here’. Of course, every time I’ve gone it’s been in the summer when the weather is perfect but I’ll continue to live out the day dream in my head for now that that’s what it’s always like there.
The trip started with a drive around the Hood Canal to the Staircase region of Olympic National Park. While we didn’t do any hiking in this region, we did canoe around Lake Cushman and take a spin on the rope swing. It just so happened that a Secret Supper event was taking place at nearby Hama Hama Oyster Co. that night so we treated ourselves to a seafood dinner. The food was incredible! Worth a trip, even just to visit their little shop and saloon for some fresh seafood. The next day we drove up to Hurricane Ridge to hike the Hurricane Hill trail. A moderate hike with a range of landscapes and abundant wildlife. After driving back down the mountain we checked out the Elwha Valley. The next morning we spent a couple hours a the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, which was great, though if they had been open I would’ve loved to check out the Olympic Hot Springs. Lake Crescent was one of my favorite spots of the whole trip. We kayaked around the lake and I pictured a life operating the Lake Crescent Lodge. Our final day we spent exploring the Hoh Rain Forest, walking through the Hall of Moss and admiring tide pools and starfish along the coast. Finishing off our trip with dinner on Lake Quinault.
Every section of the park was stunning in it’s own way. I’d love to return for a backpacking trip in order to better explore the park. I can tell that they do a good job limiting the accessibility of the park so it’s not overrun with tourists, which I can appreciate. Given that while we were there it was peak tourist season, we stayed wherever was available but if I were to plan in advance I’d definitely stay at both the Lake Crescent and Lake Quinault Lodges. Likewise, we ate on the go a lot but there were some decent restaurants in Port Angeles. If you only have a few days and don’t want to drive as much as we did, I would recommend staying in or near Port Angeles and exploring the northern part of the park or weather permitting, spending some additional time on the coast. In terms of sheer beauty, this is one of my favorite national parks in the country.
As for the rest of the trip, I fell in love with Orcas Island. I loved everything about it, starting with the ferry ride. Departing Anacortes, Washington you are treated to stunning 360 views throughout the hour long ferry ride. The island has a small-town feel despite being heavily populated by tourists and weekenders. Eastsound is full of cute little shops (a few favorites were Nest, Printshop Northwest and Darvill’s Bookstore), an amazing natural foods co-op (if you know me you know I can’t not peruse a natural foods store), and some great restaurants (I especially liked The New Leaf Cafe and The Kitchen). Other highlights were Orcas Island Pottery – where I couldn’t resist picking up a few pieces, the stunning works at Orcas Island Art Works Gallery, hiking around the lakes of Moran State Park, watching the sunset from the observation tower atop Mt. Constitution and the dancing at the open mic night at Doe Bay Resort. I stayed at the Rosario Resort, which I recommend, but I don’t think you could go wrong anywhere you stay. Orcas Island is a place I hope to visit time and again.
It was difficult for me to end the trip in Seattle and be thrown into the noisy chaos of the city after such a peaceful week. But I was thankful for the plethora of good food. The tacos and margaritas at The Saint, the unique flavors of Frankie & Jo’s dairy-free ice cream and breakfast at Sweetgrass Food Co. are not to be missed. I left feeling, as always, like I’d only scratched the surface of the beauty that Washington holds.