448050911201448 Tips for Visiting Olympic National Park and Nearby Areas | Polka Dots and Protons - Interactive Science Notebooks & More

My goal is to make interactive science notebooks engaging for 5th grade and middle school science students while improving science test scores. NGSS expert, teacher, tpt author, mom, & widow

Tips for Visiting Olympic National Park and Nearby Areas

When Addy and I were in Glacier National Park last summer, we had just eaten at the resort we were staying at and playing pool when we started talking with some other travelers. A mom and her grown son were there too. They were getting out of the heat. She had flown to visit her son who was doing a long road/camping trip and meeting up with family along the way. You know, the dream of traveling to national parks and such in your truck or camper? He was doing that. We asked him about places he had been and what his favorites were. He told us about Olympic National Park and the rainforests. With that bit of inspiration, Addy knew what adventure she wanted next!

Our goal was for a restful and adventurous trip. Addy just finished her freshman year of college and we are coming off some big struggles. Adventure makes us feel inspired and glad to be alive.

Here is our Olympic National Park and peninsula itinerary:

Day 1: Seattle to Sequim

Flew in to Seattle in the morning and rented a car (Costco has been our go to)

Drove started out for Sequim, WA (pronounced Squim)

We stopped and ate at Smoking Mo's for barbeque in Sheldon, WA. 

Smoking Mo's had a lot of character. The doors were placed to separate tables. Great atmosphere.

We didn't stop at the Hama Hama Oyster Farm but that is an option. We were looking for waterfalls but they were far off the road and I don't recommend it at this point in the trip. The wild flowers along the way were amazing!

We arrived at the Crab Shack in Sequim. We booked right through www.sequimrentals.com
We stayed at the Crab Shack in Sequim for 4 nights.

This was the view from our front door!

Days 2-4: Sequim, Lake Crescent, and Sol Duc

Lavender Farms in Sequim

Did you know there are 16 lavender farms in Sequim? We went to 3 of them over our trip. Purple Haze was probably our favorite. We went there first and had lavender lemonade. The rows of different kinds and colors of lavender were gorgeous. Another favorite was Victor's Lavender Farm where we Addy had lavender sausage.

Biking the Olympic Discovery Trail

We rented bikes and rode the Olympic Discovery Trail. There was a huge detour to get to the trail so that was not idea. I would suggested making sure there aren't detours and renting bikes next to the trail. It is paved and beautiful.

Hurricane Ridge

You drive up the mountain and hike on ridges. We saw marmots, bears, and deer.

Most of the bears were far away. The two black dots in the valley are bears we saw through binoculars.

Lake Crescent

We did a day trip over to Lake Crescent and hiked to Marymere Falls. What a fun introduction to the rainforests on the peninsula.

We ate our packed lunch at the Lake Crescent Lodge and put our feet up by the fire.

Sol Duc Falls and Hot Springs

For another day trip, we went to Sol Duc (pronounced Soul Duck) Falls. Wow! That was our favorite. We hit the Sol Duc Resort Hot Springs after our hike. It wasn't as glamorous as we'd hoped but it felt good.

We ate dinner in Port Angeles on our way back to Sequim and Downriggers On the Water. I loved the view of the ferry coming in and unloading. The restaurant is in a building by the water with great views. 

Day 5 Beaches and Hoh Rainforest 

On our way to the Hoh Rainforest, we went to La Push and Rialto. I would suggest skipping La Push because you can the sea stacks from Rialto. There is a lot of driftwood on the beach!

La Push and Rialto Beaches


We stopped in Forks to get souvenirs and groceries. We loved the outfitters where they had groceries, clothes, and hardware. We got some fun pictures with Twilight Saga character cut outs.

Hoh Rainforest

We LOVED this area. We had a cabin at Hoh Valley Cabins which are comfortable and beautiful cabins near the national park entrance and by the Hard Rain Cafe. We loved staying here and would've loved to be there longer. We just had a one night there.

We got to the national park in the evening which was perfect and learned that it fills up and there can be a big line to get in so get there early or in the evening. We did the Hall of Mosses trail in the evening and came back early for the Spruce Nature Trail and Hoh River Trail (just to the first river access.)

We were able to beat the crowds and see two herds of elk! We loved the lush trees, ferns, mushrooms, clover..

We learned that the definition of a rainforest is a forest that gets 100 or more inches of rain a year. Hoh rainforest gets 140 inches a year! This place is a MUST see!

Day 6 Kalaloch and Quinault

Tree of Life

We left the Hoh Rainforest and stopped at Kalaloch Beach on our way to Quinault. Kalaloch (pronounced Clay Lock) Beach has the Tree of Life which is a cool tree that is still living even though the dirt and sand under it have eroded away. I'm in awe of nature's resilience and I thought this was a powerful message (I'm like that.)


We went to the Quinault ranger's station and did two hikes there. We loved the Homestead Hike.

We then took a back road to two waterfalls on our way to Quinault Rainforest Village where we stayed.

Day 7: To Victoria

If we had had Addy's passport earlier, we would've gone to Victoria when we were staying in Sequim. That wasn't an option but we were able to make it work! We left Quinault early and drove 3 hours to pick up Addy's passport. Her passport arrived at our house after we left so my parents mailed it to us. We got her passport and filled out the Arrive Can online form to go to Canada. We purchased a package where we had round trip ferry passage and entry to Butchart Gardens. We were too late to add the shuttle package but had not trouble with the cab system. 

We parked our car where we could leave it overnight and hopped on the ferry with only drawstring bags and some food. We traveled super light which made it so we didn't have to drop off luggage before visiting Butchart Gardens. We got a Bluebird cab when we arrived in Victoria and headed to the gardens. Wow! I love plants and flowers so this was fun.

We took another cab back to our hotel and then walked to Bastian Square for dinner at The Local.

Day 8 Victoria to Port Townsend to Seattle

We stayed at the Best Western Plus Carlton Hotel in Victoria. It worked out great! It was a 12 min walk in the morning to get to the ferry. The walk was along the water and we just had our drawstring bags and some food so it was easy. I brought hot chocolate packets and Kind dark chocolate oatmeal packets with us for breakfast. Super light to pack and filling too.

We then drove to Port Townsend to see the little Victorian town. It was cute and fun to shop there. We then took the Kingston ferry to Seattle. You just drive on and it goes. It cost $20.

We then went to our hotel Hampton Inn and Suites Downtown Seattle. We parked the car and could walk to the Space Needle and monorail. The monorail gets you closer to Pikes Place. We had a hard time finding a place to eat dinner and it was crazy expensive but we managed. The next morning, we slept in and went up the Space Needle before heading to the airport.

It was a great trip and I'm glad to have my travel buddy!
What are you favorite places to visit? What travel tips do you have? I'd love to hear about your summer and other trips!

Are you looking to do a project with your class about exploring new places? Check out this US Geography PBL Project from my friend Marion at Mentoring in the Middle.