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Washington's Olympic Peninsula: 10 top spots on a Pacific Northwest road trip

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I recently spent four days on the North Olympic Peninsula in Washington state, venturing to places I'd never visited before. Three of my 10 favorite stops featured here are part of the Olympic Culinary Loop, which I wrote about previously: Olympic Peninsula: 53 tasty stops on Olympic Culinary Loop's adventure map. That particular road trip took me from Port Townsend south to Hood Canal. This time out, I was headed in the other direction.

My most recent 350-mile adventure also started in Port Townsend. After breakfast at The Cup, I drove west via Highway 101 to Sequim (overnight); continued on Highway 101 and the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway (Highway 112) to Neah Bay (overnight); and backtracked southeast to Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort and north to Lake Crescent Lodge (overnight). The next morning, I made the 90-minute drive back to Port Townsend. It made for a very fun and refreshing four days!

Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim
Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim Photo by Sue Frause

Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim

Railroad Bridge Park includes a 1915 railroad bridge that has been refurbished and is part of the 130-mile Olympic Discovery Trail. Also located in the park is the Dungeness River Audubon Center, which features many examples of birds and other native animals. There is a free bird walk on Wednesday mornings at 8:30 AM led by a birding expert. The center is a sponsor of the Dungeness River Festival in September and the Olympic BirdFest in spring.

Nash's Organic Produce in Sequim
Nash's Organic Produce in Sequim Photo by Sue Frause

Nash's Organic Produce in Sequim

A longtime fixture in the Sequim Dungeness Valley, Nash's Organic Produce is owned and operated by Charles "Nash" Huber and Patty McManus-Huber.  Now in its 40th year, they farm 600 acres which includes vegetables, berries and fruits, grains and organic seeds. Three years ago, they opened Nash's Farm Store, a full grocery store specializing in local and organic products. Their farm produce is also available at a number of farmers' markets on the peninsula, and at markets in Ballard and Seattle's University District. Olympic Culinary Loop

Blondie's Plate in Sequim
Blondie's Plate in Sequim Photo by Sue Frause

Blondie's Plate in Sequim

Specializing in small plates of Northwest contemporary cuisine, Blondie's Plate in Sequim is owned by Kim McDougal (aka "Blondie"). Kim was formerly with Bella Italia in Port Angeles, as was Chef Nick Dorcy, and Blondie's is housed in an Episcopalian church built in 1894. But there's nothing solemn about this space, it's both colorful and lively. So is the menu, from Blondie's signature Moscow Mule cocktail (pictured here) to small plates under these creative headings: Start, Garden, Surf, Pasture, Starch, Hearty. The wine list features such local offerings as Harbinger and Camaraderie and desserts are delish. Olympic Culinary Loop

Joyce Museum
Joyce Museum Photo by Sue Frause

Joyce Museum

Make a stop on Highway 112 at the 1911-built Joyce General Store and the Joyce Museum. The museum is housed in the original log train depot built in 1914. Inside is memorabilia from the towns of Joyce, Lake Crescent, Twin Rivers and the former town of Port Crescent. Depot "Agent" Margaret Owens is both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the area, and also has oodles of information about The Whale Trail. There are several whale watching sites nearby, including Salt Creek and Freshwater Bay.

Makah Museum in Neah Bay
Makah Museum in Neah Bay Photo by Sue Frause

Makah Museum in Neah Bay

The Makah Museum at the Makah Cultural & Research Center in Neah Bay is the sole repository for archaeological discoveries from the Makah Indian coastal village of Ozette. In 1970, a tidal erosion exposed a group of the 500-year-old Ozette homes, which were perfectly preserved in an ancient mudslide. The Ozette archaeological dig lasted 11 years, and resulted in tens of thousands of artifacts on display in the museum. Pictured here are two contemporary sculptures at the entrance to the museum by Makah sculptor Greg Colfax.

Tatoosh Island off Cape Flattery
Tatoosh Island off Cape Flattery Photo by Sue Frause

Tatoosh Island off Cape Flattery

Take a walk on the Cape Flattery Trail (1.5 miles roundtrip), the most northwestern point in the continental United States. Located six miles from Neah Bay, the boardwalk and gravel path has four viewing platforms that offer stunning views of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and the Cape Flattery Lighthouse on Tatoosh Island (seen above). Purchase a $10 per car Makah Recreation Permit to hike the trail (available at outlets in Neah Bay).

Linda's Wood Fired Kitchen in Neah Bay
Linda's Wood Fired Kitchen in Neah Bay Photo by Sue Frause

Linda's Wood Fired Kitchen in Neah Bay

Linda's Wood Fired Kitchen in Neah Bay is the place for house made pizza, along with other freshly prepared menu items. Head pizza maker Linda Colfax, married to Makah sculptor Greg Colfax, creates tasty 14" and 16" pizzas, ranging from Pepperoni (pictured here) to Smokehouse (smoked salmon artichoke hearts, fresh tomato,sweet red onion). All are baked in her custom wood fired oven. Upstairs are two rooms that make up The Apacolypto Motel. Note that the Makah Tribe's reservation is dry, and no alcohol is sold/served in Neah Bay. 

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in Olympic National Park
Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in Olympic National Park Photo by Sue Frause

Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort in Olympic National Park

Sol Duc Hot Springs opened in 1912 and was considered the "Crown Jewel of the West Coast." At the time, it even included a 100-bed hospital for people taking to its healing waters. Today, Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort features three mineral hot spring soaking pools and a freshwater pool. Cabin rentals, which include various styles, include use of the pools -- some of the accommodations are pet-friendly. On-site amenities include massage therapists, poolside deli, restaurant and convenience store. Among the nearby hikes is Sol Duc Falls (1.6 miles roundtrip) -- well worth the trip.

 

Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park
Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park Photo by Sue Frause

Lake Crescent Lodge in Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent Lodge, located at the north end of Olympic National Park, is about to turn 100 years old. Accommodations range from historic cottages to mid-20th century hotel-style rooms. I stayed in a Singer Tavern Cottage, which was charming and cozy. Located steps from the main lodge and its dining room and bar, I enjoyed dinner with a lake view -- prepared by talented new chef Steven Van Zelfden. Afterwards, it was sunset time in an Adirondack chair overlooking the lake. Following breakfast the next morning, a hike to nearby Marymere Falls. Olympic Culinary Loop

Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent Lodge
Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent Lodge Photo by Sue Frause

Marymere Falls near Lake Crescent Lodge

There are numerous day hikes around Lake Crescent. Among them is a self-guided nature trail called Moments in Time, a .6 mile loop adjacent to Lake Crescent Lodge. I went on the loop prior to dinner, and it's lovely. The next morning I took off for the nearby Marymere Falls, a 1.8 mile roundtrip hike through old growth forest.  The treat at the end of the trail is 90-ft. Marymere Falls. With an elevation gain of only 400 feet, it was still enough of a workout to make up for the hearty breakfast in the dining room. And 'twas the perfect way to wrap up my four-day adventure on the Olympic Peninsula.

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