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Hurricane Ridge views.

Image: Jon Bilous

Olympic National Park

  • Don’t try to do the entire national park in a day, or even a single trip; the visitor center at Hurricane Ridge is a good starting place for hiking and vistas of the glaciated peaks.
  • Many of the Pacific coast beaches, dotted with sea stacks and windblown trees, are protected parkland; camp almost anywhere with a permit, but be prepared to hike in using ropes over steep headlands.
  • The national park contains two retro lodges on glassy glacier-fed lakes: one on the very deep and very blue Lake Crescent on the north end and another on Lake Quinault, in a southeastern rain forest. 

Port Townsend

  • The Victorian seaport’s downtown Water Street features more decorative trim and gabled windows than a season of Masterpiece Theatre. 
  • Even outside September’s Wooden Boat Festival, the Northwest Maritime Center has boat-building demos and a store that stocks sailing essentials like oakum and cordage. 
  • Though the cheese rounds are sold in almost every Seattle super-market, visiting the home of Mt. Townsend Creamery means salty curds and samples. 

Port Angeles and Sequim

  • Drive out on the spindly three-mile peninsula known as Ediz Hook to get a water view of downtown, the still-active logging port, and, on a clear day, the snowy Olympics behind them. 
  • The town of Sequim bills itself the Lavender Capital of the World, and in July a festival celebrates the fragrant flower with farm tours and a half dozen flavors of lavender ice cream. 
  • If you spot a grizzly bear out your window, there’s a good chance you’re not in the national park but the Olympic Game Farm driving tour; if you see zebras and a white Siberian tiger it’s definite. 

Hood Canal

  • Swimming in dam-made Lake Cushman makes more sense than in most Olympic waters, since it’s not as frigid as the high-mountain lakes or the sound; head to the site nicknamed Big Rock to make questionable cliff-jumping choices.
  • Thanks to its protected placement, Hood Canal is calm enough for scuba divers to explore its octopuses and rock formations. Just don’t nick shellfish from the oyster beds; it disturbs the ecosystem. 
  • Despite its placid nature, the southern Olympic Peninsula is rife with extreme sports, including Skydiving Kapowsin (skydive with only 10 minutes of training!) and the new Ridge Motorsports Park for car racing and motocross.  
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Lavender picking at Graysmarsh Farms in Sequim, WA.

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