Romantic Beach Weekend Getaway in the Olympic Peninsula
1When you arrive in Port Townsend, stretch your legs at Fort Worden State Park, where sandy, driftwood-strewn beaches, fir forests, and stately Victorian-era officer's cabins make for a relaxed first stop — even more so if you've brought a bottle of wine and some snacks sourced from The Wine Seller on Port Townsend's waterfront.
2Discover romance on the menu at the quiet Silverwater Café, which offers an intimate setting amid soaring, graceful ceilings. This eclectic, seafood-focused restaurant sources ingredients from nearby producers for dishes like fresh Hood Canal clams steamed with spicy chorizo, and Dungeness crab cakes with a rich lemongrass buerre blanc. The wines-by-the-glass menu has many inspired local selections.
3After dinner, go for a stroll. Port Townsend is one of the region's few Victorian-era seaport towns; the picturesque brick-and-lathe downtown streets teem with vintage mural signs, antique shops, clothing and collectible boutiques and used bookstores. On Friday nights, Port Townsend Brewing Company hosts live music in a cheerful outdoor beer garden; pull up a chair as the bartender pulls you an amber home-brewed draft.
1Fortify yourself with organic coffee and pastries on your way out of Port Townsend at Better Living Through Coffee, as your first stop is 45 minutes west in the funky little town of Sequim (pronounced "squim"). At The Oak Table's handsome oak-paneled dining room, order a souffle apple pancake; when you hear the bell ring, you'll know that the waitress has less than a minute to deliver the three-inch high pancake to your table before goes as flat as a traditional pancake. After breakfast, drive 15 minutes north along the Dungeness-Sequim highway to Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, one of the world's largest natural sand spits, and a home to countless seabirds year-round.
2For an only-in-Washington experience, drive 30 minutes west along Highway 101, which becomes Front Street in Port Angeles. Turn left (south) on Race Street and proceed one mile towards Hurricane Ridge. Turn left (east) on Lauridsen Boulevard and proceed 1/4 mile to PAFAC parking adjacent to a domed water silo, to investigate Webster's Woods Art Park. The magical forest features 110 sculptural art works by local and international artists playing hide-and-see among evergreens. What you see this year won't be guaranteed for the next — many objects disintegrate and become part of nature once more.
3Now that you've worked up an appetite, browse the welcomings stalls in the downtown Port Angeles Farmers Market at Gateway Center at Lincoln and Front Streets, where you can assemble an artisanal picnic lunch of cheeses, charcuterie, fresh bread, and local berries—or a quick take-out soup, wrap, or plate of noodles from a stall vendor.
4Take that picnic lunch to Olympic National Park, only a quick five-minute trip south from downtown Port Angeles along South Race Street. Pull over at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center to discover more about the natural (and sometimes violent) history of this now-peaceful region, and browse the selection of books on local fauna. Lunch here, amid native plants at a picnic table, and map out your next hike — or bring your lunch to the next stop.
5South Race Street becomes Hurricane Ridge Road, which you'll follow for 40 minutes through a forest of ferns, fir trees, and huckleberries. Keep an eye out for bears and marmots en route; at the Hurricane Ridge Visitors Center, learn more about the wildlife rambling across the Olympics—and glean how to ID each of the surrounding peaks. Hurricane Ridge itself clocks in at an impressive 5,200 feet, so you'll be reward with romantic views of crystal-cut crests and pearl-colored snow; check the daily schedule for interpretive walks along the ridge top trails that explode with wildflowers.
6Drive back down the ridge to eat dinner in downtown Port Angeles's Bella Italia restaurant, made famous as a dining destination in Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series. Thankfully, you don't have to be a "Twihard" to enjoy this restaurant; favorite dishes rely on Northwest ingredients like foraged mushrooms and Dungeness Valley organic carrots, both plucked from the local stomping grounds. Belly full, head for your hotel, the Lake Crescent Lodge, located in the Crescent Lake area, about 25 minutes southwest of Port Angeles along the curving Olympic Highway.
1After breakfast, walk right out the door and meander along a river trail to Marymere Falls — just ask for directions from staff at Lake Crescent Lodge. On the way, you'll hike through rainforest-thick vegetation and old-growth woods, past a splash-worthy river beach, and over wooden bridges to a horsetail-like Northwest waterfall. Don't forget your camera!
2Who doesn't find childlike joy when exploring tidepools? The jackpot of all Washington shore areas is at Salt Creek Recreation Area, where you'll find the shallows full of quirky-cool creatures — rows upon rows of mussels, sea urchins, and giant sea stars, among other squirty sorts.
3For a final taste of the Olympic Peninsula, head east along US 101 for about an hour, braking for lunch in Sequim at Alderwood Bistro, where ingredient distances are noted on the menu (i.e. cultivated in the Dungeness Valley, grown within 100 miles of Sequim, or produced regionally). Watch your pizza slide into wood-fired oven (gluten-free pizzas too) then enjoy your feast in the lovely outdoor garden or warm dining room.