Leaving Seattle, we took the Bainbridge Ferry to reach the peninsula and made our way to Port Angeles. Located to the north of Olympic National Park, Port Angeles was our main point of departure for expl20160720_194705oring the park over the next few days. While this involved a commitment to more time in the car, it also meant not moving locations every night. We loved the Red Lion Hotel and ate daily at La Belle Creperie. No, seriously: every single day,and we still didn’t get to try all the crepes that sounded amazing. We also had a fabulous dinner at H2O Waterfront Bistro, which had incredible fish and chips that involved fried salmon & cod–amazing. I’ve added a photo of some lovely Native American canoes that were part of a summer-long youth canoeing program to combat alcohol and drug use in teens. Lots of different tribes met up as they made their way south throughout the summer–really cool.

We were floored at the diversity throughout the Olympic National Park and we only had time to explore the top half of it!  Hurricane Ridge, a mere 45 minute drive from Port Angeles felt like being transported to the Alps. Eighteen miles west of Port Angeles you can canoe or have a truly fabulous fresh fish dinner at Lake Crescent Lodge. (It looked like an incredible place to stay but they were booked: 100th National Park Anniversary plus summer.) We enjoyed the nearby trails of “Moments in Time” and “Marymere Falls.” The hot springs with their familiar sulfur smell were still a fun way to soak away the aches of hiking. Further west is the Hoh Rain Forest, a temperate rainforest where moss covers maple trees. We were running short of time because of traffic due to construction work and so only accomplished the short “Hall of Mosses” trail. Stopping in Forks for dinner, we had a nice dinner at In Place, which had a good, fresh salad. Sunset at Rialto Beach was incredibly beautiful with the small islands dotting the oceanview and the forest behind us.

On our last day in Port Angeles, we went out with the Port Angeles Whale Watch Company, which took us out into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. While we could see Victoria and Vancouver in the distance, the humpback and finback whales were what really caught our eye. That day there were no orca pods, but several humpbacks swam within ten feet of our boat. It was incredible. None of the photos we took can really do justice to the experience. I now wish we’d had another week or two in the area to see the rest of the park, more fully explore Seattle and to get into Victoria and Vancouver. It was an incredible vacation!