The chunk of land that hangs off the western part of Washington State is a place of staggering beauty. Separated from the mainland by Puget Sound, the Olympic Peninsula is home to rugged, glacier-capped mountains, lush rainforests, Victorian architecture, remote beaches, and unique wildlife. Traveling to this area can be an exercise in exploring the remote wilderness of the Olympic National Park, enjoying the casual luxuries of art galleries and bed and breakfasts in Port Townsend, or soaking up the down home comforts of various cafes and stores in the small logging and fishing towns that dot the area.
For two years, my girlfriend Jen lived in Victoria, BC while I lived in Portland, Oregon. During this time period, we’d meet up at Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula and spend a few days together exploring the area. We hiked, we camped, we froze, we got rained on, we got sunburned, we swam, we went for coffee, we watched movies, and we visited museums.
The Olympic Peninsula is an amazing corner of the world with a diversity of ecology, biology, geography, and activities that do not exist so close together anywhere else in the world that I've visited. This isn't, by far, a complete guide to everything to do in the area. Instead, like everything on this site, it's a listing of our favorite things - those activities and places to which we found ourselves returning time after time.
The best and most enjoyable way to explore the Peninsula is by foot on a forest trail; however traveling by car is definitely the most practical. Highway 101 loops around the Peninsula and is a perfect way to explore the various regions of the area.
My suggestion for an itenary is to begin your tour in Olympia, Washington (I-5 exit 104), head north along the Hood Canal, circle around the Olympic National Park (ONP) to the north, pass through Port Angeles and along Lake Crescent, and then loop down the western side passing through Forks and along the Pacific Ocean until you hit Gray’s Harbor in Aberdeen. From there, take Highway 8 east along the southern part of the Peninsula back to Olympia and you’re back where you started.