The Olympic Mountains viewed from Edmonds, Washington
Port Angeles is the most northern point of the iconic Highway 101; a historic highway that winds along the Pacific Ocean coastline of the United States. At one time, it started at the Mexican border; it now starts (or ends) in Los Angeles, due to new freeways that have replaced portions over the years. Highway 101 still loops dramatically around the Olympic Peninsula through some amazingly beautiful scenery. Being a highway rather than a freeway, there are cross streets, roadside pullouts and attractions dotting its length. This creates a more leisurely, slower paced journey better suited to seeing the sights.
We were surprised by Sequim, WA (pronounced squim) and Port Angeles, WA. This area offers so many outdoor activities from walking the Olympic Discovery Trail and exploring the Olympic Mountains to getting your toes into the sand and surf along the beaches of the Strait of Juan de Fuca.
Amazing Dungeness Wildlife Refuge and Dungeness Spit
The Dungeness Wildlife Refuge is an excellent place to walk. Your journey will start in the lush woods and end on a beautiful beach. When you get to the edge of the bluff, there are two viewing areas, with fantastic views of the Dungeness Spit. It is the longest natural sand spit in the United States. There is also a lighthouse at the end of the Spit that is open to the public. It is approx 5 ½ miles each way, so this is only for the very few, but what a walk. When exploring the Spit, you need to check the tide tables. The Spit is best visited at low tide.
Along the Spit you will find full-size driftwood trees, I call it a driftwood forest. On a clear day, to the east, you will see Mt. Baker, a massive snow-covered volcanic mountain. To the west, you can see Port Angeles, Washington.
Port Angeles and Sequim Have Quaint Downtowns & Yummy Food
Both Port Angeles and Sequim have quaint downtowns, with shops to wander through and several coffee shops. We enjoyed going to Bada NW Coffee Shop in Port Angeles and Hurricane Coffee Co, in Sequim.
In Port Angeles, we enjoyed lunch at the Mexican restaurant, Fiesta Jalisco on Front Street. It was tasty good.
A place between Sequim and Port Angeles that is popular for breakfast and lunch is Old Mill Café. The name comes from the mill that once was across the street. It is off the beaten path, but easy to get to from Highway 101. The parking lot is often full and the Eggs Benedict, that one person in our group ordered, even included fresh Dungeness Crab.
Take a Day Trip to Canada
If you have the time, I would suggest taking the ferry over to Victoria, Canada, from Port Angeles, Washington. You could make it a day trip or stay longer and enjoy this active city. Victoria is the home of the World Famous Butchart Gardens and the elegant Afternoon Tea at the Fairmont Empress. You will find plenty of upscale shopping and of course, museums.
Take a look at our blog – Fairmont Empress Hotel in Victoria, Canada
Wherever We Go, We Add a Bit of Geocaching to the Itinerary
The Port Angeles and Sequim areas have many fun and interesting Geocaches to find. We found a Geocache disguised in a plastic toy rat, tucked into a nook of the rock barrier out on the Ediz Hook peninsula. From Ediz Hook you have picturesque views of Port Angeles and the Olympic Mountains. There are picnic areas with wind-breaks, great for an afternoon adventure.
One of my favorite Geocaches was a Christmas light hanging on an eye-level branch of a young tree in the Robin Hill Farm County Park. We would never have seen this beautiful rain forest area if we were not searching out this Geocache.
Looking for a beautiful waterfall? There are several. The one we hiked to was Marymere Falls. The access to the falls, was a pretty level, dirt trail through old-growth, very tall trees. If anyone in your group is not up for a hike, leave them at the Crescent Lodge. They can get coffee and hang out in a comfortable area by the fireplace or outside by the lake. Crescent Lake conveys a sense of calm serenity. The view is magically relaxing and peaceful. Something we don’t often get in our hustle and bustle lives. See it if you can.
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Forest and Waterfront Camping
Sequim Bay State Park is in a large lush rain forest with waterfront access. If you take the tunnel under Highway 101, you will be surprised to find tennis courts and a softball field. There are several covered meeting areas for special occasions. Some areas of the park are set-aside specifically for bicycle riders and hikers. Perfect for anyone exploring the Olympic Discovery Trail which runs right through the camp. This campground is open year-round.
And There Is More…
There are so many parks and exciting areas in the Olympic Peninsula. I haven’t even mentioned going to the Olympic Forest and Olympic National Park. Go here to learn more about the Olympic Forest and Park.
Bird watching is prevalent in this area. We saw Bald Eagles almost every day we were there.
Additional places you might consider are Port Williams County Park, Dungeness Landing County Park, John Wayne Marina, and a visit to the 9/11 Memorial (in Port Angeles).
One Insider Tip
If you are continuing your road trip from Port Angeles, Washington to Vancouver, Canada, take the ferry from Port Townsend across to Coupeville. It will save you a lot of driving and time. The ferries in Washington, we found to be reasonably priced. If you are planning on driving onto one of the ferries be sure to make a reservation in advance, especially during peak hours. Oh, Port Townsend has a great fort and lighthouse if you have the time.
We hope you have a wonderful time exploring the Olympic Peninsula.
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