There may not be another drive in Washington that so aptly captures all this state offers in a single journey. Starting in Seattle, this loop drive takes in Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and the wild Washington coast. Along the way, you'll enjoy ferry rides, a Victorian port town, lavender fields, wilderness beaches, mountain meadows, rainforests, glacier-carved lakes, and rustic lodges.
Day 1: Seattle
Spend your first day getting a quick feel for this city on the shores of Puget Sound. Walk the waterfront and take a short boat tour, poke around the stalls at Pike Place Market, take the Underground Tour, and survey the city from atop the Space Needle. If this seems like a lot to do in one day, there are plenty of espresso bars to keep you on your feet.
Day 2: Port Townsend
From Seattle, catch the Bainbridge Island ferry and head northwest to the Victorian port town of Port Townsend. This is one of the prettiest little towns in the state and is full of good restaurants and interesting shops. Stay in one of the town's Victorian B&Bs or hotels for the full experience. Visit Fort Worden State Park, with its beaches, trails, and Port Townsend Marine Science Center.
Days 3, 4 & 5: Port Angeles & Northern Olympic National Park
Head around the north side of the Olympic Peninsula toward Port Angeles. In July and August, be sure to explore the lavender fields surrounding the town of Sequim. From Port Angeles, drive up to Hurricane Ridge, the most easily accessible area of alpine meadows in Olympic National Park. The next day, if you've brought your passport, you can take a ferry to Victoria, British Columbia, which preserves a bit of jolly old England. Alternatively, visit Dungeness Spit, where you can hike for miles along the beach. West of Port Angeles, rent a boat on Lake Crescent and have a soak at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort. Stay either in Port Angeles or at nearby Lake Crescent Lodge.
Days 6 & 7: Kalaloch
For your next 2 nights, use the cabins at Kalaloch Lodge as a base. En route from the Port Angeles area, be sure to make the long drive out to Neah Bay and hike the short trail to Cape Flattery. This is by far the most scenic viewpoint on the coast. From here you can visit the wilderness beaches that stretch for miles north and south of the Native American community of La Push, which is due west of the town of Forks. For short hikes, I like Rialto Beach and Third Beach. Spend your second day exploring the rainforests of the Hoh River Valley. Hike the Hall of Mosses Trail and go for a short rafting trip with Rainforest Paddlers. There are also many more miles of easily accessible national park beaches stretching north from Kalaloch Lodge.
Day 8: Alderbrook Lodge
For your last night on the Olympic Peninsula, stay at the luxurious Alderbrook Resort & Spa, and be sure to arrive early enough to do some relaxing. The resort is built on the shore of Hood Canal, a long, fishhook-shaped bay off Puget Sound. If you aren't already hiked out, there are some strenuous but very rewarding hikes along the eastern edge of Olympic National Park. Check with the park to make sure your chosen trail is open. Winter storms in the area tend to do a lot of damage to trails and forest-service roads.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.