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Olympic National Park/Washington Questions


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I am hoping to take a trip up to Washington in the next year.  I'd like to take my kids whale watching(Orcas!) and visit the Hoh rainforest.  Beyond that, I have no idea what to do with kids in the 5-8 year range.  Could anyone recommend some cool towns to stay near that area or fun things to do?  I'd like to keep it outdoorsy-hikes, tide pools...that kind of thing.  I don't mind driving and I'd like a homebase or two for exploring


I can happily skip the Space Needle and Pike Place.  I am thinking of flying to Seattle from Denver and renting a car.


Any advice, tips, or cautions are appreciated!  I've only been out that way once and I was 11.  All I remember is thinking the rain forest was the coolest place ever and wishing I had enough money to go whale watching. 


I was looking at spending a few days in Anacortes to whale watch via boat and then find a different place closer to the Park.  But I'm open to anything.  

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The San Juan Islands are nice.  And the Cascades.  And if it is not in the middle of summer, the Winthrop area is nice, though I haven't seen it since the big fire.  Port Townsend is neat and would be a fun way to get from the Olympic Peninsula to Anacortes/San Juans.


The Hoh Rainforest is neat, but it's pretty far away from everything--except the beach.  You should be aware that much of the Olympic Peninsula is a clear cut mess and quite ugly (IMO).  There is a striking difference between the national park and surrounding area.

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if you're going to the Hoh - consider

sequim wild animal park

dungeness spit

sol duc hot springs - cabins you can rent

hurricane ridge.

near lake quinault there are a number of record sized trees, some short hikes.

neah bay (nw tip of the penninsula)

kalaloch.  fun to play in the water where the river comes out.  lots of sand, and flat black rocks.


you can stay in forks, port angeles, or sequim.


anacortes, or friday harbor on san juan island as a stepping off point for whale watching.  sji has american fort and britsh fort.  they have san juan state park (has camping) .  it  over looked haro straight - and we'd watch the whales go past.

thing about teh islands - you'd better plan on having somewhere to stay before going there during the summer.  you can get reservations for your car for the ferry, - or park in anacortes and walk on.

mt. constitution - loved the stone tower and highest point in the islands; and moran state park on orcas island. 


north cascades  highway.  the geology is very diverse. 

lake chelan has some great places for kids.  tourist trap of leavenworth.


whidby island and deception pass.  ft. casey.  the parade grounds are a great place to fly kites.  see across the water to port townsend.


mt. rainier


big tree grove on the ohanapakosh river

mt. st.helen's


dh wuold vote for driving across at gig harbor - you avoid seattle ferry lines.  ferry lines anywhere on a weekend in the summer  can be hours long.  you will watch boats come and go.

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Lake Quinault! We stayed there for a week in October 2014. I had a 7 and 9 year old at the time. It was amazingly beautiful. There is an old fashioned lodge that made me feel like I was at the Dirty Dancing lodge. There are trails practically right out of the room. They build a campfire every day and just let it go so people can sit by the lake with a fire. We would go out early in the morning. There are record trees all around, you can find maps at the park website. There's waterfalls off the side of the road. If you are lucky, then the road around the lake will be open and it's about an hour drive (?) through the rainforest. Can't wait to do it again!


Here's my photo album.If I copy and pasted the pictures, they'd be huge. 


Exotic Hikes is a good blog and FB page for the area. 


there's a section of that road on the north side of the lake that is nothing but ROUGH single lane dirt.  consider yourself warned. 

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rain forest resort villiage has the "good" restaurant. I don't know why - one year the lodge had  had a good chef, the restaurant was packed .. the next year - it was *awful*. we went down the road to the restaurant at lake quinault village resort - it was packed.  it was cheaper - and the food was much better.


we'd have breakfast at a diner right off 101 at amanda park. (wide spot in the road at the west end of the lake)

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