Ultimate Olympic Peninsula Adventure
Written July 16
Experienced May 1 – 5, 2019
In a recent post, I described memories of one of my closest friends visiting me Washington state. I truly value sharing quality time with close friends in my new home. Every time someone visits me, I get to share some of my favorite spots and also discover new ones myself!
My lifelong friend, Marissa, and I have a friendship that dates back to age FOUR where we met in nursery school. Though we didn’t go to the same school after preschool, we have stayed friends throughout our entire life!
Most of my friends (and I) are turning 30 this year, so we’ve all been planning fun adventures for the big 3-0. Despite being friends for over 20 years, Marissa and I have never traveled together, so we finally decided to do so to celebrate our birthdays! After tossing around a ton of different ideas and considering finances, time, and preferred adventure styles, we decided on Marissa taking the trip to the west coast! She combined it with a visit to her family in Oregon, and the timing worked out perfectly!
We were blessed with blue skies, warm weather, and AMAZING food all weekend! Marissa went on her first hikes AND went to her FIRST National Park. I was pretty stoked to share all these experiences with her, plus explore parts of Washington I haven’t yet seen!
Day One: Sea Tac to Everett
Marissa arrived at Sea-Tac airport on Wednesday afternoon. She flew from Pasco after visiting her family in Oregon. I couldn’t get off work early and didn’t want Marissa sitting at the airport too long, so I had her take the Link Light Rail from Sea Tac to University of Washington. This saved me a longer drive from Everett, and Marissa a longer wait time in the airport!
On the way back to Everett, we stopped at my favorite sushi place in Seattle: Japonessa! We scored a seat in the bar section for happy hour (daily from 6:30 to 8:30pm) and noshed on some serious sushi. Marissa and I have shared many sushi dates and agreed this was one of our best ones yet!
En route back to Everett, we stopped at Target to load up on some snacks for the weekend, including protein bars, a cheese/meat platter, and unicorn pudding (yes, really. PROOF!).
- Kristen’s Little Yellow House in Everett!
- Link Light Rail, Sea Tac to UW
- “Jazzy,” Kristen’s Subaru
Day Two: Everett to Port Townsend
We woke up casually and headed to Edmonds for breakfast with my coworker, Abby! Being that Abby is from the East Coast, I knew she’d appreciate Marissa’s STRONG Long Island accent and all of our bubbly personalities would be way too fun together. (Side Note: Abby has a blog and you should 100% check it out if you want to read about physical therapy, women in sports, and more awesome stuff.)
We got breakfast at the Rusty Pelican Cafe in Edmonds (BEWARE! There’s also one in Mill Creek I mistakenly started navigating to… oops!) where I had AMAZING Florentine Eggs Benedict and we shared Nutella crêpes with bananas.
Abby decided to hop on the ferry with Marissa and I as we headed towards Kingston because who doesn’t love a good ferry ride?! We contemplated some deep questions from my “IF” book, such as “If you were no longer afraid of doing something you haven’t done, what would you do” and “What emotion would you eliminate from you family’s life?”
We waved bye to Abby as we drove off the ferry (and she creepily/awesomely took a photo of Marissa, Jazzy, and I). Once on land again, Marissa and I walked around Port Gamble where we found the “Sea and Shore Museum” on the top floor of the General Store (HIGHLY recommend you stop there)!
Our next stop was Dungeness Spit on the Strait of Juan de Fuca! We didn’t have the goal to walk the whole spit to the lighthouse (it’s 11 miles round-trip), but wanted to get outside for a leg stretcher. We payed the $3 entrance fee (good for up to 4 people) and headed to the moody beach with a bounty of driftwood.
After our leg-stretcher, we headed to Port Townsend to check into our room at the Old Consulate Inn. This was our “splurge” for the weekend – a beautiful Victorian bed and breakfast to sleep in! We chose the room with the best view of the water (the Tower Suite). Upon arrival, we were greeted by Nathan, who was in full character of a Victorian man. His curly mustache, mannerisms, and tour of the grounds transported us back in time. We admired the old tea sets, lace and floral decor, billiards room, and various libraries with vintage books.
For dinner, Marissa and I went to Silverwater Cafe where I enjoyed a salmon dish, then we headed back to the room to plan our next day’s adventures and read.
- Old Consulate Inn, The Tower Suite, Port Townsend
- Drive Everett > Edmonds
- WA State Ferry Edmonds to Kingston
- Drive Kingston > Port Gamble > Dungeness Spit > Port Townsend
Day Three: Port Townsend to Olympic National Park
We woke for breakfast at 9am, joined by two older ladies traveling on the Olympic Coast. Once we got to talking, we realized how similar our stories are! Both of the women had met when they were kids, grew up together, and now were on a trip reuniting (one living in Washington, the other on the East Coast)! Our breakfast consisted of a parfait, muffin, fresh fruit, egg soufflé, and bread pudding. It was amazing and quite rich. It’s no wonder the inn made it onto a NYT Top 10 Favorite Hotels list in 2018!
Marissa and I made a quick stop in Port Townsend before heading out of town for our real mission of the day: OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK! We stopped at the Visitor Center in Port Angeles where we caught a glimpse of Hurricane Ridge on the webcam and decided to head to the top considering the clear views!
I’d never been to Hurricane Ridge, but it’s been on my list forever! The road to the top is QUITE the climb and also really dramatic as you come out of the clouds and into an expansive view of the mountains. We did a short exploratory hike along Hurricane Hill Road.
IMPORTANT! If you plan to visit Hurricane Ridge in Summer 2019, please check the webpage for information on Mountain Goat capturing and trail work here!
Our next stop was Sol Duc Falls along the Elwha River. We hiked beyond the waterfall towards Deer Lake, but knew we wouldn’t make it before dark given our hiking time. Instead, we soaked in the wildflowers (trilliums!) and mossy greenery. Marissa successfully crossed two things off her ‘bucket list’: her FIRST hike and FIRST visit to a National Park! It was so rewarding to show her the ropes of hiking and have her challenge her fitness while exploring a new area.
After a full day of exploring, we decided we needed a hearty meal to further fill our souls. We went to Kokopelli Grill where we had THE LITERAL BEST MEAL of seafood! I had previously been to this restaurant after my first backpacking trip in 2016 and my experience in 2019 was just a memorable.
We started with an appetizer of “Dungeness Crab and Wild American Shrimp Campeche,” which was layers of crab, shrimp, and salsa. Marissa had the Kokopelli Kombo, while I had a dozen oysters – 6 x Hama Hama raw oysters and 6 x New Orleans style grilled oysters. Marissa tried the oysters for the first time and experienced the glory of Washington seafood at its finest.
Once our bellies were full to the brim, we headed to our accommodations for the night – a cozy, simple Air BnB!
- Air BnB close to the Black Ball ferry
- “Jazzy” for about 127 miles!
- Our feet for exploring
Day Four: Port Angeles to Victoria, B.C.
We woke early to head to the ferry for travels to Victoria, B.C.! With passports in hand, we headed to the terminal at 7:20 – a full 60 minutes prior to the 8:20am departure time. In the car queue, we mistakenly read a sign thinking they were serving “Nachos” at a coffee sign (which really sounded quite good, haha!). Once our car was in a lane to load onto the ferry, we then had to navigate the most ridiculous line to pay the balance of our ferry ticket. We payed beforehand to hold our reservation, but then had to wait in the most unorganized ticket line to pay the balance inside. There was nobody directing the line and it zig-zagged like a game of Snake around the smallest room. Everyone entering was confused. It was funny and slightly frustrating. We all had solutions for how it could be better.
On the ferry, Marissa and I played multiple card games of golf, which was a new game for Rissa! We grabbed a breakfast sandwich and coffee/tea from the cafe on the ferry.
Once in Victoria, it was quite apparent we were in another country and almost felt European. We decided to first explore the Empress hotel, the Parliament building grounds (it was actually closed to walk inside on the weekend!), and the Inner Harbour. After about an hour of exploring, we dropped our belongings at our Air BnB accommodations and changed into floral dresses for High Tea reservations at 1:30PM at the Butchart Gardens Dining Room!
When it came to deciding where to indulge in High Tea, we decided on Butchart Gardens. I made our reservation on April 30th via OpenTable for our 1:30PM brunch on May 4th (just a few days prior). There are MANY places to have High Tea in Victoria, but the gardens appeared to have the right setting (amidst beautiful flowers!), menu, tea options, and overall vibe we wanted. Reasons why I’m happy we decided on the gardens:
- We planned to visit Butchart Gardens ANYWAYS, so the entrance fee (33.80 CAD/person in summer) in addition to High Tea fee (41.25 CAD) wasn’t a problem.
- THE FLOWERS ARE SO PRETTY!
- The Dining Room windows looked out towards the garden of tulips and bright-colored flowers.
- There were a lot of options for tea! We each got our own tea pot of loose-leaf tea.
- The food was filling and VERY flavorful!
Other locations for High Tea had fancier teacups/pots, but also higher prices and not as bright/colorful settings! The Empress, for example, seemed a little loud. As we walked through the hotel, we heard a lot of metal clanging on top of people talking during High Tea. At the gardens, we were able to hold a conversation at normal volume and it felt peaceful. I really wanted to go to Pendray Tea House, but they were close for a wedding! I’m not sure about the other locations, but would be curious to try others if I hadn’t been so satisfied with Butchart Gardens!
Butchart Gardens Menu for Summer Afternoon Tea
Chantilly cream, sponge cake, berry compote
Signature house scone:
Seasonal fruit preserve, Devon-style cream
Traditional savoury sandwiches and delicacies:
Cowichan Valley chicken, grapes, curry aïoli
Farm fresh egg, scallion mustard aïoli
Berryman Farms heritage ham, bell pepper Parmesan aïoli
Cucumber, pickled ginger, dill weed
Wild B.C. salmon, capers, red onion
Tarragon almond pesto, feta quiche
House-made sausage roll, imported mustard
Bergamot chocolate truffle
Strawberry lemon Napoleon
Peach vanilla pound cake
Wildberry chocolate meringue
After our High Tea and walking around the gardens, we changed out of our dresses and heels then hit the town! We walked around Fisherman’s Wharf, where Marissa and I had our first Lucky Lager from the crew of the “Viking Girl.” All the house boats were super cute to look at and we certainly found some entertainment with locals. For dinner, we headed downtown to eat at Finn’s, then grabbed a local drink at Darby’s Pub Downtown. Marissa tried (and enjoyed) and IPA (DRIFTWOOD Fat Tug IPA and SALT SPRING ISLAND Earl Grey IPA). Through random chances of meeting, we ended up chatting with ITALIAN Canadians from Vancouver. We had a blast chatting with them and listening to live music. I had no idea there were Italians on the west coast and it’s now my mission to go to Little Italy in Vancouver. One day…!
- Air BnB at the Macaulay Point Guest House, which had a Murphy bed + a bed in the loft. It was cozy and not too far from all the areas we explored! The nautical decorations were wonderful.
- Black Ball Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria B.C.
- Cost: $168 total, with $16 paid before arrival to hold reservation
- Breakdown of cost (round-trip): $94 for vehicle (<18 feet), $37 for driver, $37 for additional passenger
- “Jazzy” for Victoria B.C. explorations
Day Five: Victoria, B.C. to Everett
In the morning, we packed up our belongings and headed to the Black Bell ferry line to travel back to the United States! We passed through customs once in Port Angeles without any issues and continued on to drive for ANOTHER ferry. I think we traveled on (almost) every ferry in Washington on this trip! Based on our timeline from Port Angeles, the Bainbridge Island ferry made the most sense. We ended up catching the 2:10PM ferry and grabbed lunch at Agave Cocina in Seattle to celebrate Cinco De Mayo! We were both unimpressed with the food, but enjoyed our margaritas!
Marissa and I then went to the BEST view of Seattle at Kerry Park before driving North to Everett.
For dinner, we had the best West Coast pizza I’ve had to date from Brooklyn Bros. Pizza in Everett! Even Marissa was impressed. We spent the evening sharing photos, chatting, and watching a movie together. Sadly, Marissa would be departing the next morning from Sea-Tac, but our hearts (and bellies!) felt satisfied with our adventures and travels together.
- Kristen’s Little Yellow House in Everett!
- Black Ball Ferry from Victoria B.C. to Port Angeles (10:30AM)
- “Jazzy” from Port Angeles to Bainbridge Island
- WSDOT Ferry from Bainbridge Island to Seattle (2:10PM)
- “Jazzy” from Seattle to Everett
Notes of Gratitude
I’m so grateful for Marissa’s visit to Washington! She got to knock a few “firsts” off her list (hike & National Park), I shared some of my favorite places with her, we ate SO MUCH SEAFOOD, and we formed new memories together.
Thank you for coming to Washington, Marissa! I love you! Happy 30th birthday to us!
Wednesday, July 17, 2019 @ 6:59 AM
Beautiful! Shared time together is the best bonding with family and friends! One begins to feel a disconnect without it.
Sunday, August 4, 2019 @ 4:53 PM
Yes, you’re absolutely right. I appreciate the quality time with close family and friends the most! Thank you, Linda <3