Washington's Olympic Peninsula is known for stunning natural beauty. It's an important destination on the northwest tip of the state. Port Angeles and the nearby community of Sequim (pronounced squim) are the most populous areas on the peninsula.
Located on the shores of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and shadowed by the Olympic Mountains, these towns are gateways to all the amazing water, forest, river, lake, and mountain activities that draw people to the peninsula. Visitors spend at least some time at the famed Olympic National Park.
Most attractions and activities in the area focus on the region's rugged environment and natural beauty. There are outdoor activities, from biking and golfing, to sea kayaking and beachcombing. Local attractions include lavender farms and shops, places to delve into local history, art galleries where you can find Native art, and cooperatives featuring local artisans.
Long, flat, and narrow, with sand-and-pebble beaches and abundant shorebirds, the Dungeness Spit provides a truly unique experience. You can hike the length of the spit, exploring and enjoying the Strait of Juan de Fuca and San Juan Islands views from all directions.
Hardy individuals can trek all the way to the New Dungeness Lighthouse (an 11-mile round trip), one of the Northwest's oldest lighthouses. But you needn't go much farther than the parking area to see eagles high in the exposed branches of the trees.
You can also have fun picnicking, hiking, and exploring the Dungeness Recreation Area, located at the base of Dungeness Spit.
Visit the Olympic National Park
The Olympic National Park Visitor Center, 5 miles southeast of Port Angeles, is at the park entrance on the road up to the popular and scenic Hurricane Ridge. It's the first stop for visitors to the park.
Exhibits and a great film provide an orientation to all the things you can see and experience inside the Olympic National Park. Rangers are available to advise you on activities, road and trail conditions, and backcountry requirements. Two nature trails can be accessed from the visitor center.
Most visitors drive the 12 winding miles to Hurricane Ridge. Once you reach the top, you'll find amazing views of snowcapped mountains and, in good weather, vibrant sunsets. Fairly tame deer wander by and graze in the meadow right off the parking lot. There is a visitors' center and short trails where you can stretch your legs.
With access to miles of coastline, rivers, and forests, the Port Angeles area is packed with opportunities for outdoor play. Local bays and the Dungeness Spit provide great waters for sea kayaking. You can head out on your own or take a tour with a local outfitter, like Adventures Through Kayaking.
If you want to get another view of Port Angeles in the shadows of the Olympic Mountains, try walking or biking the Ediz Hook spit. You access the route just after driving past the paper mill. On a good day, you will also see Mt. Baker.
The communities of Port Angeles and Sequim both host many fun annual festivals, giving you more reasons to plan that Olympic Peninsula getaway.
In May, take in the Juan de Fuca Festival of the Arts in Port Angeles. Celebrate the 4th of July in Port Angeles or tour the lavender fields during the Sequim Lavender Festival. Sequim is known as "The Lavender Capital of the World" and invites you to the Lavender farms and lavender shops year round. The fields bloom in the summer and, if you want to avoid crowds, you can visit before or after the big festival week.
Port Angeles hosts the Clallam County Fair each August.
The Olympic Coast Discovery Center is the official visitor center for the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, which extends along the north and west sides of the Olympic Peninsula. This is the place to learn about all the things you can see and do within the marine sanctuary, as well as the science and history of this stretch of coastline.
The Olympic Coast Discovery Center is located in Port Angeles next to the Ferry Terminal.
Delve into Local Art
With inspiration found in every direction, the Olympic Peninsula is home to a thriving arts community. Artists' work is showcased in a number of local galleries, including the Northwest Native Expressions Gallery off Highway 101, which has beautiful crafts, art prints, carvings, and gift items created by the people of the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe. While there, be sure and wander down to the carving shed if there is totem pole carving going on.
The Feiro Marine Life Center provides a fun opportunity to learn about marine science and local marine life through exhibits and special programs.
Visitors who stop by can see live specimens of a number of the critters who call the Strait of Juan de Fuca home, from a giant Pacific octopus to colorful sea stars.
Educational programs are available for kids from grade school to high school age. The Feiro Marine Life Center is located on the Port Angeles City Pier. After visiting, be sure and walk out on the pier and watch the locals crabbing.
There are a handful of wineries and wine cellars on the Olympic Peninsula. Many offer tours, tastings, and special events throughout the year. Harbinger Winery, Eaglemount Wine & Cider, and Sorensen Cellars are among those that have tasting rooms and wine shops.
Right in Port Angeles, inside The Landing complex on the waterfront, you'll find restaurants, a wine bar and wine shop and a variety of shops.
You can't miss the charming old Dungeness Schoolhouse, white with red trim and a cupola, that houses Sequim's local history museum. The highlight of the museum's collection is the Manis Mastodon, a significant local archaeological find. In addition to tusks and bones, visitors can see murals and photo and video documentation of the 1977 discovery.
The museum also houses an art gallery representing local artists.
This privately-owned wildlife facility in Sequim can be experienced on a driving tour or a self-paced walking tour. The driving tour, which you take in your own enclosed vehicle, provides you a chance to see elk, bison, yak, rhinoceros, and even lions and tigers and bears.
On the walking tour, you can see one section of the farm as well as the petting zoo. The Olympic Game Farm began in the 1950s as a compound for animal actors that appeared in Disney movies.
It is now a home for a range of animals including retired animal actors, those that have been rescued, and animals from overpopulated zoo habitats.