Playing Tourist in my Own Back Yard – The Olympic Peninsula


Exploring the Olympic Peninsula

When I had some time off a few weeks ago, I took several day trips on the Olympic Peninsula.  It’s sad to say, but I really don’t get out and explore our own local area as often as I should.  I think I take it for granted that I can always do that when company comes to town, or I don’t have other plans, or it’s a nice sunny day and a friend might want to do something fun.  I decided that since I was off work and most other people were working, the weather was fabulous, that I would go exploring.

I live in Tacoma, so I started by heading over the Narrows Bridge towards Gig Harbor.  I always love the view from the Narrows.  Following Highway 16, I went past Gig Harbor and Port Orchard, turned onto Highway 3 going North at Bremerton.  I took a detour to drive through Poulsbo because I hadn’t been for years.  This is a pretty little town with lots of shops and restaurants and I filed it away for a day when I can make it my destination.  At Port Gamble I turned West onto Highway 104 and crossed the Hood Canal Bridge.  Hood Canal Bridge    Hood Canal Bridge

What a beautiful drive so far!  Incredible views of the water, lots of trees, and very little traffic.

I took another detour into Port Ludlow because I had heard about The Resort at Port Ludlow but had not seen it for myself.  I stopped in and the front desk people were kind enough to let me take a look around and even gave me keys to look in 3 different rooms.  This is a lovely resort right on a marina with beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains, Admiralty Inlet and the mouth of Hood Canal.  The Inn at Port Ludlow has just 37 rooms and suites; they have meeting space for up to 60, and would be the ideal setting for an intimate, waterside Wedding.  It would also be a great romantic weekend getaway location for guests from the Seattle / Tacoma area.  The Fireside Restaurant is warm and inviting, and weather permitting; you can sit out on the deck.      There is a beautiful lawn area on the water side of the resort with chairs and benches; I could see myself sitting out here enjoying the sun and salt air with a good book for a few hours.  One of the meeting rooms looks out onto this view; it would be hard for me to keep focused on business details while looking across this beautiful expanse of lawn.

The rooms are beautiful, with fireplaces, mini-fridge, and large bathrooms with jetted tubs, oversized robes and fabulous views.  I toured a suite that had a huge deck and fabulous view.  The bedroom itself was a little small, but the living area, huge bathroom, and incredible deck more than made up for it.  I also toured 2 Queen Rooms, one with a full bay view and one with a partial view.  These rooms were spacious with a seating area by the fireplace, and the bathroom could be opened up to look out into the room – opening it up even more.

Queen Suite

The staff was very friendly.  The Port Ludlow Golf Club is right there and they offer packages including golf.  They also offer spa treatments right in your guest room.  And the rates are very affordable, starting as low as $129 per night.

Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula

After my tour of The Inn at Port Ludlow, I headed up to Port Townsend.  The Wooden Boat Festival was going on that weekend, so the town was crowded.  I was fortunate to find a parking spot on the street for 2 hours, and set off on foot.  This is an historical town with beautiful architecture was founded in 1792; it is full of shops, restaurants, museums, parks and more.  I was pretty hungry by this time, and wanted to eat where I could look at the water.  I wandered into the Belmont, which was established in 1889 and has a restaurant and hotel. The food and service were very good, although the restaurant itself looked a little tired.  The view was fantastic, and I would recommend eating here if you’re visiting Port Townsend.

After lunch, I wandered around, in and out of shops, took some pictures of the fabulous old buildings, and was intrigued to find a couple of interesting little hotels.  The Swan Hotel is right on the marina and offers wonderful views of both the Olympic and Cascade mountains as well as sea views.  They were completely full so I wasn’t able to see the rooms, but from the outside it was very inviting.  Their sister hotel, The Bishop Victorian Hotel & Gardens is located a couple of blocks inland in the Downtown Historic District.  They, too, were full, but the owners were very inviting and gave me some information and history on both hotels.

Depending on the time of year you visit, you might see whales, bald eagles, and deer.  There are some great wineries in the area, for those wine connoisseurs out there.  There are numerous events and festivals happening throughout the year, including Farmers Markets.

I timed my drive so that I would hit rush hour in Bremerton on the way home.  My advice would be either plan to stay at least until after dinner, or even better spend the night or even a weekend.  You really need that much time to explore this area.

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A Day in Gig Harbor?


Have you been to Gig Harbor lately?

It’s a fun place to spend a sunny day or two.  There really is a lot to see and do in this charming little town.  You can stroll along the waterfront exploring the interesting shops and art galleries.  They have their Art Walk on the first Saturday of every month with spotlighted artists in the galleries.  You can spend most of the day just poking around, from the antique mall, to Java & Clay. to looking at the boats in the marina. to checking out the Harbor History Museum and much more.

If you want to get out on the water you might want to take a tour with Destiny Harbor Tours.  Captain Tom Drohan is an expert on the history of the area, and makes it fun and entertaining.  You will go out of Gig Harbor, under the Narrows Bridge.  Narrows Bridge - Close UpYou’ll also cruise by the interesting community of Salmon Beach and past Point Defiance Park before turning around and heading back to Gig Harbor.  If you’re lucky you might see some eagles Bald Eagleor harbor seals.

Back on land, you’re probably getting hungry.  If you’ve brought the kids, Kelly’s Espresso and Café is a great place to eat.  It’s bright and friendly with a varied menu so there’s something for everyone.  If you like Mexican food, El Pueblito is right across from the water on Harborside Avenue.  If it’s just the grownups, you will definitely want to go to The Tides and sit out on the deck of this historic eatery.  You might also want to venture up the hill away from downtown and check out The Wine Studio – a charming, warm and inviting wine bar and shop.  They have tastings on Friday night and Saturday afternoons.  You might also check out Gig Harbor’s own 7 Seas Brewery.  Both of these are located next to The Inn at Gig Harbor, a good choice if you decide to stay the night (which after tasting wine and beer might be a good idea).  You can book this hotel as well as the Best Western Plus Wesley Inn and Suites on my website.

There is a lot more to do here.  There are parks and beaches, which are always fun for the family.  You can drive out to Key Peninsula to visit Blue Willow Lavendar Farm. There is the Maritime Gig Festival in June, the Gig Harbor Food and Wine Festival in July and more.  Outdoor music in the park on Tuesdays and Movies in the Park on Fridays and Saturdays during the summer.  A good place to find all the happenings is at www.gigharborguide.com.

So get out and play tourist in your own Pacific Northwest.  I love to explore out area.  We are so blessed to live in such a beautiful place with so many exciting places to see and things to do.