Weekend Road Trip on the Olympic Peninsula
The Olympic Peninsula, with its snow capped mountains, lakes, beaches, a National Park, and rainforests, is one of the most diverse spots in Washington. We love taking day and weekend trips out to the peninsula and hiking the beautiful trails, seeing waterfalls, and walking the beaches. There’s no other place like it in Washington! Here’s our suggested itinerary for a weekend road trip on the Olympic Peninsula, which hits up some of our favorite spots, as well as popular spots we have yet to visit. Our travel philosophy is to see as much as we can in a short period of time, especially on a road trip, which is how we have structured this guide, so it’s really jam packed!
To make things easier, we are including the amount of hours driving and recommended amount of time for each stop to make sure you can squeeze it all in. Don’t let the hours driving scare you, driving on the peninsula is part of the experience! If you want to slow down and spend more time at each place, we recommend either cutting some of the stops that are less appealing to you or adding on an extra day and spreading it all out. It’s impossible to enjoy all the peninsula has to offer in 2 days, so we also included some additional activities if you want to extend your trip or take additional trips in the future.
Note: The hours driving numbers are assuming that Seattle is your starting and ending point.
Hours driving: 5.5
Leave in the morning to head towards the western coast of the peninsula. We suggest getting out the door by 7 AM at the latest!
Stop #1: Grab some coffee at Olympia Coffee Roasting Company (30 mins)
- We love this spot and always make a stop here on the way to the Peninsula.
- Tip: While in Olympia, pick up a picnic lunch at the store for later.
Stop #2: Ruby Beach (2 hours)
- Explore the beach and eat your picnic lunch. Try to visit at low tide if possible (you can check the tide schedule here)
Stop #3: Walk through the Hoh Rainforest (1-2 hours)
- Hoh Rainforest is one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. There are a couple short hikes you can do from the visitor’s center:
- Hall of the Mosses trail–0.8 miles
- Spruce Nature trail–1.2 miles
- Spend the rest of the day at Second Beach or Rialto Beach. If you’re doing well on time and it’s close to low tide, head to Rialto beach and walk to the Hole in the Wall, which is 3.8 miles round trip along the beach. If you’re running low on time and not there during low tide, Second Beach would be a better bet. It requires a 15-20 minute walk from the parking lot to the beach. Both are great places to watch the sunset!
Where to stay
Hours driving: 7-7.5
- If you’re staying at the cabin, yurt, or B&B above, breakfast is provided. If you’re camping, crack some eggs over a fire to start your morning.
- Try to get on the road between 7-8 AM to make sure you have enough time!
Stop #5: Cape Flattery (1 hour)
- This is one of our favorite stops on the Olympic Peninsula! It’s the Northwesternmost point of the contiguous U.S. and is so stunning. A quick 1.2 mile walk through the woods, with only a 219 ft elevation gain, brings you to a few viewpoints overlooking rock formations and the beautiful blue ocean. The drive out there is long, but scenic and worth it in our opinion!
- Note: This spot is maintained by the Makah Tribe and you have to purchase a recreation permit in advance. You find find where to purchase one here.
Stop #6: Lake Crescent (2 hours)
- Soak up the mountain and water views along the shore of Lake Crescent (park by the lodge). You can eat lunch here at the Lake Crescent Lodge Restaurant or bring a picnic lunch to eat on the beach.
- While you’re here, make the quick and easy 1.8 mile hike to Marymere Falls.
Stop #7: Hurricane Ridge (1 hour)
- Drive up to Hurricane Ridge for breathtaking views of the Olympic Mountains.
- If you are doing well on time and want to add a hike to this stop, Hurricane Hill is 3.1 miles and 797 ft elevation gain.
Stop #8: Dinner in Port Angeles at Next Door Gastropub.
- Running low on time? There are a lot of quick, fast food spots in Port Angeles.
Head back home. Depending on where “home” is, you have the option to drive the entire way or take a ferry part of the way. The ferry is a nice little break from the driving and a fun experience! You could also stay the night in Port Angeles if you’re feeling tired and don’t want to head home yet.
If you have extra time…
- Lake Cushman–drive around the lake, kayak, or explore the trails nearby
- Mount Ellinor–we recommend starting at the Upper Trailhead, which is 3.2 miles round trip and 2,444 ft elevation gain
- Murhut Falls— 1.6 miles, 250 ft elevation gain
- Lena Lake–7.2 miles, 1,300 ft elevation gain
- Quinault Lake/Rainforest
- Shi Shi Beach & Point of the Arches— 8.0 miles, 200 ft elevation gain. Requires a Makah Tribe pass.
- Mount Storm King–4.7 miles, 2,065 ft elevation gain.
- Sol Duc Falls Nature Trail–1.6 miles, 200 ft elevation gain
- Port Townsend— wander around this cute waterfront town. Hungry? Grab brunch at Blue Moose Cafe or Owl Spirit Cafe.