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Weekend Road Trip on the Olympic Peninsula

A weekend road trip on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Explore beaches, rainforests, snow-capped mountains, lakes, and waterfalls all in one trip! | Olympic Peninsula Itinerary | #OlympicPeninsula #OlympicNationalPark #TravelGuide #PNW

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.

PS: If you’re looking for more ideas of things to do in Washington, check out all of our Washington blogs & guides

 

Saturday

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

Stop #4: Second Beach or Rialto Beach (2-3 hours)

  • 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!

Dinner options:

Where to stay

 

Sunday

Hours driving: 7-7.5

Breakfast options:

  • 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…

ACTIVITIES

 


Ready for an Olympic Peninsula adventure?

​Pin this guide to help plan your weekend road trip on the Olympic Peninsula!

A weekend road trip on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington state. Explore beaches, rainforests, snow-capped mountains, lakes, and waterfalls all in one trip! | Olympic Peninsula Itinerary | #OlympicPeninsula #OlympicNationalPark #TravelGuide #PNW

 

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6 Comments

  1. Elise on September 11, 2018 at 3:18 am

    My husband and I plan on using this guide to celebrate our one year anniversary at the end of the month! Thank you for making it so detailed! We can’t wait!

    • Kathryn Frazer on September 11, 2018 at 4:24 am

      Hi Elise! This makes us SO happy! 🙂 We hope y’all have the best anniversary getaway and please let us know if you have any questions before you go!

      • Elise on September 25, 2018 at 2:51 pm

        I actually do! I just checked the Hoh website and looks like it’s closed for major road repairs 🙁 They recommend visiting the Quinault Valley. I’m looking on google maps to see where we can squeeze that in, do you have any ideas or recommendations for visiting that area? Weather looks like it’s supposed to be gorgeous this weekend too, yay!

        Keep the guides coming, we hope to the the northern Cascades next!

        • Kathryn Frazer on September 25, 2018 at 4:53 pm

          Hi Elise! Happy to help! We’re so bummed to hear that the Hoh Rainforest is closed for a while. 🙁 You’ll definitely need to make another trip out that way to experience it!

          We haven’t spent much time at Lake Quinault besides driving right by the lodge area, but I do hear it is really pretty! There is also a rainforest there and seems like the hiking there is relatively flat and easy, similar to the Hoh Rainforest. One trail that looks like it may be nice is the Pony Bridge Trail, which is 5 miles, but low elevation gain, so we imagine it would be pretty quick. However, if you are able to swing it, we would recommend checking out Sol Duc Falls instead of Lake Quinault. Here are a couple different itinerary options for you!

          Option 1:
          Day 1:

          1. Ruby Beach
          2. Second Beach or Rialto Beach
          3. Cape Flattery

          Day 2:

          1. Sol Duc Falls
          2. Lake Crescent/Marymere Falls
          3. Hurricane Ridge

          Option 2:
          Day 1:

          1. Lake Quinault- Pony Bridge Trail
          2. Ruby Beach
          3. Second Beach or Rialto Beach

          Day 2:

          1. Cape Flattery
          2. Lake Crescent/Marymere Falls
          3. Hurricane Ridge

          We hope this helps! 🙂 Let us know if you have any other questions!

  2. Kaitlyn on October 19, 2019 at 4:56 pm

    This looks like so much fun! I will be visiting the area in January– do you know if this same itinerary and route be feasible for the winter in terms of roads being open and whatnot?

    • Kathryn Frazer on October 19, 2019 at 5:01 pm

      Hi Kaitlyn! The peninsula is a blast and the best part is that it’s accessible year round! The only thing on this list that may not be accessible is Hurricane Ridge. They do shut down the road depending on the conditions, but if the roads are okay, you can go up there and snowshoe (or just take in the views!). According to the NPS, “during the winter season, Hurricane Ridge Road is open to uphill traffic from 9:00am to 4:00pm, Friday through Sunday and some holidays, weather and road conditions permitting. All vehicles are required to carry tire chains and must be below the Heart O’ the Hills entrance station by 5:00pm during the winter season.” They have a Twitter account that posts updates about the road that would be super helpful to keep an eye on: https://twitter.com/hrwinteraccess. We hope this helps, let us know if you have any other questions!

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