Last-Minute Washington Coast Beach Getaways
Written by Lauren Braden
Go Where It’s Green: Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rain Forest
Explore with your little ones an enchanted forest full of mystery and intrigue, where moss-draped cedars are tall enough to pierce the sky.
The mysterious aura and near-constant drizzle of Washington’s Hoh Rain Forest explain why it was chosen as the primary setting for the popular Twilight novels.
Vampire tourism has abated somewhat, but the lush rain forest and wild, rocky beaches are still very much here, waiting to be explored.
DO . . .
In this wild corner of Washington, it’s all about communing with nature. Make sure the whole family has rain gear and waterproof shoes handy; about 170 inches of rain falls here each year. (Also check out nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit.)
Hike to tide pools. Near the tribal town of La Push, there are three beaches: First, Second and Third. First Beach is crowded, and Third Beach requires a lengthy hike. Second Beach is just right. Warm up your legs on the .7-mile hike through beautiful woods down to Second Beach. Much of this trail is made up of lengths of boardwalk or constructed trail steps, and there are a few puddles to navigate on rainy days. Assist small children while climbing over the oodles of driftwood to reach the broad stretch of sand. When the tide is high, there won’t be much beach to enjoy, but low tide pulls back the curtain on purple and orange ochre sea stars, spiky sea urchins and giant anemones.
Walk among giants. Take a few steps from your car at the Olympic National Park Hoh Visitors Center and look up ― you might spot a herd of elk congregating under a cathedral of trees. Moss-draped hemlock, monstrous Sitka spruce and towering red cedars line self-guided nature trails here. For a longer adventure, head up the flat and well-maintained Hoh River Trail toward Five Mile Island. Hike for a mile or two, admiring the towering giants all around you, then turn around and retrace your steps back to the visitors center. Entrance fee: $15 per vehicle (good for seven consecutive days at any Olympic National Park entrance). 360-565-3130
Soak up minerals. The Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is just 40 miles from Forks, but a soak in the bubbling hot springs here will transport you even farther away. While the setting is rustic, the four hot spring pools and three wading pools are well maintained and kept scrupulously clean. Admission is $12.25 for adults, $9.25 for children 4–12 and free for kids 3 and younger. There is also a $15-per-vehicle entrance fee (good for seven consecutive days at any Olympic National Park entrance). 866-476-5382
SLEEP . . .
Olympic Suites Inn, Forks. Nothing fancy here, but the spacious apartment-like suites make this affordable motel a nice home base for exploring the rain forest and coast. There’s ample room to spread out hiking gear, dry rain-soaked clothes and cook dinner. Rates: $95–$110, plus $10 to use the kitchen. Pets welcome, $10 per pet. 800-262-3433; olympicsuitesinn.com
Three Rivers Resort, Forks. Rent a cozy cabin, with a full kitchen, a short drive away from the beaches at La Push. The resort cafe serves tasty burgers, crispy fries, pizza and the like. Cabins sleep between two and six guests. Rates: $93. Pets welcome for $15. 360-374-5300; threriversresortandguideservice.com
Rent a real log cabin. For the ultimate family getaway, book the Rialto Beach House, which sleeps seven. Though not on the beach, this impressive log cabin sits on a quiet, wooded lot on the Quileute River. Rates: $250 per night, three-night minimum, 360-460-5483; rialtobeachhouse.com
Pitch a tent. For $12 a night, you can stake out a little swatch of rain forest to sleep in. Olympic National Park’s Hoh Campground boasts 88 sites along the river and features family campfire programs in the summer. An alternate park campground is Mora, set along the Quillayute River with 94 sites. All campsites are first-come, first-served. nps.gov/olym/planyourvisit/campgrounds.htm
EAT . . .
This region probably won’t win any foodie awards, so pack a stocked cooler and make use of your cabin kitchen or camp stove. A few local eateries will hit the spot for casual dining. Try the Three Rivers Resort near La Push (see above) for burgers. In the town of Forks, Pacific Pizza makes a decent pizza pie, and the Forks Coffee Shop serves up diner food with a side of logger ambiance.