Must-Visit Spots on the Olympic Peninsula

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is one of the most unique and ruggedly beautiful areas the state has to offer. From a dense rainforest to rocky beaches and quaint coastal towns, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy. If you get the opportunity to explore the Olympic Peninsula for yourself, here are some must-visit spots to include on your itinerary!

Hole-in-the-Wall at Rialto Beach

Hole-in-the-Wall at Rialto Beach is an incredible rock feature that shows you firsthand just how uniquely beautiful Washington’s coast can be. Rialto Beach is located within Olympic National Park, so be sure to pack your national park pass, or you’ll have to pay $30 per car to enter. The Hole-in-the-Wall feature is roughly 1.5 miles from the Rialto Beach parking area (so just about 3 miles roundtrip).


Note: this trail becomes inaccessible at high tide, so checking the tide schedule is key!


From the parking area, head north along the rocky shoreline toward the towering rocks ahead. Soon, you’ll catch a glimpse of the incredible, naturally-formed arch known as Hole-in-the-Wall. If the tide is low enough, you may also see a number of tidal pools with sea creatures like starfish and barnacles. Overhead, keep an eye out for a variety of seabirds and the occasional eagle, and don’t forget to check the ocean for signs of otters or even whales.
Hole-in-the-Wall offers some stunning views for minimal effort, making it a great option for families and hikers of all experience levels.

Hoh Rainforest

I was shocked when I first learned that one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. was located in Washington state, and seeing it for yourself is a truly amazing experience. The Hoh Rainforest is also located in Olympic National Park, and is easily accessible from the town of Forks, another popular destination. There are a number of hiking options to explore the Hoh Rainforest, though I would recommend the Hall of Mosses and the Hoh River Trail.
The Hall of Mosses Trail is an incredible hike considering it is less than one mile in length and will take you through towering trees and, you guessed it, thick blankets of moss. If you only have time to do one hike, or you want to get the most bang for your buck, the Hall of Mosses Trail should be your first choice.
If you have a little more time to explore, the Hoh River Trail is another great option. Though the trail is 18.5 miles one-way, ending at Blue Glacier, it only takes about one mile from the Visitor Center to reach the Hoh River itself. I recommend at least making the trek to the river because the water is crystal clear, flowing directly from the Hoh Glacier on Mount Olympus.

La Push

The village of La Push, located within the Quileute Reservation, is a gorgeous spot for views of forested coastal islands and dramatic sea stacks. The village itself is small, though it does offer some food and lodging options, and the area of First Beach in particular is worth a stop for views of the Pacific and a chance to see some wildlife (we saw a young eagle on our last visit). These beaches aren’t like the ones you may be used to seeing in California or Florida: they’re typically very rocky and often scattered with driftwood of all shapes and sizes. First Beach is also a popular destination for surfers, and though I’m not much of a surfer myself, it is fun to watch and admire from the shore.

Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is another fascinating natural feature located in Kalaloch, just south of La Push. The Tree of Life can be found just off the 101 Highway, near the Kalaloch Campground. Once at the campground, simply walk down the stairs and bear right along the beach. Soon, you will see the precariously perched tree for yourself. The roots of the tree actually form a cave, though I would caution visitors from spending too much time climbing under and around the tree, as erosion is clearly taking its toll. Though you may not spend an extended period of time at the Tree of Life, it’s a truly unique sight that is well worth a detour in my mind.

I’d also like to mention that while the town of Forks may be worth a stop for mega Twilight fans (hey, I don’t judge!), it is very small and quiet, and isn’t a must-visit in my opinion. The town does offer some easy access to fishing spots which may appeal to some, and it can serve as a good home base for visiting all of the spots I’ve listed above. When we first visited the Peninsula for a few nights in 2020, we camped at 3 Rivers Resort in Forks, which was a very comfortable and budget-friendly option!

I hope you found this guide helpful and use it as a source of inspiration when planning your visit to the Olympic Peninsula. Keep in mind, there are many other towns and areas worth visiting that I didn’t mention here, so make sure you do your research and visit as many spots as you can!

A Moody Day in the PNW

I’m finally back in Washington for another visit and decided to take advantage of the cloudy, moody weather that greeted me the first day by doing some of my favorite PNW activities.

I started the day by visiting several different coffee stands and enjoying some specialty drinks. If you didn’t know, I run an Instagram called @pnw_coffeestands where I feature a new coffee stand around the Pacific Northwest every week. Since I’m not currently living in the PNW, I have to visit loads every time I visit so that I have plenty of content throughout the year!

Pro tip: make sure to do some basic research before you pop into a coffee stand or you may find yourself at a bikini coffee stand, which might not be your cup of tea! Oftentimes the stands will say “family-friendly” to let you know the baristas will be fully clothed!

After loading up on plenty of caffeine, I made my way over to Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing. Ivar’s is an old-school seafood chain with a variety of locations throughout Washington that vary from walk-up seafood bar to sit-down dining. The Mukilteo Landing location is one of my favorites because you get fantastic views of the Puget Sound. On a cloudy day, nothing is more comforting than enjoying a cup of warm clam chowder and watching the ferries go by.

After lunch, I strolled over to a nearby pier and watched some gentlemen fishing and crabbing. You should always keep your eyes peeled when you’re near the water because you may catch glimpses of sea life such as starfish or seals!

Pro tip: bring plenty of layers, and always carry a good rain jacket with you. Even though I was fine in a short sleeve shirt during lunch, I quickly had to layer on another jacket as I strolled by the water.

Next up, I walked over to the Mukilteo Lighthouse, a quaint little park featuring an over 100-year-old lighthouse that still works to this day. This park is a gorgeous little spot to stroll through and catch some amazing waterfront views.

From the lighthouse park you can easily make your way to the docks and continue your stroll along the shoreline. It’s not uncommon to see seagulls feasting on things like mussels and crabs, and I love watching the sailboats head out onto the Sound.

After a cozy and relaxing afternoon in Mukilteo I made my way up to Barclay Lake for a quick early evening hike, though you’ll have to stay tuned for that photo diary!

If you ever find yourself in Washington and want to experience some classic moody PNW vibes, I highly recommend enjoying some seafood along the Sound. Let me know your favorite ways to take advantage of cloudy PNW weather, and stay tuned for my next post!