I went somewhere new this year for 4th of July! Usually we go to Lake Tahoe with our son and enjoy all the festivities that wonderful location has to offer for that very special day of year. This year my son went on an immersion trip out of the country, which left my husband and I asking ourselves if we wanted to do something new too. We selected to go to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic National Park. We were ready for some new memories!
We flew into Seattle and rented a car and drove out to the peninsula. We chose Sequim for our base camp. Sequim is centrally located between the national park, Port Townsend, and Port Angeles. It is a charming little hamlet that sits out on a sunny bluff overlooking the Strait of Juan de Fuca, which oddly receives no more than 16 inches of rain a year. Who new that Washington had a banana belt! Up in the mountains above Sequim, annual rainfall totals can reach 120 inches or more. Sequim has a charming downtown area with shops and restaurants. Due to Sequim’s fantastic weather many lavender farms call Sequim home as well as the Olympic Cellars Winery. Their wines utilize varietals that grow exceptionally well in the unique coastal environment in Sequim.
We selected a lovely Bed & Breakfast named Sea Cliff Gardens, which is owned by innkeepers Bill and Laura Segil. Sea Cliff Gardens sits on a couple of very beautifully landscaped acres on the bluff overlooking the Strait, which is the main waterway coming into Puget Sound. The property is bursting with flowers, mature trees, shade gardens, water features, garden art, and outdoor furniture, which sits out on the bluff where guests can gaze out over the fantastic ocean view. My husband and I enjoyed heading to the bluff in the evening with a glass of wine to watch the beautiful sunsets. There was a resident bald eagle that would soar over our heads each day while fishing the waters below our bluff. So awesome!
The Inn was beautifully decorated in a Victorian style with many antiques and had all the amenities that any guest could desire. Each morning a beautiful table was set in the dining room where the guests would gather for a delicious gourmet breakfast prepared by Chef Lydia. Chef Lydia would first serve fresh fruit and sweet bread, followed by a delicious egg dish accompanied by bacon or sausage. Chef Lydia always topped off her hearty breakfast with her delicious chocolate truffles. Coffee, tea, and juice were served in abundance as well. We really enjoyed visiting with the other guests each morning and learn about their travels and far off locations that they had traveled from to now be joined with us on the Olympic Peninsula.
While in the Sequim area we visited Purple Haze Lavender Farm. Early July is the perfect time of year to visit lavender farms because the fields are in first bloom. First bloom is the most spectacular bloom of the year…the plants are shaped perfectly. By the end of the month, lavender farms will shear all their plants and process the flowers for their oil. Purple Haze has an adorable shop where they sell all of their lavender products such as soaps, bath wash, balms, moisturizers, essential lavender oil, etc., as well as culinary items such as herbs de Provence, honey from their bees, and jams. They even sold homemade ice cream flavored with their lavender. The flavors change daily.
We also visited the historical and quaint town of Port Townsend. Daily, ferries arrive in Port Townsend from Seattle and beyond with visitors to the Olympic Peninsula. Port Townsend has many beautiful old Victorian homes, which are perched on the hills above the downtown with a view of Puget Sound. The downtown area consists of about four blocks of shops, hotels, and restaurants. Something for everyone! We chose to have lunch at the marina at Dock Side Café. We sat on the deck since it was a sunny day, stared out over the Sound, and watched the boats coming in and out of the harbor. We had some fantastic steamed clams and mussels with garlic bread. I was so hungry when my lunch arrived I didn’t think to take a photo until after I had polished them off! Sorry. They were delicious!
We took a long walk along the beach at Fort Worden State Park. It was beautiful to walk along the peaceful beach with the Sound only gently lapping waves onto the sand. From the Point on the peninsula, we had a great view of the outer islands. The day was fairly clear and we could see Victoria Island in Canada, Whidbey Island, and the San Juan Islands. An old lighthouse is located at the very tip of the peninsula, which is on the list of National Historic Places. It is called Point Wilson Lighthouse.
On the 4th of July Port Angeles was where most of the big festivities was located. Fireworks are legal in the state of Washington. We saw numerous firework stands while we were driving. In the early evening, Port Angeles had an old fashioned parade in the downtown area close to the bay. After the parade, the city had a band play. People of all ages enjoyed listening to the music and dancing while waiting for the fireworks show. Everyone who came out for the show sat around the walking trail that follows the bay for several miles. Everyone was sure to have a great view. Before the “Official” fireworks show started, we could see numerous fireworks around the bay. I imagine many people were having parties on the beaches and shooting off their “legal” fireworks. Unheard of for a Californian! And not small ones either; quite big ones! But when Port Angeles’ show began it was huge and spectacular! All in all, it was a great and memorable 4th of July!
While staying in Sequim, we also visited the Olympic National Park. Sequim is only 30-45 minutes from the north end of the national park. I will be posting a separate blog about the national park later this month.
I would happily go back to this area again in a heartbeat! I really enjoyed its charm, unique points of interest, beautiful landscape, bald eagles, and magnificent water views. Where else can you visit the mountains and the ocean at the same time…only in the Pacific Northwest! I left relaxed and wanting more. There is so much to do in this area. Please go visit and enjoy the great outdoors.