Exploring Washington State’s Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park - Provided by Maitland Manor

Olympic National Park on Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is an adventure that deserves a spot on your travel short list. It’s regularly named among the top national parks in the world by travel writers, explorers, and experts. Travel+Leisure magazine readers voted it one of the Top 15 National Parks in the United States. It’s the perfect place for LGBTQ travelers looking for an escape that’s easy to get to, welcoming, and accessible for people of all abilities, but still feels like a world class passport to a million acres of unspoiled wilderness.

Olympic National Park comprises the  bulk the Olympic Peninsula, about 2 hours drive Northwest from SeaTac Airport and the city of Seattle, making it a prime location to visit with easy access. And there’s enough to do here to create an impressive itinerary in and around the park from a single central hub. The Olympic Peninsula includes not only Olympic National Park, but also Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, Olympic National Forest, and the Olympic National Marine Sanctuary.

Getting Around Olympic National Park

You’ll need a car, as this park is huge, and not easily accessible with public transportation (although there are some options for that). From the airport, the easiest route is driving south along I-5 through Tacoma and heading west on WA-16. If you’re exploring all the wonderful LGBTQ hotspots in Seattle first (like world-famous Capitol Hill and the Broadway Market), then the best way is to take the ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island.

Experience the famous Washington ferry system in action. No reservations are needed as the ferry holds 300 cars and leaves about once per hour.

Exploring the Park

Now that you’re out on the Olympic Peninsula, you’ll want to stay about a week to explore everything you can see and do, and take full advantage of the unusual diversity of the Park’s multiple and varied ecosystems. First , unlike most National Parks, Olympic does not have a main gate, and you cannot drive through the Park.

Instead, there are gates dotted around the perimeter of the Park, with access to multiple trailheads at each entry point. The most popular spots are: Hurricane Ridge (alpine mountains), Lake Crescent and Sol Duc Falls (glacial lakes and waterfalls in the rainforest), Hoh Rainforest (location of the quietest square foot in America), and Rialto Beach (wild Pacific Coast). The park is open year-round, but access to some places is limited in winter.

What’s Nearby?

Outside of the National Park, you’ll definitely want to take in the Dungeness Spit (the longest natural sand spit in the Western Hemisphere), Cape Flattery (the northwestern-most point of the contiguous United States), take a day trip by ferry to Victoria B.C., and explore some of the county and state parks that are less visited but no less spectacular.

There are 4 primary towns on the Olympic Peninsula: Port Townsend (a Victorian arts seaport), Sequim (the lavender capital of North America), Forks (of Twilight fame and gateway to the Hoh Rainforest and Rialto Beach), and Port Angeles (the largest town in the area and closest to the most popular places to visit in the area).

Port Angeles is a great location to use as your “home base” during your visit as it’s centrally located to everything the Peninsula and Park have to offer.

Where to Stay

LGBTQ-friendly Maitland Manor is an exceptional boutique B&B in downtown Port Angeles within easy  walking distance of the waterfront, and LGBTQ-owned Domaine Madeleine is an intimate luxury inn located on a waterfront bluff just outside the city.

Maitland Manor:

Domaine Madeleine

Both offer comfortable accommodations, easily accessible locations, all the amenities you need to explore the area, and a welcoming environment for LGBTQ travelers, including couples and solo travelers. Domaine Madeleine also welcomes pets.

Visit Maitland Manor | Visit Domaine Madeline

Each inn provides comprehensive, up-to-date day trip itineraries to ensure you see everything the area has to offer. Depending on the season, you’ll encounter extraordinarily lush green rainforests (March-May and October-November), wildflowers (June-August), wildlife (year-round, but especially September-October), leaf-peeping (late September to early October), solitude and winter sports (November-February), a variety of renowned festivals that vary by season, and romance and adventure year round. Also of note, Port Angeles is home to the longest running and one of the leading annual transgender conferences, Esprit, held in May every year.

Canterbury Inn – Gay Friendly Hotel in Ocean Shores, Washington

Canterbury Inn

BEST CONDO-STYLE BEACH HOTEL

The Canterbury Inn is a condominium style hotel in Ocean Shores, along Washington’s beautiful Pacific Coast.

Voted one of the best vacation getaways in Washington, Ocean Shores offers six miles of sandy beaches, twenty-three miles of interconnecting freshwater canals and a charming beach town where you can explore and enjoy some great shopping.

Everyone comes here for the ocean in any season. Enjoy:

* Beach combing
* Flying a kite
* Horseback riding
* Clamming
* Enjoying sunsets over the Pacific

Our freshwater canals are ideal for kayaking, water skiing, and fishing, or even for biking along on a beautiful afternoon. They even run through our local golf course.

See the Canterbury Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Olympic Peninsula Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Olympic Peninsula Bucket List – 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Bucket List - 2TravelDads

The Olympic Peninsula is amazing. I think it should be considered one of the seven wonders of the world even though it’s such a big region and not just one Wonder. This is our bucket list of the 13 most epic sites or activities on the Olympic Peninsula Washington.

As you’re planning your own time on the Olympic Peninsula, feel free to reorder these however make sense for you. There are of course more than 13 epic sites on the Olympic Peninsula bucket list but these take the cake and it cannot be missed when you travel the OP.

How to Get to the Olympic Peninsula

I read an article that said there are two ways to get to the Olympic Peninsula. I laughed out loud for a long time because it was so incorrect. There are twelve different ways to get to the Olympic Peninsula, so whoever said there are only two ways was extremely wrong.

You can take five different ferries to the Olympic Peninsula, and depending on your itinerary and starting point, any may be the right option for you. The five Washington State Ferry routes that sail to the OP are:

  • Seattle -> Bremerton
  • Seattle -> Bainbridge Island
  • West Seattle -> Southworth
  • Edmonds -> Kingston
  • Whidbey Island -> Port Townsend

By Chris and Rob – Full Story at the 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Gay Travel Resources

Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park – 2TravelDads

BLOG - Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park - 2TravelDads

When we’re not lounging on a Florida beach in the hot sun or gallivanting the globe, we love to hike locally. Local, to us, is anything within a few hours’ drive of Seattle. One of our favorite local activities is hiking in Olympic National Park. It’s such an interesting place, with beaches, lowland rainforests, snow-capped peaks, and sweeping views from terrifying ridges. If you’re visiting Seattle hiking Hurricane Ridge is a great idea as it’s one of the closest access points to the Park.

I think most people in the Pacific Northwest will tell you that no visit to the Seattle area is complete without going hiking. There are tons and tons of options, but we truly prefer and will direct visitors to either Mt Rainier National Park or Olympic National Park. Both can be done as day trips or long weekends. Since we live closer, we more often go hiking in Olympic National Park and hiking at Hurricane Ridge is unforgettable every time.

Locale of Hurricane Ridge

As you’re driving on Highway 101 looping around the Olympic Peninsula, you must go through Sequim and Port Angeles. Although the towns themselves might not grab your eye immediately, they’re worth investing a day in…but we’re talking about hiking, not playing tourist.

So, you’re driving through downtown PA and you see a sign for Hurricane Ridge and you turn. You instantly start heading up hill. You’ll wind past the Port Angeles Olympic National Park Visitor Center, up through a few tunnels and keep going up out of the forest. All of the sudden you’re driving on the side of a mountain with little to no shelter and you keep going up. Eventually the road flattens out and you’re in a parking lot on the top of the mountain. Weird and beautiful..

By Chris and Rob – Full Story at the 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Gay Travel Resources

Olympic National Park’s Ruby Beach – 2TravelDads

Olympic National Park's Ruby Beach - 2TravelDads

Does anybody think of Washington State as a beach destination? Not hardly, but that doesn’t mean that we don’t have the most beautiful beaches around. True, totally missing the palm trees, but we make up for it in other ways. Of all we’ve been to, the most beautiful beach in Washington is for sure Ruby Beach in Olympic National Park.

What makes Ruby Beach so awesome and dramatic? It’s the stacks, the weathered wood, the wildlife, the perfection of it all. We’ve got the scoop for how to visit and have an unforgettable time at the most beautiful beach in Washington. And if you’re lucky, maybe you’ll find some of the red rocks and garnets that give Ruby Beach its name.

HOW TO GET TO RUBY BEACH

One of the things that makes Ruby Beach the most beautiful beach in Washington is its remote location. Located just over three hours from Seattle and a little more than 2 hours from Olympia, it’s not exactly an impromptu day trip. If you’re making the trek that far you should plan on spending a few days both at the beach and in the rainforest.

Yes, Ruby Beach is very near both the Quinault and Hoh Rainforest areas of Olympic National Park, either of which is easy to add to your trip to Ruby Beach. See, already you’ve started forming an awesome travel plan encompassing beaches, forests and more. Check out our Olympic Peninsula road trip itinerary to get some more ideas!

Tip: a weekend trip is plenty of time to do Ruby Beach, as well as the beaches of Kalaloch and La Push. If you can do three nights, that’s really best because then you can add in the rainforests to your plans and maybe even some hiking at Hurricane Ridge.

By Chris and Rob – Full Story at the 2TravelDads

Olympic Peninsula Gay Travel Resources

Leavenworth, Washington – 2TravelDads

We get a lot of questions about the best things to do in Leavenworth, Washington, as it’s kind of a mystery to people who haven’t grown up here. Leavenworth is the perfect destination for enjoying the mild PNW summers in the mountains, the beautiful snowy season along the Wenatchee River, and for getting your Oktoberfest on in the fall. There are countless things to do in any season, but this is the ONLY guide you’ll ever need for planning an amazing trip

Leavenworth, WA is a top destination for Seattleites and people visiting the Pacific Northwest.  There are lots of reasons to love it and even more for why you should visit, so we’ll help you find one that suits yours or your family’s travel style. These are the best things to do in Leavenworth in every season.

LEAVENWORTH’S HISTORY (REAL QUICK!)

It’s cute.  It’s quaint.  It’s manufactured.  Huh?  Yep!  There’s a great story behind the small Bavarian village at the foot of the Cascade Mountains.  

Once upon a time, Leavenworth, WA was a logging town that was failing.  As the jobs left and economy fell, the town hired a PR firm to save it from turning into a ghost town.  They all worked together, refaced most of the buildings with stereotypical Bavarian façades, added lots of fun character touches, changed many business approaches and created a new destination:  Little Bavaria.  It’s amazing.  The town is adorable and had you not known the history, you might think that it was historically an actual Bavarian settlement.  

By Chris and Rob – Full Story at the 2TravelDads

Eastern Slope Gay Travel Resources

Canterbury Inn – Gay Friendly Hotel in Ocean Shores, Washington

BEST CONDO-STYLE BEACH HOTEL

The Canterbury Inn is a condominium style hotel located along Washington’s Pacific Coast.

Voted one of the best vacation getaways in Washington, Ocean Shores offers six miles of sandy beach, 23 miles of interconnecting fresh water canals and a quaint beach town to shop and explore.

The ocean is the big draw, no matter the season. Visitors enjoy beach combing, horseback riding, clamming, kite flying or just watching the sunset over the Pacific. Our fresh water canals provide the perfect spot to kayak, water ski, and fish, to bike around and they even come into play on the golf course.

Our units range in size from studios to two bedrooms and each are individually decorated. Each features living room areas, flat screen TVs, and kitchens — most have fireplaces too.

See the Canterbury Inn Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Olympic Peninsula Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

Whidwood On Whidbey Island – Gay Owned Puget Sound Bed & Breakfast

Whidwood On Whidbey Island - Gay Owned Puget Sound Bed & Breakfast

Come visit us at Whidwood on Whidbey Island, a log house hideaway near historic Coupeville on the Puget Sound’s beautiful Whidbey Island, Washington. Explore island shops, art galleries, beautiful parks, gardens and beaches, or spend the afternoon at the inn in our hot tub, reading a book in our library, or relaxing in our sunroom. Everyone is welcome here.

Central Whidbey Island is in the “Olympic Rainshadow”, behind the Olympic Mountains where we only get about half as much rain as Seattle. Whidwood is a great base for outdoor activities, including hiking, cycling, whale watching, kayaking, beach combing, horseback riding, birdwatching, and much more.

Whidbey Island is also a great place for people who enjoy gardens, with more than a dozen nurseries on the island, many with beautiful display gardens, including the renowned Meerkerk Rhododendron Garden.

See the Whidwood On Whidbey Island Expanded Listing on Purple Roofs Here

Whidwood On Whidbey Island Gay Friendly Bed and Breakfasts, Hotels, and Vacation Rentals

 

Seattle’s Chihuly Glass Museum – Keep Calm and Wander

Chihuly Glass Museum

There’s an amazing world waiting for you inside the Chihuly Glass Museum (properly known as Chihuly Garden and Glass). This is a very unique museum that you’ve never ever seen anywhere in your travels. Who knew that glass can be such a wonderful medium to express human emotions and visions?

WHO IS CHIHULY? Honestly, I’ve never heard the name, Dale Chihuly, before – until I read a travel guide while I was on the train to Seattle from Vancouver. Dale Chihuly is a sculptor who makes life-size figures of everything made out of glass. Apparently, he’s the best in his field that his works are worth thousands of dollars, if not millions. Make sure to find the video room and watch the short clips about Dale and his art before you exit the museum.

TICKETS: First of all, your student card is useless in this museum. They won’t honor it. So, to save money in Seattle, I’d advise you to buy Seattle CityPass that includes Chihuly Garden and Glass. Click here for the price.

By Alain – Full Story at Keep Calm and Wander

Seattle Gay Travel Resources

 

The Best of the Best, Part 2 – Traveling in Our Fabulous Gay World

Gaslight Inn - Seattle Gay Inn

In our last travel column we listed 5 of our favorite 10 Gay accommodations where we have stayed. Over 18 years years we have traveled coast to coast and have stayed in over 100 Gay owned resorts, hotels, motels and Bed and Breakfasts. We are listing the second 5 here. Most of them have been very fine experiences and some were just ‘so so’ and a few have not been very good. It is like in the old days about Gay bars. All you had to do was open a Gay bar and you automatically had a lot of business. However Gay bars in the country are fading fast and over half of them closed in the past 10 years.

Over 40 of the Gay owned accommodations where we have stayed over the years are no longer in business. Most closed due to lack of business, some owners either retired or gone into another business or have died. 90% of the ones that have closed was due to poor management either by the owners themselves or by their staff. In today’s world Gays demand and are accustomed to a nice clean and safe place to stay. We have stayed in places that never changed water or put new chemicals in their hot tub, had ratty linens and no personalized service. And then they wonder why they did not have any returning customers and had to go out of business. Thankfully, there are those owners who respect their customers and want them to return again and again. Good for them! Below is a list of the other 5 of the best, where we have stayed and have stayed several time with them where we have always had a great experience.

PIKES PEAK INN, IN WOODLAND PARK, COLORADO

Pikes Peak Inn - Woodland ParkTo get way from it all, we highly suggest staying the Pikes Peak Inn in Woodland, Colorado. If you ever need to get away from it all, then head to the High Mountains in Colorado. Pikes Peak Paradise Bed and Breakfast is THE place to go. It is located just 18 miles west of Colorado Springs and just to the south of Woodland Park also known as “The City Above The Clouds”. Woodland Park is located at 8,465 feet above sea level on the north slope of Pikes Peak and is surrounded by over a million acres of Pike National Forest. Pikes Peak Paradise B & B is located on 4 acres of private land. The views of the mountains and of Pikes Peak are breath-taking. And they are over 9,000 feet in elevation. All of the rooms/suites face south towards Pikes Peak. You are surrounded by trees mountains and more trees and mountains. You can watch deer everywhere. A full gourmet sit-down breakfast is served each day. In all of our travels, they make the finest gourmet breakfast! Ron Pijut is the owner and is a fabulous host. Check out their website at www.pikespeakparadise.com and their toll free number is 800-728-8282.

BROWN STREET INN IN IOWA CITY, IOWA

Brown Street Inn - Iowa CityIt is owned by Mark Ruggeberg and Bob Brooks. They have operated the Inn for more than 12 years. It is located at 430 Brown Street which is just a short walk to downtown. It is located in a lovely two story old home and decorated to perfection. Casual elegance in Iowa City’s historic Brown Street neighborhood. It is a 1913 Dutch Colonial Style Mansion and located on a very quiet street and within walking distance to downtown as well as to the University of Iowa campus. Mark and Bob are fabulous hosts. Their website is www.brownstreetinn.com Their toll free number to make reservations is 319.338.0435. Their email is [email protected] They have 5 rooms and one huge suite. They have a computer for guests as well as WiFi for those who bring their laptops. These gentlemen do EVERYTHING the right way.

GASLIGHT INN BED AND BREAKFAST IN SEATTLE, WASHINGTON

Gaslight Inn - SeattleThe Gaslight Inn B and B in Seattle is areal jewel. Their website is www.gaslight-inn.com and you can call them at (206) 325-3654. This Seattle bed and breakfast became a city-designated landmark 2015. Located on Capitol Hill, the city’s most exciting, convenient, walkable neighborhood – in the heart of gay Seattle. The Inn features great Northwest art, fireplaces in the lobby and in some guest rooms, and a heated seasonal pool in the back yard. Just minutes from downtown and Elliot Bay. Their address is 1727 15th Ave., Seattle, WA, 98122. Stephen Bennett is the owner and has owned it for many years. He has a lot of guests who return year after year. City bus stops are just a block away that will take you anywhere in the city that you would want to go. They have 8 furnished rooms in his magnificent Arts and Crafts home. This Seattle Bed and Breakfast became a city-designated landmark 2015.New Delhi Cafe - Eureka Springs

EUREKA SPRINGS IN ARKANSAS

(Donald and Ray with Mr. Bill, owner of the New Delhi Cafe)

What can be said about this beautiful hidden town in the Arkansas. It is truly the Gay Mecca in the entire Midwest! Travelers come from all over the Midwest and points beyond to visit there. Their are 26 listings on purpleroofs.com find the perfect B and B just for you. Eureka Springs has a population of just over 2,000 with most of the business Gay owned. Mayor Robert “Butch” Berry has done an outstanding job at bringing thousands of tourists throughout the years. This is a very laid back town where everybody gets along with everyone. While dining you might be sitting next to a black leather motorbike guy and on the other side a lady in a fur coat. We have visited Eureka many times over the years and it is always a very unique experience. When visiting BE SURE and go to the New Delhi Cafe located right downtown. Mr.Bill is the owner and a REAL Prince of a guy! https://newdelhieureka.com/styled/index.html. They have fabulous food, drink and a huge patio. Anyone who is somebody goes there!Check out purpleroofs.com for a complete listing on all the Bed and Breakfasts. Also check out https://www.eurekasprings.org/tag/lgbt/

Don and RayAlways remember to have fun when traveling, meet new people and talk to everyone!

TRAVELING IN OUR FABULOUS GAY WORLD is written by Donald Pile and Ray Williams, Award-winning, Celebrity travel columnists who write for gay publications from coast to coast (And now legally married).

Proud members of the IGLTA. You can email them at [email protected] and visit their website at http://gaytravelersataol.blogspot.com/