The ocean has always played a key role in Washington State history. Its waters provide transport, feed the surrounding communities, and offer recreational opportunities to locals and visitors. Some Washington State ocean towns take on the personalities of the ethnic groups that first inhabited the communities, making a trip along the coast akin to a visit to Europe. Others, due to their proximity to Canada, combine the best of the Pacific Northwest with the best of British Columbia. The local hotels reflect the ambiance of the towns.
Port Townsend: A Victorian Port
Port Townsend is a Victorian seaport town, known for its distinctive shops, restaurants and pubs. It's the kind of place where you can walk into a pub and join a conversation with complete strangers, and nobody would bat an eyelash. If the Tides Inn Hotel, located on the waterfront, looks familiar, you have seen the movie "An Officer and a Gentleman," whose love scenes were filmed at the inn. Some of the rooms have ocean views, and many feature elaborate Victorian decor. The Waterstreet Hotel also offers lodging by the ocean. Built in 1889, its structure invokes invokes images of a Victorian rooming house. Guests choose between suites with full kitchens, and smaller rooms with shared baths in the hallway. The Waterstreet Hotel lobby is housed in the Pacific Traditions Gallery, which sells an extensive collection of Native American Art.
Elk and deer roam freely through the streets of Sequim, a town on the Olympic Peninsula. Sequim is located in Washington's "sun belt," which means that it gets less rain than other Washington ocean towns. Sequim hosts a Lavender Festival in July, which attracts visitors from all parts of the globe. The Juan de Fuca Cottages are perched on a 50-foot bluff and located on a private beach along the Dungeness Bay. Its rooms have views of the the New Dungeness Lighthouse, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the Olympic Mountains, and Victoria, British Columbia, located just across the water. Special packages may include stay and play golf rates, romances packages, which include champagne, strawberries and chocolate and in-room spa packages. Each cottage has a porch, a queen-size bed, a whirlpool bath and a full kitchen. While the kitchen is a convenience, plan to eat at least one meal at the nearby Three Crabs Restaurant. The Dungeness crab cakes make for a memorable dining experience.
Poulsbo: A Touch of Scandinavia
Norwegian immigrants established the fishing and farming community of Poulsbo in 1882. The town, with its Norwegian bakeries and architecture, maintains its Scandinavian ambiance. The Brauer Cove Guest House, located on Liberty bay, is one mile from downtown Poulsbo. The town is also accessible by a 30-minute paddle boat ride from the guest house, which features a kitchenette, a living room and two bedrooms. There's a classic, wood-burning stove in the living room. If you would prefer a more traditional hotel, the Holiday Inn Express is less than one mile from the marina. This pet-friendly hotel offers free breakfast. Put the Poulsbohemian Coffee House on your must-visit list. Taste the homemade soups, and stay for the evening fiction writers or poetry reading workshops.
Forks: Twilight Territory
"Twilight," the movie based on the Stephanie Meyer novel, put Forks, Washington, on the map. Many Forks, Washington hotels offer special "Twilight" packages, but they are gratuitous. The surrounding Hoh rain forest, combined with the winds from the Pacific Ocean, create their own spooky atmosphere, which does not require any help from Bella or Edward. Take, for example, the Kalaloch Lodge. Its oceanfront cabins are perched on a grassy bluff above the Pacific Ocean, and its main lodge quest rooms are free of telephones and televisions, creating a feeling of seclusion appropriate to the area. The cabins are pet-friendly.
Ocean Shores: A Bird-Watching Paradise
Bird-watchers and agate rock collectors have a special affinity for Ocean Shores, home to Damon Point State Park. The Polynesian Resort, an Ocean Shores oceanfront hotel, provides easy access to the park and other local recreational activities. Hotel amenities include an indoor heated pool, a spa and an outdoor private park with basketball, volleyball, tetherball and picnic and barbecue facilities. Studios, one bedroom, two-bedroom and penthouse suites are available, as well as basic motel rooms. Non-smoking and pet-friendly rooms are available. Mariah's, the hotel restaurant, serves local seafood specialties.
- Washington Park, Washington image by Elizabeth Brown from Fotolia.com