Of the many places to see in the US, Sequim, Washington is one that often flies under the radar. Sequim offers unspoiled beauty, local charm and quick access to Victoria, BC & Vancouver. There’s so much to to explore from Sequim!
By – Jasmine Henry, a Seattle-based freelance writer
Places to See in the US – Sequim WA
Stop and Smell the Lavender in Sunny Sequim
First of all, pay attention — this is important — Sequim is pronounced “Skwim,” which rhymes with “trim.” Despite the confusing spelling, it’s a remarkable Western Washington destination.
Sequim is a tiny rural community with 7,000 residents in the rain shadow of the Olympic National Forest… which means it’s much sunnier than Seattle.
Come for the lavender and stay for forests, mountains, and beaches, because this hidden gem is worth the trip & off the beaten path. Sequim may be one of the greatest places to see in the US!
Traveling to Sequim
It takes a little over two hours to reach Sequim from Seattle. Generally, the trip involves a scenic, 30-minute ferry ride from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, and approximately 60 miles of driving. Once you cross the Hood Canal Bridge, you’re officially in the home stretch.
A Popular Place to See in Summer
Nearly 3.5 million tourists visit Sequim and surrounding areas each year. Many visitors are drawn by the siren song of hiking and outdoor recreation in the pristine, expansive Olympic Forest.
Each July, tens of thousands of tourists make the trek to Sequim to enjoy the annual Lavendar Festival. The experience is certainly worth the trip. Full disclosure: Lavender Fest fills local lodging and restaurants to capacity. Book your rooms well in advance of the July 17-19, 2020 festival, or plan to visit on a different summer weekend.
Places to see in the US? Check our our 3 day itinerary to Dallas
Here’s your 3-day itinerary for Sequim
Sequim, WA Itinerary — Day #1
Jardin Du Soleil Lavender Farm
This 10-acre, certified-organic lavender farm is one of many growers in Sequim, and they’re particularly well set-up for visitors. Jardin Du Soleil is open each day from 10-5 from approximately mid-February through October. Visitors are invited to take a self-guided tour, pick a bundle of lavender, or browse the on-site gift shop for essential oils, soaps, and other products. Most importantly, bring your camera to capture photographic proof of the bright purple blooms.
Are you a fan of dungeness crab? Who isn’t! It’s well-worth paying pilgrimage to the Dungeness National Wildife Refuge, an expansive natural reserve in Sequim.
First, make sure you’re prepared to pay a $3 cash parking and day use fee. Head straight for the bluff, where a half mile hike on a flat trail provides gorgeous views of the Straight of Juan de Fuca. If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you can continue down a steep trail for a 5-mile hike to tour the historic New Dungeness Lighthouse.
Eat a Locally-Grown Lunch at Nourish
There’s Lo-Ganic (local, organic) dining, and then there’s Nourish, which serves the most local and organic food around in a renovated 1880s farmhouse.
Many of Nourish’s herbs and veggies are grown on-site, and most other ingredients are sourced form local farms. Vegans, vegetarians, and gluten-free eaters have abundant menu options to pick from.
Menus change seasonally. However, the lamb burger ($18) is a comforting, year-round mainstay. Splurge on a Dungeness Crab & Tillamook Cheddar melt ($28), or keep it light with a vegan curry noodle bowl ($22).
Walk the Beach at Port Williams
Port Williams is the colloquial name for Marilyn Nelson County Park. This 1-acre park offers public beach access for a leisurely stroll down a rocky beach. It’s conveniently located close to downtown Sequim. Bathrooms, picnic tables, and fire pits are located on-site, but come prepared with what you need. The closest store is Hardy’s Market, 2.8 miles down the road.
Go Shopping Downtown
Sequim offers a quaint downtown shopping district, with approximately 4 blocks of closely-spaced gift shops and galleries. Stock up on Olympic Peninsula treasures from the varied selection of local art, apparel, and artisan foods at Forage Gifts.
Next, swing into That Takes the Cake if you’re feeling indulgent. Treat yourself to no fewer than 3 mini-cupcakes to sample a variety of rotating cake flavors. Finally, finish your shopping spree by stopping into Blue Whole Art Gallery to check out some gorgeous fine art, photography, sculpture, and wearable art pieces.
Have Local Crab & Oysters at Salty Gal’s
Who knew the best seafood you could get anywhere was ordered over the counter at a tiny, hole-in-the-wall restaurant? Salty Gal’s offers a chic, streamlined atmosphere. The staff is friendly and the small menu is filled with genuinely solid treats. Start your dinner by ordering a dozen oysters in the half shell to share ($16).
The oyster menu rotates, but there’s almost always locally-sourced options from Hama Hama Oyster Farm in Quilcene.
Salty Gal’s offers an exciting rotating tap selection of local beers and kombuchas to round out your meal. Open 7 days a week from 10am-10pm, and 10pm-3pm on Sunday.
Sequim, WA Itinerary — Day #2
Eat Breakfast at Oak Table
Oak Table has achieved almost the same legendary status as Sasquatch. And unlike Bigfoot, there’s no debate among locals about whether Oak Table is the real deal. This family-owned breakfast spot has been a favorite for over 3 decades. Oak Table is best known for their enormous pancakes, which are made from fresh ingredients and a secret sourdough batter recipe.
The restaurant is open 9am-1pm year-round, and it’s popping on the weekends. There’s a strict no-reservations policy, despite the incredible popularity. Waits are longer on the weekends.
Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Local Morning Star Balloon Co. offers one of the most unique, memorable adventures in Sequim. Captain Crystal Stout is a 3rd generation balloonist who can safely usher you into the air for gorgeous views of the forest, the San Juan Islands, and the Cascade Mountain Range. Flights are 50-60 minutes in length. The balloon baskets can hold up to 4 people or 700 pounds in total.
A balloon ride isn’t exactly cheap at $300 per person, but it’s an experience that belongs on everyone’s bucket list!
Prefer something a little less adventurous after a carb-heavy breakfast at Oak Table? A gentle hike next to the water at Sequim Bay State Park is a great option.
Lunch at Galare Thai
Cross your fingers that you’re feeling hungry after your morning activities, since you’ll definitely want to be prepared to savor every bit of lunch at Galare.
This downtown Sequim dining destination features an elegant atmosphere and a varied menu. Both authentic Thai dishes and PNW-Thai fusion are specialties. Try the Shushee Plar salmon in red curry with fresh basil and lime leaves ($16), or a plate of dungeness crab stir fried rice ($16.95).
Galare is a solid option for vegetarians, vegans, and gluten-free dining. Lunch hours are 11:30-2:30, Monday through Saturday.
Visit Robin Hill Country Park
Robin Hill is located near Highway 101, just 6 miles west of Sequim. This landlocked forest park is an undiscovered gem, even among locals. There’s over 3.5 miles of accessible walking trails through 195 acres of forest, meadows, and wetland. Parking is free and abundant, and bathrooms are available on-site. The park is open year-round, from dawn until dusk.
Tour the Jamestown S’Kallam Tribal Art Museum
Sequim is surrounded by rich First Nation culture, heritage, and art. The local Jamestown S’Klallam tribe has an art gallery and gift shop featuring the work of Northwest Native artisans from Jamestown, nearby Elwha, and other tribal nations. You can view a variety of local art and learn about the culture.
If you’re feeling fancy, you can even treat yourself to a surprisingly affordable hand-woven cedar basket (prices vary, but approximately $150). Gift shop hours vary by season, but the shop is generally open 7 days per week from 10am-4pm.
Enjoy Northwest Cuisine at Alderwood Bistro
Alderwood Bistro describes itself as “where foodies, farmers, friends, and family love to dine.” It’s authentic, Northwestern cuisine at it’s wood-fired best, including local seafood, wine, and organic produce. Menus vary by season, but don’t leave without trying the wood-fired veggie pizza with goat cheese ($20). For a main course, you probably can’t go wrong with Seafood Paella ($28) or Steak Frites ($28). Alderwood Bistro is open Wednesday through Saturday, 4:30pm to 8:30pm.
Sequim, WA Itinerary — Day #3
Have Breakfast at Sunshine Cafe
Sunshine Cafe is unassuming from the outside, but it’s got an incredible amount of heart. This family-owned breakfast restaurant has fewer than 10 tables. The ever-changing menu of breakfast classics are made with the freshest ingredients.
You’ll fall in love with the quaint little touches, like beverages served in mason jars. You’ll fall even harder in true love when you’re served an affordable, memorable breakfast. The sunshine omelette is brimming with ham, onion, mushrooms and cheese. Don’t leave without tasting the hash browns, which are the perfect balance of crispy and salty.
Visit the Port Angeles Marina
The Port Angeles Marina is located just 17 miles West of downtown Sequim. Once you park at the waterfront park, you’ll notice there’s a lot of big boats. Port Angeles is the deepest harbor on the West Coast. It’s a major port-of-entry for shipping boats en route to Seattle, Los Angeles, or other destinations.
Take a stroll along the waterfront park or drive approximately 1 mile to the Ediz Hook Spit, a 5 mile long strip of beach with sweeping views of Juan De Fuca and Port Angeles.
Eat Lunch at Turnip the Beet
Turnip the Beet is a Port Angeles restaurant that’s quirky, creative, and overall, pretty darn healthy. You can choose from a menu of tempting salads, pitas, wraps, or rice bowls, or you can make your own concoction starting at just $9.00. It’s a casual, satisfying lunch with options for nearly every appetite, including a large menu of beer and cocktails in the attached Metta Room bar. Open 7 days a week from 11am to 8pm.
Hike the Olympic National Rain Forest
It’s officially time to choose your own adventure. Are you going to dip your toes into the Olympic National Forest, or really go all-in? In any case, you’ll need to start your journey at the Olympic National Park Visitor Center in Port Angeles to grab maps and learn about current trail conditions.
The Visitors Center offers two nature trails which are the perfect hike for most of us. If you’re a bit more hardcore, you can drive 17 miles west to Hurricane Ridge for a steeper climb.
The Visitor Center is open 7 days a week year-round, but specific hours can vary. It’s best to call in advance for specifics.
Soak in Sol Duc Hot Springs
Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort is host to three natural mineral hot spring soaking pools, 28 miles west of Port Angeles. Spring water from rain and melting snow in the Cascade mountains is heated to a temperature of approximately 99-104 degrees by underground volcanic rock.
Admission to soak in carefully-maintained, hot spring resort pools is $15 per adults. The pool is open from 9am to 9pm, 7 days per week during the summer season.
Eat Dinner at Gastro Pub
Port Angeles Next Door Gastro Pub is a small town restaurant and bar with big city tastebuds and pizazz. The menu has clear roots in standard pub fare, with a hip, eco-conscious twist. Gastro Pub excels at creative burgers ($13-$16), fish tacos ($12) and fish and chips ($16). Pair your food with a self-designed flight of four local beer samples.
Anticipate a wait to be seated in the summer, especially if you’d prefer to sit on the sheltered outdoor patio. And why wouldn’t you? Gastro Pub has a cozy interior is dimly-lit, loud, and ultra-cool. The patio is prime real estate for people-watching. Soak up the sunshine and watch a passing parade of quirky locals and international tourists. Gastro Pub is open 11am-12am, 7 days per week.
Sequim, WA Itinerary — Day #4: Extra Credit
Take a Ferry Ride Day Trip to Victoria B.C.
Overachiever much? If you had a fourth day to spend in Sequim and surrounding areas, you’d be wise to take a trip on the Black Ball Coho Ferry Line to Victoria, B.C. In terms of places to see, Victoria is spectacular!
Twice a day, this privately-owned ferry takes a 90-minute, scenic journey through the straight of Juan De Fuca. You’re free to explore the museums, shopping, and restaurants of downtown Canada once you disembark and pass through a painless customs checkpoint.
Adult passenger fare for the Black Ball Ferry is $19. Vancouver is easy to explore on foot. There’s also abundant activities within walking distance of the ferry dock. If you prefer, you can take a vehicle for an additional $66.50. Reservations are required, especially during the summer months. Finally, you’ll need either a Passport or Enhanced ID to get into Canada.
Hopefully we’ll all be out and exploring again this Summer. When you consider places to see in the US, take a well deserved look at Sequim!
Places to see in the US? Check our our 3 day itinerary to Dallas