You can’t put a price on the natural wonders and one-of-a-kind sites, events and activities the Olympic Peninsula offers—especially those that keep your wallet happy. Here are 13 fun and free Olympic Peninsula experiences.
1. Visit Olympic National Park on a fee-free day. National park fees are waived on five days during the year: Martin Luther King Jr. Day in January, the first day of National Park Week in April, Great American Outdoors Day in August, National Public Lands Day in September, and Veterans Day in November.
2. Take a self-guided Twilight tour. Stop by the Forks Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center to pick up a free map and create your own Twilight. Be sure to take advantage of the free photo op with Bella’s red truck.
3. Stroll a Victorian town. Take a walk back in time in the charming seaside town of Port Townsend. Explore Victorian history and architecture along bustling Water Street and walk residential neighborhoods where homes have been restored with the utmost care and consideration.
4. Walk fragrant lavender fields. The Sequim-Dungeness Valley is the Lavender Capital of North America™ and boasts of bounty of family-owned and family-friendly farms. Stroll the fields, pick your own lavender or join the celebration on the third weekend in July at the Sequim Lavender Weekend. Note: the Lavender Experience extends both before and after the Festival.
5. Take a hike in search of petroglyphs. The nine-mile Ozette Loop is a hiking trifecta—three miles to the beach, three miles along the beach and three miles back to the trailhead. The northern leg to Cape Alava offers ancient petroglyphs of humans and whales. Be sure to check the tide charts before you go!
6. Drive 61 miles of scenic byway. You’ll need to pop for gas, but the epic scenery is all free. The Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Byway along the north Olympic Peninsula coast is a year-round treat—all 249 curves of it. Stop often to take in stunning vistas, visit historic fishing villages and watch for whales and other wildlife.
7. Experience native cultures. The Olympic Peninsula is home to tribal communities rich in culture and tradition. Learn more about the region’s original residents, and take part in the many experiences offered—from events and attractions to serene and sacred spaces.
8. Tour towering trees. Take a walk to the Valley of the Rainforest Giants and get a load of the record-busting western red cedar, Sitka spruce, Douglas fir, yellow cedar, mountain hemlock and western hemlock trees.
9. Follow a whale trail. Set your binoculars on the horizon and keep your eyes peeled close to shore. The Olympic Peninsula has some prime places for spotting whales and other marine wildlife. The Whale Trail offers a guide to designated viewing spots.
10. Walk the beach for miles. How far can you skip a stone? Find out that and more at Kalaloch beaches. Stroll driftwood-strewn beaches, explore tide pools and take in views of the dramatic and ever-changing Pacific Ocean, cliffs, headlands, islands and sea stacks.
11. See the sites from the saddle. From the seaside burg of Port Townsend to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, the Olympic Discovery Trail offers 130 miles of road and multi-use paths for touring on bike, horseback or foot. The 25-mile, off-road Olympic Adventure Route is a hilly, forested side trek for those seeking a bit more challenge.
12. Dive into a tide pool. The Olympic Peninsula is home to some of the most exceptional tide pools in the Pacific Northwest. Tongue Point Marine Life Sanctuary in the Salt Creek Recreation Center and Slip Point Beach Park in Clallam Bay are great spots to catch some action.
13. Visit a place that’s for the birds. Unplug from Twitter and learn about some real tweets. From bald eagles to sea birds, the Dungeness River Audubon Center provides and up-close look the Olympic Peninsula’s native winged wonders. Join a Wednesday morning bird walk from the Center.