Olympic Cellars Winery serves as a launching pad to the treasures of the North Olympic Peninsula.
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Nearby Sequim (www.visitsun.com) stakes its claim as the sunniest spot in Western Washington. In addition, it receives only 17" of rain a year, just 1/9 of the amount that falls in the rain forest a mere 60 miles away. Sequim is home to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, a treasure trove of waterfowl and a nursery for young salmon and steelhead. A five-mile sand spit forms the protected bay. Hiking, horseback riding, kayaking, and boating are all exploratory options. On foot, the parking lot to end-of-the-spit Lighthouse is a pleasant ten-mile round-trip.
Sequim is also recognized for its burgeoning lavender industry. The hearty herb is now used in oils, fabrics, salad dressings, teas, honey, and for numerous healing means. Eight growers offer tours. A three-day celebration honoring the French import takes place each July. Visit (www.lavenderfestival.com) for more insight.
Port Angeles (www.portangeles.net) is the front door to Olympic National Park’s most spectacular wall of alpine peaks – Hurricane Ridge. Here is a year-round hub of outdoor action with one of the most spectacular settings in the state: jagged peaks to the south, thick strands of cedar, Douglas fir and western hemlock all around, white caps atop the Strait of Juan de Fuca with Vancouver Island, British Columbia behind them to the north. Miles of attractive trail brings snow-shoers and cross country skiers November through March (season varies). Down hillers and snow boarders are offered two rope tows and a poma bar. Tubers and sliders have areas to frolic, too. When the snow melts, picnickers, hikers, and others simply looking for inspiration, flock to the Ridge.
Several other alluring options spoke out from the Port Angeles hub. To the north, Victoria, Canada, connected by ferry up to seven times a day. To the west, Lake Crescent, the emerald jewel of the Olympics. Watch spectacular Marymere Falls sends its liquid cargo down nine stories. Here, a flat, loose gravel trail to the falls winds through old growth forest. Also to the west you can experience minor rapids and major wildlife sightings while atop the Elwha River on a raft. You may see a herd of elk crossing the river. Bears are occasionally sighted, while beavers, otters and ducks are regularly spotted. Resident ospreys and eagles fish the river and nest high above it. Massive trees, draped in moss and surrounded by conifer saplings, alders, and ferns, make it no secret that you’re riding through a rain forest.
Just an hour away from the winery is Port Townsend (www.ptguide.com), which was supposed to be the city Seattle became. Here, outstanding Victorian homes are as impressive as the historic bricked-and- blocked downtown. Port Townsend is a magnet for visitors looking to shop, beach comb, kayak or revel in local history. Fort Worden, on the town’s northern flank, celebrates its 100th year in 2002. It provides outstanding trails, enticing bunkers, and Centrum (www.centrum.org), which offer the public workshops and performance opportunities in visual, literary and performing arts.