A Perfect Day in Port Angeles, Washington

canoeonlakeBelieve it or not, Port Angeles, the main town on Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula had it all going on long before it became famous for being where Bella has a heady romance with a vampire in the Twilight Saga. So much so that this area has long been called the Pacific Northwest’s Best Kept Secret. Innkeeper Jeri Weinhold of Domaine Madeleine Bed and Breakfast warns her guests, “Just be prepared to fall in love.” She asks where else do you have a lake like Lake Louise, mountain vistas like Switzerland, and a rain forest within two hours of each other, let alone a good golf course.

Start by staying at Domaine Madeleine. Sure, there are gorgeous views of the water and mountains, and fireplaces in each of the well-appointed rooms – but the real draw here is Jeri’s five-course breakfasts served every morning of the week on fine china in the elegant dining room. Jeri is also vigilant about stocking a separate coffee room 24/7 with coffee, tea, chai, hot chocolate, cider, cookies and candies for her guests. 

breakfastbeautifulToday’s breakfast, for example, consisted of Baked Pears with Fruit Compote, a freshly baked Almond Croissant, homemade baguettes served with local cheeses and jams,  Smoked Salmon in Filo Pastry, and Banana Flambe with Organic Ice Cream. Even better, the smoked salmon was made on the premises by the innkeeper’s son, and much of the produce is organic and locally-grown.

It’s good to have a hearty meal in your belly, because your perfect day is going to be full of activity.  In fact, on your drive to the picturesque Hurricane Ridge, Jeri suggests you drop by the Chestnut Cottage or Olympic Bagel to pick up a lunch to go, so that you can get out into Olympic National Park and not worry about food until dinnertime.

hurricaneridgeelkDrive directly into the park, past Hurricane Ridge, and all the way to Obstruction Point. From this point, there are vistas like in the Sound of Music, and a myriad of hikes – any length and any difficulty – can be accessed from here. Spend a magical morning exploring the pristine wilderness area.

It may be hard to tear yourself away, but Jeri will assure you that it’s worth it to get back in the car and drive over to Lake Crescent Lodge. Park in the lot for free and stroll the easy 3/4 trail to Marymere Falls, which soar above at 98 feet. You’ll want to take lots of pictures. This may also be a good spot for a picnic lunch.

hotspringsAfter all that walking, you’ll deserve a good, long soak at Sol Duc Hot Springs Resorts. Rustic and real, this spa offers three hot, bubbling tubs filled with naturally-occurring spring water and one fresh-water pool. These tubs are drained daily, after which they fill up on their own. You’ll be able to soak in these mineral waters for about two hours. By then you’ll be nice and relaxed for dinner.

And for dinner you get to make a choice. Unbelievably, this tucked away town has quite a selection of delectable cuisine. If the teenage vampire series piqued your interest, you may choose to dine at Bella Italia, where the owner was compelled to add Mushroom Raviolis to the menu, after Bella, the character in Twilight, ordered it in the book. Continental cuisine? Toga’s serves international food with a German emphasis on the soups and sauces; and Joy’s Wine Bistro has a changing weekly menu based on the locally-grown organic produce. The list goes on, but luckily you’re staying at the Madeleine, and Jeri will be able recommend all the rest. Bon appetit!