Eclipse Escape: Port Angeles & Olympic Peninsula drive

by Chris on June 21, 2010

Driving to Forks, Port Angeles is the first stop on an Olympic Peninsula Twilight tour.

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, Washington, Route 101

I spent the weekend on the Olympic Peninsula, in search of the real-life Washington sites mentioned in Stephenie Meyer’s Twilight books. The timing coincided with the release of Eclipse, the third installment of the Twilight movies, which is coming out June 30.

Eclipse, Port Angeles, Washington, movie premiere

I’m not really a Twilight fan, but I’ve been introduced to the books through travel. Last spring, I visited Montepulciano and Volterra in Tuscany, for a story that ran in USA TODAY tied to New Moon, the second movie in the series. Part of my research for that piece included a call to Forks, the former logging town in rural Washington where most of the series is set. At the time, tourism officials there told me that visitors (called Twi-hards) to the small town had increased 600 % since the books were released in 2005. That’s a great travel story, whether or not you like the books!

Seattle-Bainbridge Island ferry, Washington

It’s a four to five hour drive to Forks from Seattle, depending on how long you have to wait for ferries. I decided to break up the trip up and stay in Port Angeles on the first night. My first challenge involved making the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island, on a Friday evening at rush hour, no less (Tip: If you’re bringing a car on the ferry, give yourself at least an hour before your trip during peak times). The fare is $14.85 for cars, $6.90 for passengers only.

Seattle- Bainbridge Island ferry, Washington

The weather looked ominous, but stayed remarkably rain-free. I left my car locked and checked out the ferry. It’s not exactly luxe, but serviceable. There’s a restaurant and bar on one side, as well as a sun deck to go out and watch the water and scenery. Most people were quietly reading; Seattle is such a book-centric town!

Hood Canal, Bainbridge Island, Washington

After driving off the ferry, I headed north on Hwy 3, then west on 104 and 101. Because we’re so far north, the June nights here are long; I knew that the sun wouldn’t set until around 9:30. There were a few jaw-dropping views on the route, but my favorite crane-your-head moment came when I drove over the Hood Canal and saw Hurricane Ridge and the Olympics rising in the distance. Unbelievable.

Twilight merchandise, Port Angeles, Washington, Eclipse, Bella, Jacob, Edward

As the closest city to Forks, Port Angeles appears mostly in Twilight, the first book of the series. Bella and Edward have their first date here, she goes to the movies with Jacob here and also comes to buy books and her prom dress. Several stores in the downtown strip have Twilight merchandise in their windows. The town is probably better known as a port and also a ferry terminal for passage to Victoria island in British Columbia.

Bella Italia, Port Angeles, Washington, Twilight, Bella, Edward, Eclipse

Restaurants seem to close early out here, so when I entered Port Angeles, I went straight to Bella Italia, the restaurant where Bella and Edward have their first date in Twilight. My hotel had called ahead for a reservation, but you can also sit at the bar and eat. Even though the Twilight movie was actually shot a place outside Portland, the restaurant is name dropped in the book. The waitress told me that at least five or six tables of Twilight fans fill the restaurant every night and as I looked out the window, several fans came by to take pictures of the restaurant’s facade. In the summer, lines go out the door.

Mushroom ravioli from Twilight, Bella Italia, Port Angeles, Washington, Edward and Bella's first date, Twilight, Eclipse

Keeping in the spirit of things, I ordered the mushroom ravioli, which Bella orders in the book (I found it a little salty). Originally the dish wasn’t on the menu, but so many people came in asking for it that the owners added it. I overheard a teenage girl at the table next to me getting the dish; she had come from Los Angeles with her family to do the Twilight thing. The waitress told me that a group from Germany had been through earlier in the night.

Twilight hotels, Port Angeles, Washington, Eclipse, Twilight

Many of the hotels throughout the Olympic Peninsula have drawn Twilight fans, as this sign attests. I chose to stay at the Olympic Lodge, mostly because of the rave reviews it received on TripAdvisor.

Olympic Lodge, Port Angeles, Washington

It proved to be a good choice.  I enjoyed the Lodge lobby, where several couples were quietly sharing a bottle of wine. During the day, light streamed in from a golf course out back. My king-sized room cost $115 and featured products from Bed, Bath & Beyond.

French toast, Olympic Lodge, Port Angeles, Washington

The hotel has a restaurant that serves breakfast only. I found myself quite impressed with their cornflake-crusted french toast, topped with peach compote. Believe it or not, this is a half order.

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, Washington, Route 101

In the morning, I headed out of town on Highway 101, which passes through Olympic National Park. This is one of America’s classic scenic drives, with monster trees hugging the side of twisty mountain roads. I kept pulling over to take pictures of the extraordinary scenery.

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park, Washington, Route 101

My favorite part of the trip came during a 15 mile stretch along the shores of Lake Crescent, entirely enclosed within Olympic National Park. It was one of those drives where it’s hard to keep your eyes on the road because the views are so spectacular. Highway 101 only scratches the surface of Olympic National Park; I know that I’ll be back many times to explore this to explore the park, home of a temperate rain forest as well as glaciers and wild coastline.

I’ll be writing two more installments of my Eclipse trip this week, one on Forks and another on La Push, the Quileute tribe’s beachside town on the Pacific Ocean. If you have any great Northwest daytrips to recommend, tell me below. I have a feeling that I’ll be hitting the road quite frequently, as there’s a ton to see out here!

| Chris Gray Faust is a veteran journalist, travel expert, social media butterfly - and editrix of this site. Like what you read? Check out her writing, editing and social media services.

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

Kat June 22, 2010 at 7:59 am

Great photos. More posts, please!


Megan June 22, 2010 at 10:10 pm

This is a fantastic post. I am a Twilight fan and I have a love for travel. The idea of both of them in a post was intriguing! I actually heard that Forks was a quiet town without much excitement, besides the scenery, until Twilight came out. Now, it is a very popular travel destination for that very reason. I liked how you added the other nice experiences you had on the trip rather than making the WHOLE thing about Twilight. It shows there is more to Forks than good-looking vampires and silver Volvos 🙂


Chris June 23, 2010 at 10:40 am

Thanks, Megan & Kat! Check out my second post, which is just on Forks. I’ll have another one by the end of the week on La Push and Rialto Beach nearby. There are many reasons other than Twilight to visit the Olympic Peninsula – I know that I’ll be back to check it out again!


Rebecca Hagman July 6, 2010 at 1:23 am

Love the pics! I am an (older) fan of Twilight series and envy that you have seen the places in the book. I used to live in Tacoma and my guy friends and I would camp at a survival shelter on the coast going through the indian reservation on the northernmost tip of Washington. Now that I think of it, the beach kinda looked like the beach scene in Twilight with the rocks protruding out of the ocean close to shore and the washed up sea urchins and seaweed! Did you get to play with those? Wow. I’m glad I read your blog and was reminded of some good times! (in early 1980’s)Happy Trails!


Beverly September 7, 2010 at 5:33 pm

Too much clicking around on the web led me to your site. I’ve only read this first leg of your trip (will get to the others soon) but your trip sounds exactly like the one my hubby and I took in 2008! Brings back a lot of memories! Will be bookmarking your site! Thanks!


Chris September 12, 2010 at 7:57 pm

Beverly – Thanks for your comments on my Twilight trip! I was just out there this weekend again, this time to visit Sol Duc in Olympic National Park. Even though it’s September, we still saw some hardy souls camping on the beach. I bet they won’t be there in a few months, though, when the storms blow in!


Mike Shubic October 8, 2010 at 11:30 pm

I’m in the Olympic Peninsula area right now myself doing a few stories. Here is one if your viewers are interested:


Michelle January 31, 2011 at 1:44 pm

I did a 6 day Twilight tour of that are and it was amazing! Crescent Lake may have been one of my favorite stops as well.

I blogged about the trip as I went and ended up with 40 posts and included some of the 4500 photos that I took.

I highly recommend going to this part of the country. It is breathtaking!



Chris January 31, 2011 at 5:17 pm

@Michelle – Thanks for sharing your blog. I’ve been back to the Olympic Peninsula a couple times now, and I find new things to see each time!


casacaudill July 11, 2011 at 10:17 am

The Elwah River Valley inside Olympic National Park is also a nice stop for nature lovers. The river is amazingly clear and crystal blue.

Here’s my trip report from Seattle through the Olympic Peninsula:


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