When to Go

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When to Go

Visitors trek to the Olympic Peninsula year-round, but summer is prime touring time for this outdoor-lovers' paradise. June through September, when it's least likely to rain, is busiest. Beaches, campgrounds, and downtown areas bustle during the sun-filled summer months, and festivals attract additional crowds. This is also the time of peak lodging rates.

Early and late spring and fall are likely to be less crowded, and in many cases the shoulder season also promises less expensive hotel rates. Anytime between April and October, there's a good chance of clear skies, even if temperatures dip. The rest of the year, prepare for heavy clouds, rain showers, and chilly temperatures.

Accommodations tend to fill up year-round on festival and holiday weekends. Some museums and other tourist attractions close or operate on a limited schedule in winter, when unrelenting storms pound Washington's Pacific coast. Mid-October through mid-March, pummeling waves crash into sea stacks and outcroppings, and wind speeds of up to 60 mph send rain spitting sideways. Winter storm watchers, weekend skiers and snowboarders heading to Hurricane Ridge, and locals are usually the only hardy souls around this time of the year. For some, that—coupled with off-season lodging rates—is a draw.

Festivals and Events

The region has a number of festivals and events that are worth planning for.

Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Sculpture Race. Since 1983, contestants have been racing human-powered contraptions through sand, mud, neighborhoods, and saltwater in the hope of winning the most coveted prize: the Mediocrity Award for the sculpture that finishes in the middle of the pack. The race takes place in early October. Port Townsend, WA. 360/379–4972. ptkineticrace.org.

Irrigation Festival. Sequim has been celebrating the introduction of irrigation water to its once-parched prairie since 1896. Recent fests, held in May, feature an antique-car show, street fair, pageant, parade, dance, and logging demonstrations. Sequim, WA. 360/683–6197. irrigationfestival.com.

Olympic Music Festival. From June through September, concert-goers can picnic on the lawn while enjoying chamber music in a bucolic setting, complete with a renovated barn. Quilcene, WA. 360/385–4800. www.olympicmusicfestival.org.

Port Townsend Film Festival. Founded in 1999 by Rocky Friedman, owner and operator of the town's 1907 Rose Theatre, this mid-September fest features onstage discussions with Hollywood stars, a variety of documentary and narrative films, and outdoor screenings on Taylor Street. Port Townsend, WA. 360/379–1333. www.ptfilmfest.com.

Sequim Lavender Festival. A street fair and free self-guided farm tours celebrate Sequim's many fragrant lavender fields in July. Sequim, WA. 360/681–3035. www.lavenderfestival.com.

Wooden Boat Festival. Hundreds of wooden boats sail into Port Townsend in September for a weekend of demonstrations, presentations, tours, and sea shanties. The Wooden Boat Foundation, the festival's sponsor, offers seminars, sailing, rowing, regattas, and youth programming year-round. Port Townsend, WA. 360/385–3628. woodenboat.org.

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