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Olympic National Park or San Juan Islands with tween boy?

Olympic National Park or San Juan Islands with tween boy?

Old Sep 8th, 2017, 06:51 AM
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Olympic National Park or San Juan Islands with tween boy?

I've read a lot of advice about choosing between ONP or the San Juans, but not much that's specific to a tween boy. I'll be spending a week in Washington with my son in late May/early June, and we'll have 3 nights/2+ days in Seattle before heading to either the park or the islands.

A couple of considerations:

- We're comfortable renting a car and driving, so transit isn't a worry. If we chose SJI we'd likely take a Kenmore Air flight from Seattle.

- Whale watching is tops on our list, ideally orcas. Can it be done easily from Port Angeles or elsewhere on the Olympic Peninsula?

- We like hiking, biking, beachcombing, boating and water activities, and good restaurants (but we'll have those in Seattle!).

- I'm all about jawdropping landscapes and places that feel wild and remote. My son, not as much, but I do think he would like the ONP rainforests and beaches.

- We aren't campers and prefer a hotel or lodge. Budget is between $250 and $300/night.

- Weather isn't a deal breaker either way, but if it is likely to be pouring in one place and drier in the other, that might sway us.

Any tips on which one has the edge for a tween? Thank you!

(I also posted this on the TA forum.)
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Old Sep 8th, 2017, 07:31 AM
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Definitely Olympic NP. The San Juans are lovely but IMO they're far more adult-friendly than kid-friendly. The Olympic Peninsula has it all in terms of variety - the Pacific beaches, Hoh and Quinault rain forests, lakes, waterfalls, Hurricane Ridge... plus you can go whale watching easily from Port Angeles, Victorian Port Townsend, or from Victoria BC (ferry from Port Angeles.)

In the spring the Hoh rain forest is remarkable - the Roosevelt elk which overwinter in the lowlands have eaten a lot of the undergrowth, leaving a spooky scene where you can see surprisingly far under the hanging moss and mist. The (huge) elk are still present, looming like dinosaurs in the gloom.

Bring your passports and spend a day in Victoria - over as foot passengers on a morning ferry, back at the end of the day. You can walk around the Inner Harbour, go whale chasing, admire the architecture of the legislative assembly building (aka "Parliament") and visit the terrific Royal BC museum.

Weather will be a crapshoot, but in May and June it is everywhere in western Washington. Parts of the Olympic Peninsula (around Sequim and toward Port Townsend) and the islands are in the "rain shadow" of the Olympic mountains so get less precipitation, and of course they don't call them "rain forests" for nothing. But weather shouldn't be a determining factor in my view; just come prepared.
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Old Sep 8th, 2017, 09:55 AM
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Thank you Gardyloo! I think ONP may be the direction we are leaning.
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Old Sep 8th, 2017, 02:46 PM
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In case you want to consider Orcas Island, here is a link to a good resource:
http://orcasislandchamber.com/images...uideforWeb.pdf

HTtY
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Old Sep 27th, 2017, 10:45 AM
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We just got back from a trip to San Juan Island and Olympic National Park. I loved staying on San Juan Island; we went with the specific goal of seeing of trying to see orcas, and we ended up seeing seven the day we went! Also saw seals and sea lions. If you go that route, I'd highly recommend going with Maya's Legacy - they were just fantastic. We spent about an hour with the first pod, and on the way back we spotted a second pod, and they extended our time so we could observe that one as well. They knew which orcas we were viewing, their ages, family relationships, etc. because they know the markings that each orca has. Also went out of their way to find a bald eagle for us since we had never seen one. In the Olympic National Park, we stayed at the Lake Crescent Lodge and liked it - we did some hiking and went to Hurricane Ridge, saw lots of deer. They also have kayaks you can rent, but it was too cold when we were there.
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Old Sep 27th, 2017, 12:32 PM
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<if it is likely to be pouring in one place and drier in the other, that might sway us>

The weather is not going to be significantly different between the two places at any given time of year.
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Old Sep 27th, 2017, 03:09 PM
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Friends of ours just got back from San Juan Island; her teen boys really liked Friday Harbor - they did a guided kayak trip, went sailing, and rented bikes to ride around the island.
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Old Oct 5th, 2017, 10:22 AM
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Regarding staying in the ONP, what would you recommend doing in the evenings? We stayed at Lake Crescent and enjoyed hiking during the day, but at night there wasn't anything to do. It's dark around 7:00, and you're thirty minutes from any restaurants, no wifi in rooms, no t.v. I would have liked some sort of evening activities - s'mores, stargazing, wine tasting, lectures from naturalists. Maybe we were supposed to be relaxing.
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Old Oct 8th, 2017, 01:46 PM
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Olympic NP because one can always get out of the park to see other things, such as the Native-American museum in Neah Bay and buying locally smoked salmon in the same place, and taking the small hike to the western most point of the Continental U.S. (excepting Alaska) where there were many eagles flying around. The rain forest on the western side of the park is also something to visit.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/mksfca...7622991196341/ and subsequent pictures.

Visiting the west side might require a second base, such as Forks.
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