53 Best Sights in The Olympic Peninsula and Washington Coast, Washington

Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe

This village on the beach near the mouth of the Dungeness River has been occupied by the Jamestown S'Klallam tribe for thousands of years. The tribe, whose name means "strong people," was driven to the Skokomish Reservation on Hood Canal after the signing of the Treaty of Point No Point in 1855. However, in 1874, tribal leader James Balch and some 130 S'Klallam collectively purchased 210 acres where the community is today, and S'Klallam members have lived here ever since. An excellent gallery, Northwest Native Expressions, sells tribal artwork, including baskets, jewelry, textiles, and totems. Less than a mile away on U.S. 101, the tribe operates 7 Cedars Casino and a market and deli. The tribe opened a 100-room hotel adjacent to the casino in late 2020.

Jefferson County Museum of Art & History

The carved-sandstone 1892 City Hall building houses this history and art museum operated by the Jefferson County Historical Society. You can also see the old courtroom and the basement cells of the old city jail, where author Jack London spent a night on his way to the Klondike in the summer of 1879. Attractions include a maritime display, clusters of Native American artifacts, vintage photos of the Olympic Peninsula, exhibits chronicling Port Townsend's past, and rotating art shows. The society operates two other sites in town, both of which are open in summer: the period-decorated 1868 Rothschild House Museum, which sits on a bluff in Uptown, and the Commanding Officers Quarters building in Fort Worden State Park.

Kurt Cobain Memorial Park

This pocket park, dedicated in 2011 along the muddy banks of the Wishkah River, pays homage to grunge legend and Nirvana front man Kurt Cobain, who grew up in a modest home two blocks from here. A guitar sculpture, lyrics to “Something in the Way,” and other remembrances—like an empty instrument-stand sculpture identified as the musician's air guitar—mark the quiet spot that fans still seek out more than 20 years after the rock star's death. Some leave messages on the park bench and picnic table as well as under the bridge.

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Lady Washington

Tall, billowing white sails in the harbor mark the presence of this replica of the 1750s coastal freighter from Boston that in 1792, under the command of famous explorer Captain Robert Gray, was the first American vessel to reach the northwest American coast. The replica was famously converted into the multimasted HMS Interceptor sloop for the 2003 Disney movie Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Its main base is the Grays Harbor Historic Seaport, but you'll find the vessel at local coastal towns throughout the region, where it's open for self-guided tours. Three-hour cruises include the hands-on "Adventure Sail" and a mock "Battle Sail" war between two vessels, and if you're at least 18 you can volunteer as a deckhand for multiday trips. The free Seaport Learning Center, a 214-acre site spread across the harbor and surrounding wetlands, runs tours on two historic longboats, and schedules monthly boatbuilding, rope-climbing, and marine-trade programs for families and students.

Leadbetter Point State Park

Located past Oysterville at the less-developed northern end of the peninsula, this 1,732-acre woodland and beach park adjoining part of Willapa National Wildlife Refuge offers 7 miles of trails through temperate dune forests and along Willapa Bay. It's one of the better migratory bird-watching habitats on Washington's coast, and as the park receives far fewer visitors than the beaches farther south, it's also a great place to commune quietly with nature.

Long Beach Boardwalk

The ½-mile-long wooden boardwalk runs through the dunes parallel to the beach, and is a great place for strolling, bird-watching, or just sitting and listening to the wind and the roar of the surf. It runs between Bolstad Avenue and Sid Snyder Drive.

Makah National Fish Hatchery

At this facility with a picturesque setting on the Tsoo-Yess River, near Shi Shi Beach, visitors can view chinook salmon as they make their way over fish ladders to the hatchery's spawning area. Spawning months are October through November, and the salmon are released in late April. Smaller numbers of coho and chum salmon as well as steelhead trout also populate the hatchery.

Marsh's Free Museum

If you're traveling with kids, or you simply have an appreciation for seaside kitsch, drop by this quirky museum and bric-a-brac emporium that has been around since 1921 and is best known for "Jake the Alligator Man," a mummified half-man, half-alligator. 

Morrison Riverfront Park Walk

For a general look at the lay of Aberdeen, follow this 1½-mile-long, paved walkway to the 40-foot-wide Compass Rose mosaic, inlaid at the confluence of the Wishkah and Chehalis rivers.

1404 Sargent Blvd., Aberdeen, 98520, USA

North Head Lighthouse

Built in 1898, this red-roofed lighthouse helped skippers sailing from the north, whose view of Cape Disappointment Lighthouse was blocked by the cape itself. Rising high on a bluff amid the windswept trees, the lighthouse offers superb views of the Long Beach Peninsula. Tours of the lighthouse are given from May through September, but the grounds are open year-round. It's within Cape Disappointment State Park and reached from a well-marked parking area via a level ½-mile trail that passes the Lighthouse Keepers' Residence, which is available for overnight rentals.

North Head Lighthouse Rd., Ilwaco, 98624, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Parking $10, tours $2.50

Ocean Shores Beaches

Six miles of wide, sandy beaches line a peninsula trimmed by the Pacific Ocean on the west and Grays Harbor on the east. With five access roads, it's usually possible to find relatively secluded spots on the sand, despite this being the state's most-visited public beach destination. Highest tides occur in July and December, the latter when winter storm watching is at its peak. Motor vehicles are allowed on City Beach, a popular place for clam digging and kite flying. Ocean City State Park, a 257-acre oceanfront park 2 miles north, has year-round camping; note that this beach charges $10 for parking. Numerous hotels and resorts line the beach. Amenities: food and drink; parking (free); showers ; toilets. Best for: sunrise; sunset; walking.

Olympic Game Farm

This 200-acre property—part zoo, part safari—is Sequim's biggest attraction after the Dungeness Spit. For years, the farm's exclusive client was Walt Disney Studios, and many of the animals here are the offspring of former movie stars. On the hour-long, drive-through tour, which covers some 84 acres of the picturesque property, be prepared to see large animals like buffalo surround your car and lick your windows. You'll also see zebras, llamas, lynx, lions, elk, Tibetan yak, emu, bobcat, Siberian and Bengal tigers, and Kodiak and black bears, among other animals. Facilities also include an aquarium, studio barn with movie sets, snack kiosk, and a gift shop. Guests are allowed to feed uncaged animals (with wheat bread only), except for the buffalo and elk at the entrance gates, but must stay in their vehicles. Even sunroofs must remain locked.

Pacific Beach State Park

Between Copalis Beach and the village of Moclips, this is a lovely spot for walking, surf-perch fishing, and razor-clam digging. There's also excellent fishing for sea-run cutthroat trout in the Moclips River—but be careful not to trespass onto the Quinault Reservation north of the river. The 17-acre park has developed tent and RV sites, as well as a few primitive beachfront campsites. Amenities: parking (fee); toilets. Best for: solitude; sunset; walking.

49 2nd St., Pacific Beach, 98535, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Parking $10

Port Angeles Fine Arts Center

With modern, funky, and intriguing exhibits by new and emerging artists, this small, beautifully designed modern museum is inside the former home of the late artist and publisher Esther Barrows Webster, one of Port Angeles's most energetic and cultured citizens. Outside, Webster's Woods Sculpture Park—open daily dawn to dusk—is dotted with oversize art installations set against a backdrop of the city and harbor.

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1203 E. Lauridsen Blvd., 98362, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Free, Closed Mon.–Wed. from Oct.–Mar.

Port Townsend Marine Science Center

Along the waterfront at Fort Worden State Park, the small but informative center is divided into two sections. The marine lab and aquarium building, in a former World War II military storage facility at the end of a pier, houses several aquarium displays, as well as touch tanks with sea stars, crabs, and anemones. The museum has displays detailing the region's geography and marine ecology, including one of the only orca whale skeletons in the country. Beach walks, cruises, and camps and other programs are offered throughout the summer. There's also a visitor center downtown at 1001 Water Street containing a gallery with additional exhibits and a gift shop.

532 Battery Way, Port Townsend, 98368, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $7, Closed weekdays early Sept.–late May

Potlatch State Park

As you drive up U.S. 101 along the eastern side of the peninsula, you'll pass right through this 84-acre park that offers some of the best access to and prettiest views of Hood Canal. It's a great place to launch a kayak, stop for a picnic beneath the moss-draped evergreens, or scamper along the beach. There's a campground plus good fishing, clamming, and crabbing, too.

Purple Haze Organic Lavender Farm

One of the best places to pick or even just stroll through Sequim's most famous agricultural product, this sustainable farm contains 7 acres of lavender fields as well as lawns for picnicking and a gift shop that carries bath and body products, honeys and jams, and other lavender-infused gifts. A little snack stand sells lavender ice cream and lemonade in summer.

Rothschild House

Walk through the kitchen door off the garden—which contains old varieties of roses, peonies, and lilacs—and step into a different era. One of Washington's smallest state parks, operated by the Jefferson County Historical Society, offers a look into what life was like on the bluff overlooking the bay during the late 1800s. Built for a mercantile store owner and his family, the Greek Revival–style home remains largely unchanged since it was completed in 1868.

Sequim Bay State Park

Protected by a sand spit 4 miles southeast of Sequim on Sequim Bay, this woodsy 92-acre inlet park has picnic tables, campsites, hiking trails, tennis courts, and a boat ramp.

The Polson Museum

Just west of Aberdeen on the Hoquiam River, this 26-room mansion built in 1924 is filled with artifacts and mementos relating to Grays Harbor's past, including an exhibit tracing the history of tall ships in the Pacific Northwest. Upstairs is the logging exhibit, with a replica Little Hoquiam Railroad; a period-costume room; and the children's room and dollhouse. Outside you can visit a replica of a vintage railroad shed and wander the 2-acre riverside grounds dotted with specimen trees and a rose garden.

1611 Riverside Ave., Hoquiam, 98550, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: $5, Closed Mon. and Tues.

The Taylor Hotel

Built in 1887, this hotel houses Adelaide's Coffee and Books, and is the only structure from the early days that's open to the public. The cheerful establishment offers an array of pastries and ice cream, espresso, and tea.

Westport Winery Garden Resort

About 10 miles east of Westport, stop by this winery anchored by a 40-foot-tall lighthouse, first and foremost taking a self-guided stroll through the 15 acres of gorgeously tended gardens and some 60 whimsical outdoor sculptures, and then visiting the quirky International Mermaid Museum, which contains exhibits on ocean ecology. Wine tastings are another event here, and about 30 varieties are offered, including a respectable Bordeaux blend, a Pinot Gris-Riesling blend, and an array of sweeter, sometimes fruit-based creations. The attractive Sea Glass Grill, open daily for lunch, specializes in contemporary American fare.

1 S. Arbor Rd., Aberdeen, 98520, USA
Sight Details
Rate Includes: Tastings $10, museum $3, garden free

World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame

Each August, Long Beach hosts the Washington State International Kite Festival; the community is also home to the Northwest Stunt Kite Championships, a competition held each June. At the only U.S. museum focused solely on kites and kiting, you can view an array of kites and learn about kite making and history.