If you have caught some of my recent travel posts about Idaho and Chicago then you know I embarked on the trip of lifetime down the West Coast with my mom and sister. Over the course of 2 weeks we covered everything from the northernmost tip of Washington all the way down to the Santa Monica pier.
We all met in Coeur D’ Alene, Idaho and started our trek westward aboard the Empire Builder Amtrak train. The train was a story of it’s own – I would chalk it up to a mixture of “I can’t wait to do that again” and “I’m never doing that again.” It probably deserves a post of it’s own!
Upon arriving at King’s Street Station in Seattle we snagged an Uber and went to get our rental car. If you read “6 Tips for Planning A Super Long Roadtrip” you might have guessed this is where we hit our rental car snag. We booked a car far to small than we needed and had to wait about an hour before they found us a Chevy Cruze. Once we loaded up we headed to a parking lot next to the Bill and Melinda Gates Center. The car rental attendant informed us that our car was a high risk to get broken into with all our luggage and thankfully guided us to this safe parking garage.
We took the monorail from the Space Needle to the downtown area and ended up exploring Seattle for a few hours. We grabbed some food and ended up taking an awesome ferry boat tour. We all wished we would have scheduled more time here so I guess we will have to make another trip.
Once we got all our Seattle site seeing done we headed back to our car and rushed to beat the ferry boat from leaving. If you think it was all sunshine and rainbows during our whole trip you would sadly be mistaken. The infamous “Drive to the Ferry Boat” sister-fight was one for the books! I’m surprised my mom didn’t dive off the ferry and swim back to Seattle! HA!
If you ever have the chance to take the ferry in Seattle it was pretty exciting for us Midwestern folks. We drove our little black Chevy Cruze up onto the boat and parked, got out, and walked to the top of the ferry. This thing was GIANT and the landscape was beautiful going across Elliott Bay – I can see why Derek Shepherd was so obsessed. If you look at a driving route, taking the ferry will add an additional 20 minutes but I definitely think it’s worth it for the experience and the opportunity to get out, stretch your legs, and not worry about traffic.
Once we reached Bremerton we stopped at a local bar (that wasn’t great) then headed toward our hotel in Port Angeles. We stayed at the Olympic Lodge which I would highly recommend out of all the hotels in the area.
We woke up bright and early the next morning and started making our way to our next big stop – Rialto Beach. My sister had found a few quick hikes and we ended up doing the hike to Marymere Falls.
It was about 40 minutes roundtrip and was way worth it! We also stopped along the road and enjoyed the beautiful Lake Crescent.
It might seem like I don’t have a ton to say about this portion of the trip but honestly just driving and looking around is so stunning. All of the landscape in this area is simply breathtaking!
We hit the road again for about an hour until we finally reached our big destination – Rialto Beach. We wished we would have woke up a bit earlier while the tide was out. My sister talked about a bunch of cool science-y biology things with the tidepools we missed seeing so be sure to try and go before high tide. I could go on and on about how beautiful this place was. It is like you are on another planet. Don’t expect sunny-beachy-frolicking-through-the-sand, this spot has Pacific Northwest vibes written ALL over it.
Every time my mom describes it she says “it was just a full on God experience” and I absolutely agree. This is a site not to be missed – everything from the driftwood, to the rocks smoothed by years of tumbling against the tide, to the black sand rolling in with the waves. There is a long extension of land (near where we are sitting) that extends all the way out to the large rock formation on the left. When the tides are low you are able to walk across to the rock formation on the right. Its a huge stretch of rocks so don’t miss out on making the trek all the way out. It just gets more and more magical the more you explore. Honestly, pack up and go there. Right. Now.
Seriously – Go.
Ok – so you are reading this from Rialto Beach now, right? You are now going to want to take the quickest route south to Forks, Washington. We made the mistake of trying to wind as closely to the coast as we could but for the most part it was just trees. Save some time and take the quicker route since the view is going to be pretty similar.
Once you are in Forks you are going to want to hit up the Thriftway Grocery Store. There you are going to meet Mary. She is going to be a bit crabby but she is going to whip you up a tasty “Edward’s Wedge” (2 meats and 2 cheeses with lettuce, mayo, and an extra shot of Twilight Fandom.) Get your sandwich to go, snag any other Jacob or Edward (or Bella) memorabilia you need and hit the road.
The next route we took was from Forks to Portland by way of the Columbia River Interstate Bridge. The landscape in this area is gorgeous and the little towns make you want to pack up, move there, marry a Washington dairy farmer, and spend your life churning butter and making cheese. If you suppress your PNW dairy dreams and make it across the Interstate bridge feel free to stop and check out all things Goonies in Astoria, Oregon.
We diverted from our Portland route just in time to hit up Cannon Beach at sunset just outside of Portland. I had been there before on a trip with JR but it was just as stunning as before. It is an amazing coastal beach landscape that was also featured on the Goonies.
We headed out as the sun was setting and had a pretty dark ride back to Portland. The landscape in Oregon is just as gorgeous as Washington and if you have an extra day I would definitely fit in the drive down the coast from Portland to Eugene. JR and I drove it on our last trip and it was amazing.
We stayed in the cheapest (and sketchiest) of all our roadtrip hotels in Portland. Major Portland Airport tip – the rental car station is a bus ride away from the actual airport. I repeat – A BUS RIDE AWAY. Thankfully our flight got delayed by 30 minutes or we honestly would have missed it. We boarded our plane in Portland and headed to our next stop…San Franscisco!
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