My hopes in 2020 for 2021 were for this to be a year of domestic travel – rollin’ along the highways throughout the west, exploring into the desert southwest, and continuing to New Orleans and beyond. COVID, however, has required me to re-adjust these plans to keep my travel not only as safe as possible, but is giving me the opportunity to kick it up a notch on the enjoyment meter. Each month I’m dedicating a week (or thereabouts) to immerse myself into areas I’ve only lightly touched on in the past. I’m referring to this as My Year of Delicious Destinations because (as always) along with blogging about travel and the various destinations I’ll visit, food will undoubtedly be a big part of the story. I’ve started out February with a trip out from my cozy COVID-hideout east of the Cascade mountains to the shores of Hood Canal …
Situated west of Seattle, across Puget Sound where the majestic Olympic Mountains touch the water, sit the deep waters of Hood Canal. Glacial fjords have created not only a dreamy landscape, but the beaches here harbor a trove of fresh seafood. Bring the views and the seafood together and you’ve got paradise! I’m no stranger to saltwater beaches, having spent my first years in the Seattle area perched on the beach in the Three Tree Point neighborhood – thus Hood Canal brings me back to my western Washington beginnings – in the most delicious way!
A huge draw of the Hood Canal area is its proximity to ever-popular Olympic National Park. ONP’s great, however lesser-known spots for hiking during peak season are equally as breathtaking, but without the crowds. Whether you’re exploring the southeastern reaches of the park up the Dosewallips, or trekking the trails on local National Forest lands, be prepared for jaw-dropping views, moss-clad old-man trees, and rushing streams filled by the the ever-present rain of the temperate rain forests nearby. A true gem of the canal lies in the miles of trails above Alderbrook Resort. These boast gorgeous vistas, babbling streams, and endless evergreen canopies hanging overhead.
While views and hiking are great, an equally-fantastic draw for me is the canal’s proximity to some of the freshest seafood available in the state! Hama Hama Oysters is a spot I’ve frequented since early on in their Oysterama days. While the Oysterama can’t happen safely during COVID, this business has done an extraordinary job of providing multiple delicious options despite the hiccups of the pandemic. I’ve ordered boxes of fresh seafood that were delivered right to my doorstep over the last year (the best part: they’re shipped for free anywhere in the US!). On this month’s trip to the canal, however, I picked up the sheriff’s buttload of crab, oysters and clams at their farmstore on Hood Canal. Looking for a day-trip? They’re now they’re also offering adorable, reservable huts for groups of four right on their beach! Dreamy views, the freshest seafood on the canal, and a safe way to enjoy it – what are you waiting for? If seafood’s on your radar, put this stop for provisioning high on your list of things to see and do in Hood Canal.
Pro tip: Call ahead if there’s something special you’re looking for – their team is amazing!
Mason, Jefferson and Clallam counties are home to endless farms, homesteads and entrepreneurs, too. Thankfully, many offer their wares for sale in multiple spots throughout the area. Two favorites of mine are the Union City Market (literally just a hop, skip and a jump from Alderbrook) and Hunter Farms (a seventh-generation family owned business at the junction of East Purdy Cutoff Road and Highway 106). Both offer up jams, jellies, smoked salmon and seasonal items that’ll help fill your vacation-larder, as well as an array of charming decor items if you’re looking to take home a little memory from the area.
Pro tip: Add a little extra time to your trip and head over to Chimacum and visit Finn River Farm and Cider. Along with being stewards of their community through business and agricultural practices, their cider and pizzas are top-notch!
And then there’s Alderbrook Resort. Just WOW! We’ve stayed at the resort a number of times over the last decade, but never in their cozy cottages (situated just to the west of the main resort). These well-equipped cabins have everything we needed to be self-sufficient, but also came with all of the bells and whistles of the resort. When we didn’t feel like utilizing the full kitchen in our cabin, or wanted to supplement of trove of Hama Hama seafood, room service was just a quick call away. Service was stellar – from the warm voices answering the calls, to the friendly servers delivering food. When room service was delivering and I mentioned I wanted to start a fire in one of the fire pits, within minutes there was someone on-the-spot creating a roaring fire for us. With numerous fire pits throughout the property, there’s plenty of space for everyone.
Bonus points go to Alderbrook’s staff for really taking cleanliness and COVID-protocols seriously. Masks are required everywhere outside of your cabin (or lodge room, as the case may be) and staff does a great job of giving gentle reminders when needed. We couldn’t have felt more comfortable with how this was handled, nor more safe in the choice we made in accommodations.
Views were drop-dead gorgeous looking out over the Hood Canal arm (which is factually a fjord!) and to the Olympic mountain range’s Mount Washington beyond. Our first two days were admittedly pretty rainy, but nothing could have been more perfect than the cozy fireplace and wall of windows looking out through the century’s-old trees just outside our cottage. We hunkered down with books and enjoyed the solitude and beauty all around us.
A huge bonus for families right now is Alderbrook’s discount packages with multiple options to keep kids and parents happy throughout their stay – including remote-learning.
Alder and Brook are resident cats in the lodge. Their personalities, along with the friendly warmth of Alderbrook’s staff, made the lodge feel right at home.
I’m excited for this upcoming year of safe travel! Barring any unexpected twists and turns with the pandemic, I’ve planned each trip to be no more than a day’s drive from Seattle – and without the usual stops along the way to ‘smell the roses’, as they say. I can’t wait to dig in to our next adventure!