Just a short drive away from both Portland and Seattle, the Olympic National Coastline and Kalaloch Lodge lies waiting for outdoor-loving families ready to explore, adventure and relax. If whale watching, tide pooling, witnessing a living tree hover above the earth and watching the sun set on the ocean while enjoying delectable meals prepared by a professional chef sounds like the ideal getaway for your clan, read on to find out more about this stunning Washington coast destination.

photo: Annette Benedetti

Olympic National Park & Coastline at Kalaloch

Located in the Olympic National Park on Washington’s scenic west coast, Kalaloch beach is approximately 3.5 hours from both Seattle and Portland by car making it a reasonable trek for families with young ones. Unsurprisingly, with immediate access to both the coastline and the nearby Hoh Rainforest, it is one of the most visited areas of the Olympic National Park. Weather you and your little explorers enjoy animal spotting, treks on trails through trees or playing in the sand and exploring sea life, there are plenty of activities to fill a weekend or week-long travel itinerary with. By the time you return home you are guaranteed to feel equal parts inspired, relaxed and rejuvenated.

Stay

Kalaloch Lodge
If getting away from city life and cozying up with your family by the beach in a remote lodge or cabin setting sounds like bliss, then Kalaloch Lodge is everything you have been dreaming of. Set on a bluff overlooking the ocean, all accommodations are surrounded by both evergreen forests with winding trails and beautiful beaches.

The Lodge Experience
For families looking for more of a resort experience, the main lodge is a perfect choice. The Main Lodge Rooms come in a variety of sizes with either one or two queen beds featuring a custom-made Pendleton blanket. If you choose to stay in the Lodge View Rooms, you will enjoy a stunning view of Kalalach Creek and the ocean as well. Upgrade your stay to the Kalaloch Room or Becker’s Room and your family will have more than enough space for an extended stay with a king bed, sofa sleeper and table and a variety of added amenities.

Staying at the lodge comes with the added benefit of a public sitting area where you can grab a complimentary coffee and relax by a roaring fireplace before you head out on adventures for the day. When you your clan gets hungry, you simply head to the lodge’s Creekside Restaurant to grab your meal before heading out.

A Cabin Stay
If your tribe prefers extra space and privacy, or if you have a four legged family member who joins you on your travels, then the Kalaloch Lodge Cabins are just what you need. There are a variety of cabins to choose from and most come with kitchenettes or full kitchens. There are units that also have wood burning stoves equipped with a complementary bundle of wood each night for that extra outdoorsy feel. Cabins are designed to accomodate groups of six to ten people, and some are duplex style and share walls.

All Accommodations
Wherever you stay, you can expect to enjoy daily housekeeping, a private bathroom and standard amenities like a coffee maker, alarm clock and walking sticks. Kalaloch Lodge is dedicated to offering a true retreat experience as such they do not offer in-room hones, TVs or WiFi, so get ready to unplug and relax.

Where: 157151 US-101, Forks, Wa
Rates: $205/night to $360/night
Phone: 866-662-9928
Online: thekalalochlodge.com

photo: Annette Benedetti

Explore

The Tree of Life (AKA Tree Root Cave)
Kalaloch beach is home to a mystery that will make both you and your littlest skeptics believe in magic and even miracles. Located on the beach just north of Kalaloch Lodge, this wondrous Sitka spruce tree hovers above a small cave that has been carved into the side of a cliff by erosion cause by a small stream that runs into the ocean. To any passerby the running water appears to flow into the cave from the roots of the tree itself, which are for the most part unattached to soil. 

While the tree is attached to soil by a couple of thin roots, the fact that it is still thriving and sprouting new green leaves is astonishing. Only a short, 10 minute hike from the lodge, your young nature lovers will love the trek and the photos you’ll get beneath this amazement are well worth the energy it takes to get to it.

photo: Annette Benedetti

Ruby Beach
With a system of beaches (none like the other), there are an endless number of ocean front adventures to go on. Ruby Beach is one of the most well known of the nearby beaches and it is name comes from it’s reddish colored sand and rocky beach. The hike from the parking area down to the ocean is short and easy for even the smallest members of your crew, but gives you a chance to peer at wildlife and enjoy sweeping views of the the mountains, rainforests and wilderness.

Young visitors can entertain themselves for hours exploring the driftwood piles and discovering sculptures made of man-made stacked rocks. Ruby Beach is also perfect for bird watching or, if you make there at low tide. your kids can explore tide pools and get up close and personal with mystical looking sea urchins, beautiful starfish, crusty crabs and tiny fish.

photo: Annette Benedetti

Tide Pooling & Whale Watching
Ruby Beach is just one of the areas that offers arguably the most entertaining and educational beach activity for kids and adults alike: tide pooling. The tide pools near Kalaloch are known for having some of the most fascinating creatures and crustaceans to be found. Some of the best beaches for tide pooling (other than Ruby Beach) include Beach 4, Second Beach, Third Beach and Hole-in-the-Wall. Make sure to pick up a map of the local beach areas at Kalaloch Lodge before heading out on your tide pool adventure.

Once you choose your beach, get ready to get a sneak peak into the lives of seas stars, pricklebacks, brittle stars, clams, sea snails and barnacles. Remember to follow tide pooling rules: watch your step and stay off the sea life, touch gently, don’t remove anything from the tide pools, and leave only footprints.

While whale watching isn’t a year-round activity, if you plan your trip to Kalaloch during the peak season you are in for the show of a lifetime. May is considered peak whale watching season, but you can potentially catch a glimpse of the majestic gray whales from the shores or from your cabin or lodge room windows during the months of April, October and November as they journey up and down the Pacific Coast. While you are looking for whales, keep little and big eyes peeled and your cameras ready for seals, sea otters and even orcas!

photo: Annette Benedetti

Eat 

Creekside Restaurant
All of your family’s seaside adventuring is sure to work up big appetites. Luckily the Creekside Restaurant, located inside Kalaloch Lodge, has something yummy for everyone in your clan. If you like seasonal seafood dishes and fresh local food, this diner will not disappoint. Dungeness crab cakes and lemongrass manila clams are just the delicious start of what this classy but comfortably joint has to offer on their menu. Try their Washington cheese plate, a grilled New York strip or indulge in Dungeness crab mac & Beecher’s Cheese. And the folks at this establishment haven’t forgot the little ones, their children’s menu has kid favorites like grilled cheese, hamburgers, and linguini pasta.

What is your family’s favorite seaside retreat? Share it with us in the comment section below.

—Annette Benedetti

This trip was paid for by Delaware North but all opinions expressed here belong to the writer.