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I’m not usually a traveler who tries to revisit places I’ve been before. I feel as if there’s a whole uncharted globe on there for me to explore, why continue voyaging to the same spots? Well, apparently I felt a little nostalgic for my birthday this year and decided to revisit a destination I briefly explored during my teenage years — Olympic National Park.
When I first visited Olympic, I remember braving the ice-cold waters of the Pacific Ocean and looking in tide pools. I briefly remember a rainforest hike and that’s about it. Since I remember so little about the national park, I figured that it was time to be reacquainted with Washington’s best national parks during a long 3-day weekend. Here’s the exact cost of a 3-day weekend at Olympic National Park.
When it booked my trip to Olympic National Park, it was very last minute. I bought my plane ticket days before embarking on this adventure. This meant that I didn’t get the biggest steal on airfare, but flying out during a holiday weekend, I found it within my price range.
I departed from Minneapolis airport (MSP) and flew to Portland, Oregon (PDX), which is about two and a half hours from Olympic National Park. Another option for travelers is to fly into Seattle airport (SEA). This is roughly the same difference from the park and most people take the ferry across Pudget Sound.
I booked the flight through Momondo for $306. This included baggage fees for one checked bag to and from my destination.
Rental Car: $227
Regardless of where you fly into, you’re going to need a car to explore Olympic National Park. Olympic is vast and covers a large area. Cruising through the park, whether it’s with rented or your own personal wheels, takes some time but it so worth it. You’ll see a wide variety of scenery from rain forests to the Pacific coast and even mountains. You won’t need a 4WD vehicle since the roads are well-maintained.
I booked my rental car through Enterprise. Also, I opted to include rental insurance for an extra $44 during my trip. I ended up with a magenta-colored Mitsubishi Mirage. It was tiny and adorable and got excellent gas mileage. An economy car was great for this trip because there wasn’t any treacherous terrain that required 4WD or any other fancy gadgets.
I nabbed the Mirage at $183, which is a day rate of $41. Again, I booked this vacation last-minute and over a holiday weekend, so I thought that this was a reasonable price.
Olympic National Park is a large national park and it does take time to venture between all the main roadside stops in the park. It’s roughly an hour and a half drive between these stops, which means you’ll be using more gas than you would originally think. Our Mirage was very economical so I didn’t spend a fortune on gas which meant more money could be put toward delicious food and luxurious lodging.
As always, there’s that pesky cost of parking your car at the airport while you’re traveling. This cost $39 for four days at my local airport.
TOTAL TRANSPORTATION COSTS = $632 for one person
During my 3-day weekend getaway to Washington, I only ventured to Olympic National Park. This kept my admission costs low since I only had to pay the park entrance fee. Every year, I spring for the annual national park pass which costs $80. If you want to simply pay the cost of admission for Olympic National Park, it was $30 per vehicle. If you wanted an annual pass for Olympic National Park only it was $50.
TOTAL ADMISSION COSTS = $80
Since it was the Fourth of July and a last-minute vacation, most of the accommodations within Olympic National Park were already booked. As a budget traveler, I don’t typically like to spend a ton of money on hotels because I spend most of my time exploring anyways. This trip I decided to splurge a little to celebrate another trip around the sun.
My biggest splurge was for the Quinault Lodge nestled in the heart of Olympic National Park. This was a stay that exceeded all my expectations and I highly recommend to anyone who wants to experience the tranquility of the park without the rush of tourists. For one night it cost $333, but you had impeccable service and views during your stay. Cannot recommend enough and already planning to stay there again ASAP.
On my second evening, I shacked up at the Red Lion Inn & Suites Sequim. Honestly, this hotel isn’t anything to write home about. The linens weren’t super clean and the room overall was underwhelming. Then again, it was a place to lay my head for the night and I was grateful for that.
The outdoor area did redeem this hotel. They had a quaint and sunny patio area where guests could enjoy the morning sunshine while eating their continental breakfast. It had beautiful flower gardens and arbors to spruce up the sitting area. Definitely was a relaxing place to enjoy my morning cup of coffee.
After an underwhelming stay, I was itching for a relaxing evening before flying home. Hotel RL Olympia definitely delivered. This hotel was located near Washington’s capitol. The neighborhood surrounding the hotel had manicured lawns and beckoned you to meander the quaint area.
What I loved most about this hotel was how they had a distinct 1970s vibe that they’ve updated to fit with modern times. The rooms were pristine and comfortable. A sweet touch was that there were complimentary bicycles that hotel-stayers could rent to explore capitol hill. I wish my stay was longer so I was able to bike around the area. Next time!
A single night at Hotel RL Olympia clocks in at $153 and was definitely worth every penny. It was a peaceful area and I definitely had a restful evening.
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TOTAL ACCOMMODATION COSTS = $600
The more I travel, the bigger foodie I become. I’m obsessed with sampling cuisine from all around the world. When it comes to domestic travel, I love seeing how our country’s classics are reimagined differently in each state. On this trip, I splurged on some seafood and more luxurious fare because it was my birthday after all. This meant plenty of desserts were devoured at each meal. Lucky me!
The one restaurant I cannot stop raving about is the Roosevelt Dining Room at the Quinault Lodge. The price point with on the spendier side, but with it being so convenient and out-of-this-world delicious, I couldn’t help but splurge on a few meals here. When I arrived, I feasted on Polenta for one meal and the salmon the next. Holy moly both were out of this world paired with their drool-worthy cobbler. With dessert and wine, you can expect to spend about $25-50 per person. You definitely shouldn’t pass up the bar. Nab a glass of wine and sit outside on the lawn to enjoy a sunset over the lake or cozy up next to the lodge’s fireplace for a romantic night in. Highly recommend!
Breakfast at the Roosevelt Dining Room was also superb. Guests could fuel up on the traditional breakfast essentials including oatmeal, pancakes, bacon, sausage, eggs or biscuits and gravy. Breakfast was really affordable and filling coming in around $10-17 per person.
When it comes to coffee, Washington loves its drive-thru espresso shops. They’re usually small, shipping container-sized buildings that whip up your morning order of java in a jiffy. Overall the drinks aren’t expensive and it’s a run experience to have. I visited Jimmie’s Espresso which had some unique flavors including some modeled after candy bars fruity drinks that you can add an extra energy boost to. Yum!
Dungeness Crab is another Washington state specialty that you’ll have to devour during your stay. I sample crab at The House of the Seven Brothers and wow did it blow my socks off. I didn’t expect much because this restaurant was located inside a casino and was the only restaurant open after 7 p.m. in the area I was staying. Yet, they served perfection on a platter. Definitely a pleasant surprise for my last-ditch effort to eat that day. My total bill was around $40 for an appetizer, drink from the bar and an entree.
Another hidden gem to devour seafood at is Kokopelli Grill in Port Angeles. Their Dungy Crab Club Sandwich made me swoon for hours after devouring it. The restaurant also has a beautiful view of the bay. I’d recommend calling ahead for reservations. This meal was a little extravagant as well since I order an appetizer, entree and a beveragino. If you add on the divine extras, which I highly recommend, your total will be about $45 per person. The campeche shrimp appetizer and salmon chowder soup were also delightful. An added tip, their seafood is their best seller, so if you want to sample one of their most popular dishes, book an early reservation and ask ahead. When I dined there in the early afternoon, around 1 p.m., they were out of oysters.
Don’t forget to sample some beer while roadtripping through the park. I sampled many local brews while I was there and even stopped at a local brewery on my from the airport. The 3 Peaks Brewery is a great place to get a crisp refreshment post- or pre-flight and super affordable. The brewery is currently remodeling their smokehouse restaurant and had a barbecue food truck ready to serve up delish, mouth-watering meats.
Food Total = $310
The total spent on food also includes tips made to the waitstaff which is at least 20% of the total bill.
The total cost of a 3-Day weekend at Olympic National = $1,622
For my extravagant 3-day birthday trip to Olympic National Park, I spent an average of $540 per day. A lot more than I have ever spent on any trip before. This total does include the amount I tipped waitstaff and staff at hotels. If you are not American, tips are expected when dining out since most waitstaff make less than minimum wage and rely on tips for their income. Though, for booking a last-minute, holiday weekend trip, and eating lavishly, this total does not surprise me.
What would I do differently?
For being a last-minute birthday vacation, this trip turned out perfectly. It was more luxurious than other vacations where I’ve shacked up in hostels to save some money, but it definitely was the rejuvenating, mid-summer getaway I needed. If you want to save money on your weekend Olympic National Park trip, plan in advance. There isn’t a shortage of properties for you to choose from — unless you plan your vacation last minute like me!
There were certainly cheaper and more affordable options for lodging, which was a significant portion of my budget. I met numerous backpackers who were bunking at hostels nearby the park to save a lot of money. You can easily find a wide variety of accommodation options that fit your needs, just make sure to plan in advance.
In terms of itinerary, I felt as if I was able to see the major highlights of the park within the 3-day weekend, but didn’t feel too rushed. If I were able to extend my itinerary by a few days, I would be able to do more hiking, but I don’t feel as if I missed anything super crucial during my short stay.
To trim on some expenses, embark on this trip with friends who you can split the costs of a rental car and accommodations. If you are venturing solo, book your accommodations in advance. That was the most expensive part of my trip simply because many of the places I stayed, I booked the last room within 100 miles.
Overall, my trip to Olympic National Park was a little more luxurious than when I visited as a teenager. I didn’t spend my time feasting on sandwiches and camping this trip. Instead, I decided to celebrate another year around the sun in style with a relaxing and stress-free weekend. I traded in my camping gear for high-count sheets and a fancy bottle of wine to celebrate.
The saver in me cringed at the thought before embarking on this journey. Spending more than $300 a day for a vacation is very exorbitant for this solo traveler. I often find myself hunkering down at hostels and camping to save, but I appreciated the change in pace.
Now that I’m home, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I loved experiencing a destination that I’ve been to before in a new way because I had a new price point. Totally worth it. It also felt nice to spoil myself for a change.