This is my entire trip report but the California part doesn’t start until October 4.
So, my husband had a business trip to Seattle and we decided to tag along. I had no idea all the amazing sites that are in this area! I can’t thank trip advisor -especially kaleberg and meadows- for their insight and help in Olympic. I wanted to share my trip with our real times to maybe help someone else. I think the Washington part of our trip was better laid out then the California part. We planned it a little late to get good accommodations and had to do a bit more driving than I would normally like on a vacation in California leg of the trip. My kids are 11 and 15. Perfect age for this kind of trip. They liked the short hikes but not fans of longer hikes to give you an idea of how I planned this trip and why at the end we skipped some amazing hikes which I will suggest to you!
For the national parks, check out their website. Very helpful as well with maps, hiking maps as well as frequently asked questions.
Also, my suggestion for clothing for October Seattle/ California: layers. At lower altitudes a short sleeved shirt with athletic pants. Higher altitudes wore at times winter coat, fleece underneath plus hat. Had hiking shoes which were great if it was raining but tennis shoes are probably fine on the simple and shorter paths (2 miles or less) that we did. Had a Day pack that we stuffed coats into when we got too warm. No dogs on trails in national parks.
Sunset: 6:50 pm
Saturday, September 29:
9:15 AM cst: Flight from bna to sea
12:00 Pm gmt: arrive SeaTac
12:00-1:30 pm: get baggage, rental car
1:30-4:30 pm: drive to Lake Quinault (2.5 hours plus quick lunch stop. Lots of choices Seattle)
4:45 pm: hike Quinault rain forest nature trail (small charge) ½ mile
- can park at ranger station next to the lodge
- record spruce is nearby
Walk around Quinault lodge. Very scenic. You can eat dinner there.
6:00 pm: head to Kalaloch lodge (35 minutes).
6:45 pm: check in and explore. Wish we had gotten here earlier. Stunning view. Right on the ocean. So lucky to have gotten a reservation here!! We ate dinner at the lodge. It was good (nothing spectacular) especially with very few other choices.
Sunday, September 30:
8:00 am: breakfast at kalaloch.
8:45 am: head to La Push beach area (1 hour 2 minutes)
Kaleberg.com west end beaches helped me plan this. Thanks!
9:45 am: second beach low tide 10:31 am. It took us about 1:45 minutes round trip for second beach. You hike through beautiful forest and then across logs to get to the beach. Had some big winds, light rain. So probably didn’t stay as long as we’d have liked. Surreal view. Highly recommend.
11:30 am: headed to Rialto beach - 20 minutes drive. We were a little hungry and it was rainy so visited there quickly. Very pretty.
12:45 pm: drove back up the rode (about 5-10 minutes) and ate lunch at three rivers restaurant- surprisingly tasty! Cheeseburgers and shakes! Yum!
1:45 pm: drive to Sol Duc Falls trail ( 1 hour)
2:45 pm: Walk sol duc falls 1.6 miles- took about an hour. Then stopped at the Salmon Cascades. A MUST! Absolutely hypnotizing watching the salmon swimming upstream!
4:15 pm: drive to lake crescent (30 minutes). The drive is stunning. The lake is even more stunning!!
5:00 pm: Mareymere Falls hike 1.8 miles round trip. Took us an hour.
6:00 pm: drive to Port Angeles (30 minute)
7:00 pm: dinner at Coyotes Barbeque - yummy. The brisket is delicious!
Stayed at Olympic lodge. Very nice.
Monday, October 1
9:00 - 12:45 am: Sea Kayaking Trip – Freshwater Bay (Adventures Through Kayaking). Eat breakfast before! Was a unique experience. Saw river otters, a harbor seal. My husband and son both got seasick though. Our guide, Pete, was so kind to help them.
1:30 pm: eat lunch at local restaurant in Port Angeles.
2:30 pm: we were going to Hurricane Ridge – Hurricane Hill Trail. But very overcast and very rainy. Something else that was recommended to us by locals was the Olympic Game Farm bus. Said the kids would have really enjoyed it but it was too late in the day. Decided to head onto Seattle.
(2 hours 46 minutes). Must admit the ferry ride was quite a treat for us as we had never been on a ferry ride before.
6 PM check into air bnb.
7:00 PM Dinner
Tuesday, October 2
10:30 space Needle
11:30 chihuly glass
Best if you book ahead at busy times of the year because they only let so many up at a time. In October it wasn’t that busy so you could buy tickets and go up within the hour. I booked online the night before and actually called in the morning and changed my times. In hind site I should have gotten the city pass (I didn’t think we were going to aquarium and it was cheaper to do individual tickets until you have 3 or more places. But you do have to print out the city pass ahead of time, I think)
Needle and chihuly both must sees.
12:30 We then walked the mile to pike place (took us 15 minutes)and ate lunch at a delicious Chinese restaurant in the market.
We walked around the market area for about 1.5 hours and then headed to the aquarium after ice cream on the pier.
It’s very quaint. My kids loved feeding the sea anemones. The staff was very sweet. We stayed until 5 to watch the sea otters getting fed. They are in top 5 of most adorable creatures. Learned about how they hold hands while they sleep and keep a special rock for life. The aquarium is not a must do but it is quaint and kept us entertained.
5:30 took Lyft home and ordered in Uber eats.
These were places recommended to us in Seattle:
Dexter avenue north
Pike place- go downstairs
- fresh flowers
- Asian stand with hand
Food: top pot donuts
Pirasnky russian bakery
Beechers grilled cheese sandwich
Molly moons ice cream
Vietnamese Thai food in general
Wednesday, October 3
10:00 -11:30 Boeing tour. It took us about 35 minutes to get there by car. We were glad we went there but nothing too exciting. Our tour guide was a walking encyclopedia of all things Boeing which made it very interesting.
12:30 ate lunch at a nearby pizza place
2-3:00 visited Ballard locks which also has a salmon ladder. There are botanical gardens that you walk through to get to the locks. Again, interesting to see but not a must see. It was free!!!
6:45- 8:50. Flight from SEA to San Jose 6:45-8:50
8:50-9:50 rental car
9:50 drive to hotel. 1.5 hours Manteca, California
THURSDAY, October 4
9:30 am Drive to park 2.5 hours. We were pretty wiped out by this time so we just made it an easy day. My daughter loves interesting food so made a stop at super delicious restaurant in mariposa: the BonTon cafe. About 10 minutes off the road but well worth it. It’s a Cajun restaurant and everything is delicious! I had the blackened catfish sandwich - unbelievably tasty! I also had the sweet potato fries-BEST EVER! Popcorn shrimp, sage chicken, and fried catfish also fantastic! Then got a sampler platter of the desserts.
2:00 pm: arrived at Yosemite. Stopped for short hike in front of El Capitan. The hike to brideval falls 0.4 miles each way.
2:45 pm: Next to visitor center, parked, used restroom and stood in line to talk to ranger. The Yosemite valley visitor center is a huge complex and all of those activities took about an hour. In hind site wish we had skipped this but we wanted rangers opinion on our plans. It was good that she confirmed what trip advisor had already told me!
4:00 pm: drive through park to get to sequoia grove. Stopped at tunnel view along the way.
5:00. Mariposa Giant Grove - hiked the 2 mile grizzly loop and saw the tunnel tree and the grizzly tree. Great hike!
6:15 pm Drive to lodgings 1:20 minutes . We stayed in Fresno but that’s only because we booked so late. Lots of options closer in.
FRIDAY, October 5
10:00 am: Drive to king’s canyon national park 1:20 minutes
12:00 ate lunch at grants visitor center. Pretty good. 14$ for club sandwich.
1:00 pm hiked grants trails -took 20 minutes. Saw general grant.
1:30 drove to cedar grove through Kings Canyon. Spectacular drive with many lookouts along the way. (You drive into the canyon and out the same way. 1 hour each way. Roaring falls hike/zumbaldt meadows/cedar grove at the end. Grants grove at the other)
3:00 -4:45 pm roaring river hike and falls 3.2 Miles round trip. In hind site, should have seen roaring falls then driven to zumbaldt meadows and hiked a little shorter hike.
4:45 pm drive out of the canyon to hotel. Stop at grizzly falls on way out.
We did not do this but it was recommended and would have been along way.
Kings canyon panoramic point
Monticeco Sequoia lodge
63410 generals highway
-typical state park lodging/spartan. Food provided and very good. Camp atmosphere.
SATURDAY, October 6
8:00 am: Breakfast at the lodge
9:00 am: drove 30 minutes On the generals highway
9:30 am: General Sherman trail 0.5 mile - it was paved but steep all the way back to car. Congress trail is right off of the Sherman trail and it comes highly recommended. It is 2 miles and passes through the grove of giants. We didn’t do it...I would have had mutiny on my hands.
10:30 am: we stopped by the Giant Forest Museum. Had some nice displays - my kids liked it. Spent about 20 minutes there. Beetle rock is a five minute walk from the museum. It was so overcast we could barely see 10 feet in front of us so we didn’t go.
11:00 am: drive to Moro rock (10 minutes). You can also hike to Moro Rock from the museum. Glad we didn’t. The hike up was no joke. Again, so foggy we could only see 10 feet at most. A bummer. Would be spectacular on a clear day. I’m still glad we did it.
12:00 drove through Tunnel log which is nearby. You’ve got to do it. Cheesey but why not?
Recommended but we didn’t get to:
Lodgepole creek/ tokopah falls trail (there’s a visitor center there that serves ice cream/ lunch)
We drove out of the park south to LA. Very very curved road leading out of the park.
Sunday, October 7
11:00 depart Los Angeles on southwest.