5 Reasons You Must Visit Sequim Washington

Written by Elizabeth Rose

October 17, 2017
Home >> Travel >> Road Trips >> 5 Reasons You Must Visit Sequim Washington

Here are our top 5 reasons you must visit Sequim Washington, often called the “banana belt” of Western Washington.

Sequim, Washington is called the “banana belt” of Western Washington. It’s warmer there. Rain touches the ground a mere 65 days a year because the town lies in the rain shadow of the scenic Olympic Mountains. But that isn’t the only reason you’ll want to visit Sequim (pronounced squim rhyming with swim) on the Olympic Peninsula. If you want to get away from traffic, enjoy meandering country roads, or sitting down to a true local seafood dinner, you’ll love Sequim.

1—Sequim is the Lavender Capital of North America

Sequim’s small downtown area is home to three lavender shops, the light posts and benches are painted lavender, and the local lavender farms draw thousands during lavender season. Lavender grows well in the mild climate, but I’ll remember the friendly people.

Sequim Washington

Purple benches decorate little Seal Street Park in downtown Sequim. Photo courtesy Linda Barnfather and Visit Sunny Sequim

It was a fall day, the lavender fields were trimmed, yet the sign was out welcoming us to Jardin du Soleil Lavender Farm. We were told they had a good shop with locally made products and ten acres of fields.

Dash, the Lavender Dog, greeted us, and we checked the shop. We smelled the soaps and lotions and enjoyed the view of the fields out of the quaint window. Jordan Schiefen joined us and pointed out some of the new additions to the shop. She told us that a neighbor made the soaps… and we bought some to enjoy at home.

Sequim Washington Jardin du Soleil Lavender Farm

Jardin du Soleil Lavender Farm. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

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Nothing in the shop smelled strongly of lavender scent. The scents were natural… soothing. After all, in Victorian times, lavender was touted as a tonic for nerves. Jordan invited us to stroll through the fields and enjoy their laid-back farm. My friend was intrigued by the geese, and I took Cinnamon the Coonhound for a long walk in the fields.

Over 110,000 lavender plants are grown annually in the Sequim area. Many of the varieties are unique to Sequim. And lavender is celebrated big time. While you can enjoy the rolling purple fields from spring through summer, the prime time for a visit is summertime. Sequim’s Lavender Weekend is held the third weekend of each July.

Sequim Washington Lavender

Lavender harvest time. Photo courtesy P. Haines and Visit Sunny Sequim

During Lavender Weekend, you can visit the farms, of course, but there is also the Lavender Festival Street Fair, and side events such as a quilt show and driftwood sculpture show. Look for musicians and a street dance. Often farms have their own mini-celebration with music, food, and distillation demonstrations.

2—Outdoor Recreation and Wildlife Abound in Sequim

From eagles to elk in one day. That was my experience encountering some of the wildlife of the Sequim area. And you don’t need a guide to find them. I wanted to see the famous New Dungeness Lighthouse, so I headed to the boat launch at Dungeness Landing County Park.

It was a foggy morning, so I couldn’t see the lighthouse well, and I wasn’t up for the 5-mile hike out to the light station, so I stood there, quietly enjoying the misty scene. I heard a whistle from the treetops behind me… a familiar sound. I had communed with eagles while visiting Haida Gwaii, Canada, and learned to love the sound of their call. Sure enough, two eagles were looking down at us from a skeleton of a tree not far from the boat launch. I was thrilled to see them.

Sequim Washington Eagle

It’s not unusual to hear the whistle of eagles in Sequim. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The Dungeness Spit, one of the world’s longest natural sand spits, is part of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. It’s a marvelous place to see water and shorebirds. Harbor seals haul out to rest and give birth to pups at the end of the spit.

When we left the park, we headed out to another county park—Marilyn Nelson Park—so Cinnamon the Coonhound could wander the beach and do dog-like things like sniff seaweed. On the way, we spied a herd of Roosevelt Elk in the distance. The herd is a Sequim attraction. Elk-crossing signal lights on Highway 101 are triggered by elk wearing radio collars.

Sequim Washington Roosevelt Elk Herd

Roosevelt Elk herd. Courtesy Renee Mizar and Visit Sunny Sequim

Sequim is ideal for outdoor lovers. You can hike through old-growth forests, play golf, bike, and walk the Olympic Discovery Trail. Fishing and kayaking are popular, as are foraging and berry picking. The area is bounded by bays, and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the ever-visible rugged peaks of the Olympic Mountains are not that far away by car.

Olympic Mountain View Sequim Washington

Olympic Mountain view. Photo courtesy Kay Gerdes and Visit Sunny Sequim

Being less adventurous on this trip, I headed out to Railroad Bridge Park, on the Olympic Discovery Trail. Just a short drive from downtown brought us to a beautiful riverside park where you can cross an old railroad bridge and view the rushing waters of the Dungeness River below. We also visited the Dungeness River Audubon Center nearby.

Railroad Bridge Park in Sequim Washington

It was a great walk on the Olympic Discovery Trail over the Dungeness River at Railroad Bridge Park. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

3—Sequim’s Shopping and Dining Keeps it Local

With all that outdoor activity, it wasn’t hard to convince us we should spend our evenings discovering the culinary delights of Sequim. The Sequim and Chimacum areas are full of small farms that grow produce for the area’s households and chefs. So we knew we would encounter some fresh farm-to-table and boat-to-table cuisine.

Sequim Washington Dungeness Crab Dinner

The area is known for Dungeness Crab. Photo courtesy Visit Sunny Sequim

Since we stayed at the John Wayne Rustic Waterfront Resort, we were just a short walk from The Dockside Grill on Sequim Bay. The wine list had some excellent Washington wines, and we chose a red blend to enjoy with Dungeness crab fritters with roasted garlic and lemon aioli for an appetizer. The special, featuring local salmon, sounded enticing. The perfectly cooked salmon was topped with fresh Dungeness crab.

Dockside Grill in Sequim Washington

Local crab over freshly caught salmon. What could be better! Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

On another evening, we enjoyed Blondie’s Plate in downtown Sequim. We entered from the parking lot to find a very busy small bar serving craft cocktails. A favorite is the Blonde’s Signature Moscow Mule, made with locally brewed ginger beer complemented by a French ginger liqueur, freshly squeezed lime, and sprigs of mint broken over the top. That’s where we first noticed the dachshund dog décor.

We were hungry, so we were pleased that we made a reservation. The table near the kitchen afforded us a peek in, so we saw some fresh-caught salmon being prepared for diners. Blondie’s has a vibrant, youthful vibe, so it’s just plain fun to spend time there. We were intrigued by additional dachshund art and discovered that the owner, and several of the staff, have and love their dachshunds!

Blondie's Plate in Sequim Washington

Blondie’s Plate loves their doxies! Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Dinner that evening was perfect. I enjoyed a lamb shank from an Umpqua, Oregon, farm, cooked to ultimate tenderness in a savory tomato broth, local greens, and a dash of lemon zest. I have to say it was the most tender lamb shank I had ever eaten. And, while Blondie’s advertises they feature small plates, our plates that evening were certainly not small, and I took a portion of the lamb shank home (it made excellent leftovers).

Blondie's Lamb Shank in Sequim Washington

Blondie’s Lamb Shank was the best I’ve ever had. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

The next day we were excited to learn more about local farms and where you could purchase farm-fresh produce. So we headed out Sequim-Dungeness Road to Nash’s Organic Produce Store. They feature local, organic produce and an interesting selection of healthy foods, some preserved and packaged. I picked up a beautiful red pepper and two very fresh Walla Walla sweet onions to cook with once I returned home. We drove down country roads, noticed U-pick berry farms, Sequim’s famous Roosevelt Elk herd in a field, and doubled back into town.

Nash's Organic Produce in Sequim Washington

Nash’s features organic produce from local farms. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Downtown Sequim is a delight. The flowers cascaded over their lamppost baskets, and shops offered enticing window displays. Sequim’s small and easily walkable downtown is filled with locally-owned unique stores that include home and garden objects, hand-printed linens, local lavender, craft supplies, art, antiques, and fine clothing boutiques. When you shop downtown, be sure and go into each shop. A visit to Pondicherri surprised us with colorful hand-printed East Indian linens and clothing items.

Pondicherri in Sequim Washington

Pondicherri is locally owned but is filled with exotic fabrics and clothing. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

When you are downtown, you’ll want to continue exploring the Olympic Peninsula foodie scene. Sequim Spice and Tea sells culinary herbs, spice blends, gourmet salt, and teas. The Savory Drizzle is an olive oil and vinegar shop where you can taste and select your favorites to take home.

And, in the desire to keep it local, you’ll find a co-op art gallery and Forage Gifts and Northwest Treasures with fun souvenirs from the area and beyond.

4—Sequim has Unique Accommodations

One thing we discovered is that there are some very unique Sequim vacation rentals. We had the fortune of staying in a cabin out at the John Wayne Rustic Waterfront Resort. The views of Sequim Bay were mesmerizing… from dawn to sunset, the water and skies changed. We could walk to the John Wayne Marina, to dinner at the Dockside Grille for seafood and steaks, and were close to the extensive Olympic Discovery Trail. And the resort was dog-friendly.

But we investigated some other options as well. One day we stopped by Red Caboose Bed and Breakfast Getaway, not far from central Sequim. You’ll get your own railroad car, primarily cabooses, which includes a decorated theme room and a nice bathroom. You’ll awake to a gourmet breakfast in their 1937 Zephyr private dining car.

Red Caboose Bed and Breakfast Getaway in Sequim Washington

Wouldn’t staying at the Red Caboose Bed and Breakfast Getaway be fun? Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

And since Sequim is all about lavender, you can stay in a modern farmhouse on the beautiful Purple Haze Lavender Farm. You’ll not only stay in a beautiful rural setting, but you can also watch the operations of a working organic lavender farm firsthand. But you don’t have to join in and work. This is not a typical farm stay. You’ll have the run of the two-story modern home with three bedrooms (one with a King, two with Queens). You move in and bring your purchases from nearby farm stands to cook your dinner. And after dinner, sit on the beautiful veranda that overlooks the farm.

5—Sequim is Close to So Much More

Sequim may have been voted the Best Northwest Small Town this year, but there is much to do around town. It’s just about an hour from the Victorian Seaport of Port Townsend and from Port Angeles, where you can take the MV Coho Ferry to Victoria, BC.

And don’t forget that Sequim is on the Olympic Peninsula, so you’ll have a great base for exploring the Olympic National Park, the rain forest, the rugged coast, and Native American communities such as at the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s beautiful art gallery and carving shed where you can watch traditional poles being carved.

Sequim Washington Totem Pole

The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe’s carvers carved the pole at the Sequim Civic Center. Photo by Elizabeth R Rose

Some people make the trip to see the lighthouses of the Olympic Peninsula. Right out on Dungeness Spit is the New Dungeness Light Station, where you can even become a lighthouse keeper and stay out on the spit.

Dungeness Lighthouse in Sequim Washington

Dungeness Lighthouse. Photo courtesy G. Gerkitz and Visit Sunny Sequim

When You Go to Sequim on the Olympic Peninsula

Sequim is just two hours from Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia, and getting there is very scenic. This is a perfect road trip to the Pacific Northwest. You can fly into Seattle and then rent a car to drive through Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. If you want to open your own shop, like one of the boutiques in Sequim, you can form an LLC from anywhere. For example, you might check here to see how to form a Georgia LLC if you live in Georgia.

Find out more online at the Sunny Sequim and Olympic Peninsula Visitors Bureau websites. Read all of our Sequim articles here. Read more from Wander writers about Washington’s Olympic Peninsula here.

5 reasons you must visit Sequim Washington, often called the “banana belt” of Western Washington. Close to both Seattle and Tacoma, it is filled with charm. #wanderwashington #sequim #washington #PNW #PacificNorthWest #wowmoments

5 Reasons You Must Visit Sequim Washington

Written by Elizabeth Rose

Elizabeth Rose is back again in the Phoenix area after more than a decade living in New Mexico and Washington state. She travels throughout the West and beyond writing about destinations, accommodations, festivals, and restaurants, especially farm to table cuisine. As an expert in cultural tourism, her writing reflects that passion. She has won awards for her photography and accompanies her articles with her own images. She also provides photos for magazine covers, web sites and magazine articles (both print and online).

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