Olympic Peninsula – Oct. 2017
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Three Days in Sunny Sequim, WA

John Wayne Maina1 (1280x960)1. Sequim is pronounced “SK-WIM.” 2. It’s located on the north end of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. 3. Thanks to the “rain shadow” of the Olympic Mountains, it receives an average of only 16 inches per year (compared with nearby Hoh Rainforest’s 140 inches and Seattle’s 38.) Only two hours from Seattle, Sequim is the best of what the coastal Pacific Northwest has to offer.

Downtown Sequim Has It
rft-recommendedSequim Real Food TravelerArriving in Sequim after my drive from Portland, I’m ready for a strong cup of coffee and a good, quick meal. I satisfy both needs; first at cozy Hurricane Coffee and then at Jose’s Famous Salsa. A local favorite, this taqueria serves tacos, burritos, tostadas, and tamales, ceviche, and more. Jose and Angee Garcia started their business when friends enjoyed their homemade salsas so much they wanted to buy them. Today, they make 50-60 gallons of the spicy stuff a week. I help myself to the salsa bar, trying a little of everything, including traditional marinated carrots, jicama and radish garnish—all fresh ingredients, delicious flavors.

Jose's Famous Salsa is THE tacqueria for all things Mexican in Sequim.

Jose’s Famous Salsa is THE tacqueria for all things Mexican in Sequim.

My first day in Sequim I wander shops, galleries, coffee houses, and wine bars and eat well. Hart’s Fine Books is the perfect place to find a cool vintage or antique book. They’ve also got a great collection of film memorabilia. At Sequim Spice & Tea, I sample a variety of salts and sugars, and pick up some cedar smoked sea salt and some herbal tea. They’ve got an extensive selection of spices, herbs, teas, salts and sugars.

Over the Fence offers original and well-priced home and garden décor, and I pick up a couple of birthday gifts. Another great gift and home items shop, HeatherCreek specializes in French Country décor. For art, step into Blue Whole Gallery, an artist’s co-op. Mad Maggi Boutique sells great clothing. Pondicherri designs and creates textile fashions and home items. This a family run business and their goods are made at their textile factory in New Delhi. They’re committed to strong social and environmental policies and their designs and quality are lovely.

At Sequim Spice and Tea, you can sample artisan salts.

At Sequim Spice and Tea, you can sample artisan salts.

What’s in the pastry case at That Takes the Cake is only a fraction of their repertoire. By varying the cake flavors, icing and fillings, they offer a staggering 350 (and counting) flavors of cupcakes, wedding and specialty cakes. Proprietors Sue and Paul Boucher cut no corners when it comes to quality. From start to finish, they invest 18 hours creating large wedding cakes and make 145 wedding cakes a year (eight to12 in a single weekend at high season). My “triple threat” chocolate cupcake is heavenly.

It’s time to refuel with an afternoon java. Rainshadow Coffee is Sequim’s local roasting company and the scent of roasting beans guides me there. I can stand by their “Life is Short, Drink Good Coffee” sign and enjoy an espresso from their Firehouse Blend beans, and get some ground for morning coffee in my room.

My triple chocolate cupcake from That Takes the Cake was over the moon.

My triple chocolate cupcake from That Takes the Cake was over the moon.

Before dinner, I taste wine at Wind Rose Cellars. Angie, originally from Germany, is pouring and she expertly leads me through husband-and-wife team David Volmut and Jennifer States’ wines. Wind Rose focuses on Italian varietals, with emphasis on food-driven wines. Grapes are sourced from some of my favorite Washington wine regions and these winemakers know what they are doing. Their Dolcetto has great color and mild, easy-to-drink flavors. Their Primitivo is excellent; as is the Barbera and the king of big Italian reds, their Nebbiolo. The bistro offers delicious small bites and the live music most nights, making Wind Rose Cellars a great hangout.

The John Wayne Marina
Movie star legend John Wayne often sailed his Wild Goose sailboat in Sequim Bay and surrounding waters, and, in 1975, donated land for a marina. Today, the marina includes moorage, a community area, a great promenade, boat and kayak rentals, the Dockside Grill restaurant and John Wayne’s Waterfront Resort, with cabins and RV space.

My cabin at John Wayne's Waterfront Resort offered tranquil water views.

My cabin at John Wayne’s Waterfront Resort offered tranquil water views.


I spend two nights at the Resort. My cabin, along with seven others, features a wall of picture windows and an open view of the water. There’s a big flat screen TV, but nothing beats the water view. There’s a full kitchen, living room, and two bedrooms. Everything is comfy, clean and woodsy. The countertops aren’t granite and the shower isn’t tiled, but the paint colors are warm and saturated; the furnishings new; and then again, there’s that water view.

At the marina, rent a kayak or stand up paddleboard (SUP) at the dock from GoXpeditions. The waters of Sequim Bay are calm and perfect for an easy paddle; or venture a bit further into Dungeness Bay.

The Dockside Grill offers waterside dining at the Marina; just about every table offers great marina and water views The Dockside is owned by Steve Little and he shares Chef duties with Josh Souza. The two have worked together and been best friends since 1995 and have won several awards together. Josh’s wife, Melody, who also works at the restaurant, enjoys the family-friendly atmosphere they’ve created.

The seafood is fresh, the steaks well prepared, the pasta homemade, and the dessert tray is decadent. I start my meal with seven-grain, seedy, fresh warm bread and olive oil and balsamic dipping sauce. The seafood bisque has all the goodies: salmon, prawns, scallops and plenty of crab. It’s creamy, but not too thick, not too rich.

You can't go wrong with Dockside Grill's seafood bisque.

You can’t go wrong with Dockside Grill’s seafood bisque.

The signature dish is cedar plank salmon (or the cedar plank halibut in season). It’s dry-rubbed and topped with plenty of Dungeness crab and citrus butter. My shellfish and sausage is a treat: local mussels and manila clams, Andouille sausage, slices of red potato, thinly sliced celery that remains crunchy, garlic and plenty of fresh herbs, fresh chopped tomatoes and just a bit of heavy cream. It’s served with parmesan toast points for sopping up the last of that delicious broth.

In the morning, the tide is way out, and low fog creates a blanket over the water and islands beyond. I linger over coffee on my little deck, watching fishing herons and boats in the Bay. It’s a beautiful spot.

Best Breakfast

Pancakes and blintzes galore are served at Oak Table.

Pancakes and blintzes galore are served at Oak Table.

The Oak Table is “the” place for breakfast in Sequim. Each morning, they prepare seven different pancake batters. The buttermilk pancakes have added sourdough yeasts and enzymes, which make them especially light and fine-textured (and easy to digest). Potato pancakes are the real deal. I watch The Apple Pancake arrive at the next table to exclaims by all. A house specialty, it’s baked like a soufflé until it’s three inches tall, then fresh cooked, peeled apples and cinnamon glaze are added. There are also buckwheat pancakes and the blintzes are filled with a mix of cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, and almond extract topped with fresh berries. The Swedish pancakes are thin, moist, lacy and sweet—delicious.

The Crab Benedict special does not disappoint: the hollandaise is fresh, lemony and indulgent, the crab is plentiful and fresh. Thick-sliced bacon and thick sliced ham; check. Fresh squeezed orange and grapefruit juice; check. French-style baked omelettes. Scrambles. Waffles. Yogurt parfait. Quiche. Espresso drinks. Check, check, on all.

The Oak Table is a family affair. Mary and Billy Nagler opened the doors in 1981. Billy Zuzich, Mary’s brother, moved west in 1982 and is the General Manager. The Nagler’s daughter, Nikki,and husband Ross run their own location in Kingston, and Billy’s sister runs her own restaurants in nearby Port Angeles. Family portraits and memorabilia hang on the wall and pay homage to their Chicago Croatian-Italian-German roots.

The hike to Marymeree Falls is invigorating.

The hike to Marymere Falls is invigorating.

Essential Hikes

I’m ready for a full day of hiking, eager to be part this beautiful landscape. It’s a glorious day, and there are hikes for every level of hiking.

Heading west on Hwy. 101, I stop at Sequim’s Sunny Farms Nursery. There’s a full nursery, and the grocery store sells natural, high quality meat, fresh veggies, fruits and grocery items. I pull together a wonderful picnic lunch.

On the Peninsula, it's all about the views.

On the Peninsula, it’s all about the views.

Forty-five minutes from Sequim, I reach Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park. The 17-mile drive up to the 5,200 foot level is gorgeous. I choose a moderate hike that offers great views of both the mountains and the waters of the Strait. This is the Northwest at its best.

At Lake Crescent, it’s a short 1.8 mile hike out to Marymere Falls. This is low elevation forest; weak light shines through dense forest, outstanding year-round green colors, fir trees and yews, cedars and spruce, and lots of ferns. Visitors can also walk over to Lake Crescent Lodge, rent a kayak, and walk the beach. The beautiful Pacific Northwest is truly is a place everyone should experience.

Lavender and Country Roads

I spend my final day in Sequim exploring back roads and local parks. You can let yourself wander–the roads all lead back to town, and, along the way you’ll pass farms, both private and those open for business, the Olympic Game Farm, parks, and more.

Quietness settles over me as I drive the long, windy path to Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge; and I haven’t even begun my hike. It’s early morning and there’s still a chill in the air and cloud cover.

I hike along, but turn back before reaching the six miles out to Dungeness Lighthouse. The Lighthouse is located at the very end of spit; the longest natural sand spit in the U.S. The width of the spit varies considerably with the tides; but this day, it’s not more than 50 to 70 feet wide. The waves lap the beach and I examine the seaweed, shell remnants, rocks and driftwood along the way, and watch heron fish and seabirds scavenge. The sun has burned off the morning fog and the trail above the Spit offers another great view.

On Sequim-Dungeness Way, I stop at Nash’s Organic Produce. Nash’s has been integral to providing organic fruits, vegetables, grains, eggs, and pork for restaurants, local markets, and residents throughout the North Olympic Peninsula as well as Seattle and beyond. Restaurants often tout that they source from Nash’s and share how important the farm has been to efforts to provide local, sustainable, organic eating in the area.

Nash's Organic Produce has been a leader in bringing fresh, sustainable produce to the Peninsula.

Nash’s Organic Produce has been a leader in bringing fresh, sustainable produce to the Peninsula.

I move on to the salty waters of Marilyn Nelson Park. It’s rocky with just a strip of beach (tide dependent, of course), and a lovely place take in the glorious view.

Lavender grows extremely well in this clime, and indeed, one of Sequim’s largest annual fests is July’s Lavender Festival. There are quite a few lavender farms to choose from on these roads. Purple Haze Lavender Farm is on Bellbottom Road, just off West Sequim Bay Road. Earlier, I had visited their downtown shop, but visiting the 12-acre farm offers the full experience; a view of the lavender fields and the quaint country shop (where I pick up a bottle of essential oil).

Depending on the time of year, you can pick a lavender bouquet, buy plants, or catch a wedding. In August or September, you may be lucky to see lavender oil extraction. The distillation equipment can hold 700 pounds of flowers and yield between 8 to 24 pints of essential lavender oil. From a porch swing, I watch kids pet the rabbits and enjoy a serving of buttery rich lavender ice cream.

Lavender is big in Sequim and lavender farms like Purple Haze let visitors small and taste the purple flowers.

Lavender is big in Sequim and lavender farms like Purple Haze let visitors smell and taste the purple flowers.

A visit to Sequim can be a jumping point for all that is the Olympic Peninsula, the San Juan Islands, and Canada’s Vancouver Island in Canada. But, for me, Sequim is also a perfect destination all by itself. — Story and photos by Nancy Zaffaro, Wine, Brews, & Spirits Editor Northwest

If You Go:

Where to Eat in Sequim
Hurricane Coffee Company,
Jose’s Famous Salsa,
Dockside Grill, ,
Alder Wood Bistro,
Blondie’s Plate,
That Takes the Cake,
Wind Rose Cellars,

Where to Shop in Sequim:
Blue Whole Gallery,
Hart’s Fine Books,
Heather Creek,
Mad Maggi Boutique, Sequim
Over The Fence,
Rainshadow Coffee Roasting Company,
Sequim Spice & Tea,
Nash’s Organic Produce,
Purple Haze Lavender Farm,
Sunny Farms,

Where to Stay:
There are lodging options to suit all budgets in and near Sequim.
John Wayne Waterfront Resort:

For more information about Sequim;
For more information about the Olympic Peninsula;

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Nancy Zaffaro

Nancy Zaffaro is a travel and food writer based in Portland, Oregon. She enjoys travel, writing, good food and drink (of course!), cooking, yoga, kayaking, and photography. She’s a long-time writer and editor who has had interesting and varied careers in the arts and in business, and is thrilled to be able to travel the world and write about her adventures. Nancy is also the Editor of

15 thoughts on “Three Days in Sunny Sequim, WA

  1. Kay Kepley

    Hi there, fun article. A trip to Sequim and surroundings is always good…glad you could make it and now that you have had a taste of it come back again. Even on a cool grey day like today there is lots more you could see and do and always folks to talk to. Cheers, Kay

    1. Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT EditorBobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

      Yes, Kay, at, we’ve definitely fallen in love with the Sequim area and the entire Olympic Peninsula. Hope you keep reading and we’ll keep coming back to your lovely area. Cheers! — Bobbie, RFT Editor

  2. Captain-Crystal Stout

    Don’t forget our wonderful hot air balloon flights out of Sequim Valley Airport. Spectacular views of the Puget Sound, Olympic National Forest, the Cascade Range, Canada and everything in between.

  3. Lighthouse Manor

    What a great article! Thank you for sharing your amazing three days in Sequim with your readers. You did A LOT in those three days and perfectly (and eloquently) captured the essence of what makes Sequim such a PNW gem!

    1. Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT EditorBobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

      We’re delighted you like Nancy Zaffaro’s piece on visiting lovely Sequim. We’ve had lots of great response. Nancy is one o our best writers. We, too, love her work. Thanks for reading. Tell your friends and family about Cheers! Bobbie, RFT Editor

  4. Judy Stipe

    Don’t miss most amazing Museum with the oldest Mastodon bones & tusks in North America on display. A permanent exhibit honoring 1936 Olympic Gold
    Medal winner Joe Rantz & the Sequim boy’s successful rowing career with
    the University of Washington. Joe’s story “Boys in the Boat” has long been on the New York Times Best Seller List & is destined to become a movie. Don’t be afraid to come past the construction of Sequim’s new City Hall to 175 W. Cedar Street & come in to see the work of talented artists from the Olympic Peninsula. Open Wed. – Sat. from 11-3 pm, no admission charge. Check our
    Web-site for lots of info. Judy Reandeau Stipe-Interim Director

    1. Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT EditorBobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

      Hi Judy,
      Thanks for the heads up about this museum in beautiful Sequim. We’ve had lots of inquiries and interest in Nancy Zaffaro’s “Three Days in Sunny Sequim” article so we suspect a number of’s readers will be coming your way. Cheers! Bobbie, RFT Editor

    1. Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT EditorBobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

      Hi Susan,
      Thanks for your kind words about Nancy Zaffaro’s article on Sequim. She loves the place as do we. And thank you for the suggestion. Nourish is an eatery we’ll have to try. Cheers! — Bobbie, RFT Editor

  5. Debbi Anderson

    I fell in love with Sequim the first time I visited in October of 2014. So much so that I had to return again in February of 2015. It won’t be my last. Guaranteed.

  6. Nancy Z.

    Thank you for all the great comments on my article–and even more so–thanks for sharing additional must-do’s and must-try’s for next time!

  7. Sharen Millett

    Wonderful article. Just wondering if you knew about Sunset Marine Resort on Sequim Bay? It has been in Sunset Magazine twice. People come from around the world to stay there; it is reservations only, very private. You mentioned GoXpeditions at John Wayne Marina in your article, and the same owners, both Tracie and Lavon also own Sunset Marine Resort across the bay from the marina. Often when one of the gals is running the kayak business and the other is running the resort, one hops in their boat and zips across the bay to help with the other business. It is quite entertaining and amazing to watch the interactivities. In addition to kayaking, paddle boards and paddle boats, GoXpeditions offers tent trailers available for out-of-towners to hook up and camp in the national parks. The girls do all the work, just pack your clothes and food. I think it is quite amazing what Tracie and Lavon have created for tourists when they visit Sequim and/or the Olympic Peninsula. I always like to give a boost for women working very hard to be successful, and they are that. Thought you might like to know. Thanks again for your wonderful article…

    1. Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT EditorBobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

      Hey Sharen,
      Thank you so much for your kind words about Nancy Zaffaro’s piece on spending three days exploring Sequim. I’d not heard about Sunset Marine Resort, but now that I know, I will definitely have to check it out. It sounds like a perfect place for to review. Thanks again. — Bobbie, RFT Editor

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