Olympic National Park
The Olympic peninsula and the wider Seattle area is a world-class center for great nature and great culture. Port Angeles in the Olympic National Forest is the nearest major town. Major is maybe overstating it. It's a sleepy place with several good restaurants—an excellent place to recharge after a backpacking expedition.
Port Townsend, tiny and Victorian, is also nearby. Founded in 1851, the town is older than either Seattle or Tacoma. Nowadays the one-time lumber town is still small. You get there by crossing the Hood Canal Floating Bridge, which is an amazing attraction in itself.
The Makah Cultural and Research Center at Neah Bay in the Makah Indian Reservation west of Seiku is a good place to absorb some lore from the area's indigenous people. Not to be missed is the replica of a 15th century longhouse.
Those interested in wildlife, particularly of the coast varieties, have several pilgrimage stops. The Grays Harbor area is a historic seaport with a number of handsome old mansions built by lumber tycoons. The most spectacular attraction here, however, is the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge. Even though this refuge takes up only two percent of the intertidal habitat of the estuary, half of the one million migrating shorebirds that pass through the area each spring stop here. These include the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge located on the seven-mile-long Dungeness Spit, the longest sandhook in the United States. Also not to be missed is the Salt Creek Recreation Area, which features tidal pools chock full of sea anemones, mussels, starfish, and other invertebrates.
Long Beach has a couple of unusual museums, for those who like that sort of thing: The World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame and the Pacific Coast Cranberry Museum, which offers free tours of the cranberry bog during harvest. The Shelburne Country Inn is museum-like; it's the oldest continually operated hotel in the state.
The nearby city of Victoria, British Columbia (18 miles north of Port Angeles by ferry) is one of those British outposts the Canadians are so fond of—a high tea and gardens kind of place. If you get impatient with that sort of thing, just think of it as a North American city in a spectacular setting that makes a pleasant day trip.
And of course Seattle is just across the Puget Sound. Good food. Fun nightlife. Bustling markets. Wonderful, lovingly cared for natural setting. And a great mix of residents from all over the planet, and from all social milieus. A great city that gave San Francisco and Los Angeles a run for their money, and is now a couple laps ahead.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication