Thursday, July 30, 2009

Forks, WA

If I was in elementary school and had to tell my class about how I spent my summer, this is what I would say: "On my summer vacation I went to Forks, Washington. Forks is located on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. It is three-hour drive from the Bremerton Ferry; which is about an hour ride from Seattle. It takes about half a day to get out to Forks from Seattle. You can also take the Ferry to Bainbridge Island, or you can just drive around the water."

Forks is just about the smallest town I have ever been to on the continental United States; the 101 cuts right through the town, and you need some vampire driving skills if you want to make the 60-mile drive from Port Angeles to Forks in under an hour. This was a difficult trip to plan—I had no idea what to expect, and since the Forks/Twilight craze is relatively new, there aren’t a whole lot of online tips to planning a trip if you don’t have time to comb through Google. I thought I would share my experience in the unlikely event that my blog shows up in someone’s search for trips to Fork.

You will need a car to get to Forks from SeaTac. Get a car with GPS and a CD player, or a jack in which you can plug in your iPod. Our car had both of these features, as well as Sirius, but satellite radio becomes spotty once you start heading away from Port Angeles to Forks. The drive from the Bremerton Ferry to Forks is about 98 miles, and it’s a good two and a half to three hours. The 60 miles from Port Angeles to Forks is mostly a two lane highway, with no divider, and no lights. In addition, the road leads you around Lake Crescent, so it winds. A lot.

I made my trip in July, so the sun does not set until after 9:00 p.m. that far North, but I would not want to make this drive in the dark. You can also take the Bainbridge Ferry, but a friend of mine, who also happens to be from Seattle, suggested Bremerton. If you are in a car, you can drive your car directly onto the Ferry, and get out and walk around for the one-hour ride. There is a fee for the car and driver, and passengers pay a lesser amount (on the way back to Seattle, passengers do not have to pay). There is also the option of driving South on the 5 through Tacoma and then heading back North around Olympia. Either way, plan on spending at least half the day to get out to Forks from Seattle.

Finding a place to stay in Forks was difficult. There aren’t very many reviews of the different inns and motels in the area when you search Travelocity or Orbitz. I went to the Forks Chamber of Commerce website for some options, but I believe they only list Chamber members, and beyond this list, there are a few other options. You can go the B&B route, but this didn’t seem like a good option for us since you have to share bathrooms with other guests in some of these places. Our trip, also had some uncertainty about how many of us would embark on this adventure. After a relatively extensive search, I decided upon the Olympic Suites Inn. From the photos and description, this seemed like the best option, but I did worry about cleanliness, as well as the non-ghetto factor.

Luckily, the Olympic Suites Inn was great! We had a King suite, so it had a full kitchen, full bath, living room area and a bedroom with a king bed. I believe the couch might have been a fold-out. You can rent cookware for $10 from the Inn if you want to cook. It was clean, and the bathroom was remodeled. The older gentleman who checked us in was a really sweet guy. He’s a bit religious, but he seems to embrace Twilight and the craze it has brought to his small town. I recommend the Olympic Suites Inn—if you are going to visit Forks in the summer, make your reservations in the early Spring. Forks is a destination for the hunting-fishing-camping folk during the summer, so the town does have periods of no vacancy. The Olympic Suites Inn has now hosted guests from 30 different countries.

Forks Food
Warning: Most restaurants in Forks close at 9:00 p.m., even on Saturday night. Of course, if you stay at the Olympic Suites Inn you can cook your own food. If you are used to some really great eats, then maybe you should cook. We actually only ate at one restaurant in Forks, so I don’t have anything to recommend. On the first night we arrived, we ate at Golden Gate Restaurant—yes, a Chinese restaurant. It was not the best, but I am used to Chinese food from Hawaii, Southern California and the Bay Area, and all three places have large Chinese populations.

Of course, there is always Bella Italia in Port Angeles, a.k.a. where Bella and Edward had their first dinner date. Rumor has it that Bella Italia never had mushroom ravioli on its menu until the Twilight phenomena erupted, and has since sold more than 250,000 dishes. For breakfast, we ate at First Street Haven in Port Angeles. This is a small place, but the food is good! I had the eggs benedict.

We also ate at the River’s Edge Restaurant in La Push. This came at the recommendation of the nice old man at the Inn. My sisters thought the food was good, but the place was a little dirty for my liking. The restaurant really is at the edge of the river, and you can sit in a window seat to get a view of the water. They have homemade pie, and my sister gave it the thumbs up.

What to Do
Forks is a great destination for anyone who enjoys camping, hunting, fishing or hiking. If you dare, there is also surfing; but you will need a 5/4 wetsuit, booties and a hood. Here is a list of things to do and see for Twilight fans:

  • Forks Chamber of Commerce—make stopping here a priority because they have a list of Twilight related sites to see in the town, and this is where you will find “Bella’s truck,” but check their website for hours; we missed them on a Sunday because they closed at 4:00 p.m.
  • The “Welcome to Forks” sign—photo op and it is amazing to see that their population is just over 3,000 people!
  • Forks High School—photo op!
  • Forks Community Hospital—we missed this, but heard that there is a reserved spot for one Dr. Carlisle Cullen
  • Bella’s House—we missed this one too
  • J&P Produce—one stop shopping for groceries and Twilight tchotckes
  • 98331 Gear—a small, retail store where you can find Twilight gear
  • Dazzled by Twilight—another retail store to sate your thirst for Twilight gear and they offer tours; this has more selection than 98331 Gear, but a lot of stuff here can also be found at Hot Topic
  • First Beach, Second Beach and Third Beach—located in La Push, these three beaches are cool photo ops, but be warned, it is cold
  • The “Treaty Line”—just a banner of sorts, but honestly it’s cute and it’s funny
  • Bella Italia—you must drive 60 miles to Port Angeles for this one, but it’s the restaurant where Bella ate her mushroom ravioli after Edward roared in with his shiny Volvo to save the day

If you want to mix in some non-Twilight activities, there is a visitor center in Port Angeles for the Olympic National Forest. From Forks you can also make a drive out to the Hoh Rainforest; this drive is about 24 miles away, along the two-lane 101. We did not make it out there, but it’s a place I would definitely want to see next time (yes, I said next time). Finally, please stop at the West End Surf Shop! The owners lived in Hawaii before returning to the Pacific Northwest, and I always like to support people from the rock. Plus, the shop is cool, and you can find great gifts to take home for your own surfer (Seth got a t-shirt), and the guy working in there was a nice young dude.

Other Random Tidbits
Forks is a small town. Did I mention that already? The 101 cuts through it, and not in the way that the 101 cuts through the Valley. The 101 in Forks is a two-lane highway.

In addition, cell phone service is spotty, and there is no Starbucks. On the flipside, it’s kind of nice to not be totally available for communication, and if you crave coffee, Forks has two drive-thru coffee stands. And honestly, the Olympic Peninsula is absolutely gorgeous. Normally Mother Nature and I sidestep each other, but there is just something about the Pacific Northwest that makes me almost want to hug her. It is a very calming place, and I love the water and the green, green scenery. I would go back again, and for more than just Twilight.


  1. AAUGH! you're so crazy!! I can't believe you went to Forks!! Did they change the name of the Italian restaurant after the book came out?!

  2. No, I think it was always Bella Italia. From what I have read and now seen, Stephenie Meyer chose real places for settings in the series.