I love a good lodge, the ones with towering ceilings and massive fireplaces with a crackling fire. There is just something so cozy and welcoming about them when you walk in the door, especially here in the Pacific Northwest, where we receive so much rain. I choose these lodges because in addition to great lodging, they are also in some of the most scenic areas in Washington.
My stays at these lodges and resorts were part of a press trip I took to these destinations. All opinions are my own.
1. Skamania Lodge
The Skamania Lodge is located in the heart of the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area where the climate begins its change from rainy western Washington to the sunny eastern side. This lodge resembles those iconic national park lodges but is an up-to-date modern facility. When you walk into the lobby, the floor-to-ceiling windows give you an impressive view of the Columbia River Gorge. This is a full-service resort with restaurants, a gift shop with s’mores packets for the fire pit, a spa, and many onsite recreation opportunities. Go zip-lining, climb into an aerial park, or try your hand at the latest PNW craze, ax throwing.
Lodging options include tree houses, but these aren’t the usual rustic accommodations. These are luxury cabins elevated among the towering Douglas firs. The height makes Skamania Lodge’s views even more impressive as you overlook an old-growth forest and mountains. Enjoy your indoor-outdoor fireplace from the deck while sipping a glass of Washington wine.
Pro Tip: Make sure to visit the outdoor hot tub. It fits right into the surroundings with rocky landscaping designed to look like a natural hot spring and views overlooking the Columbia Gorge Mountains.
2. Lake Quinault Lodge
The lovely Lake Quinault Lodge was built in 1926 with a temperate rain forest right outside the front door. The back lawn strewn with Adirondack chairs overlooks the lovely Lake Quinault. In season, enjoy paddleboarding, kayaking, or swimming from the beach. Cell phone coverage is hit or miss, but recent upgrades to Wi-Fi will keep you connected. You can access record-sized old-growth trees just a short distance away. One must-see is the world’s largest Sitka Spruce Tree. The trailhead is just a mile from the resort and at one-third of a mile, it is a perfect accessible trail for those with limited mobility.
There is a variety of lodging, and you can stay in the original 1926 lodge (the rooms are up to date with their own bathrooms) or stay in the newer buildings on the property. Amenities include an indoor swimming pool.
Pro Tip: Take the Lake Quinault Rainforest Tour. Your guide will pick you up at the lodge for a four-hour trip that takes you into the heart of the rainforest. Experience big trees, waterfalls, wildlife, and maybe even a forest bigfoot sighting. Stops will give you the best photo spots in the area, and hikes are short with many accessible for those with limited mobility. This is truly a special experience, and I highly recommend it.
3. Alderbrook Resort And Spa
The Alderbrook Resort and Spa is located on the Hood Canal fjord, in the small town of Union. It has been welcoming guests since 1913, when arrival was by canoe because there were no roads. Today, even though there are roads, you can see guests arrive by seaplane at the dock. It is an immensely popular staycation due to its proximity to Seattle and Tacoma. This lovely property is landscaped with old-growth trees that somehow escaped the logger’s saw. Miles of hiking trails are located on site. Make sure to pick up a card at the front desk to experience Shinrin Yoku, or forest meditation, and learn about the healthful benefits of experiencing the forest. The resort is on the Olympic Peninsula and has convenient access to Olympic National Park and the charming small towns that line the Hood Canal.
For lodging, step up to one of the cottages which have covered patios with views of the Hood Canal and the Olympic Mountains. These luxury abodes have every amenity you need with easy access to everything the resort has to offer. The soothing colors of the decor, fireplace, and cozy living area make this a place you won’t want to leave.
Pro Tip: Make a visit to the Hama Hama Oyster Saloon where you can eat oysters direct from the Hood Canal in a rustic outdoor setting. This is a fifth-generation family-run oyster farm famed for the purity and clean, crisp flavor of their shellfish.
4. Semiahmoo Resort
Semiahmoo Resort is my favorite pet-friendly place to stay in Washington. When you book a room with your pet on the first floor, the patio door gives you easy access to the outdoors. This lovely seaside resort is on a spit of land surrounded by the Salish Sea. The resort has a rustic lodge appeal but with every luxury. There is even a private movie theater. The windswept beaches are decorated with driftwood and have plenty of outdoor seating and firepits. You can even see Canada from the grounds. Even winter days are conducive to beach walks around the spit. Access the heated pool from indoors and then swim outside to enjoy the fresh air.
Where Semiahmoo really shines is with its dining. The main restaurant is Packers Kitchen + Bar. The culinary team is committed to sourcing from small, local Pacific Northwest artisans, ranchers, fishermen, and farms. Check out their list of local purveyors. This commitment to quality really shows in the food. The resort offers dining events each month and the Winemaker Dinners sell out and you can see why. Each dinner features a different winery from Washington and around the world. Award-winning wines are paired with a five-course meal. The menu is a surprise until you arrive. The interactive dinners are educational, and you will learn about each course and how it pairs with the wine from the culinary team and the winemakers.
Pro Tip: Make sure to visit the Peace Arch Historical State Park, which contains the International Peace Arch. The International Peace Arch celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2021 after undergoing restoration. This park is unique because it is two parks in two countries. One half is in the United States and is a Washington State Park, and the other half is in Canada, a British Columbia Provincial Park.
5. Tokeland Hotel
The Tokeland Hotel is the most unique place you will ever stay at. The minute you walk in the door, it is as if you have stepped into a time capsule. Original furnishings and decor dominate the lobby area. The sounds of vintage music, parakeets chirping in antique cages, and a crackling wood fire add to the ambiance of days gone by. This is the oldest hotel in Washington, and it is an experience that may not be for everyone, with bathrooms down the hall and rooms just large enough to hold the beds you sleep in -- no televisions or telephones. Owners Heather Earnhardt and Zac Young bring a cozy and intimate experience that honors the rich history of this historic property.
Earnhardt is a famed Seattle chef, and people drive hours just for her food. She has taken her Southern roots and combined them with the bounty of the Pacific Northwest to create a unique cuisine that is truly yummy. I stayed at the hotel on a press trip, but I often drive over to Tokeland to enjoy a meal here -- it is that good. As an ex-pat Southerner myself, I so appreciate her shrimp and grits and admire her use of local ingredients, like cranberry, to create inspired dishes. Make sure to pick up a copy of her cookbook, Big Food, Big Love.
Editor’s Note: As of this writing, the Tokeland Hotel was still temporarily closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Check with the hotel for updates.
Pro Tip: Just past the Tokeland Hotel, at the end of the peninsula, is Nelson Crab Inc. This company has been around since 1934 and produces all-natural wild seafood. The shop was once at the cannery, but is now in a beautiful space at the marina and is run by Kristi Nelson, a third-generation member of the family. In addition to the seafood market, the building now houses a coffee shop and a gift shop featuring local artisans. You can purchase their signature wild salmon and albacore tuna, canned with no preservatives or chemicals.
All these lodges and resorts provide what I consider the quintessential Pacific Northwest stay: lodging that is a destination on its own merits, great views of the mountains or seas, and good, locally sourced food. That is a vacation win in my book.