Why do so many people increasingly choose a vacation rental for holiday get togethers? It is a way to create new memories in a completely different place. A way to start new traditions. Sharing a house offers both togetherness and privacy; you can enjoy meals together in the dining room, but you’ll also have enough space for everyone to come and go as they please.
Price-wise, a rental home will often give you more space at a lower price than a hotel room. And being the off-peak season now, rates are lower too. You’ll also have access to a kitchen so you can save money on food by preparing your own meals. And Hood Canal is within easy driving distance to major cities like Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, and Vancouver BC, so you’ll reduce travel costs and the stress associated with travel. When choosing a home, remember there is a trade-off: a waterfront location will normally be more expensive than a forest cabin. However, the more amenities the rental offers (Fireplace, WiFi, Satellite TV, Beaches, fire pit, etc.), the less money you’ll need to spend on outside activities.
Vacation homes are not for everyone. Check-in dates are less flexible and if your plans may change at the last minute, keep in mind that a hotel reservation is much easier to cancel than a rental agreement. Also, a vacation rental may not be right for you if you prefer to have room service, daily housekeeping, and on-site restaurants and bars.
Tips for Things to Do
Hood Canal and the Olympic Peninsula offer a variety for both the outdoor and indoor adventurer. There are outdoor activities like Hiking (see below for several links), Beachcombing, Crabbing, Fishing, and Kayaking. Rent bikes in Sequim or Port Townsend, or walk on the Discovery Bay Trail. Stop in the Visitors Center in Quilcene for free state, county, and back country biking and hiking maps. If weather is bad, head up to Port Townsend for the day for Shopping, Wine tasting, Brunch or a Play. In fact, encourage separate day excursions that you can share with each other when you meet back at the home each evening. (Scroll down to the end for helpful links regarding the best places to go). Once you are back at the home, plan some together activities that are fun for everyone. Bring games to play. Visit a craft store before the trip and bring items so everyone can create his or her masterpiece. Bring movies to watch while you play your favorite card games. Or for music enthusiasts, see if there will be a Saturday evening concert at Concerts in the Woods.
Making Your Plans
Start talking with your group and decide how many days you will stay, what days everyone is available, how much money you can spend, and what areas are convenient for everyone. There are discounts for stays of six nights or longer. Decide whose name will be on the rental agreement. It should be the same person who will be using his or her credit card for payment. That person should be the one checking on availability and getting quotes.
Availability and Quotes
Start searching for homes that fit your group size, budget and availability dates. Request quotes for several properties that meet your criteria. Once you have quotes in hand, you will need to make a group decision quickly, usually within a couple days, to make sure the home you want doesn’t get booked by another party. Once you have decided, you will return the rental agreement and your card will be charged, thereby preventing anyone else from getting your home.
Now Comes the Fun Part!
Remember, one of the best things about a vacation is the anticipation of fun. Let everyone share in the fun! Use technology to keep people posted and get them excited as the trip draws near. Send out teasers and updates. You might want to create a reunion website to post details, maps, and links, as well as photos and updates after the reunion. There are plenty of free options. Find out everyone’s favorite social media or photo sharing sites. Assign and share tasks like shopping, cooking, clean up, movies, games, and event planning. Here is a packing list to help you get started. You might consider having a theme which will help everyone decide what to bring or do.
Tips on Getting Here
Coming from Seattle Take the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island and then north on 305 to Hwy 3 north, and then West on 104 crossing the Hood Canal Bridge. Along the way stop in Poulsbo where you can experience authentic Norwegian heritage, with plenty of quaint dining and shopping opportunities.
Coming from the south Take Highway 101 north out of Olympia. Along the way is the Taylor Shellfish store in Shelton where you can stock up for your shellfish feasts. Continuing north on 101, Hoodsport offers fun shops, a grocery store, and a winery. Further north on 101 is the Hama Hama seafood store in Lilliwaup for more shellfish supplies.
Coming from the north Take the Coupeville/Port Townsend ferry (tip: make ferry reservations) by going west off I-5 at Hwy 20, which can avoid some of the hectic traffic further south on I-5. That also takes you through Port Townsend for great shopping and lunch opportunities. If you are south of Hwy 20, take the Edmonds/Kingston ferry. From Kingston, take 104 toward the Hood Canal Bridge. Just before the bridge, you’ll pass through Port Gamble, a picturesque town filled with turn-of-the-century buildings and New England style houses on maple and elm tree-lined streets. Try Mike’s 4 Star BBQ (open Thursday-Sunday) or the Cafe at the General Store.
And when you get here, relax, slow down and enjoy each moment, because that’s what memories are made of.
WTA.org Some of the most popular day hikes in north Hood Canal are Mt Townsend, Mt Zion and Marmot Pass. In south Hood Canal try Staircase, Lower Lena and Mt Ellinor. In central Hood Canal, Rocky Brook Falls is just a short walk to a spectacular waterfall. For a nice family trail try Steam Donkey at the Dosewallips Campground, and find out what a Steam Donkey really is. Or, the Dosewallips Beach Trail and it’s wildlife viewing platform (hopefully the local elk herd will be in town). Murhut Falls is another short waterfall trail. And for a good workout with a great viewpoint at the top (go on a clear day!) try Mt Walker. During the off season, the road to the top is closed and if you get an early start, you may have the top of the mountain to yourselves.