How To Spend a Day in Port Angeles (15 Things to Do!)

Are you wondering how to spend a day in Port Angeles?

I’ve got you covered! In this article, I share my itinerary from a Saturday visit in March, featuring the must-visit outdoor attractions of this coastal city.

On this trip, instead of my usual quick stop for coffee before heading west or a meal after hiking, I spent the entire day in Port Angeles before heading to Lake Crescent in the evening.

If you’re looking for the best things to do in Port Angeles while here, keep reading!

How to spend a day in Port Angeles? Explore driftwood beaches on Ediz Hook and see views of mountains across the water.
Port Angeles viewed from Harborview Park at Ediz Hook

Quick Guide: How I Spent One Day in Port Angeles

I drove the most efficient route for this outdoor itinerary, traveling from east to west, timing my stop at Salt Creek to coincide with low tide. 

Port Angeles has shops and a fine arts center worth exploring, but I opted to check out the city’s parks, pier, and coastlines before staying at Emerald Valley Inn near the lake.

  • 9/11 Memorial Park***Option to walk along the Port Angeles Waterfront Trail
  • Hollywood Beach
  • Port Angeles City Pier***Option to visit the Fiero Marine Life Center
  • Port Angeles Farmers Market (Saturdays only)
  • Lunch at New Day Eatery
  • Downtown Port Angeles Art***Option to check out all 12 outdoor murals and 40 sculptures
  • Ediz Hook
  • Salt Creek Recreation Area
  • Tongue Point Tide Pools
  • Elwha Beach
  • Lake Crescent Lodge (weekends only January – April)
  • Moments in Time Trail
  • East Beach

TOP 3 Port Angeles Attractions & Activities

If you’re short on time, these are my top three Port Angeles attractions, not considering Olympic National Park destinations like Hurricane Ridge.

  1. Port Angeles City Pier – For panoramic views of the Salish Sea and the Olympic Mountains, outdoor sculptures, stunning murals outside the Fiero Marine Life Center, and a photo exhibit that highlights significant moments in the city’s history.
  1. Ediz Hook – For breathtaking views of the city against the backdrop of the Olympic Mountains, three miles of shoreline to stroll and beach comb, and views of Canada.
  1. Salt Creek Recreation Area – For one of the best beaches on the Olympic Peninsula, tide-pooling adventures, WWII-era bunkers, and hiking trails.
How to spend a day in Port Angeles? Explore the sandy beach and sea stack covered with evergreen trees at Crescent Bay.
Crescent Bay at Salt Creek

15 Things to Do in Port Angeles WA

The stops on my itinerary feature some of the best Port Angeles activities.

Most stops don’t cost a thing!

1. 9/11 Memorial Park

Getting Here: Google Maps link

I walked down the park’s steps to the water and was immediately in awe of the views of the Salish Sea. That day’s sky was a moody mix of light and dark clouds, making the view even more captivating.

One of the best things to do in Port Angeles WA is take a trip to Memorial Park to see expansive views of the Salish Sea.

The plaque memorializing the tragic events of 9/11 is a poignant remembrance of the day’s tragic events. But if you’re pressed for time, I’d skip Memorial Park. Other places downtown offer similar breathtaking views of the water. 

TIP: The park is a convenient choice for those staying at the Aircrest Motel or Angeles Motel. It’s just a 10-minute walk from either motel, making it an ideal spot to catch a sunset.

2. Port Angeles Waterfront Trail

Getting Here: Google Maps link

If you’re staying downtown and want to take a leisurely walk along the coastline, the Port Angeles Waterfront Trail takes you to Memorial Park. It eventually turns into the Olympic Discovery Trail.

You’ll see the trail behind the Red Lion Hotel along the water. 

TIP: To avoid confusion, note that signage refers to it as the waterfront trail, while Google Maps calls it the Olympic Discovery Trail.

3. Hollywood Beach

Getting Here: Google Maps link

Hollywood Beach is a small, sandy beach next to the waterfront trail, just off the city pier. It’s an excellent little beach to stop at and watch the ships go by. There’s driftwood to sit on, and the sand is a pleasant surprise.

Leafless tree by the calm waters of Hollywood Beach, with blue skies and fluffy clouds above.

On a clear day, you’ll see Mount Baker standing proudly across the water.

The forecast was terrible on this trip, yet the clouds started breaking, and the sun was out. I marveled at my luck with the weather.

4. Port Angeles City Pier

Getting Here: Google Maps link

The pier is a fantastic place to wander, observe, and learn what makes Port Angeles unique. 

It’s a must-visit destination for anyone staying in the city, especially if you’ve chosen downtown accommodations. From the Port Angeles Inn and Quality Inn, you’ll walk 10 minutes to get here.

Walking around the pier, I saw stunning mural art that speaks to the city’s native inhabitants, the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe.

Vivid mural depicting historic canoe scene on a building's side, under a bare tree against a bright sky.
This mural by Cory Ench is a historically accurate depiction of traditional cedar longhouses, canoes carved from a single cedar log, woven cedar bark clothing, and village life. Source: Rotary Club

I saw lovely sculptures of marine wildlife, informative placards, and even a photo exhibit that tells the fascinating story of the region’s history, including the recently undammed Elwha River. 

The Port Angeles City Pier is next to the Port Angeles Wharf, where you can eat, shop, and book a hiking tour or whale-watching adventure.

Many restaurants are near the pier, but I planned to drive up another block to my favorite lunch spot, New Day Eatery.

NOTE: The viewing tower at the end of the pier closed in November of 2023.

5. Fiero Marine Life Center

Getting Here: Google Maps link

The pier’s highlight destination for families is the highly-rated Fiero Marine Life Center. I didn’t venture inside because I wanted to make it to Salt Creek before low tide later that afternoon, where I’d explore marine life in the wild!

6. Port Angeles Farmers Market

Getting Here: Google Maps link

Before lunch, I walked up Lincoln Street to peruse the Port Angeles Farmers Market, which happens every Saturday year-round. 

Port Angeles Farmers Market where vendors set up their tables to sell produce, cards, and other items to visitors perusing the open-air stalls.

The vibe was laid-back and homegrown. Vendors sold lavender, freshly baked sourdough bread loaves, chocolates, Korean hot plates, gnarly but fascinating-looking gourmet mushrooms, and more. 

7. Lunch at New Day Eatery

Getting Here: Google Maps link

The last time I came here, I envied my friend’s Reuben sandwich while I ate a burger that was just ok. But this time, I ordered what I initially wanted to order before I ordered that mediocre burger, a vegan falafel cake drizzled with a delicious lemon-mint tahini sauce. I savored every bite. 

I also ordered one of their made-to-order house juices, “The Green One,” made of freshly pressed broccoli, celery, kale, cilantro, and green apple. It was tasty, perfectly balanced, and worth every penny. 

8. Downtown Port Angeles Art

Getting Here: Google Maps link

Right outside New Day Eatery and along the sidewalk on Laurel Street, you’ll see Bob Stoke’s remarkable “Avenue of the People” sculptures.

I appreciate that art is valued here and featured on its streets for all to see.

NOTE: The city boasts an outdoor gallery featuring 40 sculptures and 12 murals throughout downtown.

9. Ediz Hook

Getting Here: Google Maps link

The drive to Ediz Hook takes you through the city’s industrial area. I was perplexed but kept driving because I knew there were parks on the three-mile-long sand spit. 

Once I pulled into the first gravel parking area available, I immediately understood its appeal.

I saw the city with the Olympic Mountains behind it while misty and moody clouds rolled over the mountainscape. It was a stunning sight – hands down, the day’s best view. 

A peaceful waterfront view of Ediz Hook with a ship, snow-capped mountains in the distance, under an overcast sky.

You can stop at Sail & Paddle Park or continue to Harborview Park. Wherever you stop, there’s plenty of shoreline to walk and beachcomb.

It’s incredible to see Port Angeles Harbor and the city against the mountains, but when you turn around, you’ll also see the mountains of Vancouver Island in the distance across the strait.

10. Salt Creek Recreation Area

Getting Here: Google Maps link***takes you to a parking lot within short walking distance to Crescent Bay, not the campground

Salt Creek is one of my favorite places on the peninsula because there are so many coastline areas to explore. Low tide was at 2:08 pm on this day, which gave me plenty of time for all my stops beforehand.

At this time of year, in early March, there were just a few other groups on the beach along Crescent Bay, and many others were tide-pooling at Tongue Point.

sandy Pacific Northwest beach with rocks and sea stack with evergreen trees

Crescent Bay

Crescent Bay is spectacular for its sandy beach, forested sea cliffs, and signature sea stack, which is protected as a designated marine life sanctuary.

I saw surfers packing up at the parking lot and one in the water bobbing on mild waves. This is undoubtedly one of the Olympic Peninsula’s best beaches.

Camp Hayden Bunkers

You’ll see the remnants of Camp Hayden at Salt Creek, a WWII-era artillery camp established in 1941. The bunkers add to Salt Creek’s interestingness. There are two that you can actually drive your vehicle through.

11. Tongue Point Tide Pools

Getting Here: Google Maps link***takes you through the campground, where you’ll see a handful of designated day-use parking spots in two locations

Tongue Point, part of Salt Creek, offers a tide-pooling experience worthy of its own spot on this list. Despite its proximity to Crescent Bay, Tongue Point’s marine ecosystem is distinct.

Visitors explore and tide-pool at rocky Tongue Point with calm waters and distant mountains under a cloudy sky.

At first, it may seem like all you see are mussels and barnacles here, but take your time, wander, put some time into exploring, and look closely. 

Please do not take any marine life you find at Tongue Point. It’s prohibited by law.

12. Elwha Beach

Getting Here: Google Maps link

After Salt Creek, I headed to the Mouth of the Elwha River Trailhead. The trail is more of a short walk that takes you to a river beach, but you can head left on sandy trails on the upper banks to walk along Freshwater Bay.

Elwha Beach features an estuary where river water and salt water connect by waterways. These are highly productive ecosystems for wildlife.

One of the best things to do in Port Angeles is walk the sandy and wild shoreline of Elwha Beach at sunset.

The scenery is gorgeous and wholesome. I saw driftwood forts, families playing, and happy dogs. I got the feeling that it’s a beach that mostly locals frequent.

Next, I drove to Emerald Valley Inn to drop my bags off before heading to Lake Crescent. 

The inn is conveniently located between Port Angeles and Lake Crescent, making it an excellent home base for exploring Port Angeles and Olympic National Park’s best northern destinations.

Read my Emerald Valley Inn review here.

13. Lake Crescent Lodge

Getting Here: Google Maps link

It’s only a 12-minute drive from the inn to the lodge’s parking lot. 

I came here ready to eat at the restaurant, but it was closed. Although my plans were thwarted, I briefly walked the grounds around the lodge to take in views of the lake from the shoreline.

The lodge’s operating season is from the end of April through the first of January. It’s a fantastic place to stop and enjoy lake views. You can dine at the restaurant, grab a drink, or peruse the gift shop.

Check the restaurant’s seasons and hours of operation here. 

14. Moments in Time Trail

Getting Here: Google Maps link

I headed to the Moments in Time Trail and had the place all to myself! The parking lot was littered with evergreen debris, and I loved the messiness of it. It felt more natural and authentic, what the forest looks like without human intervention. 

I walked to the lake’s shoreline and attempted to capture, yet again, the sky’s beauty and misty clouds cloaking the surrounding mountains. The light was spectacular. 

Turning away from the moodiness of the lake, I was captivated by the way the moss glowed on the trees this time of year. 

Moss-covered trees reach skyward in a dense, emerald forest, exuding the lushness of the Moments in Time Trail.

TIP: The trailhead marker on Google Maps isn’t 100% accurate. It will take you to the lodge’s parking lot, where you can walk to the Moments in Time Trail.

15. East Beach

Getting Here: Google Maps link

Next, I drove to East Beach for my final stop to catch the sunset and the ephemeral dusk light. 

I couldn’t believe my luck experiencing such favorable weather conditions, considering the forecast called for rain and snow that weekend. The light had an ethereal quality to it. 

Sunlight pierces through clouds above serene Lake Crescent, flanked by silhouetted mountains at dusk.

East Beach features one of the best views of Lake Crescent. It was the perfect end to a brilliant day.

Map: Things to Do in Port Angeles 

Check out the location of each destination on this itinerary on the map below.

Where to Stay in Port Angeles

Port Angeles features some of my favorite places to stay on the Olympic Peninsula. You can choose from hotels, motels, vacation rentals, and even Olympic National Park lodging.

Here are three places I’ve stayed and highly recommend for this particular itinerary.

The first two accommodations are conveniently located between the city and Lake Crescent, and the third is on the lake’s shoreline.

📍 Emerald Valley Inn

Emerald Valley Inn is absolutely charming. It offers tastefully decorated rooms, 2-bedroom suites, a 3-bedroom guesthouse, and tent sites. I stayed in the Deer Lake Room and was greeted by chickens grazing the grounds as I packed my car to leave.

📍 Terra Vista Chalet

This hidden gem is off the beaten path but not too far that it’s inconvenient. I stayed in the Pine Room and loved hearing the sounds of the Elwha River from my forest-facing balcony. The shared space for all guests to enjoy feels like a living room in a high-end mountain home.

📍 Log Cabin Resort RV & Campground

My husband and I have stayed in our RV at Log Cabin Resort on Lake Crescent three times. This resort is not fancy, but the grounds and views of the lake are incredible. We rent kayaks and paddle to Devil’s Punchbowl to watch people jump into the cold lake.

Port Angeles Restaurants & Bars

Since Port Angeles is the biggest city on the peninsula, you get all the amenities of a city when you come here, including many great places to eat and drink.

This cannot be said about all other towns near Olympic National Park!

How to spend a day in Port Angeles? Grab a coffee at Great Northern Coffee Bar where the ambiance is glowing from hanging string lights and warm wood decor.
Inside the Great Northern Coffee Bar

Here are my three favorite Port Angeles restaurants and bars:

📍 New Day Eatery

This is a fantastic place for breakfast and lunch at the corner of Front Street and Laurel Street, a block from the waterfront. What makes this place unique is its vegan dishes, fresh juice bar, and vegan and gluten-free baked goods.

📍 Nextdoor Gastropub

Nextdoor Gastropub, around the block from New Day Eatery, is my favorite place to get a perfectly-seasoned burger after adventuring in the park. If you’re a beer connoisseur, you’ll be impressed by their selection, which includes Northwest brewers like pFriem.

📍 Great Northern Coffee Bar

I stop here for coffee when passing through Port Angeles on my way to the coast. It’s unique in that it serves coffee, breakfast burritos, and alcohol! The warm glow from the hanging string lights and wood cabin aesthetic feels good.

Is Port Angeles Worth Visiting?

Port Angeles has many excellent destinations that make it worth visiting outside of Olympic National Park. You’ll find stunning beaches and coastlines to explore, pier views and attractions, downtown restaurants and shops, and a fine arts center featuring open-air exhibits.

Wrap-Up: How To Spend a Day in Port Angeles

I thoroughly enjoyed my day trip to the city and am heading there again this weekend! 

There are so many things to do in Port Angeles WA, including seeing downtown attractions, tide-pooling, and walking sandy beaches, that it’s absolutely worth making time for on your Olympic National Park tour.