When it comes to weekend escapes from Seattle, the Hood Canal is one of the best destinations. Just a couple hours west of Seattle, this is where many of the region’s shellfish come from. It’s also where the Olympic National Forest begins. Thus, it’s the perfect place for both the mountain and ocean dweller as you can get the best of both worlds. Tucked away in the Hood Canal is Alderbrook Resort, which offers all of the elements of the complete Northwest experience.
Earlier in the year, Martin and I spent the weekend in Hood Canal during our Peace Vans adventure. We had so much fun that we jumped at the chance to visit the region again. Unfortunately, Martin got pulled onto a last-minute conference in India. So I ended up doing something I hadn't done in nearly a decade: went on a solo trip. The last time I'd done it, the trip started with me losing my passport in Bangkok. Thankfully, a passport isn't needed to travel to the Hood Canal.
There are several ways to get to Alderbrook Resort and Spa. The most memorable way is to fly in via a seaplane. This is highly recommended if you’ve never taken a seaplane ride. But the most common way to get to the Hood Canal is to drive. If you don’t have a car, services such as Silvercar offer reasonably priced rentals of high end vehicles (read about our Silvercar weekend in Palm Springs!). From downtown Seattle, it’s about a 2-hour drive to Alderbrook.
But even driving to the Hood Canal can be a new and exciting adventure in itself. You could take the route that includes a ferry ride from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge Island. Or choose the path that winds you down through Olympia (Washington’s state capitol). Or you can drive on the Tacoma Narrows suspension bridge. This is the option I choose, and it was an ultra surreal experience with the heavy fog in the air that morning.
Arriving at Alderbrook Resort
Towards the end of your drive to Alderbrook, the path shrinks to one lane roads that wind through the Hood Canal coast. Waterfront houses are modest yet very well manicured and there’s the occasional “vacation house for rent” sign on front lawns. This is what surrounds Alderbrook Resort.
There are actually two components to the resort: 16 guest cottages, and the lodge of 93 guest rooms. The cottages are clustered in one part of the resort making it a great for group stays. I could see a family reunion or corporate retreat being held there. Speaking of corporate retreats, there are also 6,500 square feet of conference space including meeting rooms with on-site catering.
Alderbrook’s guest rooms are located in a four-story building next to the main lodge. The doors of the rooms face inward to an inviting outdoor courtyard. Full of greenery, the courtyard was recently redone to include seating areas with wood tables, large hanging swings, and a water fountain. It’s a wonderfully relaxing communal space.
My guest room was on the top floor, featuring an expansive view of the marina. There are also several seating areas including a window seat and outdoor patio. The large king bed has an incredibly soft yet supportive mattress for a good night’s rest. There’s even a wool blanket for keeping warm while lounging around the room.
Activities at Alderbrook
Spanning 84 acres, Alderbrook has both a beach with a marina and a forest trail network that spans 8 miles. Whether you prefer mountains or marine life, you can get some of both at this resort. There’s also a spa, restaurant, golf course, and an indoor saltwater swimming pool with hot tub. The pool, with it’s 9pm-midnight adult swim, was among my absolute favorite features at Alderbrook.
During the summer, there are plenty of water activities to accompany the warmer temperatures. Take a swim at the beach or rent a kayak or standup paddle board. If you prefer a guided water tour, there are also options for chartering a boat. In the fall, water activities close for the season, but there’s still plenty to do.
Spend a day at the spa or swim in the saltwater pool. Lace up your hiking boots and wander some of the 8 miles of curated trails in Alderbrook’s backyard. Or if you prefer to lounge at the lodge, Alderbrook has done of a fantastic job of designing warm communal spaces that make you want to hang out in them. The main lodge near the check-in desk has lots of comfy couches and chairs, and rainy day activities for children such as games and drawing paper. The resort’s two resident cats can also be found hanging out here. There’s also a game room with several TVs hooked up with Super Nintendo, X-Box, and a vintage arcarde.
The resort’s restaurant is worth dining at even if you’re not staying at the resort. Located on the far end of the resort, every seat in the room has a view of the water, where much of the menu comes from. Executive Chef Ben Jones does a wonderful job incorporating lots of locally sourced food on the menu. As an appetizer, order the clams and fresh oysters—the best in the state come from oyster farms on the Hood Canal such as Hama Hama. As a main course, you can’t go wrong with the halibut or salmon, both specialties of the region. I ended up with the tender venison loin served with a dungeness crab baked potato. It was an interesting combination that felt quintessentially Pacific Northwest. For dessert, get the passion fruit white chocolate mousse — it comes in engulfed in a beautiful lattice of dulce de leche.
While dinner was amazing, breakfast was even better! The eggs benedict is served on top of dungeness crab cakes instead of an English muffin (although you can order a house made one if you want!). It also comes with the house potatoes—crispy bits served with big chunks of roasted garlic. If they offer you complimentary bread, take it. In my case, I got warm slices of pumpkin bread. They were melt-in-your-mouth soft and incredibly delicious when paired with the maple syrup butter. All in all, the food was amazing and the service impeccable.
Events at Alderbrook
As you can probably guess, Alderbrook is a premiere event destination. It’s perfect for everything from weddings to corporate retreats and family reunions. While many of these events are private, the resort offers some that are open to the public. Examples include the Canal Cookout and dining in the Gathering Grove.
Alderbrook is among my new favorite family-friendly resorts in the Pacific Northwest. I say family-friendly because all of its activities would be perfect for children. Don’t miss the indoor saltwater pool, beach access, 8 miles of hiking trails, and dinner at the restaurant.
Disclosure: I was provided lodging and dining at Alderbrook Resort to facilitate my review; however, these are my own opinions, photos, and video content.
See all photos in high-resolution here.