For those who have been living under a rock for the past two years, the Twilight mania that has swept the nation is about three things: vampires, werewolves and the town of Forks, Washington which lies in the middle of the sweeping Olympic Peninsula. I’m a moderate Twilight fan: I’ve read the books and seen the movies (some admittedly more than once), and I, like many found them enchanting and addicting.
On a recent trip to Forks WA. with my Mom and sister, we were surprised at just how much there was to do in this tiny, vampire infused town. The drive up from the Seattle area was surprisingly beautiful and took, in all, about four hours (we stopped in the town of Sequim at the Old Mill Cafe for lunch – it was absolutely delicious and much recommended).
The weather was Twilight perfection: rainy with thick fog, exactly the kind of weather you would want for visiting Forks. Truthfully, if it had been sunny, I would have been miserable. Through the choking mist you could make out bright green pine trees, with a dense white mist weaving its way through their lines. Forks is located on Highway 101, which follows the Pacific Coast all the way down through Oregon and California and is one of the most magnificent roads I’ve ever had the privilege to drive on.
On the way to Forks, make sure that you pull over at the Lake Crescent lookout point (to the right of the highway) to take in the gigantic lake meeting the mystic-looking mountains. I couldn’t help but feel that the Olympic Peninsula itself was worthy of another independent visit. When we pulled off to take some pictures, we saw some fellow fans, and then it was confirmed, we were almost in Twilight country.
After a drive that could only be called achingly beautiful, we arrived in Forks. Approaching the town’s only main street the small town seemed quiet and abandoned. That changed when you arrive in town, where Twilight fever exploded over everything. Every store had a Twilight sign, even the local diner advertised “Bella’s Burger”. Of the numerous Twilight stores in Forks, the best was “Dazzled by Twilight”, which was a veritable feast of Twilight merchandise: everything from Bella’s wedding ring to lifesize cut-outs of Jasper to “Bite Me” sweatshirts and carved glass apples. Most of the stores in the area offered “Twilight Tours”, which we found ridiculous, considering it can be done on foot or by car in about an hour or less.
The main attractions for the town are Forks High School (currently under construction), Bella’s house, The Cullen House, Bella’s truck (which is located at the town’s welcome center), and the hospital where there is a “Dr. Cullen” parking spot. The hotels in town didn’t seem to offer much (one sign said “Edward Cullen did NOT sleep here” – clever!), so we opted to stay at a local B&B called The Miller Tree Inn, also known as The Cullen House. The owners, Bill and Susan, did a great job of creating an environment that would satisfy both ravenous Twilighters and those who find the whole phenomenon baffling/annoying (haters!). There are subtle nods around the house to Twilight: graduation caps on the wall, notes from Esme Cullen on the door and the Twilight books in every room, but the rest of the hotel is just an elegant place to stay, and (we felt) a great value for the money. The rooms start at about $115 per night, with their peak room being $215 a night. Behind the inn lay a picturesque green valley, and the house is within walking distance from the center of town. The owners were courteous and lovely; they were very knowledgeable about things to do in the area, restaurants to recommend (there aren’t many), and what was worth doing while visiting the Peninsula. The breakfasts were truly something to sing your fangs into: Orange Croissant French Toast, Gingerbread Pancakes, and Hard-Boiled Eggs, along with cereal, orange juice, coffee and delectable fresh fruit. We ate lunch at Pacific Pizza, and were pleased with our service and food – we tried the “Bellasangna” and a cheese pizza – both were delicious.
We got in our rental car and headed out for our trip of the day: to La Push Beach, home of Jacob Black, and as we happily discovered , to some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. When we pulled up on the beach, we couldn’t help but gasp at it’s ethereal beauty, it’s haunting chill and the way it truly captured the feel of the books. Huge pieces of driftwood make a natural barrier between the earth and the sea, and out of the waves rise up huge stone islands. There were numerous people on the beach – both tourists and native Quileutes. When you are there, try and be respectful that you are actually visiting a working Native American reservation – photography is not always allowed. People left notes on the beach for Jacob, or carved his name onto the white branches surrounding the beach. Very close to La Push is Rialto Beach, which we found even more breathtaking, and about twice as long. If you have the energy and stamina to walk to the end of the beach you will be rewarded with lots of natural wildlife: Seals, starfish and otters abound.
On your way out of La Push, make sure to stop and take a picture of Jacob’s House – if you aren’t looking you can easily miss it, but it’s a dead ringer for the house in the movie. After a long day at La Push, make sure you head back to the Inn for some much deserved warmth and rest. There was a hot tub outside our B&B that was absolutely heavenly after a cold, wet day in Forks, although I can’t deny that there is something unnerving about staring into the black Washington night while your mind lingers on vampire legends. We spent a total of two whole days in Twilight Town, and it was plenty of time to truly explore the world that is Forks. The locals were welcoming and not patronizing, as I’m sure they could be. This is a town that truly embraced Stephanie Meyer’s world and they have profited greatly from it. What warmed my heart the most – it certainly wasn’t the weather, bring a poncho…or three– was seeing so many mothers and daughters there visiting together. The daughters were thrilled and giddy with delight, and the Mother’s were obviously reveling in their joy. Unlike Hogwarts or Narnia, Forks is a physical place that you can visit, a place where your favorite romance can truly come to life. And if you look around carefully, you might just catch a glance of a vampire.
Or someone rolling their eyes in your direction as you take a picture with a Edward Cullen cutout.
Colleen Oakes lives in North Denver with her husband Ryan and two very naughty dogs. She enjoys writing, reading, swimming, pop-culture, and traveling (obviously). She is a pretty big nerd and blogs about it regularly on her lifestyle blog at the Ranunculus Adventures.