Last week we “visited” Maine’s beautiful coastal national park, this week we travel 3,000 miles west to Washington’s similarly-located, but significantly more mountainous Olympic National Park. The park (and the adjacent Olympic National Forest) take up most of the land on the Olympic Peninsula. And it’s all within a couple of hours of driving from Seattle.
The official web site for the park says that “Olympic is like three magical parks in one” and that’s not just a PR slogan. The park consists of several disconnected pieces, including a 73-mile stretch of coastline. While there’s plenty of sand on the beaches of the Olympic peninsula, there’s also plenty of rocky areas that help to make it yet another paradise for landscape photographers. The largest piece, at the center of the peninsula, comprises the majestic Olympic Mountains. And we’re not just talking beautiful snow-capped mountains – we’re talking glaciers, people! Then there’s the rain – lots and lots of rain – in the old rainforests on the western side of the park. At over 150 inches of precipitation annually, it may be the rainiest place in the continental United States.
The primary visitors center for Olympic National Park is at the northern end of the park, just outside the town of Port Angeles, Washington. From there it’s a memorable drive up to the Hurricane Ridge visitors center, where you’ll find great views of the park’s mountain areas. On the western side of the park you can venture up to the Hoh Rain Forest Visitors Center, from where you can trek further on trails that follow the Hoh River deeper into the rainforests. U.S. Route 101 goes completely around the park, with many more roads (some unpaved) that lead you toward the heart of the park. There are, however, no roads that completely cross the park.
Olympic National Park has plenty of opportunities for camping – the National Park Service operates 16 campgrounds here. Almost all of them operate on a “first come, first served” basis, so you’d better arrive early during peak seasons. The Kalaloch campground does have an online reservation system for the summer months.
If you’re looking for more comfortable accommodations, Port Angeles has most of the hotels closest to Olympic National Park. A short drive east of Port Angeles is the coastal Sequim Valley and you’ll find more places to stay in the town of Sequim. For a different way of arriving or departing the peninsula, there’s a ferry that makes 90-minute trips between Port Angeles and Victoria on Vancouver Island in Canada.
Today we unveiled the completely renovated TheRealWashington.com, a useful place for anyone planning a visit to Washington, DC. It’s now easier than ever to find the best places to stay near hundreds of buildings, landmarks, Metro stations and other attractions.
Depending upon your plans, sometimes the best place to stay is the Maryland or Virginia suburbs instead of within Washington, DC. So The Real Washington has been expanded to include hotels in the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Fairfax County, Montgomery County and Prince George’s County.
There’s no doubt that the best way of getting around in DC is by using the Metro subway system. TheRealWashington.com now includes all of the Metro stations in DC, Maryland and Virginia – each with a list of the nearest hotels. Every hotel page has been updated to include a link to the Metro stop nearest that hotel.
TheRealWashington is all about making things more convenient, so we’ve added pages containing information about nearby hotels for hundreds of places in the Washington, DC area. Interested in the many museums in the area? We’ve got a guide to the closest hotels for over 40 DC museums. Coming to DC on business? We have over 600 pages devoted to hotels near buildings in DC – everything from embassies to government offices to office buildings.
The 2010-2011 NCAA college basketball season is well underway and the annual Men’s Division I Basketball Tournament is less than two months away. So it’s a good time for TheRealPlaces.com guide to finding hotels near this year’s basketball tournament venues.
You may not know that the NCAA has decided to expand the men’s tournament from 65 to 68 teams for 2011. This means that the old first round “play-in” game has now become a series of four games called the “First Four”. For 2011 the games will be played March 15-16 in Dayton, Ohio, where the play-in game was held from 2001-2010. If your favorite college basketball team is lucky/unlucky enough to be designated one of the lowest ranked teams in the bracket, you may find our guide to the hotels closest to University of Dayton Arena of value.
Second and third round games begin for the winners of the “First Four” and the other 60 teams on March 17th. Basketball fans in the mid-Atlantic region can head to Washington, DC and choose from any of the hotels near Verizon Center for the games to be held on March 17th and 19th. The University of Arizona will also host games on the 17th and 19th in Tucson. Fans coming from out-of-town will find plenty of places to stay near McKale Center. Denver and Tampa are also the sites of games, and we’ve got comprehensive lists of Pepsi Center hotels in Denver and hotels closest to St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa.
The second and third round tournament games scheduled for March 18th and 20th will be held in Cleveland, Charlotte, Chicago and Tulsa. The Cleveland Cavaliers will step aside for the weekend so college basketball fans can take over Quicken Loans Arena. You can be sure that there will be a loud crowd in basketball-crazy North Carolina, probably spilling over to the hotels near Charlotte’s Time Warner Cable Arena, for the games in Charlotte. The United Center on Chicago’s west side will be rocking, as will the Bank of Oklahoma Center in Tulsa (and we’ve even compiled a guide to hotels near BOK Center).
The “Sweet Sixteen” of the tournament will get back into action the following weekend (March 24th through 27th). The top four teams in the West Region will gather in Anaheim and will stay at some of the closest Honda Center hotels and motels. This year’s Southeast Region comes to a conclusion at the New Orleans Arena in Louisiana. There will be lots of seats (over 39,000) available for the Southwest Regional finals at the Alamodome in San Antonio on March 25th and 27th. And the New York metropolitan area’s biggest college hoops fans will be in attendance in Newark, as well as traveling fans staying at hotels near Prudential Center.
The best of the best of this year’s college basketball team will participate in “Final Four”, to be held April 2nd and 4th at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas.
The new Wyndham Vacation Resorts at National Harbor is the latest addition to the choice of accommodations available at the National Harbor community in suburban Maryland. National Harbor is 300 acres on the banks of the Potomac River, with a fast-growing collection of hotels, retail, condomiums and convention space.
The Wyndham Vacation Resorts at National Harbor comprises 250 “condominium-style” units in an 11-story tower, including 42 “Presidential” suites. Guests and owners get access to an on-site health/fitness club, heated swimming pools both indoors and outdoors and a recreation room. Nearby options for eating include a McCormick & Schmick’s, Dolce Enoteca, Ketchup, Grace’s Mandarin and Rosa Mexicano.
National Harbor and The Wyndham Vacation Resorts are located in the Oxon Hill area of Prince George’s County, just outside of Washington, DC.