Hi! If you're anything like me and get the wanderlust to stretch your city life or suburban world into weekend adventures, buckle up, pal! We're headed to Hood Canal.
My family arrived to Alderbrook Resort & Spa on a sunny Friday afternoon. After a solid week of hey-my-wipers-don't-work-that-fast rain, the sun was an especially warm welcome. The inviting atmosphere continued inside the grand, airy lobby that I'd best describe as woodsy chic. We got the keys to our nearby cottage and made our way to the cutest cul-de-sac of cabins I've ever seen.
Ideal autumn weather set the stage for a weekend full of exploring, relaxing and indulging at this destination resort in Union, Washington. Come along with our travel party of three - me, my sweet mom and my adventurous toddler son - as we experience how this magical part of the Northwest is a treat for all ages and activity levels.
Our two-bedroom cottage had a complete kitchen, eating nook and table, plus a wall of windows that spanned from the kitchen to living room. There was one king-size bed and one queen in two spacious bedrooms that each had a full closet, TV and lots of space to spare. My absolute favorite part was the babbling brook under our bedroom windows that sound machines everywhere must envy. The view from our front porch had a generous view of Hood Canal, flanked by towering trees on a spacious communal lawn with fire pits, picnic tables and a popular walking path.
Our quaint and cozy Cottage #14 (my favorite number, what!) was a short, scenic walk from the main lodge and spa, saltwater pool, sprawling lawn and some of the best dining of my life. You saw my headline, right? The culinary aspect of our Alderbrook visit deserves its own article, but I'm happy to dish here.
We had two breakfasts and two dinners at "The Restaurant at Alderbrook." The simple name makes perfect sense once you've eaten there, as the dining experience sets the standard for what a Restaurant should be. Each meal was memorable, from the friendly front-of-house to the attentive and authentic servers. This might sound cheesy, but I could taste the care that went into our meals. We were treated to expertly prepared and thoughtful dishes with seasonal touches and distinct flavors.
Chef's kiss to some highlights: Smoked Salmon Eggs Benedict (perfectly-poached eggs and dreamy yolk... those crispy, garlic truffle potatoes, tho!), Breakfast Table Bread - Pumpkin Slice with Chocolate Drizzle (duuuude, decadent and delightful!) Crab Bianco (and yes, I dug in before remembering to take a prettier photo!) and Dungeness Crab Cakes - so filling with the perfect ratio of crab and added goodies, like candied burnt lemon with lickable sauce.
Not pictured here: the bomb Breakfast Sandwich on the Kids Canal Brunch Menu, and our nightly dinner focaccia bread + butter was a light, flavorful delight. I regret not ordering the Grand Marnier Prawns that our server Cynthia raved about. However, I don't regret one bite of the decadent crab cakes I enjoyed instead! Also not pictured, but worth mentioning: I was served twice by sweet soul Chey and once by my breakfast server-turned-buddy Melissa, who fully supported my iced espresso decision. The staff here is top-notch, including the Kristen Chenowith lookalike who took my 2-year-old's hand and let him be line-leader to our window table for dinner on Night 2. It's probably a good thing I didn't meet the Chef and prep cooks because this way, I get to imagine that demigods prepared our meals, as I suspect.
The lodge itself at Alderbrook Resort is stately and stunning. It's the perfect backdrop for an intimate PNW wedding. In fact, we came across a wedding reception on Saturday night under Alderbrook's signature waterfront tent. Congrats to the newlyweds on their picture-perfect day! By the next morning, a more casual crowd was gathered under the tent for a guided Sunday morning yoga session.
You guys. The Spa. It's emphasized in Alderbrook's name of Resort & Spa for reasons that would become oh-so obvious to me. OK, so a little about me: I have a pretty simple life. I find my greatest joy in my son's belly laugh and hearing his excited little voice say, "Mama!" But I'm gonna level with you and admit that *not* hearing "Mama" for a couple hours each day is also music to my ears. So I kissed my rambunctious, jammy-clad homie goodbye and left him in good hands with Grandma and lots of Hot Wheels and strolled my kid-free self over to... The Spa!
I've only had one other massage in my life - a 21st birthday gift from my mom during a special trip to Santa Monica - so I'm clearly overdue for it, but yet nervous and not sure if I'll be ready for the full 90-minute session I have scheduled. The gracious front desk gal walked me through which scents, hot stones and pressure points to choose and I was guided to a robe and relaxation room, only to be met promptly by my masseuse, Joy. I'm guessing that's her real name, but it's also the feeling she proceeded to provide for the next glorious 90 minutes of my life. Her hands and 35 years of expertise, combined with the calming music, heat and touch, left me in a state of actual bliss. Like... after I was able to clear my head and relax into the massage, I was mind-begging it not to end. I accepted a rare chance to stay in the moment and appreciate this amazing full-body refresh as something I deserved. And when it was over, joyful Joy met me outside our room with a chilled glass of cucumber water and I was led to the steam room and sauna to continue to decompress.
If you visit Alderbrook, don't sleep on The Spa; go ahead and book your ultimate service. But hey, if you do fall asleep there, no one will blame you!
For lunch on Saturday, we hit the road for a short and scenic drive to Union City Market, where Hook & Fork has a hoppin' dining and day-drinking scene. This whole place is a vibe, from the must-visit storefront to the active waterfront oyster-grilling station. It's gorgeous and a good place to wear cute fall clothes or come scrubby and ready to chow down. My mom and I were still kinda full from breakfast, so we ordered light and shared the BBQ Blue Cheese Sliders and Trout Dip with Baguette.
I did not expect my palate to be blown away by a seemingly simple slider and dip, but this meal was legit. The sliders were perfectly portioned in size and flavor and the trout dip was thick yet super fluffy; it worked with baguette slices and chips and would be popular if sold at markets everywhere. But ya gotta come here to try it!
We drove the short distance back to Alderbrook and I took my son to explore the Play Space with a fun climbing area, slide and swings. Then I held his tiny hand as we walked the nearby path, where we met friendly dog guests and their humans. My babysitter (I mean, my mom!), got a rare moment of alone Grandma Time to hit up the nearby Cameo Boutique, which is her new favorite shop for adorable seasonal fashion and decor. And as it turns out, there's so much more to discover at Alderbrook.
There's a covered saltwater pool and hot tub that you have to see to appreciate. Entering the tented pool and spa feels like you are living large and a whole world away from your former life. The view itself is amazing and it's the perfect family activity.
We strolled trails, spotted the house cats (aptly named Alder and Brook) and enjoyed a carefree weekend surrounded by equally happy guests with their dogs and kids. It can be daunting to plan a getaway with children and/or pets and Alderbrook answers those fears with acceptance and options for everyone.
The food and spa experience at Alderbrook Resort & Ahhh (I mean, Spa!) is unrivaled. The grounds are meticulously kept (shout out to handyman James and the super duper helpful Kylee). And its location on the banks of Hood Canal makes you feel a world away, when all it took was a fun ferry ride.
There's a recipe for my perfect PNW weather day, and I discovered it this weekend by Hood Canal. The ingredients are a misty morning (ideal for sleeping in), a theatrical lift of fog over the water, then fold in rich blue skies, toasty sun and distant, wispy clouds over The Olympics for added dimension. The fresh air outside is somehow room temperature, but a little breeze reminds you it just turned from summer to fall. When the sky darkens to dusk and the fire pits light up, the perfect PNW day is complete.
While I can't guarantee the weather outcome of your trip to Hood Canal, I can predict a joyful, culinary and calming visit.
So if you're looking to cook up a fun, local getaway... Water you waiting for?
Jennifer King is the Managing Editor of SeattleRefined.com. Email Jen here. While the products, services and/or accommodations in this story were provided without charge, the opinions within are those of the author and the Seattle Refined editorial board.