Part 1: Fall/Winter Comfort Food, Outdoor Fun, and Tranquility Awaits
A room with a view of a fjord and the snowcapped mountains is just under a two-hour car drive from Seattle. That is Alderbrook Resort and Spa, which was our home for two days. Located in the small town of Union (631 residents), Alderbrook sits along the shores of Hood Canal; a magnificent waterway carved out thousands of years ago when glaciers 3,000 feet thick swept down from the mountains.
Contrary to popular folklore and some weather forecasts, it does not rain every day in the Greater Puget Sound Area in the fall and winter. Statistically speaking, in December, 20% of the time we get sunshine. Sure enough, we found some sun poking through the clouds upon our arrival and quickly parked our car and headed directly to their dock to rent kayaks. Alderbrook also rents out Stand Up Paddleboards (SUP), but that is more of a summer endeavor. We were out for about an hour and saw many seals feasting on salmon. We had perfect weather conditions: little winds, mild temperatures, and no waves. However, it is always good to have warm gear for this time of the year as the Hood Canal average temperatures never exceed 60 degrees Fahrenheit, even in the summer.
The Alderbrook Clam Chowder is a necessity this time of the year! It has a perfect consistency of cream with bacon, potatoes, and fresh local clams harvested from the Hood Canal. One could have a bowl of this paired with the garlic-infused focaccia for a full lunch. I opted for a cup of soup and their delicious Reuben Sandwich, made with in-house cured beef and served with ample house-made sauerkraut and 1000 Island dressing. I was certainly pleased and full. Elizabeth was equally happy with the Grilled Chicken sandwich with a radicchio and apple coleslaw.
After lunch, I peeled off to explore some of the Resort's five trails, which range from as little as 0.50 miles to 3.3 miles for a total of just under 10 miles. I opted for the short Viewpoint Loop hike since I had several hikes planned the next day and more kayaking.
I returned to the room to enjoy the views and looked into the Resort's history, which opened in 1913 and only accessible by canoe. Back then it was more of a tent camp than today's 4-star destination. After World War II the Resort was sold to the Schafer Logging and Lumber Company. The glamour moved from the tents to 21 newly built cottages. The ambiance at the Resort is pure Northwest – with the scent of cedar, a revitalized stream for salmon habitat, and eagles flying overhead.
Still full from lunch, we opted to stay in our cozy room for dinner and grabbed a bottle of wine along with a charcuterie and cheese plate from the lounge. This, along with the pickled onions and roasted tomatoes, hit the spot.
The next day involved activities in the area; hiking, kayaking, and wine tasting that we discovered around the Hood Canal (read more about it in the upcoming Part 2 of this story).
We are eager to return to Alderbrook Resort, especially with the upcoming holiday season. Alderbrook has a spectacular menu for their Thanksgiving dinner (stay tuned for their Christmas menu, which should be available soon on their website).
It isn't just Alderbrook's fantastic meals and their amazing spa that make the area a great holiday destination. Nearby Union City Market, a community gathering place with great views, snacks, and specialty groceries, gets decked out for Christmas, and right next door is the Hook & Fork restaurant, Alderbrooks' sister restaurant.
Finally, back by popular demand will be the Yuletide Cruise
Editorial disclosure: lodging, beverages, and food generously provided.