Breaking Dawn, the next film in the Twilight saga, doesn’t hit theaters until November. But vampire-obsessed visitors to any of Kimpton’s three Seattle hotels – Alexis Hotel, Hotel Monaco Seattle, or Hotel Vintage Park – can celebrate the next installment now with an expert-led pilgrimage to Forks, Washington, the Olympic Peninsula town in which the books are set.
The all-day excursion takes participants from the proverbial concrete jungle to a real-life rainforest and back, with three meals and lots of Twilight lore along the way.
Forks is about three-and-a-half hours from Seattle, so the trip begins bright and early at 7 a.m. A guide affiliated with local outfitter Evergreen Escapes picks up guests in a luxurious (ahem, Mercedes) 12-seat van.
From there, it’s off to the Washington State Ferry terminal along the waterfront, where the group hops a ferry to Bainbridge Island, gateway to the Peninsula. The next stop is Jamestown, home to the S’Klallam Tribe. Tribal members have built a comfortable totem-carving shed just off the main road, and if it’s open, the tour stops to watch local artists at work. You’ll also disembark at Lake Crescent, a great hiking spot.
Fun kicks into high gear once the group arrives in Forks. The movies weren’t filmed here, but the general idea of backdrop and setting is the same: relatively little development, evergreens galore, lots of moss, steely gray skies. It’s a sleepy little former logging town. Before Twilight the place was even sleepier.
With this in mind, guides explain why author Stephenie Meyer chose Forks as the backdrop for her books (the gist: it rains 200 days annually, which is great weather for sun-fearing vamps). Then, depending on time, the group swings by a number of sites familiar to fans of the books and movies.
• The Cullen house
• City Hall (the sheriff’s office is here; in the books the sheriff is Bella’s dad)
• The high school (the building was torn down in 2010; all the remains is the facade)
• Bella’s house
• The local hospital (in the books, the Cullen family patriarch works here)
• Jacob Black’s house
Most tours include a visit to the border of the Quileute Reservation; members of the tribe have put up a sign near the entrance that pokes fun of the books’s “treaty line” by stating flatly, “No Vampires Beyond This Point.” (The treaty, for Twilight rookies, pertains to the truce made by werewolves and vampires; so long as neither group provoked the other, they would live in relative peace.)
Of course most tours (weather permitting) also stop at the beach near La Push (shown in top photo), a popular spot among the Quileute in the books and movies. Here guides explain the difference between werewolves in Twilight and the actual legend of wolves among the Quileute.
Finally, after a 90-minute side trip to Olympic National Park’s Hoh Rainforest and a hike through the famous Hall of Mosses, tour guides head for home. All tours stop at Bella Italia, the Italian restaurant in downtown Port Angeles where, in the books, Bella and Edward have their first date.
Throughout the day, Evergreen guides play Twilight movies and local documentaries on the van televisions to get participants into the mood.
The excursion usually ends back in Seattle around 9 p.m. At the end of the day, hardcore fans delight in the fact that the tour is true to the books. But even for “ordinary” folks, it’s a great way to explore. Besides, how many people can say they visited the town that inspired it all?
Story by Matt Villano