Monthly Archives: July 2010

Olympia: Coffee, Turnovers and Market Treasures

Inside Lattin’s Cider Mill and Farm

The aroma of freshly ground Ethiopian coffee wafted around me as I navigated I-5 back to Tacoma from a recent tour of Olympia, our state’s capitol. The smell reminded me of my introduction to the city that morning with the best latté I’ve ever tasted from Batdorf & Bronson’s Dancing Goats Espresso Bar. It was so delicious; I returned to their Tasting Room ( across the street and bought coffee to bring home. This Ethiopian blend has a blueberry finish, which might not sound like a good flavor for coffee, but take my word for it, this is the best.

Dancing Goats

Dancing Goats is located across the street from the Olympia Farmers Market, on Market Street. They have another location on Capitol Way in Olympia and a third in Decatur, Georgia.

Lattin’s Cider Mill & Farm

Have you ever tasted an apple fritter fresh out of the oven that actually melts in your mouth? I took a short drive to Lattin’s Country Cider Mill & Farm on Rich Road ( on this particular Friday morning and experienced this cinnamon, buttery confection for myself. Not an experience I’ll soon forget or stop craving. They also bake them fresh on Saturday mornings and the locals flock there in droves.

But there’s more to do at this farm than just eat. You can buy a bucket of feed to give to the farm animals, enjoy concerts, festivals and in the fall hayrides and of course, choosing pumpkins, a haunted house and a corn maze.

Owner Carolyn Lattin believes kids should know where their food comes from and emphasizes that concept — from the farm animals to the bountiful gardens and fruit trees. In the front of the property you’ll find a pig that is given lots of food and attention. But come December, he’s auctioned off. The winner can do whatever he wants with Porky, but often that means a scrumptious pork roast for Christmas dinner.

Olympia Farmers Market

I never leave Olympia without a stop at their Farmers Market, which is one of the biggest and best in the state. Brightly colored vegetables, freshly picked fruit and luscious bouquets and plants delight the visual palate. I bought some tiny turnips, about the size of beads and the vendor suggested roasting them. They were full of flavor, with almost a cabbage-like taste. If you’re not sure what you want, you can always ask for a sample.

The market is open Thursday – Sunday from April through October and Saturday and Sunday in November and December.

It’s very easy to buy the makings for a complete dinner at the Farmers Market because meat, seafood, baked goods and whatever you fancy is available. Everything, but the fruit, is grown locally. We rely on fruit from Eastern Washington because that area has the best climate for growing it.

Now to measure out my Ethiopian coffee so I can savor a cup in the morning.

Take a “Twilight” Tour

The Chamber of Commerce is your best bet for a starting point for all things Forks/Twilight

As you may know, the “Twilight” books are set in Forks, Washington, because the average yearly rainfall there is 10 – 12 feet (yes, that’s not a mistake – Forks measures precipitation in feet, not inches). Vampires, who dominate the story in each of the books, don’t tolerate sunlight, but thrive in rain-soaked Forks.

Although none of the “Twilight” movies were or will be filmed in Forks, you can still visit many of the places mentioned in the books – where the characters go to school, play, eat, sleep and work. You can pay for an organized, narrated tour offered by the folks at the Dazzled by Twilight store in Forks or you can pick up a map highlighting “Twilight” icons at the Forks Chamber of Commerce and take a self-guided expedition.

What you’ll see

Driving north on Highway 101, you’ll know you’ve reached the “Twilight” zone when you see Bella’s (the heroine of the books) rusty red Chevy pickup truck parked in front of the Chamber of Commerce. The “Bella” vanity plate gives it away.

Stop at the Chamber office and pick up a tour map and check out the “Love Bites” jewelry crafted by the administrator at the Forks Hospital and her sister.

The self-guided map points out:

  • Bella and her dad’s house
  • The police station where Charlie Swan (Bella’s dad)works
  • Forks High School where Bella first meets her love interest, Edward
  • Forks Community Hospital where Dr. Cullen works and has his own reserved, well-marked parking space
  • The Cullen’s home, which is an actual bed and breakfast that usually has a note on the front door saying where the Cullen’s have gone
  • Forks Outfitters, aka Newton’s Olympic Outfitters in the books
  • First Beach in La Push where the high schoolers get together one Saturday and hike


Drive a short distance to Port Angeles where you can sample mushroom ravioli (what Bella ordered in the first book) or whatever you like at Bella Italia Restaurant. It was the site of Bella and Edward’s first date. Bella Italia offers fine Italian cuisine and an extensive wine selection.

Shop for Memorabilia

Take home a souvenir to remind you of your “Twilight” adventure. Tee-shirts, mugs, Twilight brew coffee, emblems, bookmarks, jewelry, post cards, Twilight-themed signs, posters, sound tracks and even the Twilight books are available. Some businesses will stamp your book “Bought in Forks,” which makes it a collector’s item.

Beauty and serenity abound in the area surrounding Forks. Side trips to the Hoh Rain Forest, Lake Crescent, La Push and Hurricane Ridge are highly encouraged.

To find out more about Forks, visit

Hello Fellow Travelers!

Olympia Farmers Market offers the best produce, flowers and crafts in Thurston County.

I’m a native of Washington and still enjoy playing tourist in our beautiful state. Having lived for one very unpleasant year in a military town in Georgia, that shall remain nameless, I think we often take for granted our state’s wide variety of terrains and climates, attractions and activities, lush green backdrops and wide open wheat fields.

As a travel writer who has contributed to numerous publications, I am often asked to cover stories here in my own backyard. Washington’s miles of ocean beaches, numerous lakes, raging rivers and calm creeks make the state both a favorite destination for tourists and one of the many reasons most of us can’t imagine living anywhere else. We have snow-covered mountains, an active volcano (Mt. St. Helens), and rugged hills, yet we’re also dazzled by rain forests, parched by deserts and lured by wineries and breweries.

You don’t have to drive far to find your next cup of coffee in Washington or to discover a farmer’s market selling lush local produce. For those seeking a “staycation,” our state offers a variety of farms, dude ranches, spas, and fine dining. Pop culture fans will enjoy visiting Forks – home to the vampires who live in the “Twilight” books. We pretty much have it all.

Relying on past experiences and future explorations, I’d like to share the wonders and treasures of my home state with you. Maybe you’ll be persuaded to visit and share our majestic bounty. Maybe you’ll have memories of your own to contribute.

Whether you travel with spouses, children, grandchildren, friends or even Fido, there are destinations in Washington guaranteed to take your breath away.

Shall we get started?

Heather Larson