Alderbrook Resort & Spa is My Summer Camp Dream Come True

The Alderbrook Resort pier

Ever since long ago enjoying movies such as The Parent Trap (both versions) and Dirty Dancing, I’ve yearned for the type of summer camp experience portrayed in these films. The lawn games, lake swimming, hiking, and canoe races featured on the big screen were activities that eluded my otherwise perfectly happy youth. Well into adulthood, I’ve continued to romanticize about the idea of such a vacation, and it was during a recent trip to the great Northwest—specifically to Alderbrook Resort & Spa—that I was able to fulfill my idealized vacation desire.

There are certain advantages to youthful dreams being realized at age 21+. Namely, my discovery of Alderbrook came during a tour of Washington state’s wine regions, thanks to a Washington State Wine Commission media visit. After a whirlwind excursion that began in Walla Walla wine country to the east, and continued west through the Red Mountain and Yakima Valley AVAs to a destination of Seattle, our group hopped on a float plane at Lake Union for a bit of welcome R&R at Alderbrook. 

The wood and timber Alderbrook Resort & Spa is located along the Hood Canal

The scenic 20 minute flight landed pierside at the charming wood and timber resort, located within Puget Sound along the Hood Canal. Surrounded by towering evergreens and with views of the majestic Olympic Mountains, the setting was breathtaking, and as close to a summer camp idyll as I’ve seen. Meandering the resort grounds, I envisioned the sort of activities depicted in the aforementioned movies: kids gliding into the canal waters via the pier-based slide, groups playing croquet on the central lawn, those in search of quietude reading within the lobby’s fireside nooks, and sunset-seekers enjoying the glow from west-facing Adirondack chairs. 

At Alderbrook, what began in 1913 with a gathering of simple tents on the beach has grown into a timeless, 88-acre, year-round destination and Northwest tradition for all generations. 77 rooms and 16 cottages of varying size accommodate all types of visitors, though the place practically screams “family reunion,” something I plan to suggest to my extended family. The resort is also an ideal fit for rejuvenating retreats, stunning weddings, corporate events, and couples looking to reconnect. 

An Alderbrook cottage is perfect for families

Alderbrook’s experiences change with the seasons, and every season has its merits, such as my late winter panorama of the snow-capped Olympic range. Guests can hike along the resort’s five miles of trails, paddle and boat in the canal, enjoy locally inspired spa experiences, golf at Alderbrook Golf Club, watch abundant wildlife, indulge in Michelin-level cuisine crafted by the resort’s Executive Chef Sara Harvey, or comb a beach full of oysters. 

Enjoy kayaking off of the resort pier
Alderbrook's swimming pool is open in every season
The resort grounds feature miles of hiking trails

An oyster farmer herself, Chef Harvey’s passion for high-quality, local ingredients translates to imaginative dishes served at The Restaurant at Alderbrook. Our group savored her talent during a special dinner at which she served Hood Canal oysters topped with Kaluga caviar and white chocolate. Her Dungeness Crab Tagliatelle featured delicata squash stuffed with lemon, green apple, and a meaty morsel of crab meat. And Smoked Venison Cheek was served atop gnocchi and smothered in black garlic jus. In keeping with our media group’s wine exploration, our dinner was attended by two of Washington’s superstar winemakers who shared their wares: James Mantone from Syncline Winery in the Columbia Gorge AVA, and Seth Kitzke from Kitzke Cellars and Upsidedown Wine located within the Candy Mountain AVA. Mantone’s Rhone-inspired varietals (2017 Blanc de Noir Celilo Vineyard Sparkling Pinot Noir, 2022 Gruner Veltliner, 2022 Chardonnay, 2021 Gamay Noir and 2012 Gruner Veltliner) and Kitzke’s miniscule production wines (Roussanne, WeatherEye Red Blend, Marsanne, and The Devil Is A Liar) provided delicious accompaniment to our multiple courses while also furthering our Washington wine education. 

Oyster hunting is a popular activity at Alderbrook Resort

Post dinner, our group retired to the outdoor firepit, reluctant to call it a night. The food, the wine, the resort’s casual luxury and its timeless quality lulled each of us into a state of bliss. Alderbrook Resort & Spa is real, and it’s spectacular. It was worth the wait. 

Photos courtesy of Alderbrook Resort & Spa, unless otherwise noted

Photo by Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is a luxury focused freelance feature and travel writer for a variety of lifestyle publications and websites, editor-at-large for, senior contributor to Napa Valley Life Magazine, and a California editor for luxury travel concierge service Essentialist, specializing in the Napa Valley. Prior to her journalism career she held positions in the fields of politics, te...(Read More)

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