'Twilight' Tourism: 7 Awesome Places to Visit in the Real-Life Forks, Washington
(Photos: Summit Entertainment | Bella Italia | Flickr)
The Twilight Saga ends its long and storied journey with the premiere of Breaking Dawn 2 this Friday, a bittersweet occasion for millions of Twilight fans across the globe. Though the billion-dollar franchise full of vampires, werewolves, and teen-angst is officially over, there's still a place where Twilight lives on in a very real sense — Forks, Washington.
Forks is a Twilight Mecca of sorts. Thousands of fans make the pilgrimage to the remote timber and fishing town in the Pacific Northwest every year because it's the place Stephenie Meyer set her young adult book series. Forks has embraced its association with Twilight, making each fan's trip a rich and full experience instead of generic sightseeing. It's paid off, too. The L.A. Times reported a 700 percent increase in tourism by the time the third Twilight film was released. So if you're going through Edward and Bella withdrawals, you'll find your fix in Forks.
The Miller Tree Inn, aka The Cullen House
First, you'll need a place to stay, so why not shack up at Edward's place? "We jumped onboard [the Twilight craze] as the Cullen House," said Susan Brager, the proprietor of The Miller Tree Inn bed and breakfast. "We put the Cullen's name on our mailbox, and Esme leaves messages out for people on the front porch, so they can take pictures of those." Inside the Cullen House, you'll get to choose whose room you want to stay in by picking a Cullen name placard. You'll see the same graduation cap artwork from the film, and every room comes with copies of the books and DVDs.
Bella Italia, Where Bella and Edward Had Their First Date
If you make it to Forks on your Twilight vision quest, dine at Bella Italia, the spot that served as Stephenie Meyer's inspiration for Bella and Edward's first date. Appropriately named, Bella Italia's been around long before Meyer's book series took shape, but is happy to welcome Twilight fans hoping to recreate Bella and Edward's special night. "We've become Twilight savvy," owner Neil Conklin told us. "We treat everyone the same, but we do play along with that fantasy. There's some entertainment that goes along with [dining here], of course, but we're really just a decent Italian restaurant that happened to be written into an amazing story."
Bella Italia serves local ingredients, like produce that comes from their 400-acre organic farm and fresh fish caught off the Washington coast by members of the Quileute Tribe. Best of all, you can order the same meal Bella did in Twilight. Bella's Mushroom Ravioli is the signature dish for Twilight fans and is now on the menu year-round. (Edward, of course, didn't order anything; he's a vampire.) And if you can't make it to Forks, Bella Italia's made it possible to order their famous mushroom ravioli online.
Bella's Classic Truck
While Edward could move with a quickness and Jacob could get around as a wolf, Bella had to use a more traditional means of transportation, her classic red pickup truck. The Forks Visitor Center purchased a similar truck for tourists to take photos in front of upon arriving in their town. The 1956 Chevy was painted red by one of the town's residents and given a personalized "Bella" license plate. Look closely and you'll see a couple Edward and Bella cutouts for added effect.
Forks High School
Who could forget the first time Bella laid eyes on Edward in the cafeteria of their high school? It's a monumental moment in what would develop into an epic relationship, which is why many tourists seek out the local high school for photo opportunities. Forks High doesn't mind if you snap a few shots in front of the sign, but make sure you don't disrupt the students. After all, this is a real school. However, Susan at The Miller Tree Inn did tell us the school is happy to help if you want to buy some Spartan gear. Just make sure you go to the admin building on the north side of campus.
Olympic National Park & La Push Beach
Just outside Forks, you'll find Olympic National Park in Port Angeles. It's the perfect place to live out the forest scenes in the Twilight films. Hike through the woods, and you'll see scenerey reminiscent of many important moments in the series, like the forest where Edward first told Bella he was a vampire, or the clearing where Bella takes down a mountain lion. It's all part of the natural beauty in Forks that doubles as fun for Twilight fans. While hiking attire is recommended, a ranger for the parks service told us that some people actually hike the terrain dressed up as their favorite Twilight characters. "It's great to see people excited about the outdoors, even if it's because of vampires," he said.
If the forest isn't for you, head to La Push Beach, where Bella first connected with Jacob Black. While you're there, follow the coastline and you'll come to 7760 La Push Road, also known as the vampire/werewolf treaty line. There you'll find a sign that reads, "No Vampires Beyond This Point," which also designates the start of the Quileute Indian Reservation.
Charlie & Bella Swan's House
Like the Cullens, the Swans have an offical house in Forks as well. Unlike the Cullen House though, the Swan House is a private residence, so unfortunately, you can't go inside. The homeowners did get in on the fun, however, by placing a sign outside that reads "Home of the Swans" for those who want to take a picture. The house was chosen because it most closely resembles the descriptions of the books — in fact there are very few two-story homes in Forks, which made the selection process easier.
The Miller Tree Inn isn't the only place you'll find the Cullens hanging out. Papa Cullen's got to make a living, right? The Forks Hospital gets in the spirit by reserving a parking space for the Cullen patriarch. Drive around to the back of the hospital and you'll find a sign designating Dr. Carlisle Cullen's spot. Another great photo op. (Please don't go in the facility unless you actually have a medical emergency, of course.)
So Come to Forks Already!
Obviously, the folks in Forks are happy to be part of the Twilight phenomenon, especially during the summer when Twilight tourism is at its peak. Susan Brager told us she's glad the books brought people to Forks because it's shown the world how much the tiny town has to offer beyond Meyer's supernatural world: "People always say, 'We came for Twilight. We come back for Forks."
(Photos: Flickr | Bella Italia | Summit)