As the story goes, on February 24th, 1989, Agent Dale Cooper (a character played by Kyle MacLachlan, who was born and raised in Yakima) entered a small town near the Canadian border and embarked on an investigation into the murder of high school prom queen Laura Palmer.
Named for the fictional mountain that shadows the town (portrayed by Mt. Si in the series), Twin Peaks made its network debut on Sunday night, April 8th, 1990. Created by David Lynch with Mark Frost, the two-season TV drama gripped audiences in a strange world with an ever-expanding cast of characters both super hot (very, very bad boy Bobby Briggs played by Dana Ashbrook had my full angsty teenager attention when the series first aired) and very quirky, like The Giant who is actual seven-foot tall giant Carel Struycken. When it wasn’t renewed after its second season, the 1992 prequel movie Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me was released to help resolve lingering questions about Laura Palmer. Then in 2017, Showtime put out the 18-episode Twin Peaks: The Return. Set 25 years after the original events, it follows Agent Dale Cooper as he returns to Twin Peaks.
Unlike other shows ostensibly set in Washington but filmed elsewhere (sorry Edward stans but only a few Twilight scenes were shot in Forks), much of Twin Peaks was filmed in and around Snoqualmie and North Bend. In addition to MacLachlan, the PNW connection was forged when David Lynch was looking to save money by casting someone local to “just play a dead girl.” Seattle stage actor Sheryl Lee landed the part of Laura Palmer and changed the story’s shape when Lynch recognized “that she was going to be so powerful just being dead.”
With different entry points into Twin Peaks over the last several decades, it has garnered a steady fan base willing to sort through the intricacies of Lynch’s Transcendental Meditation-influenced narratives. In the past, North Bend wanted to distance itself from the more macabre elements of Twin Peaks, but new generations of fans are following Agent Dale Cooper’s lead when he says in season two, “I have no idea where this will lead us, but I have a definite feeling it will be a place both wonderful and strange.”
This guide gets you to some of the more notable settings in Twin Peaks and takes about a half day to complete, depending on whether you stop for meals. Everyone along the route is welcoming and gracious, so there’s no need to feel shy about having a cosplay moment or snapping photos.
Great Northern Hotel 🪵
📍6501 Railroad Ave SE, Snoqualmie
Twin Peaks’ Great Northern Hotel was owned by Audrey Horne’s (Sherilyn Fenn) dad and is where Agent Cooper stayed during his investigation in room 315. Depending on how deep you want to go, you can check out the full hotel menu on the Twin Peaks wiki. While you’re unlikely to find a Firecracker Surprise Omelette for $4 at the Salish Lodge & Spa, the brunch at the lodge’s dining room—where every table has a westward view of the Snoqualmie River Valley—is always recommended.
Look for dishes with a bee symbol, like the Spiced Honey French Toast, to get the Honey From Heaven™ experience, where the waiter pours honey from Salish hives from high above your plate like a waterfall. If you’re concluding your day at the Lodge, they offer a date night special on Thursdays. For $200, you and your Bobby Briggs can get a three-course seasonal meal with dessert and a bottle of wine. For the budget-conscious, head upstairs to the cozy “Attic” for lighter fare and specialty cocktails like the gin-based Dale Cooper or the Mt. Si, a spruced up whisky drink.
Heads-up: On February 24th, Salish Lodge does a Twin Peaks-themed brunch and show paraphernalia, like a Room 315 key tag, is sold in the Country Store. Free parking is available across the street from the Falls.
Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department 👮
📍 7001 396th Dr SE, Snoqualmie
Twin Peaks’ opening credits—with theme music by longtime Lynch collaborator Angelo Badalamenti—is an homage to the region at a time when active lumber mills were still prominent. Since 2010, the lumber mill location in Twin Peaks has been home to DirtFish Rally School, a 300-acre rally car course where you can learn how to safely drive two and four wheel drive cars very fast. As you drive into DirtFish’s parking lot, you’ll see the 1989 Ford Bronco that served as Sheriff Harry S. Truman’s (played by Canadian Michael Ontkean) vehicle he drove Agent Cooper around in. The location that served as the Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Department is now the main office of DirtFish, and it’s worth popping into the gift shop and seeing the Renault and Peugeot rally cars parked inside.
The Mill 🏭
📍 7001 396th Dr SE, Snoqualmie
Before the DirtFish Rally School moved in, the site was one of Weyerhaeuser’s mills. Various buildings were closed until it was totally shut down in 2003. Long abandoned, the mill sits cordoned off at the edge of the rally course and near the edge of the Snoqualmie River.
Stay with me on this very soap operaish Twin Peaks backstory of the mill: A character named Josie Packard inherited the mill after her husband Andrew’s death and it was managed by Andrew’s sister Catherine Martell and her husband Pete, who was the first to find Laura Palmer’s body along the edge of a river when he went out fishing. (As to the mystery of why oversized plaid shirts were a grunge staple, it’s probably because kids were wearing their mill worker dad’s old lumberjack shirts.)
Double R Diner ☕
📍 137 W North Bend Way, North Bend
Double R Diner is where Agent Dale Cooper regularly ordered a slice of cherry pie and a “damn fine cup of coffee” from owner Norma Jennings (Peggy Lipton). It’s also where Shelly Johnson (Mädchen Amick) was picked up by secret boyfriend Bobby Briggs after her morning shift so they could make seggs when her abusive husband Leo Johnson was out of town.
In years past, ownership wasn’t keen on the Twin Peaks connection, as evidenced by the aggressive Tweety Bird decor throughout. Prior to filming Twin Peaks: The Return in 2015, the cafe was returned to its full Double R wood paneled walls and yellow formica table glory. Then in March 2020, the cafe was purchased by former cafe waitress and Twin Peaks superfan Rachel Bennett (DAMN FINE is tattooed on the inside of her fingers) and her husband Max Spears. A quarantine lockdown restaurant success story, they were able to retain all of their 30 employees—a majority of whom have worked there from five to twenty-five years—through PPP loans and a fan-initiated GoFundMe.
In addition to a classic American diner menu, they also sell an array of merch featuring contemporary takes from the Twin Peaks universe, like psychedelic Log Lady and Weird Bob stickers, a tote with an illustration of the cafe, and cherry pie and a cup of coffee magnets and enamel pins. And if you can’t get there in person but want to take Agent Cooper on his advice to, “Every day, once a day, give yourself a present,” they also ship cherry pie (also available in vegan) and coffee anywhere in the country.