Spending time in Northwest Washington, even in winter, will make your weekend or weekday a good one. It’s March and at this time of year you’ll see budding trees and flowers as you make your way from one city (or town) to another. You just might experience a rain and wind storm too.
Start the weekend off right with a wine tasting at Hellams Vineyard in La Conner and go in search of daffodil fields. Enjoy a tasty dinner at A’Town Bistro in Anacortes. End the weekend with a day in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
While in Friday Harbor, stop in at San Juan Island Cheese for sparkling wine and the World Board. The cheeseboards and lunch plates are delicious at this small family-owned local cheese counter and lunch bistro. Sip wine, taste cheese, eat lunch, eat in or take it to go.
So, it’s the start of the new year ~ what do you want to see and do this year? Here are 16 (for 2016!) that you might want to consider:
- Visit Deception Pass and the Rosario Beach/Bowman Bay area
- Head East from Seattle to Suncadia Resort ~ taste, relax, play
- Snoqualmie Falls
- Stay at Fort Flagler State Park
- Wine tasting in Walla Walla ~ make a long weekend of it as there is much to taste
- Explore the Kalaloch area of the Washington Coast
- Vancouver, British Columbia
- Attend at least (6) six festivals or fairs (ex: Washington State Fair, Poverty Bay Wine Festival, Bumbershoot, Fremont Fair, Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, Bellevue Arts & Crafts Fair, Issaquah Salmon Days, Ellensburg Rodeo, Bremerton Blackberry Festival, Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival, Taste Washington… just to name a few).
- Take a hike and see Silver Falls at Silver Falls State Park in Silverton, OR. It’s just short of 4 hours reach.
- Run/Walk a 5-K
- Haven’t been camping in awhile? Maybe this is the year.
- Take more pictures (and less selfies)
- Visit (and support) the beautiful area of the Methow Valley. Winthrop, Twisp, Mazama and more… the activities and beauty abound.
- Go crabbing in the waters near Anacortes
- Leavenworth ~ take in Oktoberfest, Christmas Lighting Festival or visit anytime of the year
- Do it Local. See: an Everett Silvertips hockey game. Hear: local musicians. Smell: the fresh air of a nearby beach or park. Taste: a meal at a new restaurant or food truck. Touch: shop at a neighborhood boutique.
The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities. ~ Stephen Covey
Happy New Year 2016!
What are your priorities for this new year? If something isn’t working, change it. Ask yourself, would it be better if I did it differently?
It’s January 1st and its a First Day Hike kind of day. At many of the Washington State Parks, along with other America’s State Parks, it’s a chance to create an experience in this season of resolutions and renewal. And it is also a Washington State Parks ‘Free Day’ too. Get the info here…
So which movie are we going to see? Just kidding.
On this last day of 2015 and you look back on the year, what was your favorite part of it? Was it a vacation or trip? A new person (or pet) in your life? A chance at a new career path? Did you run your first half marathon? Spent more time outdoors in nature?
As I update my 2016 calendar for the new year ~ Question: what was my favorite experience of 2015? Answer: in May… a 5-night trip to Las Vegas. We did it up VERY well!!!
My Top 16 list of other 2015 outings (in no particular order) are:
- Spending the final day of the US Open at Chambers Bay golf course with my dad and husband
- Drinking some very fine wine
- Enjoying theater. Favorite: Phantom of the Opera or Mamma Mia
- Enjoying concerts. Favorite Indoor Concert: Candlebox or Muse. Favorite Outdoor Concert: Afrodisiacs at Gene Coulon Memorial Beach Park
- Taking the Victoria Clipper for a weekend to Oak Bay/Victoria BC to catch up with friends
- Road trip to Ocean Shores
- Road trip to Leavenworth
- Flight to Dallas, TX for the Seahawks/Cowboys game and to meet up with my brother/family. AT&T Stadium is amazing. Pecan Lodge. Iron Cactus.
- A dinner boat cruise on the waters of the Anacortes/San Juan Islands area via Mystic Sea Charters and Hellam’s Vineyard
- Pike Place Market and Pioneer Square … finding new shops (like Watson Kennedy, Clementines, Fleurt, Timothy De Clue) and restaurants (like London Plane) nearby
- Snoqualmie Falls #optoutside adventure
- Visiting Chihuly Garden and Glass along with dinner at Sky City and taking in the Puget Sound views via the Space Needle
- Tailgating and attending Seattle Seahawks games. Go Hawks!
- Attending a day full of action of the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament at Key Arena
- Road trip in a Mercedes-Benz convertible to get a pedicure at Tip Top Nails in North Bend
- Taste ~ Road trip to visit a friend and check out Dirty Oscar’s Annex and Corina in Tacoma. Honorable mention: Vista Lago Restaurant in Kirkland
And being thankful for other places and people not mentioned here.
What is on your list for 2016?
My #OptOutside event of 2015 was to visit one of my favorite destinations ~ Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge and Spa.
On this morning, ice was present and frost clung to the leaves and branches. The fog with the sun peaking through, made for an especially invigorating experience. We viewed the falls from above and hiked to see them below.
The few hours consisted of 1) special trip to the Country Store within the Salish Lodge, where a long sleeve Tee was purchased along with a Christmas ornament for the tree 2) photos taken of the roaring waterfall named Snoqualmie Falls. The voices of international visitors could be heard during this traditional Thanksgiving weekend visit 3) a hike down the trail that is near to the bottom of the falls. In the past, we were able to climb the rocks near the falls but now there are barriers to help prevent this. I was lucky enough to get some of my wedding engagement pictures taken here prior to. Also, it has been fun to bring out of town guests here at different times. So, it continues to be a favorite place.
To walk among the trees is magical…touch the moss and the hear the crispy earth beneath my feet. I especially liked seeing the engravings in the pavement of the newly built lower parking lot which has restrooms and a resting area. The engravings showcase a word in English and then beside it, in the Snoqualmie language ~ ‘Waterfall’ and ‘s.tkʷab’. The Snoqualmie People spoke the Southern dialect (txʷəlšucid) of the Lushootseed language used by many regional tribes who often spoke both the Southern and Northern dialects because of extensive travel in the Unites States and Canada. This language is now on the ‘endangered’ list with few remaining fluent speakers. The Snoqualmie people are southern Coast Salish Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast.
A visit was made a year ago at this time as well, which included the delicious Salish Lodge Country Breakfast in The Dining Room at the Salish Lodge & Spa. The Snoqualmie Falls Store has a nice selection of Pacific Northwest gift options. And yes, I have stayed at the Lodge and enjoyed the Spa too. 🙂 See March 2011 post.
Below are a number of images from this last adventure ~
Here’s to one of the Pacific Northwest’s (and my) “Best Places”!
Ocean Shores, WA is 2-1/2 hours from the Seattle area. A great time to head to the coast is the month of September, May or any month in between. Walk the beach, find some shells, see wildlife and write a message in the sand.
Many of the hotels are the older beach town resort-style. A past favorite to stay was The Polynesian Resort. For many years my grandparents would go with friends and I carried on the tradition. The one bedroom is a good selection as the bedroom is separate from the living area and full service kitchen. Optional: have a fire in the fireplace and a glass of wine while watching a DVD or while cheering on the Seattle Seahawks on a lazy Sunday. The people are friendly and the amenities are vast. http://thepolynesian.com/
What else is there to do? A nice selection of merchandise can be found at The Village Shoppe and Flying Cats Gift Shoppe. Stop in at Elk Head Taproom (brewery located in Buckley) for a brew. Take a drive to Seabrook and have lunch at Mill 109 ~ the Whistle Punk Chicken Burger and a pint of craft brew hit the spot. ‘Our Place’ is known for their breakfast. The Ocean Beach Roasters has a nice selection of coffee, pastries, quiche, and more. Emily’s at Quinault Resort and Casino is good for a fine dining option. And while you’re at the Casino, take a spin at a slot machine to try your luck. Maria’s at The Polynesian is ok too.
What’s up with the Sasquatch theme (or sightings) around the area? Ocean Shores is a gathering place for Sasquatch researchers from around the world gather to present their findings of the elusive bigfoot species. Witnesses share their experiences and information about Sasquatch.
So, stay two nights to wind down and enjoy this Pacific Northwest beach and weather. You might also consider continuing your trip north to Quinault Lodge, Kalaloch Lodge and the beautiful beaches of the Washington coast. Fly a kite, paddle a boat, become a birdwatcher, or beach comb for treasures.
As we wind down the last couple weeks of August (and some may say the end of Summer), check out this list of ‘Top 10 Things To Do’ to make even more lasting memories –
- Visit the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass
- Ride the Ducks – use the coupon “DUCKDAYS” on any ride 6 pm or after Tuesday through Thursday till the end of August 2015. Quack!
- Take in a M’s game at Safeco Field
- Evergreen State Fair (the Monroe Fair as some of us know it), August 27 through September 7th
- Chase a Waterfall
- Stop in at the new Flying Bike Cooperative Brewery in the Greenwood area of Seattle – it just opened August 15th!
- It’s Washington Wine Month! Enjoy!
- Just opened this month! Make a reservation at Orfeo on 3rd in the Belltown area
- Art in the Garden – Bellevue Botanical Garden – August 29 and 30th
- Washington State International Kite Festival in Long Beach – it lasts all week August 17 – 23rd this year
I could write 10 books about all that Washington State has to offer. But here on www.within4hoursreach.com, based on my own experience, I’ll give you my take on ‘100 things to do in Washington State before You Go’ – some may be popular and others a bit unique. Here they are, in no particular order:
- Snoqualmie Falls – just about my favorite place on earth
- Salish Lodge – stay here and enjoy a fireside couple’s massage, enjoy the spa and in the morning, have their Country Breakfast…since 1916. Check out their Country Store too – great items to take home with you or purchase as gifts
- Go river rafting on one of the many rivers – particularly one out of the Leavenworth/Cashmere area on the Wenatchee River
- Cougar Mountain Zoo for their Reindeer Festival during the holiday season – I especially liked the variety of options in their gift shop
- La Conner – perfect for shopping the boutique stores or purchase wine from Hellams Vineyard. In the summer, check out Hellams Vineyard schedule for wine cruises. Don’t forget to stop by the Berry Barn just down the road in Mount Vernon – you can’t go wrong with the delicious Marionberry pie
- Bellevue Festival of the Arts and Anacortes Arts Festival – typically in July and August respectively, a nice variety of vendors and craftsman await
- Whale Watching – explore the beauty of our waterways
- San Juan Island – makes for a fabulous Pacific Northwest long weekend. Lime Kiln Point State Park, Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor, American Camp, English Camp, Krystal Acres Alpaca Farm, and more…
- Roche Harbor – this deserves a separate San Juan Island listing as it is a bit magical. Sculpture Park, Roche Harbor Resort (Hotel de Haro built in 1886), good restaurants, gardens, a few shops and a marina. It makes a perfect romantic long weekend for two.
- Other San Juan Islands are Orcas, Lopez and Shaw. Orcas Island is known for its pottery, galleries, Rosario Resort & Spa, Moran State Park.
- Maltby Cafe, located in Maltby, is known for having the Best Breakfast in Seattle, homemade fare with a country flair, and huge portions
- Visit local nurseries during the holiday season to take in the holiday décor and cheer – Wight’s, Molbak’s, Squak, and Swansons Nursery to name a few.
- Snowflake Lane in Bellevue during the holiday season
- Des Moines – have you been Scotch & Vine yet? Great selection of hard to find Bourbons and Scotches and a tasty menu. Take a walk around the marina or Beach Park while you are there.
- March is Washington Wine Month – check out a wine event like the Poverty Bay Wine Festival or Taste Washington. Shop your local wine shop to purchase a bottle of Washington Wine.
- Snowshoeing – take a tour or head out on your own
- Pike Place Market and buy something from a local vendor as well as local cuisine
- Chihuly Garden and Glass at the Seattle Center
- Visit one of the many Puget Sound area beaches such as Alki Beach and Golden Gardens
- Walla Walla – stay – Marcus Whitman Hotel, eat – you won’t be without good restaurants here – see past posts in this blog, play – wine tasting galore. Definitely book a 3-day weekend or longer, but you won’t hit even a third of the wineries located here. Walla Walla Valley has some of the best grapes/fruit around. Fly in or take the 4.5 hour drive from Seattle – it’s great to stop by other wine regions, the fruit stands that showcase the goods from this area of the State and a varied landscape.
- Go on a wine tour of the various wine regions in our state – Yakima, Red Mountain/Benton City, Horse Heaven Hills/Prosser, Walla Walla, Spokane, Woodinville, Olympic Peninsula… and more
- Mount St. Helens – visit the visitor centers, observatory, and learning center. Stop in at the Ape Caves too. Where were you when it erupted on May 18, 1980?
- Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon is a must-see every April
- Cape Disappointment State Park ~beachcombing, hiking, two lighthouses, abound with history
- Hike the Alpine Lakes Wilderness
- the Washington Coast – visit Washington State beaches and towns like Ocean Shores, Westport, Long Beach, Kalaloch, Ruby, Rialto beaches, First beach and more. Stay at the Kalaloch Lodge or camp nearby to really soak it in. Don’t forget to stop at Lake Quinault Lodge too.
- Olympic Peninsula – visit the Hoh Rain Forest and hike the nearby beaches, stay at the historic Crescent Lake Lodge (President Roosevelt stayed here).
- In October, visit the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival in Port Angeles
- Sip the spirits at a local distillery in Seattle, Gig Harbor, Woodinville, Spokane, and more… search for these options
- Tulalip Resort and Casino – you’ll have an overall good experience here – play, attend an event (like Taste of Tulalip in November), eat at one of the great restaurant options (known for their gourmet fare and foodie likability), check out the nice gift shops and if you have a chance, stay. The resort is well-appointed.
- Space Needle – especially in the summer. Enjoy the beautiful view from the observation deck (hope that Mt. Rainier makes an appearance) and have dinner at SkyCity
- Get out your platform shoes and boogie with the Afrodisiacs – regularly perform at Tulalip Casino and Clearwater Casino
- Hibulb Cultural Center ~ see an exhibit, experience, enjoy
- Pick your Festival, any Festival
- Whidbey Island – Langley, South Whidbey State Park (with views of the Puget Sound), Fort Casey State Park, Fort Ebey State Park, Ebey’s Landing, lighthouses, Coupeville, Greenbank Farm, and the beautiful Deception Pass State Park
- Deception Pass State Park – check out Bowman Bay and don’t miss my favorite park, Rosario Beach. See tide pools, walk, picnic, enjoy the beach. This area is deep in Native American history.
- Ride a Washington State Ferry
- Port Townsend – Take in the old time spirit of this Port city
- Vashon Island is a rural gem that showcases island cheese, local wine, beach walks, the famous Vashon Strawberry Festival, and a great farmers market. A bicyclist will feel right at home here. Stay weird.
- Bainbridge Island – visit the public Bloedel Reserve garden. Continue on to Poulsbo to shop and take in the Scandinavian flavor.
- See a summer concert at Chateau Ste. Michelle – bring a picnic and some friends
- Jazz Alley in Seattle ~ especially a Bobby Caldwell show
- Walk the Cedar River Trail in Renton or the 27 mile multi-use Burke Gilman Trail
- Edmonds ~ a favorite for the boutiques, variety of dining options, access to beaches and the ferry, farmers market, festivals, and more. A city for all seasons.
- Walk Greenlake – a vibrant Seattle community lives here
- Go crabbing out of Anacortes – this is great fun if you haven’t tried it before
- Woodland Park Zoo – check out the exhibits or attend a summer concert on the lawn here
- Seafair and the Blue Angels – since the 1950’s – what a treat!
- Kayak Lake Union and then kayak up to Aqua Verde or Ivar’s Salmon House for an afternoon meal
- See a show at Showbox (at the Market or Sodo) – a few of my favorites seen here include Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators, Candlebox, Paul Stanley and Daugherty 🙂
- Take a drive along Chuckanut Drive in Bow, WA and stop in at Taylor Shellfish Farms for some of the best oysters and other shellfish that come straight from tidelands across Western Washington and British Columbia.
- Stop in at the historic Fairhaven District of Bellingham. Walk the cobblestone streets for a bite and shopping.
- Attend a Bellingham Bells or Everett Aquasox game
- See the Everett Silvertips play vs. the Seattle Thunderbirds. Buy a raffle ticket.
- Go to a Seattle Seahawks football game and be a part of the 12th Man/Woman
- Try a new craft brew from the brewery itself in the Georgetown area of Seattle (or other, like Black Raven Brewing in Redmond or Redhook Brewery in Woodinville)
- In University Place, walk along the trail and park near Chambers Bay Golf Course – grab lunch there and check out the beautiful views
- Like to shop? Don’t miss out on University Village, Pacific Place or the Bellevue Collection
- Ride The Big Wheel – go during the day and at night
- Visit the North Cascades Visitor Center in Newhalem
- Take I-20 through the North Cascades National Park – hike Ladder Creek Falls (and more), see the views of Diablo and Ross Lake, the Washington Pass Overlook, walk the paved trail at Rainy Lake – it will not disappoint! It’s one of the most beautiful areas of the USA.
- Maryhill Museum and winery – located on the bank above the Columbia River, see the museum and a replica of Stonehenge. During the summer, there are outdoor concerts and car shows here.
- Mazama, Winthrop (has a feeling of the Old West), Twisp (and the entire Methow Valley) – shop, cross country ski, attend a festival or farmers market. Try a brew at Twisp River Pub or breakfast at Cinnamon Twisp Bakery. This would be my favorite road trip as you can go I-20 or Hwy 2/Blewett Pass via Seattle – it takes you through a varied landscape and much beauty.
- Boat on the Columbia River
- Lake Chelan Valley – create your own wine tasting tour, stop in at Campbell’s for their fish & chips, golf, water ski, hike, camp. Nefarious Cellars has a beautiful view of Lake Chelan and also has outstanding wine.
- Take the Lady of the Lake from Chelan to Steheiken – rent a bicycle to discover additional parts of the area
- Leavenworth – stay, eat, sport. Festivals are plenty year-round, including Oktoberfest, Autumn Leaf Festival, Tree Lighting at Christmas. Summer and Winter activities galore. I got engaged here while taking a horse drawn sleigh ride. A favorite place to stay is Run of the River.
- Suncadia in Roslyn- makes for a great retreat – golf, spa, and have a bite (or wine tasting) at Swiftwater Cellars which sits on Coal Mine No. 9 and has a great view of Rope Rider Golf Course. Check out the Harvest Festival in October for some family fun. Also, drive up the road to Roslyn and you’ll find what was home to the popular TV series Northern Exposure.
- Toppenish – walk through downtown to view 70+ murals created to reflect Native American and Western history. It’s also home to the American Hop Museum and the Yakima Nation Cultural Center.
- Spokane – stay at the Davenport Hotel during the holiday season – check out the Festival of Trees; visit Barrister Winery for wine tasting (and the Friday night art walk).
- As you drive by the wheat covered fields, make your way to Waitsburg for small town life and enjoy the grub at Whoopemup Hollow Cafe (call for reservations) or Jimgermanbar
- Stay at a Lighthouse and be a Lighthouse Keeper – possibilities include New Dungeness, Point No Point, Point Robinson, North Head, Browns Point
- Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-in, in Issaquah, this historic XXX hosts car shows
- Take in a show at the Village Theater in Issaquah or Everett. There isn’t a bad seat in the house.
- Hike Wallace Falls
- Mount Rainier – experience the boundless natural beauty and things to do
- See a concert at the Gorge. The views are beautiful and it’s fun to hang on the lawn in the sun with friends.
- Grand Coulee Dam – as part of the Coulee Corridor, it’s the third largest producer of electricity in the world. Hike a desert plateau, see wildlife and wildflowers, boat on the Columbia River, drive through Colville Indian Reservation to Omak.
- Eat at one of the various Anthony’s Homeport locations where you’ll get a view of the water and a Pacific Northwest meal
- Attend the Olympic Music Festival in Quilcene ~ concerts in a barn (weekends during the summer).
- See the Seattle Mariners play at Safeco Field. This stadium is like no other. Rain or shine
- Seattle Sounders represent the MLS well. Seattle has some top names in the world of soccer that play here. There is quite a rivalry between the Sounders and our neighbors to the south – the Portland Timbers.
- Enjoy a world-class meal at The Herbfarm in Woodinville or Canlis in Seattle
- Spend a Sunday at the Ballard Farmers Market. A great variety of vendors of organic, handmade and locally grown foods. There is a plethora of great places to eat and shop nearby. I especially like the boozy shakes at Hot Cakes Molten Chocolate Cakery.
- Mercer Slough Nature Park and Environmental Education Center in Bellevue. This is a true gem on the outskirts of a vibrant city. You’ll experience nature walking on boardwalks among the wetlands and hiking through wooded trails.
- Bellevue Botanical Garden – enjoy the variety of gardens and trails throughout – the newly built Ravine Experience is especially nice.
- See Sequim. The annual Lavender Festival each July brings in a crowd. And for beautiful water views, walk along the rocky beach to the lighthouse on Dungeness Spit – this is five miles which takes you into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The spit is part of the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge.
- Palouse Falls – one of the state’s most beautiful waterfalls, with the heaviest volumes of water flow in spring and early summer. The area surrounding is made of rolling hills and farmland, and buttes that showcase magnificent views.
- For the bird/eagle lover, visit Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge, take a float trip on the Skagit River, or see the Snow Geese in the La Conner area
- Gig Harbor – visit this maritime city for culture, shopping, take in a tasty meal at JW, and drive down the road to Kopachuck State Park for beautiful views of the Olympic Mountains
- Just to experience it ~ go to the Capital Hill area of Seattle for great people watching, restaurants that a foodie will love, clubs to take in a concert (or festival)
- Visit Tillicum Village and Ride the Ducks – these are known as tourist attractions but it is fun for the local too – great to experience the city, Puget Sound waterways, culture and history
- Washington State Fair (formerly known as the Puyallup Fair) and Evergreen State Fair (we still call it the Monroe Fair) – animals, concerts, crafts
- Hiram M. Chittenden Locks (the Ballard Locks) – picnic on the lawn above, see the fish ladder, boats and kayakers alike are transported between Salmon Bay and Lake Washington/Union and the tidal waters of Puget Sound
- If you’re at SeaTac Airport (Seattle Tacoma International Airport) – visit the Sub Pop store in Concourse C
- In Arlington, reserve a table and enjoy a meal at Bistro San Martin
- Go Sailing
- Enjoy the views of or play in the International Fountain at Seattle Center
- Stay in a Yurt or camp at one of the many Washington State Parks
- Stop in at Berliner Pub in Renton ~ it has the best Brätzel (warm soft pretzel) ever! Served with two different mustards and add a side of cream cheese.
- I could go on…
What would you add to this list?
It’s a photographer’s dream, season to season, Washington State is abound in beauty. Experience Washington State.