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OUT & ABOUT

Skagit Wildlife Area
Flight Patterns

Image: Bob Jensen

Defy Gravity
iFly Seattle
Indoor skydiving is just like the real thing, only minus the “sky” and “diving” parts. Clad in a jumpsuit and helmet in a brand-new Tukwila facility, you’re suspended midair by massive fans that roar like a jet engine. First timers are carefully assisted by pros, but almost better than the weightlessness is watching those experts show off after each session—they bound and flip to the top of the 45-foot tunnel like CGI superheroes. They claim the skill just takes a little practice. 206-244-4359; iflyseattle.com

Getting There 20 minutes: south on I-5 and east on I-405


Shoot to Thrill
Adventure Paintball Park
Anyone can be splattered with paintball ammo during the Saturday walk-on sessions on the Longbranch field filled with trenches, sandbags, and an empty camper trailer. But book the Kitsap spot for a private party and you can devise your own “Most Dangerous Game” scenario, hunting an instructor—clad in a camo suit, naturally—armed only with a crossbow and paint mines. 253-793-7000; adventurepaintballpark.com

Getting There 90 minutes: south on I-5, west on WA 16 and WA 302, and south on Key Peninsula Hwy


Herd the Birds
Skagit Wildlife Area
When a cloud of thousands of migrating snow geese takes off from the mudflats on Skagit Bay, it’s like a trippy nature flick brought to life. The bird-watching at the Fir Island Farms Unit is world class, especially when bald eagles share the sky during the winter. Sandpipers tiptoe through the estuary, and even swans can be seen from the dike overlook. Bring binoculars—sights like these are why you own them in the first place. wdfw.wa.gov/lands/wildlife_areas/skagit

Getting There 70 minutes: north on I-5, east on Fir Island Rd


Fall for Foliage
Lake Cle Elum
Not every tree’s an evergreen on the Cascades’ east slope, which blooms in fall color along Highway 903 from Cle Elum. Head 20 miles northwest toward Salmon La Sac campground; the quaint towns of Roslyn and Ronald soon give way to the shores of Lake Cle Elum, where the maples and larch produce swaths of burnt orange and deep red. Sprawling resort Suncadia (509-649-6400; suncadiaresort.com) is nearby if you can’t stand leaving the autumn wonderland. 509-674-5958; cleelumroslyn.org

Getting There 85 minutes: east on I-90


Look to the Sky
Flaming Geyser State Park
As pyrotechnics go, it’s no Hollywood spectacle, but there is a flaming geyser in this modest Auburn park—a burble of lit methane the size of a Bic lighter. No matter, since the real draw is excellent Green River tubing and aerial feats by model airplane enthusiasts who have made the park into a mini airport. 360-902-8844; parks.wa.gov

Getting There 50 minutes: south on WA 167 and east on WA 18 and Green Valley Rd


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FOOD & DRINK

Cama Beach State Park
Shell Station

Choose Booze
Chuckanut Brewery and Kitchen
Will and Mari Kemper (of Thomas Kemper Root Beer fame) opened a real-beer brewery near downtown Bellingham’s shops and cafes, with a focus on sustainable, European-style brewing. A waterfront pub, live music, and brewery tours fill an afternoon, but the Kölsch, British IPA, and Pilsner behind the bar inspire return trips. 360-752-3377; chuckanutbreweryandkitchen.com

Getting There 90 minutes: north on I-5


Get Crabby
Cama Beach State Park
If you’re hankering for a shellfish dinner, you can catch and cook up to five Dungeness crabs at this onetime fishing resort. While you wait for your crab pots to fill, hike the park’s 15 miles of trails winding among beautiful displays of fall foliage or rent a rowboat from the maritime volunteers at the Center for Wooden Boats (360-387-9361; cwb.org). 360-387-1550; parks.wa.gov/camabeach

Getting There 90 minutes: north on I-5
 

Bors Hede
Old-Fashioned Grub

Brew Your Own
Gallaghers' Where-U-Brew
When you start from the more than 50 recipes for beer and wine, the brew you mix yourself is likely to have incomparable flavor. To make sure that it’s as tasty as it is unique, seasoned brewers will pitch in and demonstrate the use of the facility’s professional equipment such as the wort chiller or the bottle sterilizer. Two weeks after mixing and boiling, you can return to bottle and take home your creation. 425-776-4209; whereubrew.com

Getting There 25 minutes: north on I-5


Eat Medieval
Bors Hede
Can you handle a menu that uses the words “buttered worts” to describe the sauteed greens? There are fourteenth-century recipes and the added theater of wandering minstrels at Camlann Medieval Village’s living history eatery, but there’s no Monty Python buffoonery. Your buttered worts come with a side of lute music and a straight face. 425-788-8624; camlann.org

Getting There 45 minutes: east on WA 520, Novelty Hill Rd and Fall City Duvall Rd


Boehms Candies Factory
Chocolate Desires

Satisfy Sweet Teeth
Boehms Candies Factory
Willy Wonka and Lucille Ball both understood the allure of a dessert assembly line; at this one you’ll see hands dipping candies in pools of chocolate. Tour the alpine-style chalet and chapel of founder Julius Boehm, an Austrian athlete-turned-chocolatier, then get a tasting tour of the 1956 factory itself. A two-hour chocolate-making class will give you new appreciation for the factory’s steady output of clusters, cordials, and Mozart-Kugeln. 425-392-6652; boehmscandies.com

Getting There 25 minutes: east on I-90

 

 

 

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LEARN & DO

Hibulb Cultural Center
History Speaks

Live Local History
Hibulb Cultural Center
Under the angular roof of the Tulalip Tribes’ new $19 million museum is 
a high-roofed longhouse where storytellers pass on ancestral history. In interactive wall and video
displays, the military tradition of local tribes is honored and a family tree painstakingly maps the tribes’ earliest ancestors. Outside, a 50-acre preserve backs up to the Marysville marshes. 360-716-2600; hibulbculturalcenter.org

Getting There 55 minutes: north on I-5 and west on Tulalip Rd





 

Pick for Yourself
Jones Creek Farms
Sample as many apples as you like while you wander the u-pick orchard, but gathering your own bushel will take too long if you try them all. Farmers Les and Talea Price grow over 100 varieties of apples, a feat considering that the trees themselves number about 250. If you’d rather look than pick, you can try a guided tour of the farm or visit the Apple Core Store to pick up locally made soaps, art, jams, or the farm’s signature apple butter. 360-826-6820; skagitvalleyfruit.com

Getting There 90 minutes: north on I-5


Boeing Factory Tour
Airplanes Undressed

Ogle Airplanes
Boeing Factory Tour
Huge. Gargantuan. Massive. You may run out of words to describe the size of the building in Boeing’s Mukilteo facility, since the six giant doors are themselves bigger than football fields. No cameras are allowed as you peer over a towering third-floor balcony at workers and the green skins of new 747s and 787 Dreamliners—probably so you don’t copy them to build your own superjet. 360-756-0086; boeing.com/commercial/tours

Getting There 30 minutes: north on I-5 and west on WA 526


Get Crafty
Pioneer Farm Museum
Think of it as old-fashioned Etsy when your kids craft candles and cornhusk dolls with the help of costumed tour guides. Neighboring historical recreations feature nineteenth-century homestead cabins on one side and an Ohop Native American fishing village on the other. After a few hours of living in the distant past, time travel to the 1960s in nearby Eatonville, where Italian restaurant Jebino’s (360-832-3287; jebinos.com) has decor inspired by
the Rat Pack. 360-832-6300; pioneerfarmmuseum.org

Getting There 80 minutes: south on I-5 and WA 7


Cruise in Control
ProFormance Car Racing
Drive it like you stole it—that means “fast,” law abiders. An instructor will teach you to take corners at 85 miles per hour or faster at the Pacific Raceways near Kent, using your own car if you wish. If your dinky old Civic can’t take the heat, rent a track-ready Lotus for the full day crash course (so to speak) in high-speed steering and control. Here’s one injunction you shouldn’t disregard: Buckle up. 
253-630-5130; proformanceracingschool.com

Getting There 40 minutes: south on I-5

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OLD & IMPORTANT

Lakewood Gardens
Structured Beauty

Bask in Greenery
Lakewold Gardens
This estate south of Tacoma passed through many wealthy hands before it was owned by a high-society matron named Eulalie Wagner. The rare rhododendrons and Japanese maples date to her collaboration with landscape architect Thomas Church, legendary for shaping much of California’s tony exteriors. Wagner’s Georgian-style mansion is open to visitors, but to see vintage photographs tracing the area’s transformation from cow-spotted prairie to city, visit the nearby Lakewood History Museum (253-682-3480; lakewoodhistorical.org). 253-584-4106; lakewoldgardens.org

Getting There 45 minutes: south on I-5


Turn Back Time
Fort Nisqually
Based on the Hudson Bay Company’s trading outpost from 1855, Fort Nisqually offers historically accurate buildings, period-appropriate clothing for museum “residents,” and activities—including an October candlelight tour and ghost stories around a bonfire—allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the first European settlement on Puget Sound. 253-591-5339; metroparkstacoma.org

Getting There 50 minutes: south on I-5 and WA 163


Dote on Design
Bloedel Reserve
More than 150 acres of greenery dwarf the English manor on the Bainbridge Island estate, even if the timber magnate who built it did decorate with fancy Louis XVI furniture and crystal chandeliers. Outside a ’60s-era guesthouse the landscape is inspired more by Japanese gardens than fussy flower beds. Austere Emily Brontë gets a poem engraved on a slate marker on the grounds, but don’t expect anything about UW poet Theodore Roethke, who drowned in a swimming pool on the property; the site is now a rock garden. 206-842-7631; bloedelreserve.org

Getting There 50 minutes: west on Seattle–Bainbridge ferry and north on WA 305


Fight Old Battles
Fort Ward State Park

Like most of the state’s old coastal military installations, this decommissioned fort on Bainbridge Island’s southernmost toe is home to old cannons, mossy battery structures, and (probably) a handful of ghosts. Clam diggers mine the rocky shore and scuba divers venture beyond into the waters of Rich Passage. The site was a top-secret World War II naval radio post, eavesdropping on Japanese communications. biparks.org/parksandfacilities/pkftward.html

Getting There 55 minutes: west on Seattle–Bainbridge ferry and south on Blakely Ave and Fort Ward Hill Rd


Set Sail
Puget Sound Naval Shipyard
The U.S. Navy tosses all its mothballed old aircraft carriers in the waters of Bremerton (someone call Hoarders), but the naval base is no junkyard. A massive old crane hangs over a still-active ship maintenance area, and nearby the Puget Sound Navy Museum recreates life on a nuclear aircraft carrier. On the way home, swing by the Naval Undersea Museum (www.history.navy.mil/museums/keyport/index1.htm) 12 miles north in Keyport to see torpedo tubes and the control room of a fast attack submarine. 360-476-3711; www.navsea.navy.mil/shipyards/puget

Getting There 70 minutes: west on Seattle-Bremerton ferry and WA 302

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WEIRD & WONDERFUL

LeMay Family Collection
Traffic Jam

Uncover UFO's
Maury Island
Cue the conspiracy theories: In June 1947 a fleet of flying saucers reportedly visited the isle that is now linked to Vashon Island by a manmade land bridge. The alien rumor is, alas, unproven, but an otherworldly calm pervades Maury Island Marine Park’s mile-long rocky shore—a spot that once fed a gravel mine—and the lonely lighthouse at Point Robinson Park. kingcounty.gov

Getting There 70 minutes: south on WA 99 and Fauntleroy Way SW, west on Fauntleroy-Vashon ferry, and south on Vashon Hwy SW


Gander at Graves
Bayview Cemetery
If anywhere in the state is haunted, it’s probably the spot where Bellingham residents have been buried since 1888. But despite the eerie Mother’s Memorial (legend has it that lying here will speed your death!), the oaks and maples burst into warm fall colors. Nearby, folks at the 1920s Mount Baker Theatre (360-734-6080; mountbakertheatre.com) are pretty sure it’s haunted—many have sighted an apparition named Judy within the Moorish edifice. bayviewcemetery.com

Getting There 90 minutes: north on I-5


Slither with Snakes
Serpentarium
The squeamish need not apply to this private reptile museum outside Monroe, home to an albino alligator and a two-headed turtle (taxonomy isn’t everything; there are spiders, too). Hold one of the 150 creature residents, such as a rosy boa or Burmese python, though the deadliest creature, the black mamba, is obviously hands off. 360-805-5300; reptileman.com

Getting There 40 minutes: north on I-5 and east on WA 2


Fancy Wheels
LeMay Family Collection
The late Harold LeMay was the biggest car collector in the world, according to Guinness World Records, and he hoarded more than just Model Ts and Studebakers. His Dragonster car shoots fire, and his oldest is an 1899 Baldwin that runs on steam. Collectibles are displayed in every corner of the repurposed military academy—there are even cars on the old gym bleachers. 253-272-2336; lemaymarymount.org

Getting There 50 minutes: south on I-5, east on WA 512, and south on WA 7


Sculpt Wood
School of Chainsaw Carving
The sound of whirring chain saws is a constant outside George Kenny’s academy and storefront in Allyn, a town at the pivot of the Kitsap Peninsula. Call it kitsch or art, there’s clearly demand for the 500 bears and eagles that used to be stumps. Kenny goes highbrow as well; he owns the wine tasting room next door, Top of the Cork (360-275-5657). 360-275-9570; 
bearinabox.com

Getting There 80 minutes: south on I-5 and west on WA 16

This article appeared in the October 2011 issue of Seattle Met Magazine.

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