A Guide to Northwest Travel Classics
We broke down the region’s most popular destinations into a quick-reference guide—where to go, where to stay, and when to pack your bags.
BEST TIME TO VISIT: August. If the sun is going to shine, it’ll be in late summer.
EVERYONE GOES TO: Pike Place Market, where the buskers are actually a better bet than the airborne seafood.
BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: Ballard, where an oyster bar is worth a two-hour wait at the Walrus and the Carpenter. thewalrusbar.com
STAY CHEAP: Shared-bath rooms at the hip Ace Hotel are as low as $109, but they don’t skimp on mod furnishings. acehotel.com/seattle
STAY SPLURGE: The Seattle World’s Fair was dreamt up in the gilded halls of the Fairmont Olympic. fairmont.com/seattle
GET OUTDOORS: When renting a kayak outside Agua Verde Cafe on Lake Union, remember that postpaddle margaritas are your reward. aguaverde.com
GET FED: In the open kitchen of Sitka and Spruce, you can see every Northwest ingredient get its due; shop before dinner at its artisanal Melrose Market home. sitkaandspruce.com
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Fall, when average highs still hover around 70 degrees and festivals like Feast Portland bring outdoorsy Oregonians back to the city.
EVERYONE GOES TO: The endless line outside VooDoo Doughnuts. voodoodoughnut.com
BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: The industrial-but-evolving neighborhood served by the new Portland Streetcar Central Loop line that debuted this fall.
STAY CHEAP: The Kuza Garden Cottage has birch floors, a private setting, and a Japanese garden, plus easy access to the Yakuza Lounge sushi joint. airbnb.com/rooms/362775
STAY SPLURGE: The swank factor is high at the Nines, where everyone at its buzzy eateries is dressed to the, well, you know. thenines.com
GET OUTDOORS: This year the Timberline Lodge celebrated its 75th year; these days you can ride to the 7,000-foot level of Mount Hood without breaking a sweat. timberlinelodge.com
GET FED: When you tire of Oregon’s world-class wine and craft beer, sample the liquor at SakeOne’s tasting room in Forest Grove. sakeone.com
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Winter, when you can ski the slopes of Grouse Mountain directly above the city. grousemountain.com
EVERYONE GOES TO: Stanley Park, an urban common with puzzlingly dense forests. stanleypark.org
BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: The Gastown district, where a quaint steam clock belies the chic boutique-and-bar scene.
STAY CHEAP: A deal since it’s located just out of downtown, the Granville Island Hotel sits between False Creek on one side and a walkable neighborhood on the other. granvilleislandhotel.com
STAY SPLURGE: The shiny downtown pillar of Fairmont Pacific Rim boasts in-room iPads. fairmont.com/pacific-rim-vancouver
GET OUTDOORS: Snowshoe trails circle Mount Seymour just north of the city, and they even offer infant-friendly snowshoe tours. mountseymour.com
GET FED: The cuisine at Vij’s is world renowned for a reason. Jaw-dropping Indian fusion, that’s the reason. vijs.ca
San Juan Islands
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Summer, even though the ferry lines are lengthy.
EVERYONE GOES TO: Whale watching trips, like those run by the same company that pilots the Victoria Clipper. clippervacations.com
BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: Friday Harbor’s modest bowling alley, Paradise Lanes; it’s a relief to anyone overwhelmed by too much fresh marine air and small-town charm. paradiselanes.net
STAY CHEAP: Camping sites at Lakedale resort combine concierge treatment with roughing-it prices. lakedale.com
STAY SPLURGE: The historic white facade of Orcas Island’s Rosario Resort has long represented the epitome of a genteel island retreat. rosarioresort.com
GET OUTDOORS: Two retired lighthouse guardsmen occasionally give commentary on the Five Lights by Sea tour, run by Orcas Island Eclipse Charters. orcasislandwhales.com
GET FED: At the Bluff Restaurant at Friday Harbor House, the locally sourced greenery almost distracts from the perfect view. fridayharborhouse.com
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Winter, when storms battering the empty beaches are all the entertainment you need.
EVERYONE GOES TO: Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock, familiar to anyone who’s seen The Goonies.
BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: The Flavel houses of Astoria—one’s a local history museum, but the other’s an empty mansion and likely haunted. cumtux.org
STAY CHEAP: The Historic Anchor Inn in Lincoln City may be aging, but it adds charm with every piece of fishing-tackle decor. historicanchorinn.com
STAY SPLURGE: At Heceta Head Lighthouse, a B&B next to a lonely lighthouse, the breakfasts are as expansive as the views. hecetalighthouse.com
GET OUTDOORS: The Treasure Map Tours run by Kayak Tillamook appeal to the gold lust—or the secret Goonie—in all of us. kayaktillamook.com
Washington Wine Country
BEST TIME TO VISIT: Spring, when tasting rooms are emptier and temperatures are mild.
EVERYONE GOES TO: Walla Walla, where tasting rooms are walking distance apart. wallawallawine.com
BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: The strange geology of Red Mountain near Benton City produces potent grapes.
STAY CHEAP: In 2013, Prosser’s Alexandria Nicole Cellars plans to reopen a glamping canvas tent for visitors in the vineyards above the Columbia River. ancglamping.com
STAY SPLURGE: Under the curved roof of Cave B Inn is what Washington’s vineyards lacked—high-end hotel suites, yurts, cavern rooms, and a spa. cavebinn.com
GET OUTDOORS: The Walla Walla’s Wine Valley Golf Club links are totally treeless. winevalleygolfclub.com
GET FED: The new JBistro at Bookwalter piles on market-fresh ingredients, anchoring Richland’s Tulip Lane wineries. bookwalterwines.com