Wood-plank sidewalks, weatherworn buildings, false storefronts—if you didn’t know better you’d mistake Winthrop, in the Methow Valley, for an exquisitely preserved Old West outpost. But hold your horses, pardner, nearly all was erected within the past four decades, an attempt by city leaders in the early 1970s to—like Bavarian-themed Leavenworth a hundred miles to the south—attract tourists and rescue the erstwhile logging town from ruin. Not everything is faux Wild West, though. While we suspect the swinging doors inside Three Fingered Jack’s Saloon were added to make city slickers feel like Wyatt Earp, the bar happens to be the oldest legal saloon in the state. The staff serves up heaping helpings of jalapeño poppers (“Cowboy Breath Mints”) and meatloaf. Also, it makes us feel like Wyatt Earp.
You know the story by now. Woman writes vampire novel set in ubercloudy Forks, the book sells a bazillion copies, and, fast as a teenage werewolf de-shirts, the town gets famous. But what really makes this burg worth the trip is just how much it has embraced the Twilight lore. The Chamber of Commerce slakes tourists’ Twilight trilogy thirst with maps indicating where events in the books occur. Restaurant menus feature Stephenie Meyer–inspired fare (“Werewolf Burger”). And the hospital reserves a parking space for one of the fictional characters. But even if you don’t know your Team Edward from your A Team, Forks makes the perfect hub from which to launch recreational reconnaissance into the Olympic rain forest.
Drive time 3 hours, 30 minutes Sleep Miller Tree Inn Bed and Breakfast, 654 E Division St, 360-374-6806; millertreeinn.com Eat Pacific Pizza, 870 S Forks Ave, 360-374-2626
So named when a Spanish-American War veteran bought a chunk of real estate on the banks of the Columbia River in 1900 and christened it after his favorite city in the Philippines, Pateros is a haven for jet skiers who zigzag the lake. But you don’t have to be a Sea-Doo pilot to enjoy this lush spot on the otherwise sun-baked plains of Central Washington. It helps, however, if you have a sweet tooth. A top attraction is Sweet River Bakery—ironically, in a former dentist’s office—which, in addition to warm breads made from local ingredients, traffics in tooth-enamel-fighting biscotti. And Pateros hosts the annual Apple Pie Jamboree (the third weekend of July) with a parade around the town’s tiny blocks and a celebration of (what else?) apple pie. What could be more small-town America than that?
Drive time 3 hours, 30 minutes Sleep Lake Pateros Motor Inn, 115 S Lakeshore Dr, Pateros, 509-923-2203; lakepaterosmotorinn.com Eat Sweet River Bakery, 203 Pateros Mall, Pateros, 509-923-2151; sweetriverbakery.com
In Roslyn, you can have it both ways. The former coal-mining village in the Cascades—so frontier-looking that it doubled as fictional Cicely, Alaska, on the 1990s TV show Northern Exposure —claims small-town status in all the right ways: century-old buildings still in use, early-model pickup trucks, and no-nonsense locals who like to tie one on at the Brick, the longest continuously open tavern in the state. Unlike in so many bucolic burgs, however, you can take all that in and enjoy luxurious accommodations, thanks to Suncadia Resort, two miles away. Rest your dogs in a suite that rivals the Four Seasons, tuck into a steak at Swiftwater Cellars, or putt around on one of three golf courses, and you’ll forget that you’re in a city with a population barely larger than a Starbucks line. Then roll back to “Cicely” and get rural. Moose moseying down Main Street not guaranteed. But possible.
Drive time 1 hour, 30 minutes Sleep Suncadia Resort, 3600 Suncadia Trail, Cle Elum, 509-649-6400; suncadiaresort.com Eat The Brick, 100 W Pennsylvania Ave, Roslyn, 509-649-2643