THINK OF ALL the Saturday mornings you’ve awoken with the same question rattling in your head: What am I doing this weekend? The following pages spell an end to that quandary. What to do with the most important 48 hours of the week in the best region on the planet? The answers are all here, 52 destinations—enough to cover every weekend of the year. So pack your bags. Come Friday afternoon, the Northwest is yours.
1 | Watch Big Storms Smash Stuff on the Oregon Coast
The Oregon coast gets truly freaky when big Pacific storms roll in and the waves grow to nearly 30 feet, sand blows in sheets, and big logs are tossed around. The best action takes place over the 158-mile stretch of coast from Cannon Beach to Florence. Just north of Cannon Beach, Ecola State Park (oregonstateparks.org) occupies a headland overlooking Indian Beach, where the waves and wind get vicious during a storm. When the weather clears, gray whales can be seen from the park during their winter and spring migrations. Spouting Horn (541-765-2261) specializes in steaks, seafood, and homemade pies. The Stephanie Inn (800-633-3466; stephanie-inn.com) at Cannon Beach always gets high marks for its Jacuzzi suites that offer views of the 235-foot Haystack Rock monolith.
Drive time 3 hours, 55 minutes
When to goNovember through March
2 | Think of Whistler While You Work
Go ahead. Sit at your desk. Finish whatever mindless task you must. But leave some head space for visions of this weekend’s expedition to Whistler, BC—a better destination in the summer than winter, for our money. The drive alone, up the mountain-hugging Sea to Sky Highway, is enough to require that your daydreams come equipped with a seat belt. And once you’re actually in the village, hang on even tighter. Rent a bike and rocket down Whistler Mountain Bike Park (604-904-8134; whistlerbike.com). Then dine hard on Vancouver Island octopus at Araxi (604-932-4540; araxi.com) and sleep deep at the Pinnacle International Hotel (604-983-3218; whistlerpinnacle.com), which just so happens to be a few steps away from Village Square’s trove of rowdy bars.
Drive time 4 hours, 20 minutes
When to go June through September
3 | Take a Nonstop Flight to Calgary for Skiing in Banff
Time it right and you can be skiing in Banff National Park about four hours after you sneak away from the office in Seattle. You’ll thank yourself after the eight-passenger gondolas at the Sunshine Village ski area (skibanff.com) arrive at the 7,082-foot-elevation base camp, where an amazing 3,358 acres of skiing spread out before you. There are three mountains encompassing 107 runs to explore. Crisp and cold and laden with snow, this is Rockies skiing at its finest, from the beginner runs at the 7,875-foot Mount Standish to the off-piste Delirium Dive—which requires carrying an avalanche transceiver and a shovel. The Lake Louise Mountain Resort (skilouise.com) has a beginner’s area that’s great for kids and skiing newbies. Back in town, dodge the elk while exploring Banff Avenue’s shops and restaurants. The castlelike Fairmont Banff Springs (866-540-4406; fairmont.com) is one of the grandest hotels in Canada.
Travel time 1 hour, 30 minutes by plane, plus 1 hour, 30 minutes by car from the Calgary airport
When to go November through March
4 | Crash an Artist Enclave
The cultural renaissance in La Conner began in 1937, when internationally renowned painter Morris Graves settled in a burned-out house and equipped it with beach sand and driftwood furniture. Other artists followed, transforming the fishing and farming town into a bohemian colony and igniting the Northwest School art movement, which interweaves Asian art with the nature of the Puget Sound region. View original works from Northwest School masters and their successors at the Museum of Northwest Art (360-466-4446; museumofnwart.com). Sleep a few feet away from the museum at the elegantly rustic La Conner Country Inn (360-466-3101; laconnerlodging.com), which is attached to the Nell Thorn Restaurant and Pub (360-466-4261; nellthorn.com), where the menu is teeming with fresh, local, organic dishes.
Drive time 1 hour, 30 minutes
When to go 24th Annual Arts Alive! Festival and Invitational Art Show is in November
5 | Go all in at the Northwest’s own Casino Royale
Until recently, you had to really like gambling to venture off to a smoky, clanging, dimly lit tribal casino, where that fantasy of dressing up like James Bond and Felicity Shagwell for a coolly elegant night of gaming and cocktailing was quickly swallowed by the dreary crowds, decor, and cafeteria food. The scene is changing at the Tulalip Resort Casino (866-716-7162; tulalipcasino.com) in Marysville. Already one of the more handsome casinos in this part of the world, the resort recently added a high-rise hotel and new restaurants. The Tulalip Bay Dining Room (360-716-1500) offers a vast wine selection and a private dining room with a Chihuly sculpture. The Blackfish (360-716-1100) restaurant specializes in fresh Northwest seafood like cedar-planked salmon. Your round, Mr. Bond.
Drive time 45 minutes
When to go Year-round
6 | Poetry Slam Fisherman in Astoria
Things are looking up in seaside Astoria. It’s certainly nicer now than when Lewis and Clark froze their rumps off there in 1805. Visit the explorers’ reconstructed and shockingly primitive camp (Hey, Meriwether, do you really wonder why you were so cold and wet?) at Fort Clatsop National Memorial (503-861-2471), and then head into town for a hot meal at the new Bridgewater Bistro (503-325-6777; bridgewaterbistro.com). Epic views of the ocean and river are your reward for climbing the 164 steps that lead to the top of the 125-foot Astoria Column. The more sensitive among us assemble every February for the annual Fisher Poets Gathering (clatsopcollege.com), a kind of Deadliest Catch of readings and slams attended by fishermen from around the country. Lewis and Clark would shiver in appreciation.
Drive time 3 hours, 19 minutes
When to go Year-round
7 | Get Your Bavarian Freak On
Despite the store facades (faux village), the town uniforms (lederhosen and dirndl dresses), and a Bavarian twist on practically every sign (“Das Copy Shoppe”), there’s more to do than play German in Leavenworth—the town that shed its moribund lumber industry in the early 1960s and opted to “Go Alpine!” Pitched high in the Cascades, Leavenworth is also a hub for outdoor adventure. Hike any one of the 2,500 miles’ worth of trails in surrounding Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forests (fs.fed.us ). Saddle up at Eagle Creek Ranch (509-548-7798; eaglecreek.ws) for a horseback tour of the region. Or ride the Wenatchee River with the white-water raft guides at River Riders (509-548-4575; riverrider.com). Still, the Bavarian theme runs strong in these parts. And there’s no denying that a helluva good time can be had by going bottoms up on steins of Bitburger with a rowdy crowd of tourists and locals. Live it up at the München Haus (509-548-1158; munchenhaus.com ) an outdoor eatery and beer hall (Hofräu München is our favorite). Sleep it all off at the Bavarian Ritz (509-548-5455; bavarianritz.com). Wake up the next day and do it all over again.
Drive time2 hours, 17 minutes
When to go Oktoberfest, Fridays and Saturdays, October 2–17
8 | Play Peacefully in Pemberton
The tiny town of Pemberton, BC, is ground zero for outdoor enthusiasts who forgo the noisy nightlife and fur-lined fashion of neighboring Whistler in favor of a lower price point. Had you mentioned Coldplay to locals before last summer’s Pemberton Music Festival (pembertonfestival.com) they would have assumed you meant ice climbing the gullies of Mount Joffre with the Canada West Mountain School (888-892-2266; themountainschool.com) or snowmobiling the Pemberton Ice Cap with Totally Awesome Adventures (604-894-5565; totallyawesomeadventures.com). Though the concert brought Pemberton worldwide attention, it’s still relatively easy to book a room at lodgy B & Bs like the Pemberton Valley Vineyard and Inn (604-894-5857).
Drive time 4 hours, 51 minutes
When to go When you want the wilderness playground without the Whistler scene
9 | Be Able to Say You Knew Vancouver When
Our rival city across the border’s a year away from becoming the white-hot center of the universe. By the time the Olympic torch glides into the city on February 12, 2010, Vancouver will be on everyone’s lips. You won’t be able to score a room at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (604-684-3131; fairmont.com) come next winter, so make it a weekend home now. The hotel’s a perfect HQ from which to plan expeditions in the city. Hit Robson Street (robsonstreet.ca) for high-end fashion or drag your offspring to Granville Island’s Kids Only Market (granvilleisland.com) for all manner of toys, games, and half-pint sartorial accoutrements. Then, because you won’t be able to get the host to look at you during the Olympic Games, put your feed bag on for seafood at C Restaurant (604-681-1164; crestaurant.com).
Drive time 2 hours, 40 minutes
When to go Next weekend
10 | Join a Hoedown in Weiser
Weiser, Idaho, was little more than a speck in the Snake River Valley region until its prestigious National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival (208-414-0255; fiddlecontest.com) put it on the map. The country’s premier fiddle fest has preserved the former Wild West boomtown, whose population increases sixfold during the weeklong event. Cheer on locals in nonmusical contests such as pie throwing and watch small-fry and senior fiddlers compete for cash prizes and national recognition—Seattle-born sensation Mark O’Connor achieved fiddle fame after winning the championship. Stay close to the action at the bucolic Galloway House bed-and-breakfast (208-549-1719; gallowayhouseinn.com), which is a 20-minute walk from the main contest venue, and skip the kettle corn and carnival cuisine in favor of fresh sandwiches and handmade chocolates from Weiser Classic Candy. (208-414-2850).
Drive time 7 hours
When to go National Oldtime Fiddlers’ Contest and Festival, June 22–27
11 | Play Cowboy
The Pendleton Roundup (pendletonroundup.com) in Pendleton, Oregon, is rodeo done in a huge way, with parades, a cowboy breakfast, music, art, and a pageant of Native American arts and culture. The rodeo itself draws the top cowboys in the land. The stately Pendleton House (541-276-8581; pendletonhousebnb.com) on Main Street serves full breakfasts and has an English garden and a wide front porch. Elaborate tunnels under the city once housed Pendleton’s seamy side, and Pendleton Underground Tours (800-226-6398; pendletonundergroundtours.org ) offers narrated tours year-round, with period-dressed mannequins lending an eerie realism to the former brothels and card rooms. Need a woolly Pendleton blanket to keep your cowboy warm? Tours of the Pendleton Woolen Mill (pendleton-usa.com) are held on weekdays.
Drive time 4 hours, 27 minutes
When to go Second week of September
12 | Fall Close to Home
One of the most relaxing weekend excursions is also the closest. You can motor up I-90 to Snoqualmie Falls in just half the time it takes to burn through an episode of Twin Peaks, the groundbreaking TV show that made this destination famous. The Snoqualmie River crashes off a 270-foot precipice right next to the Salish Lodge (425-888-2556; salishlodge.com), an all-purpose weekend retreat with a spa (we recommend the Salish Massage and a dip in the soaking pool) and restaurant (we haven’t stopped thinking about the glazed quail since our last visit). When you’ve had enough pampering, hit the Rattlesnake Mountain Trail (don’t feel obligated to complete all 12 miles) for eyeshots of Mount Si and the Snoqualmie River Valley.
Drive time 30 minutes
When to goJune through October
13 | Go See the Priest
Priest Lake is a secluded off-the-beaten-path gem deep in the Idaho wilderness, with more than 400 miles of carefully groomed trails for cross-country skiing and snowmobiling, scenic hiking areas that practically start at the doorstep, and shaded coves teeming with kokanee and Mackinaw. Round up a posse of pals for the road trip and establish a base camp at Mountain Mill Resort (888-877-4378; mntmillresort.com) million-dollar mountain chalets stocked with snowmobiles, boats, and golfing passes—where lodging can be had for the price of a room at a Seattle luxury hotel. Hunt for huckleberries with maps from the USFS Priest Lake Ranger Station (208-443-2512; fs.fed.us). Pack a picnic lunch and spend the day exploring Beaver Creek Recreation Site (877-444-6777; publiclands.org) on Upper Priest Lake, the main jumping-off point for hiking, mountain biking, and canoeing. Grab a booth and a Sundance pork sandwich at Millie’s (208-443-2365), an area institution where friendly conversations yield tips on secret fishing spots and picturesque viewpoints to visit the following day.
Drive time 5 hours, 40 minutes
When to go May through September
14 | Get Moonstruck in the Paris of Montana
Missoula, Montana, is a cultural outpost in Big Sky country—thanks to an artist revolution in the 1960s led in part by celebrated Seattle poet Richard Hugo. John Updike later dubbed the town “the Paris of the ’90s.” Literary luminaries now flock to the Montana Festival of the Book (406-243-6022; humanitiesmontana.org). Get up before dawn for the Sunrise Magic ride at Dunrovin Ranch (406-273-7745; dunrovinranchmontana.com), a horseback trip through moonlit meadows to watch the sun rise while enjoying a Dutch oven breakfast and campfire lattes. Survey contemporary pieces by Montana and Native American artists at the Missoula Art Museum (406-728-0447; missoulaartmuseum.org). Dig into smoked bison with red wine and huckleberry sauce at Pearl’s Café and Bakery (406-541-0231; www.pearlcafe.us). Turn in at The Wilma (stayatthewilma.com), which rents stylish condos above downtown’s famed 1921 Wilma Theatre.
Drive time7 hours
When to go International Wildlife Media Center and Film Festival, May 9–16
15 | Ditch Your Car in Bike City
Once you arrive in Bellingham’s bustling waterfront Fairhaven district, park your car and forget about it. Tucked just 21 miles south of the Canadian border, this college town could teach Mayor Nickels a thing or two about how to be truly bike friendly. Bike-only lanes abound, and no business is complete without a rack out front. If you don’t have your own bike, rent one at Fairhaven Bike and Ski (360-733-4433; fairhavenbike.com). Take a spin around the waterfront and Harris Street’s historical buildings. Once evening rolls around make the one-mile trip in minutes flat to downtown Bellingham for wood-fired pizza and vino at La Fiamma, followed by an outdoor movie next to the Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro (360-647-5593; bbaybrewery.com). No sunny Sunday would be complete without a ride down Chuckanut Drive, carving tight turns hundreds of feet up from the coastline of Bellingham Bay, only to be spat out into verdant, rolling farmland for the return trip.
Drive time 1 hour, 30 minutes
When to go June, when the farmers markets are bustling
16 | Enjoy an Art Weekend in that Other Big Western Washington City
Over the past decade, Tacoma has transformed from a suburban wasteland famous for gritty industries (like the “aroma of Tacoma”–producing Simpson Tacoma Kraft pulp mill) into an eclectic mix of iconic museums and upscale cuisine. The Tacoma Art Museum (253-272-4258; tacomaartmuseum.org) houses a rich collection of nineteenth-century European, twentieth-century American, and Japanese art. While Tacoma is an easy day trip, there is good reason to stay overnight—tequila flights and homemade chiles rellenos at Masa (253-473-3510; masatacoma.com). So check in at Hotel Murano (253-254-0560; hotelmuranotacoma.com), which displays world-class glass art and is named for a famous Venetian glass-making island.
Drive time 45 minutes
When to go National Arts Program Exhibit, June and July
17 | Sip Samples at Walla Walla’s Spring Release
Put away your best Sideways lines because in Walla Walla you’re drinking merlot. Merlot is the state’s signature grape and Walla Walla is home to Dunham Cellars (509-529-4685; dunhamcellars.com), whose top-rated merlot drew raves from Wine Enthusiast for its “seamless, full-throttle flavors.” Sample these and 30 other varietals from over 120 wineries at the annual Walla Walla Valley Spring Release in May. Sniff, swirl, and sip some of the country’s best syrahs made by wine’s wild child Charles Smith at K Vintners (509-526-5230; kvintners.com), visit Leonetti Winery (509-525-1428; leonetticellar.com), birthplace of the 1978 cabernet sauvignon that was anointed best in the country by Wine and Spirits, and test-drive new releases from Food and Wine 2007 Winery of the Year, Long Shadows Vintners (509-526-0905; longshadows.com). Prepare for a day of winery-hopping with a high-protein breakfast at Mr. Ed’s Restaurant (509-525-8440), and take a break from the vino with a pear, turkey breast, and brie panino at Creek Town Café (509-522-4777; creektowncafe.com). Or picnic on winery grounds with a grab-and-go gourmet feast from Luscious by Nature (509-522-0424; lusciousww.com). After the last tasting, stumble back to Fat Duck Inn (509-526-3825; fatduckinn.com), which offers homey guest rooms and multicourse dinners featuring seasonal dishes such as merlot-cured and cherry-smoked salmon.
Drive time 4 hours, 30 minutes
When to go Walla Walla Valley Spring Release Weekend, May 1–3
18 | Rockport Isn’t Just for the Birds
Most folks pour into Rockport State Park to sneak peeks at its celebrities: Hundreds of bald eagles—the largest congregation in the lower 48—wheeling over the Skagit River from November to March. But we also love Rockport in the off-season. The 670-acre old-growth forest, which has never seen a logging truck, is as pristine a wilderness as they come. Clamor out of the woods, where the canopy’s so thick that nary a speck of sunshine cuts through, and ascend 5,400 feet up Sauk Mountain for a bird’s-eye view of the Skagit carving its ancient path through the valley. Later, carve your own path on a float down the river with Blue Sky Outfitters (206-938-4030; blueskyoutfitters.com). Then rent one of the themed cabins decorated in Western, Adirondack, Native American, and seven other motifs at Clark’s Skagit River Cabins and Resort (360-873-2250; northcascades.com), and chow on venison, ostrich, or elk burgers, and buffalo steaks at the Buffalo Run Restaurant (360-873-2461; buffaloruninn.com), a kitschy roadside diner whose owners also run a buffalo ranch.
Drive time 2 hours, 10 minutes
When to go After March, when the crowds have flown the coop
19 | Ride the Snake Through Hell
Nez Percé Indian folklore claims coyotes armed with massive sticks dug Hells Canyon in Oregon’s Blue Mountains. Geology says North America’s deepest gorge was carved by the 1,040-mile Snake River, slithering from its source in the Rocky Mountains in Wyoming to the Columbia River in Washington. Regardless of which origin story you believe, admire the black and green basalt cliffs towering 8,000 feet over the rushing river, explore the canyon’s rich history through pictographs, petroglyphs, and early settler ruins, and conquer some of the most challenging white water in the Northwest on a rafting trip down the Snake River. Paddlers capable of handling the rushing waters, which range from mild (Class II) to wild (Class V), can push off near the Hells Canyon Creek Visitor Center (541-785-3395). Outfitters operate guided trips for those lacking the necessary experience or gear. Hughes River Expeditions (208-257-3477; hughesriver.com) and the Council, Idaho, dude ranch Seven Devils Lodge (208-253-3015; sevcendevilslodge.com) each offer an all-in-one solution that includes accommodations, meals, and horseback riding. Row Adventures (800-451-6034; rowadventures.com) leads several overnight excursions, but its tastiest is the Culinary Whitewater Rafting trip, which demonstrates the art of preparing gourmet campfire meals using a Dutch oven.
Drive time 7 hours, 40 minutes
When to go May to October
20 | Tee It Up and Chow It Down
It’s all about elevation at the Suncadia Resort (suncadiaresort.com), on the far side of Snoqualmie Pass, between Roslyn and Cle Elum. At 2,250-feet above sea level, the 6,400-acre resort and its Prospector golf course (866-715-5050) are an alpine retreat of woodsy lodgings with sweeping views of the adjacent Wenatchee National Forest. Designed by Arnold Palmer, the 7,100-yard course was rated one of the top new public courses when it debuted in 2006. The 10th hole provides both the best view and the most memorable drive of all, with a tee box perched 120 feet above the fairway. Crane your neck from here and you can also see the Lodge at Suncadia (866-904-6301), with 254 rooms and suites in a mountain-style lodge of peeled wood and stone fireplaces, as well as the resort’s indoor-outdoor swimming complex and spa. The 18-room Inn at Suncadia (866-904-6301) is cozier, and a big vacation house with wraparound porches are available to rent. Inside the lodge, executive chef Andrew Wilson, who came over from Microsoft, oversees the fine-dining duties at Portals (509-649-6473). His Tasmanian salmon is well worth the climb up the mountain.
Drive time 1 hour, 30 minutes
When to go July and August
21 | But Soft, What Festival in Yonder Ashland Breaks?
The play’s the thing in southern Oregon’s Ashland; well, actually, lots of plays are the thing. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (osfashland.org) dates back to 1935, and conducts an eight-and-a-half month repertory of shows in three theaters. The Bard is always well represented, including classic productions on the Elizabethan Stage, but musicals and avant-garde theater also enter the mix. The 2009 season will see a world premiere of Bill Cain’s Equivocation (starting in April), Henry VIII and Much Ado About Nothing beginning in June, and Clifford Odets’s Paradise Lost (starting in July). Getting outdoors is easy in bucolic, mountainous Ashland; hiking maps of Mount Ashland and the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument are available from the Ashland Ranger Station (541-482-3333), and Crater Lake National Park (nps.gov), with its crystalline blue waters, is a short drive away. Stay downtown on Main Street at the elegant, restored Ashland Springs Hotel (888-795-4545; ashlandspringshotel.com) or the European-style Columbia Hotel (800-718-2530; columbiahotel.com), or get friendly with the locals at one of many bed-and-breakfasts, including the Victorian McCall House (800-808-9749; mccallhouse.com).
Drive time 7 hours, 39 minutes
When to goFebruary through early November; Elizabethan Stage June 2–October 11
22 | Spend the Weekend in Whidbey
There is nothing to do on Whidbey Island but relax and rejuvenate. Which is what we love about it. Seek refuge from the daily grind at the Inn at Langley (360-221-3033; innatlangley.com), a luxurious sanctuary where guest rooms feature Jacuzzis, cozy wood-burning fireplaces, and tranquil 180-degree views of the coastline. Take the Inn’s picnic basket, which is packed with a sumptuous seasonal lunch, wine, and blanket, and enjoy the contents at the Lavender Wind Farm (877-242-7716; lavenderwind.com), where visitors can pick organically grown lavender and walk the outdoor labyrinth. Take time to stop and smell the tens of thousands of blooming daffodils, cherry trees, magnolias, and rhododendrons spanning the 10-acre Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens 360-678-1912; meerkerkgardens.org). Sip legendary loganberry wine and varietals from around the region, and stroll through wildflowers and wetlands at Greenbank Farms (360-678-7700; greenbankfarm.com). Retreat to The Chef’s Kitchen Restaurant (360-221-3033; innatlangley.com) for a six-course feast showcasing Puget Sound’s bounty of produce and seafood. Toast to a successful weekend of R & R at The Edgecliff Restaurant and Lounge (866-825-3640; theedgecliffwi.com), perched on a bluff overlooking Saratoga Passage.
Drive time 1 hour 20 minutes
When to go Loganberry Festival, July
23 | You Can Pick Your Friends, You Can Pick Your Apples, But Please Don’t Pick Your Friend’s Apples
Nestled at the edge of the Eastern Cascade Mountain foothills, Wenatchee, is the—ahem—core of the state’s apple industry, which produces 60 percent of the nation’s supply. Take a bite out of apple country at Stutzman Ranch (509-667-1664), where owner and fourth-generation farmer Floyd Stutzman leads orchard tours and invites visitors to pluck vine-ripe Fujis and Galas for 50 cents a pound. Sample the local scenery on a hiking or biking trip via the 10-mile Apple Capital Loop Trail to the pear orchard–turned–state park known as the The Confluence State Park Horan Nature Area (509-663-8121; chelanpud.org) and spy deer, beavers, and other creatures roaming the 200-acre preserve. Stave off apple overload with the Mission Street Bistro’s (509-665-2406; missionstreetbistro.com) menu of French-inspired dishes fresh from the farm, but don’t pass up the sinfully indulgent apple and caramel Eden crepe. When it’s time to call it a night, fall into a cozy bed at the Apple Country Bed and Breakfast (509-664-0400; applecountryinn.com).
Drive time 2 hours, 45 minutes
When to goSeptember is prime apple-plucking season
24 | Escape to Little Norway
Founded by Norwegian immigrants and named after Paulsbo, Norway, the small town of Poulsbo, Washington, proudly lives up to its “Little Norway” nickname. Bright red flags bearing indigo blue Scandinavian crosses wave from downtown shops, and each year locals practically channel Elmer Fudd in Looney Tunes meets Wagner regalia and dress in full-horned Viking garb to celebrate Syttende Mai (Norway’s Constitution Day). Drop your bags at the Green Cat Bed and Breakfast (360-779-7569; greencatbb.com), a warm and inviting Swiss-style chalet tucked away in a cedar grove. Treat your taste buds to traditional fattigman and lefse at Sluys Bakery (360-697-2253). Browse decorative Dala horses, novelty gifts such as a Norwegian kitchen witch, and other Scandinavian souvenirs at Nordic Maid (360-779-9863; nordicmaid.com). Admire handmade arts and crafts at local artists collective Verksted Gallery (360-697-4470; verkstedgallery.com), which carries lidded wooden Norwegian “tine” boxes. Stop by Mor Mor Bistro and Bar (360-697-3449; mormorbistro.com) for crispy ale-battered fish-and-chips with garlic and parmesan fries or a burger on Sluys Bakery’s famous Poulsbo Bread. Before digging in, raise a pint of lager and toast, “Skål!”
Drive time 1 hour, 10 minutes
When to go Viking Fest, May 15–17
25 | Forage for Forest Fungi
Crouching at the foot of spruce trees in their rubber boots and funny caps, rain-forest foragers only look like they’re into the sort of shrooms you read about in Tom Robbins novels. In fact they’re gathering species like porcini and chanterelles—wild edibles which pop up all over the Olympic National Forest each fall. Begin your own hunt at the Lake Quinault Lodge (866-297-7367; visitlakequinault.com), a woodsy retreat nestled along the banks of the lake it was named after. Every October, the lodge hosts its Mushroom Festival—two days of cooking demos and expert-led foraging forays and lectures—but solo cap-and-stem seekers will find plenty to pick throughout September and October. (Newbies, bring a field guide. Poisonous varieties grow here as well.) When the wet woods start to wear thin, warm up with chess and cocoa in the lobby or schedule a fishing expedition with retired forest ranger Roger Blain (360-288-2913; rainforestguide.net). Bait and tackle supplies are on sale next door to the lodge at “The Merc,” Quinault Mercantile (360-288-2620; countrystore.bigmountaindesign), an 87-year-old snack bar and general store where visitors fill up on greasy treats.
Drive time 3 hours
When to go Early fall is optimal shrooming season
26 | Paddle to Pelican Beach
The gem of the San Juans is Cypress Island, a ferry-free, nonprivatized north Puget Sound kayaking destination. Pile in with a tour company like Anacortes Kayak Tours (800-992-1801; anacorteskayaktours.com) from the Guemes Island ferry landing. Work your way northwest around Guemes and across the Bellingham Channel. Cypress Head makes for a perfect rest stop and orcas-watching spot on your way to pebbly Pelican Beach, which hosts roughly 10 camping spots (Washington Water Trails Association, 206-545-9161) that get gobbled up quickly in summer’s high-season weekends. The main attraction is Eagle Cliff, an 840-foot vertical drop overlooking Rosario Strait, accessed by a quick one-mile hike from the beach. Once back ashore in Anacortes, devour steamed clams and local salmon at Randy’s Pier 61 (360-293-5108; pier61.com).
Drive time 1 hour, 30 minutes
When to go Early September, when the weekend crowds die down
27 | Excuse Me, I Must Be Dreaming. Did You Say Destination Winery?
Isn’t this the dilemma of visiting wineries? You finish your tasting of, say, two dozen reds, and are looking for a soft place on the floor to curl up for a nap when they politely ask you to leave? Problem solved in Quincy, Washington, at SageCliffe (sagecliffe.com), which combines a working winery with an inn, spa, and restaurant, all perched on cliffs with striking views of the Columbia River Gorge. The Cave B Inn (888-785-2283) has 30 upscale guest rooms with fireplaces separating bedrooms from living rooms and curving roofs that mimic the hardscrabble gorge landscape. Book a Cavern Room to bunk down literally under a rocky outcropping, with a patio facing the river. Dine lavishly at Tendrils Restaurant (509-785-2283), where chef Shauna Scriver sources her lamb, beef, and vegetables from within the Ancient Lakes region of Central Washington, or from the estate’s own gardens. The wines include award-winning merlots, syrahs, and Bordeaux-style blends. Need more wine? SageCliffe makes a perfect base for exploring the wine country of Central and Eastern Washington.
Drive time2 hours, 24 minutes
When to goYear-round
28 | Slumber in the Shadow of Mount Rainier
Pitched 5,400 feet up the mountain, Paradise Inn (360-569-2275; ranier.guestservices.com is the perfect hub from which to stage a reconnaissance of Mount Rainier National Park’s intricate system of trails. The guest rooms are spare and not much bigger than that cubicle you’re trying to escape—a welcome lodge-loafing deterrent, sure to spur you and your Timberlands into the wild. Hit the Nisqually Vista Trail, a mellow 1.2-mile loop with views of the mountain’s summit, or test your marching mettle on the nine-mile hike to Narada Falls, where glacier melt pours off a 168-foot cliff (trail info: nps.gov). Then double back to feast on salmon cakes, or bourbon buffalo meatloaf at the Paradise Inn Dining Room (ranier.guestservices.com). Crash in your rustic weekend abode away from home, and start all over the next day.
Drive time 1 hour, 48 minutes
When to goAugust
29 | Take a Flatland Voyage in the Methow Valley
Make the 240-mile push to the faux–Old West town of Winthrop in north-central Washington and you’ll be scissoring across the smoothest snow in the land in no time. Strap on your cross-country skis—or rent some at Winthrop Mountain Sports (509-996-2886; winthropmountainsports.com) —then hit the four-mile, impeccably groomed Thompson Road, which slides you past towering ponderosas and gives way, atop Thompson Ridge, to views of one of the most pristine valleys in the west. When you’re not gliding around Methow, wolf burgers at The Twisp River Pub (888-220-3360; twistriverpub.com) and rest your weary dogs at the cowboy-chic Sun Mountain Lodge (800-572-0493; sunmountainlodge.com).
Drive time 4 hours
When to go January through March
30 | Go Really, Really Retro
Turn the weekend into a trip back in time. At Fields Spring State Park (509-256-3332; parks.wa.gov), way, way up in the Blue Mountains, in the southeast corner of the state, your two-night home is a teepee. The canvas shelters, just like the Native Americans lived in, sleep six in a quiet, secluded spot in the park. Wander the park’s three miles of hiking trails, and make your way to the top of 4,500-foot Puffer Butte, which rewards you with a God’s-eye view of Grande Ronde River, a branch of the Snake River. For eats, pack your favorite camping food or, if you’ve had enough of the going-native schtick, drive 30 miles north to Clarkston and darken the door of Roosters Waterfront Restaurant (509-751-0155; roosterslanding.com) for a Reuben sandwich or Cobb salad.
Drive time 6 hours, 45 minutes
When to goJune through September.
31 | Become a Slave to Vashon
The only problem with bunking at Vashon Island’s Artist’s Studio Loft Bed and Breakfast (206-463-2583; vashonbedandbreakfast.com) is that once you get settled into your digs—we recommend the River Birch Cottage—you won’t want to leave. Heck, it could be Sunday night before you finally drag your slumped frame out of this enchanted property—a paradise patrolled by two cats who greet you and purr while you enjoy breakfast on the porch. Bring bikes and you can zip up and down the roller coaster back roads that zag the tree-strewn island. Be sure to pedal over to the Hardware Store Restaurant (206-463-1800; thsrestaurant.com) and tuck into an open-faced fish sandwich or a grilled portobello sandwich. Then roll back to the cabin and catch up with your new feline friends. Just remember your human friends are expecting you back in the office come Monday morning.
Travel time 1 hour
When to go June, when the gardens are in full bloom
32 | Look a Killer in the Eye
There’s nothing—nothing!—like watching an orca breach a few feet away. Join Friday Harbor–based Western Prince Whale and Wildlife Tours (360-378-5315; orcawhalewatch.com) and you’ll come within eyeshot of the killer whale action throughout the San Juans. On our last outing with Captain Ivan Reiff and his crew aboard the biodiesel-powered Western Prince II, we spied the famous 80-plus-whale J Pod, countless bald eagles, seals, and porpoises that looked like they were racing the boat home for supper. Later, sink your fangs into burgers at Front Street Alehouse (360-378-2337; sanjuanbrewing.com) and sleep off your sea legs at the Friday Harbor House (360-378-8455; fridayharborhouse.com).
Drive time 3 hours
When to go May through August is prime orca-viewing season
33 | Reconnect with Your Wooden-Boat-Building Bad Self
Driving into Port Townsend on Highway 20 reveals a striking seaside panorama, with Whidbey and Vancouver islands in the distance. And then come the Victorian buildings, including Manresa Castle (360-385-5750; manresacastle.com), which is a great place for brunch and has rooms that are reputed to be haunted. Come for The Great Port Townsend Bay Kinetic Sculpture Race (ptkineticrace.org) in October, where the goal is to race hand-built contraptions to the finish line. The former Officer’s Quarters at Fort Worden State Park (360-344-4400; fortworden.org) are great for lodging families or groups of friends; the park hosts the Centrum (360-385-3102; centrum.org) writing and jazz festivals in summer. September sees the annual and much-beloved Wooden Boat Festival (woodenboat.org). The Salal Café (360-385-6532) makes the best breakfasts in town. The self-described “kooky” Landfall (360-385-5814) does a terrific Reuben for lunch. And Fins Coastal Cuisine (360-379-3474) offers fresh seafood with a view for dinner.
Travel time 1 hour, plus 35 minutes on Bainbridge Island ferry
When to go Year-round
34 | Get Bronzed at the Brews and Blues Festival
Nearly any reason to visit Joseph, Oregon, is a good reason. Nearby Wallowa Lake State Park (oregonstateparks.org) is a blue gem surrounded on three sides by 9,000-foot mountains, and the town is a bustling center of Western-style storefronts and art. Seven life-size bronze statues on Main Street depict everything from Native American chiefs (the town was named after Nez Perce Chief Joseph) to a Schwarzenegger-like shirtless cowboy with six-pack abs. A tour of the Joseph Bronze foundry (josephbronze.net) shows how bronze is cast. And Joseph is nearly irresistible when the annual Bronze, Blues and Brews Fest (bronzebluesbrews.com) takes over Joseph City Park with 50-plus microbrews on tap, food, and national and regional blues musicians showing off their chops (Becki Sue and Her Big, Rockin’ Daddies stole the show last year). Make a family vacation of it with a stay at the Flying Arrow Resort (flyingarrowresort.com) on the lake, or bunk in town at the Craftsman-style Bronze Antler Bed and Breakfast (bronzeantler.com).
Drive time 6 hours, 48 minutes
When to go Bronze, Blues and Brews Fest, August 8
35 | Join the stampede
The Omak Stampede (509-826-1983; omakstampede.org) in the 4,700-cowpoke frontier town of Omak, Washington, is smaller in scale than the Pendleton Roundup. But what Omak’s rodeo lacks in size it smashes its Oregonian competition in thrills. The signature event, the Suicide Race, sees riders and their horses thunder down a near-vertical, 225-foot hill toward the Okanogan River. Swing by the Breadline Café (509-826-5836; breadlinecafe.com) for grub—we swear by the 10-ounce Cattleman’s Steak—and the Omak Inn (509-826-3822; omakinnwa.com) for shut-eye.
Drive time 4 hours
When to go The rodeo is August 6–9
36 | Celebrate July 4, Old School
At first glance, the quiet shoreline enclave of Steilacoom, Washington, doesn’t appear to offer much beyond its most well-known claim to fame: It’s the state’s first incorporated town. But at no time is the town’s pride in the past stronger than at the Annual Old-Fashioned Hometown Independence Day celebration (steilacoom.org), when residents line the streets, wave flags, and cheer on homemade floats, hot rods, and war heroes. Fourth of July falls on a Saturday this year, so enjoy a long weekend at the contemporary bed-and-breakfast Inn at Saltar’s Point (253-588-4522; innatsaltarspoint.com). Explore the town’s pioneer history—it was the premier trading post in the 1850s before the Northern Pacific Railway snubbed the seaport and laid tracks through Tacoma instead—at The Steilacoom Museum (253-584-4133; steilacoomhistorical.org). Sip root beer floats at the oldest known soda fountain in the Pacific Northwest at the Bair Drug and Hardware (which is open just one day a year, July 4). And, of course, catch the evening fireworks display at Sunnyside Beach.
Drive time 1 hour
When to go July 4
37 | See Stars in Sun Valley
No other ski resort is as unabashed in catering to the stars as Sun Valley (208-622-4111; sunvalley.com). Its first early hobnobbers of the 1930s, Clark Gable and Errol Flynn, were imported from Hollywood by resort founder Averell Harriman. Today you’re just as likely to carve powder turns next to Clint Eastwood or Oprah. Bunk right in the middle of town in Ketchum at the Premier Resort (800-635-4444; premier-sunvalley.com). Choose between Baldy Mountain—for the adventurous athlete—or Dollar Mountain—a beginner’s hill with legendary instruction. Slice around on skates at the local rink, and you might even fall down next to Olympic athletes Johnny Wier or Sasha Cohen. Keep an eye out for Hollywood’s more august celebs at the classic Sun Valley Lodge Dining Room (208-622-2800) as you nosh on elk loin with huckleberry and port wine sauce, or throw back shots with the younger crowd at the Pioneer Saloon (208-726-3139; pioneersaloon.com).
Drive time 10 hours, 30 minutes (1 hour, 45 minutes by plane)
When to go Christmas; it’s more crowded, but plenty of stars spend their holidays here
38 | Go Crabbing on the Oregon Coast
Oregon holds one major advantage over Washington for crab hunters. Down south it’s legal to keep crustaceans measuring a quarter-inch smaller than is allowed in the Evergreen State—the difference between feast and famine if the Dungeness aren’t biting. The best bait: mink carcass, available along with a crabbing license, boat, and ring nets in Newport, Oregon, at Newport Marina Store and Charter (541-867-4470; nmscharters.com). Browse the listings at Beach Combers NW (800-622-1282; beachcombersnw.com) for a rental with ocean views, spacious deck, and no-nonsense kitchen perfect for cooking and cracking your bounty. When you’re not pulling crab nets from the bay, explore the state’s only wooden lighthouse at Yaquina Bay State Recreation Site (oregonstateparks.org), get a fishy kiss from a sea lion at the Oregon Coast Aquarium (541-867-3474; aquarium.org), and slurp yakisoba noodles with spicy coconut prawns at Local Ocean Seafoods Café (541-574-7959; localocean.net).
Drive time 5 hours, 25 minutes
When to go Annual Newport Seafood and Wine Festival, February 20–22
39 | Surf in the Most Unlikely Place
True, your fellow sand dwellers will likely be more frog-belly white than Adonis bronze. But California beaches have nothing on the surfer’s paradise that is Tofino, BC. Parked on the west side of Vancouver Island, the 1,655-soul town boasts a handful of surf shops and surf schools—and 20- to 30-foot waves people gush over all the way in Honolulu. Rent a board and learn how to ride it at Live to Surf (250-725-4464; livetosurf.com). Then join the hungry wave riders at the RainCoast Café (250-725-2215; raincoastcafe.com) and relax those muscles you never even knew you had at the Cable Cove Inn (250-725-4236; cablecoveinn.com).
Drive time 8 hours, 23 minutes
When to go The Tofino Food and Wine Festival is June 5–7
40 | Go on a Pacific Northwest Safari
Seen from the air, the Cascade Loop (cascadeloop.com) —a 400-mile marriage of Highway 2, Highway 20, and assorted back roads—looks like a heart clumsily drawn by a chimpanzee in love. It’s hard not to fall in love, clumsily in love, with this eye-popping tour through the Cascades, including Stevens Pass, Lake Chelan, the Methow Valley, Skagit Valley, and the North Cascades Highway. You’ve got to get rolling if you’re going to see it all, so we won’t slow you down with a full list of best eats and sleeps, but why not gnaw down on some killer omelets at the Mt. Index Café (360-799-1133) in Index—near Stevens Pass—and, later, sleep off some of those miles at Buffalo Run Inn (360-873-2103; buffaloruninn.com), the 120-year-old lodge at the western rim of the North Cascades National Park?
Drive time 3 days
When to go All summer long
41 | Sail to the San Juans
Discover the secret side of the San Juan Islands, an archipelago with hundreds of islands, and dodge throngs of tourists via sailboat with Anacortes-based ABC Yacht Charters (800-426-2313; abcyachtcharters.com). Forget about daily life while viewing spectacular sunsets at Sucia and Patos islands (parks.wa.gov), explore one of the most secluded beaches in the archipelago at Indian Cove on Shaw Island, or catch whales in action in Haro Strait, dubbed the Orcas Highway. End the trip at Friday Harbor, where the Lavendera Day Spa (360-378-3637; lavenderdayspa.com) is a godsend for soothing sore sailing muscles. Rent a three-wheeled “scootcar” from Susie’s Mopeds (360-378-5244; susiesmopeds.com) and spend the afternoon savoring homemade lavender ice cream while strolling the grounds at the Pelindaba Lavender Farm (pelindabalavender.com), swirling and sipping the latest vintage at San Juan Vineyards (sanjuanvineyards.com), and noshing on braised duck at Steps Wine Bar and Café (360-370-5959; stepswinebarandcafe.com) before catching the ferry and returning to civilization.
Travel time 1 hour, 30 minutes by car to the Anacortes ferry terminal, then 1 hour, 45 minutes by ferry to Friday Harbor
When to go June through September
42 | Survive the Steeps in Rossland, BC
Red Mountain Resort (250-362-7013; redresort.com) in Rossland is British Columbia’s best-kept winter secret. For now. Wait in shockingly short lift lines for a ride almost 3,000 feet to steeps that are regularly drowned in powder. But don’t bring your friend who learned how to board last year—Red (technically two mountains, Red and Granite) takes experts and makes them rethink their prowess. Warm up on Granite’s mix of intermediate and advanced trails, and then test your mettle in Grey Basin’s expert-only terrain. Swap snow stories while recharging at locals’ favorite watering hole, the Flying Steamshovel (250-362-7323; theflyingsteamshovel.com). You’re gonna need it for the next day when you ski with Big Red Cats (250-362-2271; bigredcatskiing.com), where Cat tractors haul you all over so you can plunder up to five mountains and 18,500 acres in sheer solitude. Try to calm your prepowder jitters when you tuck in at the The Prestige Mountain Resort Hotel and Conference Centre Rossland (877-737-8443; prestigehotelandresorts.com).
Drive time 7 hours
When to go Mid-January, after the holiday rush
43 | Hit the Hood
You’ve slurped your share of succulent Hood Canal oysters, now go pick some yourself along the shores of the 65-mile-long fjord (it’s not technically a canal) that is their place of provenance. Begin at Seattle’s Pier 52, where you’ll catch the Bremerton ferry (wsdot.wa.gov), an hour-long crossing that offers plenty of snow-capped Olympic eye candy. Driving southwest from Bremerton, make a pit stop at the Belfair QFC (360-275-2050; qfc.com) to stock up on Meyer lemons, sea salt, and a bottle of Argyle champagne to stash in your room at the recently-remodeled Alderbrook Resort and Spa (360-898-2200; alderbrookresort.com). Once there, you can gather mollusks on the resort’s private shorefront, then suck up your bounty raw or barbecue the squishy suckers right there on the beach. The waterfront trails at the nearby Olympic National Park (nps.gov) offer scenic hikes and plenty of eagle sightings, while Hood Canal Adventures (360-898-2628; hoodcanalkayak.com) will rent you a kayak for paddling around the canal. Keep an eye out for curious otters, who periodically pop their heads out of the water to see what you’re up to.
Drive time 1 hour, 50 minutes
When to go Oysters can be gathered in fall, winter, and early spring; check hotel Web site for events and special packages
44 | Score Great Junk and Hear Soulful Funk
Whether you’re a natural-born day-tripper or a naturalist, the patchwork of B & B’s, antiques, and cliff-rimmed lakes and tide-pool beaches in Anacortes is sure to wipe away the harried memories of the previous week. The 16,000-person town, on Fidalgo Island, east of the San Juan archipelago, boasts some of the best B & B’s in the land, but our favorite is the Heron House Guest Suites (360-293-4477; heronhouseguestsuites.com). For brunch, you can’t beat the Calico Cupboard Café (360-293-7315; calicocupboardcafe.com). And when it’s time to take locally grown cuisine seriously, we break bread at Adrift (360-588-0653; adriftrestaurant.com). But what really pulls us into Anacortes every year is Shipwreck Days—an all-community yard-and-craft sale that spills down the old-town stretch of the main drag—and, on the same weekend, What the Heck Fest (www.whattheheckfest.com), a big sonic party lousy with scruffy funk-folksters and supercute twee rockers in from Bellingham, Olympia, and beyond.
Drive time 1 hour, 30 minutes
When to go Shipwreck Days is one day, July 18, but the Heck Fest lasts all weekend, and sometimes into Monday
45 | Take a Short Walk on a Long Beach
Who cares if it’s not actually the world’s longest beach? With 28 miles of wide, hard-packed sand, Long Beach is the longest beach we’ve got, and it’s Washington’s version of Coney Island. Driving or walking on the sand is way more fun than swimming (the water is freezing) and the town of Long Beach has goofy summer attractions like bumper cars, go-carts, and Marsh’s Free Museum (360-642-2188; marshfreemuseum.com) for souvenirs. Ride your bike on the paved Discovery Trail on the beach, or head to Cape Disappointment State Park (parks.wa.gov ), which has a lighthouse, trails, and interpretive center. Ilwaco’s marina now features a farmers market and terrific new restaurants like The Port Bistro (360-642-8447; portbistro.com) for clam chowder and seafood, and Pelicano (360-642-4034; pelicanorestaurant.com) for innovative modern fare. In Klipsan Beach, takeout food is elevated to sublime levels at Jimella’s Seafood Market (360-665-4847). Get awfully cozy at the private, homelike China Beach Retreat (360-642-5660; chinabeachretreat.com) on a secluded cove, or swing at the nautical-themed Akari Bungalows (360-642-5267; akaribungalows.com ) in the middle of town. When in doubt, remember these two simple beach-holiday words: saltwater taffy.
Drive time3 hours, 18 minutes
When to go Year-round; best beach season is July through September
46 | Float a Boat for BC Fun
Dart up the Strait of Juan de Fuca aboard the Victoria Clipper (206-448-5000; clippervacations.com), which takes on passengers at Seattle’s Pier 69, and you’ll be in Victoria, BC, in time for tea. Stay at the Fairmont Empress (250-384-8111; fairmont.com) but don’t expect your scruffy Seattle ways to fly at the hotel’s famous tea service, for which reservations are required, locals dress in their Sunday best, and a tuxedoed man materializes at your table with a silver pot of tea and a five-tiered hors d’oeuvre tray. Duck out of teatime early and meander over to the Butchart Gardens, 55 acres of tranquil paths exploding with more flowers than your grandma’s bathroom wallpaper. For a more raucous time, march toward the Irish Times Pub (250-383-7775; irishtimespub.ca), which pours 30 varieties of suds—and not a tea-toting tux wearer in sight.
Travel time 2 hours, 45 minutes by boat
When to go May through September
47 | Eat Pie and Pizza in Idaho
This is no ordinary lake in the middle of nowhere in Idaho. Lake Pend Oreille, about 30 miles north of Lake Coeur d’Alene, is a geologic wonder of shocking, 1,172-foot depths and rugged mountains rising up from its 111 miles of coastline. And then it gets weird: There is a former naval base at the south end. There is a chunk of the Berlin Wall on the Hope Peninsula on the lake’s northeast side, and a replica of the Statue of the Liberty at the public dock in the charming town of Sandpoint. First-rate pie can be had by the slice at Pie Hut (208-265-2208). Hoot Owl Café (208-265-9348) is the quintessential breakfast joint with a big-haired waitress named Wanda. And the Old Icehouse Pizzeria and Bakery (208-264-5555) in Hope has great food and live music on a balcony overlooking the lake. Jump into its waters from your rustic digs at Sleep’s Cabins (208-255-2122; sleepcabins.com), or rent a waterfront condo at the Seasons at Sandpoint Resort (877-265-4420; seasonsatsandpoint.com sandpoint.com).
Drive time 5 hours, 33 minutes
When to go July through September
48 | Go Back to School
Enjoy a whiskey and cigar in the Detention Bar, or sip fine wine in the Honors Bar. Hell, go ahead and flip off the principal on your way to drinking beer in the auditorium. Is this high school in Detroit? No, just a visit to Portland’s Kennedy School (888-249-3983; mcmenamins.com), a jewel in the Oregon-based McMenamins chain of brewpubs and renovated hotels. Built in 1915, the school was decommissioned in 1975 before Mike and Brian McMenamin scooped it up in ’97, turned the classrooms into 35 guest rooms (with chalkboards intact), and had their artists rampage through the hallways. You can indeed drink beer, eat pizza, and watch movies in the auditorium, order full meals and housemade beer in the cafeteria, soak in a hot tub or drink in any (or all) of several bars, including the new Boiler Room Bar that just opened last fall. If you can tear yourself away from the place, head to the International Rose Test Garden (rosegardenstore.org) in Washington Park for sweeping views of the city and close-up whiffs of hundreds of rosy varietals.
Drive time 2 hours, 55 minutes
When to go Year-round
49 | Enjoy life at the Top
Out ’n’ About Treesort (541-592-2208) in the Siskiyou Mountains of southwest Oregon shelters you in one of 11 unique tree houses, including the three ultimate high-rise cabins, Forestree, Pleasantree, and Treezebo, each up to 37 feet off the ground, and accessed via suspended bridge. After a night of elevated sleep, come back down to earth and explore the caverns of the nearby Oregon Caves National Monument (541-592-2100; nps.gov), and dig into Caveman Chili at the Oregon Caves Chateau Café (877-245-9022).
Drive time 7 hours, 30 minutes
When to go May through October
50 | Go East
The urban renewal fairy has turned Spokane’s dreary old downtown buildings into condos and brewpubs like Steam Plant Grill (509-777-3900; steamplantgrill.com), which has housemade beer and burgers that will haunt your taste buds for weeks. The Davenport Hotel and Tower (800-899-1482; thedavenporthotel.com) was renovated to the tune of $40 million; rooms in the original Davenport are tasteful and elegant, but if it’s nutty you crave, go to the safari-themed Davenport Tower (Warning! Stuffed tiger in the lobby!). Down a few designer cocktails in the black-leather back room of Bluefish (509-747-2111; bluefishspokane.com), or listen to the Spokane Symphony saw out some tunes at the art deco Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox (509-624-1200; foxtheaterspokane.org). Parks are big in Spokane: Manito Park (manitopark.org) is crammed with designer gardens, including a Japanese Garden, a rose garden, and a classical European garden. Riverfront Park (spokaneriverfrontpark.com) has amusement-park rides, an ice-skating rink in winter, and an awesome aerial tram ride over Spokane River Falls. Oh, and don’t forget the laptop: The whole downtown area is a Wi-Fi zone.
Drive time 4 hours, 19 minutes
When to go Year-round.
51 | Take the Nuclear Option
If you know your Washington State history, you know that the Hanford Reach area, in the center of the state, benefitted from WWII and the Cold War in unexpected ways. Back in 1943, to disguise the nuclear production in the area, the feds made 625 square miles of surrounding land off-limits to the public. Wildlife thrived. The result today is a fenceless zoo of birds, deer, coyotes, and more. See ’em firsthand on a jet-boat tour via Columbia River Journeys and River City Tours (888-486-9119; columbiariverjourneys.com). Run for cover—and wood-fired pizzas and microbrews—at the Atomic Ale Brewpub and Eatery (509-946-5465), and put head to pillow at Hampton Inn Richland (509-943-4400).
Drive time 3 hours, 30 minutes
When to go May through September
52 | Stay Exactly Where You Are
Think about it. Why do you have to go anywhere? You’re already in the coolest of any of the 51 other destinations. And regardless of what Seattle-area nabe you call home, chances are you could walk the length of a bookstore aisle and be standing in front of a great restaurant or café—or park, or library, or farmer’s market—a place to while away a Saturday or Sunday, slowly, methodically, savoring each hour. Last year, the High Priests of Travel Journalism, referring to what we’re talking about here, began employing a neologism: Staycation. We just think it’s what you do when you’re living in the best city in America.
Drive time 0
When to go Right now