Things get quiet in Ashford when summer ends. But now that the mountain town—southeast of Eatonville, slightly off Highway 7—isn’t hosting a stream of mountain climbers and national park visitors, there’s space for the Mount Rainier Wine Festival and Dance.
This second annual festival combines wine tastings with a dance floor. Held in the Mt. Rainier Lions Club this Saturday, the event is free to those staying in Ashford, Mineral, Longmire, or Elbe hotels for the night. Tickets for everyone else are $20 (but only $17 if you buy them today) and are good for 10 tasting tickets, appetizers, and entertainment.
Swing-dance lessons are held before the Swing Soiree "gypsy jazz" band takes the stage at 6:30pm, and the Elbow County Rough Riders, a rockabilly outfit, does a set at 8:30pm. Wineries, on hand to pour tastes and sell bottles, hail from local communities; among them are Scatter Creek Winery from Tenino, Wells Winery from Onalaska, and Bateaux Cellars from Toledo. For beer drinkers, Seattle’s Naked City Brewery will bring small-batch brews. Events run 2–10:30pm.
Once you’ve slept off your hangover, there’s still plenty to do around Ashford in the shoulder season. Mount Rainier National Park’s road to Paradise is a twisty, beautiful drive (and the visitor’s center is open on weekends). There isn’t much snow on the park roads at the moment, but cars are required to carry chains, starting today. There are also fall hikes for great foliage views. Feeling wimpy? It’s quite a bit warmer in the Ashford-area spas.