52 Weekends

Fall Weekend Road Trips and Getaways

Cider on Hood Canal, leaf peeping on an Oregon mountain pass, and Halloween on a whole new level.

By Allison Williams December 30, 2015 Published in the January 2016 issue of Seattle Met

Fall creek by liefphotos.com zqsxsj

Courtesy Greg Lief / liefphotos.com

Festival  ●  Food Adventure

40. Fresh Hop Ale Festival

Yakima, Oct 1

Thank Yakima for the fact that IPAs are now as common in American bars as bad pickup lines—over three--quarters of American hops are grown here. So local pours are the freshest of fresh hop beers, especially during a fall week devoted to brewer’s nights, pub trivia, and hop field tours, culminating with bands playing outdoors downtown. The homebrew competition accepts entrants in three categories: pale ales, India pale ales, and imperial India pale ales. You get the idea. freshhopalefestival.com

Best Fest

41. Leavenworth Oktoberfest

Sept 30 & Oct 1, Oct 7 & 8, Oct 14 & 15

It’s always Oktoberfest in Leavenworth, what with the year-round beer gardens serving bratwurst and liter pours of pilsner. But for three weekends a year, the mountain town turns its usual Bavarian costume into a full-throated German spectacle, starting with a marching band clad in dirndls and lederhosen. Besides the usual restaurants, beer tents pop up around town under the steep hillsides of the Cascades. This time of year Icicle Creek starts living up to its name, but daytime temps reach the 70s even as the larches in the mountains begin their fall turn to yellow. Walking down main street to the oompah sounds of the brass bands, stalked by nutcrackers in every shop window (not to mention in the ever-so-creepy Nutcracker Museum), it’s easy to find Leavenworth a bit cheesy. But cheese goes well with salty soft pretzels, and with being crammed on a wooden bench next to strangers as you all empty steins. In a town where even the Starbucks is trimmed with German bric-a-brac, Leavenworth might even have a better Oktoberfest than crowded Munich. leavenworthoktoberfest.com

Nature  ●  Road Trip 

42. Oregon Leaf Peeping

McKenzie Highway

Eugene may bleed the Duck colors of yellow and green, but in fall the university town’s rare Dawn redwoods explode into deep crimson, while further east up the McKenzie Highway the vine maples turn red before the road opens up into fields of volcanic lava. oregonfallfoliage.wordpress.com

City Adventure  ●  Festival  ●  Food Adventure

43. CiderHood

Hood Canal, Oct 28 & 29

From its location on the bend of Hood Canal’s fishhook shape, Alderbrook feels remote even a mere hour and half from Seattle. Set among the thick fir and alder, the big wooden lodge and small cottages are close to nature walks and forest foraging, but mostly ideal for doing blissfully nothing on a sleepy section of Puget Sound waterfront. The new CiderHood festival celebrates the new boom in apple cider on the Olympic Peninsula with a chef’s dinner and tasting on the lawn, likely to again feature a signature brew made just for the event. alderbrookresort.com


44. Halloweentown

St. Helens, Oregon

Even without the Disney Channel movies that inspired it, the idea of turning an otherwise unremarkable Oregon town into a citywide Halloween party is brilliant, from the ceremoniously lit jack-o’-lantern to the creepy hearse competition.

Festival  ●  City Adventure

45. Vancouver Asian Film Fest

British Columbia, Nov 3–6

For the 20th year, VAFF will screen short and feature-length films from Canada’s Asian community. Visitors can pop between screens and some of the most diverse Asian cuisine this side of the Pacific, like chic Bao Bei in Chinatown and the internationally famous Indian joint Vij’s. vaff.org

Vaff credit vancouver asian film festival okuwqi

Courtesy Vancouver Asian Art Museum 

Nature  ●  Road Trip

46. North Cascades Highway

Highway 20

As fall descends on the North Cascades, there’s a brief window when the spectacular peaks and passes of Highway 20 have both snow and full road access. On a careful trip east along Washington’s northernmost thruway, hike or snowshoe from Rainy Pass up the Lake Ann trail in autumn’s early snowfalls, the landscape wholly changed from its summer series of green meadow views and exposed rocky ridges. The snow is feather light but wet enough for snowballs, deep enough to bend branches into a stoop they’ll hold till spring. The road closes when avalanche danger reaches critical mass, and only the hardiest of snowmobilers can access the wonderland. 

Great Hotel

47. Cave B Inn


By summer it’s a luxury retreat next to a party zone, a river-facing series of yurts and cabins mere feet from the Gorge Amphitheatre. By winter, there are no festivals, just the sleepy vineyards and bocce courts, a cozy spa with a ceiling dotted with constellation lights. The Cave B Winery has its tasting room on site, pouring red, white, rosé, and sparkling wines. Call it the unfestival. caveb.com

Food Adventure

48. DW Distillery

Walla Walla

We’re set on wine, given the hundred-plus wineries in the Walla Walla Valley. Why not distill some of it into brandy? The two Seattle owners of DW Distillery drive east to offer tastings in the brandy distillery they built in the barracks of an old Walla Walla air force base. Taste four or more brandies Saturday, then stay over to sample the raw materials, local wine; the town’s historic Marcus Whitman Hotel just spruced up in a renovation. dwdistilling.net, marcuswhitmanhotel.com 

City Adventure  ●  Staycation  ●  Nature

49. Tree House Point

Fall City

Not to knock Fall City, but staying overnight in a double-decker tree house is the only reason to visit the Issaquah suburb. (It’s a very good reason, though.) treehousepoint.com

16968477139 89f20cf91c o f43ecg

Image: Tony Guyton

Great Hotel

50. Great Wolf Lodge

Grand Mound

The water temp is 84 degrees. The waterslide funnel is six stories tall. The snack bar serves juice boxes and veggies with ranch dressing. Activities around the middle-of-nowhere hotel are controlled by magic wand. It should go without saying that kids—yours, anybody’s—are required for maximum enjoyment. greatwolf.com

City Adventure  ●  Great Hotel  

51. Fairmont Empress Hotel


The Edwardian Empress Hotel on Victoria Harbour is practically a gingerbread house even before the holiday lights go up and the capital of British Columbia hosts a Festival of Trees and, yes, Canada’s National Gingerbread Showcase. The hotel’s famous afternoon tea gets a Nutcracker update in December, Mrs. Claus shows up on Christmas Eve, and the Indian-themed Bengal Lounge hosts a seasonal spice curry buffet through the holidays. The Victoria Clipper offers packages that include Butchart Garden’s holiday light display just north of the city. fairmont.com/empress-victoria, clippervacations.com

City Adventure

52. Washington State History Museum


If you’re too old for model trains, sorry about the loss of your inner child. The Washington State History Museum’s annual festival features displays of mini freight trains and street scenes, a realistic model of Washington’s rail lines, plus hands-on Lego sets. The museum sits between two icons of Tacoma’s glass heritage, the Museum of Glass and the bright neon lights of Hotel Murano. washington-history.org

Show Comments