52 Weekends

Spring Weekend Trips and Getaways

Get outside for Shakespeare, a whitewater rafting festival, or the wildest parade this side of the Cascades.

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

Richard saxon flickr qvtd4g

Image: Richard Saxon

Road Trip  ●  Festival

14. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

Skagit Valley

It claims to be the state’s largest festival, and we believe it when the rural roads between Mount Vernon and Anacortes crowd with photographers capturing the vibrant purple, yellow, and orange fields. Tip: If winter’s been dry, try visiting the Skagit Valley before the festival’s official April 1 launch, as mother nature may have exploded the blooms early. tulipfestival.org

Food Adventure

15. Public Coast Brewing

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Oregonians love their publicly accessible shoreline so much that Cannon Beach’s new brewery is named after the 1960s act that banned private beach ownership. Opening in spring, the 10-barrel brewery takes over a quaint restaurant space but keeps the outdoor patio. Portland Brewing Company’s founder is the beer consultant, and the kitchen will dish fish-and-chips with local halibut, tuna, and salmon. publiccoastbrewing.com

Great Hotel  ●  Nature

16. Sun Mountain Lodge


Winthrop itself is a kitschy Old West–themed town complete with wooden sidewalks, but the resort located in the hills just above is a more modern brand of rustic, the kind with mountain-view hot tubs and horse stables, bathrobes hanging from hooks and fly-fishing spots stocked with trout. Located almost 3,000 feet above sea level overlooking the Methow Valley, it’s Eastern Washington’s best compromise between outdoor adventure and down comforters. sunmountainlodge.com

Sun mountain lodge pb s15 hr 3358 sokt1v

Photo: Sun Mountain Lodge


17. Procession of the Species

Olympia, Apr 29, 2017

It may be the state’s administrative hub, but Olympia lets its freak flag fly in its annual animal-costume parade, a mix of butterfly puppets and toddlers in face paint, and one of the only public places where adults are expected to dress as a feathery phoenix or a hammerhead shark. To keep the kooky nature theme going, crash in downtown’s Fertile Ground Guesthouse, home to a small library and a sprawling garden. procession.org, fertileground.org

City Adventure  ●  Festival

18. Bloomsday Race

Spokane, May 7, 2017

It may not be held on James Joyce’s Bloomsday, that June day in which we all pretend we read Ulysses, but it’s a salute to the book’s odyssey: a seven-and-a-half-mile footrace through downtown Spokane. More than 40,000 contenders enter, and more than 90 percent finish, then wander Riverfront Park, currently undergoing a $64 million renovation to expand the skating rink and spruce up the gondolalike SkyRide. bloomsdayrun.org

Great Hotel

19. Semiahmoo Resort


When the almost-in-Canada hotel underwent a recent renovation, it didn’t just refurbish the restaurant and the theater showing free weekend movies. It repurposed what it could from the ocean it faces, making the driveway from crushed seashells, draping spa guests in seaweed, and fashioning carpet from discarded fishing nets collected off a Philippines barrier reef. Experienced golfers can choose from two 18-hole courses, both of which also host FootGolf, a golf-soccer combo for the terrible putters among us. semiahmoo.com

Sr signature semiahmoo exterior 1 mlmkne

Courtesy Semiahmoo Resort 

Festival  ●  Nature

20. Upper Clackamas Whitewater Festival

Estacada, Oregon, May 20 & 21, 2017

On land, there’s bluegrass and barbecue. On the tumbling waters of the Upper Clackamas River are slalom races (try it in an inner tube!) and the slapstick of mass-start events, where dozens of kayakers or standup paddleboarders try to navigate the rapids at the same time. For the catamaran volleyball race, boaters push a buoy downstream using only their boat and oars—harder than it looks since “Wilson” the buoy is slicked up with boat protectant. Camp in town or book one of the town’s few hotel rooms early. upperclackamasfestival.org

Upperclakamas credit ben nieves y3tkte

Image: Ben Nieves

Best Fest


Quincy, May 26–28, 2017

Fifteen years on, Sasquatch! has become the gold standard for Northwest music festivals. The Columbia River Gorge provides music’s most breathtaking backdrop, and the venue’s relative isolation forces festivalgoers to disconnect and focus on the music. The lineup consistently delivers rock, hip-hop, and legacy headliners on the main stage (last year featured Kendrick Lamar and Robert Plant) with buzzworthy indie bands like Future Islands and Shakey Graves on the midtier stages, and Seattle’s up-and-comers like La Luz around the fringes. A massive tent hosts wild EDM parties by night and standup comedy by day. Some Sasquatchers rush between stages, but just as many lay a blanket to watch the main stage all day. Campouts in the general-pop tent city, nicknamed District 9, can veer into madness, with late-night partying and the occasional unauthorized fireworks explosion. sasquatchfestival.com —Seth Sommerfeld

Foodie Adventure

22. Pastime

Walla Walla

As we mourn the passing of Waitsburg’s Jimgermanbar, Jim German’s namesake bar and cocktail oasis in the Eastern Washington wine desert, we anticipate what’s emerging a few miles away: an Italian taverna called Pastime. “May is the infamous month,” says German of his planned opening; the menu will circle Italy’s distinct regions depending on what’s seasonable, though don’t expect much seafood in landlocked Walla Walla. And yes, there will be cocktails from the man who chipped in during Seattle’s mixology renaissance before putting Waitsburg on the bartending map.

Road Trip  ●  Nature

23. John Day Fossil Beds


The Painted Hills in east-central Oregon—curvy mounds striped in burnt orange, yellow, pinks, and greens—might be the most beautiful geologic formations on the West Coast. Pack the real camera. nps.gov/joda

Fossilbeds credit andymelton2 s0ycsj

Image: Andy Melton


24. Oregon Shakespeare Festival


Twelfth Night set in 1930s Hollywood. The Winter’s Tale in dynastic China and the Old West. Hamlet with a female Horatio. After 80 years of transporting the Bard to Southern Oregon’s rural Rogue Valley, the festival isn’t afraid to tweak the classics; most of the 11 plays aren’t even by Will, like this year’s The Wiz. The fest runs February to October, but the outdoor productions and free preplay Green Show start in summer. osfashland.org

City Adventure

25. Space: An Out-of-Gravity Experience

Portland, June 18, 2016–Jan 7, 2017

Play astronaut in a replica of the International Space Station and a working robotic arm at OMSI, appreciating that you get to come back to earth when it’s time to use the bathroom. omsi.edu


26. Mount St. Helens


From the Johnston Ridge Observatory, named for the heroic geologist who died in the 1980 blast but warned others to evacuate, there are trails for the cautious or ambitious hiker. A short paved loop connects informational displays and a memorial, while the eight-mile Harry’s Ridge trail winds closer to the volcanic crater and the glacier that formed in it after the eruption. It’s named for another victim, eccentric Harry R. Truman, who died with his 16 cats. www.fs.usda.gov/mountsthelens


3/17/17: This post has been updated to reflect applicable 2017 event dates.

Show Comments