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Kicking Horse Resort, British Columbia

Image: Scott Brown

Great Hotel

27. Campbell’s Resort

Lake Chelan

Don’t expect to run around with your own Fourth of July fireworks—not after Chelan’s devastating forest fires last year—but enjoy the professional bursts that’ll explode over the lake from the town’s biggest waterfront resort. The hotel’s own stretch of sand is lined with lounge chairs, and room balconies are draped with drying beach towels throughout summer. The supercalm lake is by far the state’s biggest, its glassy surface disturbed only by Jet Skis and boaters. This is summer the old-fashioned way.


28. Kicking Horse Via Ferrata

British Columbia

When you’re ready to endure a flight and a drive for a spectacular (long) weekend, eastern BC’s Kicking Horse ski mountain offers a unique summer challenge: the Via Ferrata. Italian for “iron path,” it’s a series of rebar steps and cables that make rock climbing a little easier for newbies. Earn views of the jagged Purcell Range, then descend to the mountaintop Eagle Eye Restaurant, where you can spot five national parks from a bar stool.


29. Sequim Lavender Festival

July 15–17

Fun fact: Lavender, the favorite scent of grandmothers everywhere, has more uses than you thought—it’s even been used to treat insomnia. Sniff through free farm tours throughout the Sequim-Dungeness Valley over the region’s biggest weekend. More than 110,000 of the purple plants are grown on the north end of the Olympic Peninsula, mostly distilled down to their oil to be made into shampoos, lotions, and soaps. Oh, and you can eat the lavender candy, that stuff’s not going to kill you. 


30. Hydroplane Racing in the Tri-Cities

July 29–31

The Northwest is the epicenter of American hydroplane racing, and the summer Columbia Cup race held between Pasco and Kennewick is one of the biggest events of the Tri-Cities year. The boats slap the water at speeds over 200 miles per hour (no wonder, they’re built with jet-plane engines), while spectators cheer from the banks of the Columbia River. Kennewick boasts a short string of chain hotels directly on the water, and Kennewick’s Clover Island Inn sits in the middle of the river. 


31. Olympic National Park Beaches

Olympic Peninsula

Arizona has the Grand Canyon, Florida has the Everglades. We have the miles-long crescent of Shi Shi Beach and the sea stacks of Rialto Beach, hidden memorials to shipwrecks, and driftwood fires as the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. Drive to some, scramble over headlands for others. We’ll take it.

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Kalaloch Beach

Image: Alison Klein 

Festival  ●  Nature

32. Doe Bay Fest

Orcas Island, Aug 4–8

When the San Juan island’s premier music fest brags about its intimacy, it means it—musicians join campfire sing-alongs, host parties in a tree-house cabin, or even plop into the resort’s heated soaking pools next to naked festivalgoers. The event rarely hosts more than 1,000 people or so, filling the cabins and camping lawns around a tiny Orcas bay. That doesn’t mean the sets themselves are gentle; every year hip-hop and electronic acts rock the outdoor stage and indoor dance floor so hard you swear you can hear floorboards breaking.


33. Omak Stampede

Aug 11–14

The World Famous Suicide Race is terrifying. Its young riders on horseback barrel down a steep 175-foot hill to the Okanogan River below. It’s also exhilarating and ought to replace the Kentucky Derby as the most exciting two minutes in sports. The Omak Stampede is one of the state’s oldest rodeos, complete with rollicking bull-riding events, a tribal drum circle, and a carnival, but it’s the only one with a race so harrowing that entrants have to be cleared by a veterinarian and signs prohibit photography. It may not be suicide, but the race is a fascinating test of wills, strength, and courage—and that’s just from the horses. 

Festival  ●  Food Adventure

34. National Lentil Festival

Pullman, Aug 19 & 20

A quarter of the country’s lentils are grown in the Palouse region around Pullman, so for one weekend a year the town is known for something other than WSU. Lentils are in the free chili served Friday night, the pancakes in the breakfast after the 5k run, the crafts in the kid zone, and the dishes in the headline cook-off. If the whole fest feels too vegetal (it really isn’t), downtown’s Black Cypress restaurant dishes flavorful Greek lamb chops and Cypriot sandwiches. Or there’s always Cougar Cheese.

Great Hotel  ●  Staycation

35. Lille Danser Bed and Breakfast

Bainbridge Island

Most of the time, the 50-foot Lille Danser sailboat is moored on Bainbridge Island, but that doesn’t mean it has to stay there. For an additional $150, captain Tami Allen will add a two-hour sail before guests settle into the wooden gaff cutter for the night. With berths for four and views of the Bainbridge ferry when in harbor, the little ship offers all the joys of pretending to own a boat and none of the stress of actual ownership.

Food Adventure

36. Argyle Tasting House

Dundee, Oregon

To mark the debut of the new Dundee tasting room last year, Argyle released a limited-edition sparkling wine, and the space is as effervescent. Unlike the old Victorian spot, it’s modern and sunny, with a long bar made of dark Douglas fir and an outdoor patio. In the center of Oregon’s Willamette wine region, there’s no reason to stop at one tasting; nearby Chapter 24 Vineyards combines pinots and performance art in a converted gas station.,


37. Wooden Boat Festival

Port Townsend, Sept 9–11

Some things are better with modern materials: Medical supplies. Roof shingles. Boeing jetliners. But as the 40th annual festival of all things wooden boat in Victorian Port Townsend, sound-going sailboats aren’t one of them. 

Best Fest

Feast Portland

Sept 15–18

The sun is sinking, the I-405 bridge arcs overhead, and on the bank of the Willamette River one hell of a barbecue is going down in Portland’s Pearl District. More than 20 big-name chefs—some local, others from as far as Chicago, Brooklyn, and Texas—tend giant pits of fire. Drinks flow while attendees alternate between Instagramming and queuing for bites like grilled beef tongue with smoked salmon roe, or chimichurri-basted tomahawk rib eye chop. It’s night three of Feast Portland, a sprawling slate of intimate dinners, lively panels, and crowd feeders like tonight’s tribute to cooking with fire. The city’s national food cred draws chefs you don’t often see on the festival circuit: An equally impressive squad puts on an Asian-style night market on Portland’s south waterfront; the fest’s final morning brings a massive brunch popup. Some attendees shell out to attend all six marquee events, others vie for tickets to the dinner series wherein visiting chefs cook alongside local counterparts. No matter the strategy, overeating is inevitable. —Allecia Vermillion

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Feast Portland

Image: Brooke Bass

Great Hotel  ●  City Adventure

39. Society Hotel


With deluxe bunk-bed hostel rooms and a rooftop deck, the Society is even more welcoming than when it originally served as refuge to Portland sailors in danger of being swindled or shanghaied. Now completely refurbished into private rooms and the novel suite of triple-decker hostel beds, the Old Town Chinatown hotel retains as much history as the new owners could find in the largely untouched building—vintage furnishings and a handwritten scrawl that someone claiming to be “The Frisco Kid” stayed here in 1934.



Updated January 6, 2016: An earlier version of this story incorrectly noted that lavender is poisonous if eaten; while lavender oil can be toxic if ingested, foods with lavender are not poisonous.

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