Snowshoers at paradise credit  visit rainier ymvm3v

Mount Rainier snowshoe walks (#3)

Photo: Visit Rainier

Foodie Travel

1. Inn at Langley Restaurant

Whidbey Island

Chef Matt Costello loves surprises. So the single-seating meals at this small island restaurants are full of creative twists. It could be that the decor is actually one of the courses, tiny terrariums filled with local greens, or that dessert comes covered in Pop Rocks. But the chef’s menu doesn’t only rely on gimmicks, made clear when Costello points out his island-foraged mushrooms or Penn Cove mussels throughout the three-hour feast. No surprise that the best meal is the seasonal one.

Road Trip

2. Gorge Soaks

Columbia River Gorge

When winter winds scour all but the hardiest windsurfers off the Columbia River, the gorge grows sleepy—except in the soaking rooms of Carson Hot Springs. Old claw-foot tubs fill with mineral waters, and after the rejuvenating bath an attendant swaddles each soaker in linens. Nearby Bonneville Hot Springs does the same within shouting distance of a hot tub. Continue up and across the river to access the more traditional spa at the Italian-style Columbia Gorge Hotel.,, 


3. Mount Rainier Snowshoe Walks


Rangers lead free snowshoe tours through the meadows of Paradise twice a day on weekends, and it’s the best way to avoid getting lost on the perilous ledges of the volcano. Snow shoes are provided, but sunscreen, warm clothes, and the required tire chains to navigate the sometimes-hairy Paradise road are not. (Pictured above.)

Great Hotel

4. Shore Lodge

McCall, Idaho

In summer, you swim in Payette Lake, a glassy expanse in the center of Idaho’s panhandle. In winter you skate on the frozen lake and swim at the Shore Lodge’s spa, the Cove, where heated immersion pools are strung between the cedar-lined indoors and the snowy outdoors. Bonus: The Cove, unlike the lake, isn’t rumored to house a Loch Ness–style monster.

Winter on payette lake credit shorelodge k7jhjz

Photo courtesy Shore Lodge 

Festival  ●  Foodie Travel

5. Oregon Truffle Festival

Eugene, Jan 29–31

Mushroom enthusiasts gather in Eugene for chef-led dinners and muddy truffle hunts to find the hidden treasures of Lane County. The outings are sometimes led by the winners of the nearby Joriad, or Truffle Dog Championship—the French may use pigs to sniff out treasures in the muddy forest, but the Northwest prefers its truffle-hunting Labradors, thank you very much.

Great Hotel, Staycation

6. Lodges on Vashon

Vashon Island

The newest and only proper hotel on the Seattle isle suburb has modern interiors with clean lines, but the best parts are outside: a covered patio where the chairs are draped with fuzzy white furs, and outdoor (but private) showers in certain rooms. Bonus: It’s only a block from the island’s tiny business district.


7. Rendezvous Huts

Methow Valley

It’s going to snow this winter, we swear on a stack of ski boots. More than 200 kilometers of Nordic trails loop the Methow Valley, where sun regularly coats the corduroy of groomed trails. Five ski-in huts are tucked about five miles from one another, all with wooden bunk beds and kitchens. Dogs are generally allowed, but it’s not cool to let Fido tear up the carefully carved ski grooves on the trail. 

Rendezvous credit james harnois  cmvhb0

Image: James Harnois

Road Trip

8. Kurt Cobain Landing


True Nirvana fans sit under the drippy pilings of Young Street Bridge to gaze upon the muddy banks of the Wishkah on Cobain’s February 20 birthday.

Festival  ●  Staycation

10. Wintergrass

Bellevue, Feb 23–26, 2017

Outside the weather is frightful, or at least uninspiring. Inside Bellevue’s Hyatt Regency, it’s summer in a Kentucky barn or springtime in a Tennessee holler, thanks to the driving thrum of banjos and toe tapping. The hotel’s four stages host a variety of bluegrass, folk, Americana, Celtic, and acoustic acts, but the real scene is the Hyatt’s giant lobby. Jamming isn’t only allowed during Wintergrass, it’s encouraged, with impromptu groups springing up among musicians. Circles of fiddlers and mandolin players form in front of elevators, on the bland corporate furniture in the hotel’s conference center, and on the pairs of double beds in hotel rooms in the middle of the night. For all the grizzled veterans, there are also plenty of prepubescent kids showing off slide guitar or upright bass prowess. Hotel rooms at the Hyatt always sell out months in advance.

Great Hotel  ●  Staycation

10. McMenamins Anderson School


It’s the getaway for when the kids, dogs, or office won’t let you actually get away, an 84-year-old junior high school in downtown Bothell reimagined as a hotel. Wood-burning fire pits the size of cauldrons dot the property, and the sheer number of bars—above the saltwater swimming pool, outside the movie theater, in a courtyard shed—is basically school days’ wish fulfillment.

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The North Shore Lagoon at McMenamin's, a tiki bar and restaurant that overlooks a giant swimming pool.

Image: Alison Klein

City Adventure

11. The Vancouver Art Gallery

British Columbia

Can’t imagine leaving the country for a mere art exhibit? Consider that Vancouver Art Gallery’s MashUp: The Birth of Modern Culture takes over not just a wing but the entire museum, tracing the growth of visual art from Robert Rauschenberg’s 1960s revolving Plexiglas to Hito Steyerl’s 2014 HD video. Embrace twentieth-century modernism at the neon-lit motel-turned-hotel the Burrard.

Great Hotel

12. The Modern Hotel


What once was an unremarkable midcentury motor lodge is now a tiny boutique hotel in downtown Boise, walkable to a growing dining scene. But there’s little reason to wander far beyond the mod furnishings and outdoor fire table. The on-site bar serves cocktails with big-city quality (at Boise prices) and in-room TVs play flicks from the 39 Rooms Film Festival, a permanent showcase of independently made short films.

Festival  ●  Nature

13. Whale Watching Week

Depoe Bay, Oregon, Mar 25–31, 2017

Hey look, a whale! No, that’s a piece of driftwood. There? Nope, a boat. This is why you need the experts to point out some of the 18,000 gray whales that slowly putter north every spring. Volunteer spotters line the small town’s seawall and the sea-facing windows of the Depoe Bay Whale Watching Center, but nothing beats riding a Zodiac closer to the migrating giants.