9 FUN WASHINGTON SUMMER ADVENTURES
Summer is here! Short adventures can inspire and rejuvenate you in ways that are priceless. I put together a short list of recommended Washington-based places to explore to get your creative planning juices flowing.
- Bundle up in sweatshirts and head to Alki Beach on a Saturday or Sunday and rent a group-pedal "Surrey" quad-cycle for 2 hours at Wheel Fun Rentals. I recommend pedaling West along the beach to the turn-around point to take in the grand Olympic Mountain / Puget Sound views and then head East along the beach until you come to Marination Ma Kai for amazingly delicious Hawaiin-Korean fusion tacos with a Puget Sound / City view patio. It is about a 2 mile, 10-minute cycle from the rental spot point to Ma Kai, and located West of Salty's. You can park your Surrey right outside the restaurant. Tips: parking can be difficult to find so leave enough time for that, and consider planning your visit later in the day and plan to have a beach fire (info on the Alki Beach site linked above).
- Take a ferry to Bainbridge Island, and stroll through the 12 unique gardens of the Bloedel Reserve or visit the small, but lovely Bainbridge Island Museum of Art (check the events calendar for interesting weekend programming) and then head over to Bruciato, for Neopolitan-styled pizza created by James Beard award-nominated chef Brenden McGill.
- Jump in the car and head South to the animal sanctuary Northwest Trek. The once privately-owned land by physician-naturalist David Tirrell Hellyer is a lovely place and a great way to see Northwest mammals up close. Don't miss the 40-minute tram tour to see bison, elk and moose roaming on the sanctuary. Tip: If you want to know more about the genesis for Northwest Trek, pick up the book "At the Forest's Edge" in the gift shop. It is Hellyer's super interesting memoir, which includes great detail of his gypsy-like childhood moving around Europe with a private teacher who used the outdoors to teach curriculum. Sadly, the zipline courses are closed until May. If you decide to make an overnight adventure out of it, consider staying at Mt. Ranier's unassuming, comfortable historic National Park Inn or Paradise Inn and spend the next day hiking around the Mountain.
- Grab your future biologists and animal-loving kids and visit the magnificent wolves and wolf-hybrids at Wolfhaven International, located in Tenino, just outside Olympia. Wolfhaven is one of the few places in North America that provides a safe haven for these beautiful creatures, who once lived with humans. You will learn on the tour that there a lot of people who think they can live with wild animals. Consider Don Juan's Mexican Kitchen in Tenino, or Anthony's Homeport in Olympia for a post-Wolfhaven meal. Tips: Tours are only offered on the weekends and reservations should be made in advance. If you are on my e-mail list, you will receive notification next March to reserve tickets for the Sanctuary's popular, once-in-a-lifetime "Midsummer's Night Camp Out" an among-the-wolves experience.
- In the morning, take the Edmonds ferry to Kingston and drive to Finnriver Farm and Cidery for a delicious lunch, lawn games and cider tasting. This is a dreamy place to spend a few hours if the weather is nice, and even better on weekends when they feature local live music. After that, drive into the Victorian-era town of Port Townsend and either walk around the quaint shops (mostly located on Water Street) or take a walk on the beach and visit the Marine Science Center at For Worden State Park. This destination is best paired with an overnight stay, unless you are visiting from the Peninsula. Consider staying at the waterfront Tides Inn with your girly-girls or Fort Worden State Park vacation rentals with your history-buffs.
- Head to the Hood Canal for an overnight or two at the waterfront Alderbrook Resort. They host all kinds of events, like Geocaching on Tuesdays, and have an indoor swimming pool with views of the Canal. Be sure to check out the Resort's sister property, the Union City Marina, which now houses an oyster bar, event space and local marketplace showcasing art, crafts and culinary delights.
- If you have 3 nights / 4 days available, consider heading about 5.5 hours Northeast to the tiny Western town of Republic. Make several stops along the way to break up the roadtrip. First stop along Highway 20 is Cascadian Farm for berry picking (call ahead to make sure the berries are ready to pick); then further up the road, the second stop is beautiful Lake Diablo reservoir for a restroom and leg-stretching break and photo ops of the lake that looks as if it is glowing, and if you have additional time, take a natural history and hydro-electric dam boat tour that includes a buffet-style, locally-sourced organic lunch at the North Cascades Institute dining hall. Reservations required; the fourth stop is for ice cream and strolling in the Western-themed town of Winthrop and then a final 2 hour push to Republic, where you can stay at the K Diamond K dude ranch (all-inclusive, 3-night minimum in the summer) and dig for 49 million year-old fossils at the nearby Stonerose Interpretive Center.
- Get up-close and personal with Mt. Ranier and take the Crystal Mountain gondola to the summit of Crystal Mountain for a reservations-required dinner at the Summit House Restaurant.
- Consider other itineraries listed on experiencepnw.com, such as Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, North Cascades Institute's Environmental Learning Center, Kayaking on Elliott Bay, Sun Mountain Lodge, Timberline Lodge, or the Ruby Lake Resort (listed in the middle of the romantic sunshine coast post) in the Sunshine Coast.
I hope this post inspires you to get out, get moving and get local. Summertime in the Pacific Northwest is said to be the world's most beautiful, so you don't need to go far! If you venture out to any of the above recommended destinations, please come back to this post and share your impressions because it will help me build site traffic, which I need to keep this dream project alive.