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Washington's Top Action Plans
Day Trip: At first blush, Leavenworth, three hours west of Seattle, is like any touristy mountain village (read: faux-Bavarian trinket shops and chain saw art). Then you look up. The 1,500-foot (457-meter) granite faces of Icicle Creek and Tumwater Canyons hold some of the best climbing in Washington, with routes put up by such rock pioneers as Peter Croft and the late Todd Skinner. One piece of advice: Go with a local or a guide to avoid the hot-button access issues (for guides, contact Northwest Mountain School; $180 a day, mountainschool.com).
Weekender: Of the three temperate coniferous rain forests in the Western Hemisphere, only one is in the U.S. The Quinault, in the southwest corner of Olympic National Park, is a moss-covered kaleidoscope of Douglas fir, big-leaf maple, hemlock, giant red cedar, and Sitka spruce (including the world's largest specimen). Most visitors drop in for a day, but if you plan for more—say, hiking the
16 spectacular miles (26 kilometers) to Low Divide on the North Fork Trail—you'll likely have the place all to yourself (quinaultrainforest.com).
Epic: Let's put this simply: There is no single route in the Pacific Northwest that can top the Wonderland Trail. The 93-mile (150-kilometer) path circles Rainier, taking in 25 named glaciers, three towering faces, and scores of wildflower- and boulder-strewn meadows. Reopened in August 2007 after massive flood damage, the trail is usually hiked in ten days to two weeks (well-maintained campsites are regularly placed), but it can also be done in sections if you plan it right (www.nps.gov/archive/mora/trail/wonder.htm).
Why Washington Rules: Seattle Hoods
So you're sold on going to Seattle to visit or to live (and if you aren't, you should be). The question is, where do you go once you're there? Here are the three best answers.
What and Where: Easy-to-access north-central Seattle, with turn-of-the-century Craftsman homes and 324-acre (131-hectare) Green Lake Park, a huge draw for cyclists and runners
Who Rules: Thirtysomething avant-greens, baby boomers
The Haunts: Gregg's Greenlake Cycles is the place to pick up new rides (greggscycles.com). The new bistro Joule features a New York
trained chef and French- and Korean-inspired cuisine (joulerestaurant.com).
What and Where: In NW Seattle, nestled next to Puget Sound's Shilshole Bay, with older homes and newer apartments and condos
Who Rules: Salty Scandinavians, DIY hipsters, the condeau riche
The haunts: The Sunday farmers market (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.) attracts over a hundred local vendors plying fresh produce, meats, cheeses, flowers, and breads. Locals love the People's Pub, which serves German comfort fare—Spaetzle! Bratwurst! Beer!—in a down-to-earth setting (www.peoplespub.com).
What and Where: Close to the city center northeast of downtown, with a mix of modern and historic apartments
Who Rules: Recent college grads, urbanites, Mr. Chips
The Haunts: Foodies have been going gaga for the Wagyu beef cheeseburger at gastropub Quinn's since it opened last October (+1 206 325 7711). Residents of "The Hill" love to go late: Try Caffé Vita for after-dinner coffee (+1 206 709 4440) or the cozy, no-frills Stumbling Monk for its long list of Belgian beers (+1 206 860 0916).
What's So Good About Washington Apples
Picture fall in the Wenatchee, or Skagit, or any of Washington's seven apple-growing valleys. Roadside stands groan under heaps of Fujis and Braeburns, heirloom Gravensteins and newfangled Cameos. Pies are baked. Cider is pressed. Oddities like apple pizza and apple pork burgers appear on menus. It is an ode to fruit rare in the U.S. these days and one that cuts to the soul of any Washingtonian.
The Impassioned Case for...North Cascades Climbing
"The home of American mountaineering" sounds like a bold claim for Washington—until you hear what the nation's top climber (and native Seattleite) Ed Viesturs has to say.
"The Washington Cascades are like the Alps. We have a tremendous number of glaciated peaks at seven, eight, and nine thousand feet. And they're tough. Climbing here is different from Colorado, different from Oregon. It's going to beat you up, and it's going to test you. That's why a lot of burly climbers have come from this area—Beckey, Elliot, Wickwire, Hornbein. . . . Nothing's easy."
Base Camp: Turtleback Inn
With a fireplace-equipped 19th-century farmhouse, natural duck ponds, and hiking trails on its 80-acre (32-hectare) grounds, the Turtleback Inn would be a perfect refuge anywhere. But then plunk it down on Orcas Island, the largest in Washington's San Juan archipelago. The surrounding waters teem with orcas and gray whales (making for some truly awesome sea kayaking), and the interior, just a short hike from the inn, is a tangle of gentle, forest-topped mountains. Troop up the 2,409-foot (734-meter) Mount Constitution, Orcas Island's highest point, for a stunning view of one of the nation's most unique landscapes ($90; www.turtlebackinn.com).
Pocket Guide the "Other" Wine Country
Quick-draining volcanic soil and the Cascades' rain shadow make eastern Washington one of the most prodigious wine-growing regions (with more than 400 wineries) outside of Napa Valley. Here, your blueprint to a world-class road trip in America's forgotten wine country.
Bookwalter Winery: A traditional winery known for its Cabernets and other Bordeaux-style blends (www.bookwalterwines.com)
Taverna Tagaris: A Mediterranean eatery with artisanal cheeses and American Kobe beef on the menu (www.tagariswines.com)
Powers Winery: An organic winery known for its big, juicy Syrahs (powerswinery.com)
Columbia Crest Winery: One of the state's largest vineyards, known for Cabs, Merlots, and Syrahs (columbiacrest.com).
The Gorge Amphitheatre: An outdoor stage overlooking the Columbia River that hosts the Sasquatch Music Festival each May; this year it's May 19 ($155 for three days; sasquatchfestival.com).
Oregon | Washington | British Columbia
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