When summer finally rolls around, the Pacific Northwest beckons.
We’ve come up with plenty of enticing ways to make the most of this sun-kissed season, marked by endless, azure days and fresh-aired evenings when the fiery light falls just so.
Discover new music in a magical wooded setting
Pickathon’s Mt. Hood stage glows after the sun sets — Photo courtesy of Liz Devine
For the 19th year, Pendarvis Farm in Happy Valley, Ore., transforms into an “elaborate fantasy setting” of incredible live music, local food and drink and feel-good community. Stages pop up inside dreamy barns draped with twinkly lights and built into wooded alcoves, where haystacks and hammocks serve as creative concert seats.
When attempting to describe Pickathon – a four-day music festival held on a farm just outside Portland – founder Zale Schoenborn admits that after awhile, it begins to sound like hyperbole. (After all, how many times can one use the word “magical”?)
For this year’s event (August 3 through 6), Schoenborn promises “a dance card full of amazing music,” plus alluring programming for kids and foodies. More than 60 artists have been scheduled twice across six stages (and over four days). While some names on the schedule might already ring a bell, others promise to soon top your list.
Schoenborn says he refuses to set up a data-driven lineup like those designed by so many contemporary fests, and he’s incredibly proud of how the event has grown organically to remain true to its roots.
This means attendance is capped at 3,500, drinking water is provided for free, food and drink prices stay reasonably low, stage set-ups remain ever-evolving and complex, and sustainable practices continue to be of utmost priority.
Schoenborn comments, “We have to stay loyal to all the reasons [Pickathon] works.”
Chill out with Seattle’s hottest summer offerings
Treat yourself at Seattle’s Safeco Field with made-to-order goodies from the Frozen Rope Ice Cream Sandwich Company — Photo courtesy of Ben VanHouten, Seattle Mariners
We admit we’d be hard-pressed to pick our favorite thing about a Seattle summer. The city radiates pure joy as its urban parks and beaches fill with picnickers and hikers, and its waterways bustle with boats and boards. Outdoors revelers head to city patios like South Lake Union’s elevated mbar and the deck at waterside Ivars. Green spaces host events like free concerts under the Space Needle (every Friday in August) and Zoo Tunes.
Thirty miles east of downtown Seattle, Twin Peaks-inspired deals lure TV buffs to Salish Lodge, where “The Great Northern Escape” package comes with perks like two “expertly crafted Dale Cooper cocktails,” cherry pie featuring Salish honey and a self-guided map highlighting must-see locations from the show.
About 20 miles northeast of Seattle, you can “taste the entire state” within the 100-plus tasting rooms of Woodinville Wine Country. In addition to the Woodinville Visitors Center and a Hampton Inn (with a mini-tasting area at its base), visitors come for indulgent overnights at Willows Lodge, decadent dinners at The Herbfarm and summertime concerts at Chateau Ste Michelle.
If you’re rooting on the Mariners (Seattle’s MLB team), you’ll want to test out Safeco Field delicacies like authentic Oaxacan chapulines (toasted grasshoppers!) from Poquitos at Edgar’s Cantina or the made-to-order treats at the Frozen Rope Ice Cream Sandwich Company.
Meet the hard-working folks behind Washington’s thriving farms
Roger and Suzanne Wechsler own and operate Samish Bay Cheese in the northwest corner of Skagit County, Wash. — Photo courtesy of Macala Wright
In sun-kissed summer months, bustling and brightly-hued farmers markets pop up in towns across the Northwest, selling their fresh, delicious goods. Washington state’s Skagit Valley, north of Seattle, seems an ideal place to experience this bounty firsthand. Cruise through the region’s lush farmland, where more than 90 crops grow, before stopping for samples and mingling with the dedicated folks who work tirelessly behind the scenes.
Build your road trip around stops featured along the Bow-Edison Food Trail and the Skagit Farm to Pint Passport Tour (which suggests places to quench your thirst from Anacortes and Chuckanut breweries to Farmstrong Brewing Company). On Thursdays from 1 to 6 pm, stop by the lively Bow Farmers Market hosted at Samish Bay Cheese. And any day of the week, enjoy a scenic trip along Chuckanut Drive before diving into a picnic lunch at Taylor’s Samish Farm Shellfish Market.
Can’t make it to the farms? Head to local restaurants featuring fresh, seasonal food from Puget Sound Food Hub, a 50-farm cooperative that connects farmers with chefs and wholesalers. Their delectable goods can be tasted at Seattle’s Canlis, Bellingham’s Lovitt Restaurant and Orcas Island’s Rosario Resort, among countless others.
The Puget Sound Food Hub’s list of producers includes Silva Family Farm, home to the tastiest organic Albion strawberries you might ever discover, and Growing Veterans, an incredible organization that empowers military veterans “to grow food, communities and each other,” or something they lovingly refer to as “dirt therapy.”
Eat and drink your way across Portland
Loyal fans flock to Kackha for its delicious Russian fare and house-infused vodkas — Photo courtesy of Kachka
Just when you think Portland can’t get any more enticing, the quirky city manages to crank things up another notch. This summer, head to Oregon’s hip and friendly hub to see what the region’s talented artisans have recently cooked up.
Please your palate all day long with tastings at welcoming venues like Smith Teamaker (where delectable tea also come on draft) and Cup & Bar (the cafe’s chocolate-hazelnut toast sweetens any morning). At Mead Market, a perfect snapshot of Portland’s eccentric personality, sip honey wine before stocking up on beekeeping gear. And at Wayfinder Beer, grab a seat on the bustling patio, sample the local brews, and order the fried cauliflower to complement your schnitzel or banh mi sandwich.
At dinnertime, Kachka whisks diners away to a lively Russian environment, showcasing highlights like horseradish vodka, “Herring Under a Fur Coat,” sour cherry dumplings, pan-roasted trout and a festive ambiance you won’t soon forget. (On your way out of town, we highly recommend stopping at Beaverton’s Oyatsupan Bakers, where Japanese-Western delights include the edamame butter roll and curry or sweet red bean doughnuts.)
Looking to view the city from a fresh perspective? Navigate your own electric boat down the river. Beforehand, pick up a BYO picnic of Willamette Valley wines (try Van Duzer Vineyards, Sokol Blosser, Argyle and Hazelfern Cellars for starters) and plates of charcuterie from Olympia Provisions. During your Portland stay, Hotel Lucia makes an ideal downtown hub, while Kimpton RiverPlace Hotel places you on the water’s edge.
Celebrate seafood on Vancouver Island
Ever year Vancouver Island’s Comox Valley hosts a seafood extravaganza — Photo courtesy of BC Shellfish and Seafood Festival
BC Seafood Month seems the perfect time to experience the bounty of Vancouver Island, and from June 9 through 18, the Comox Valley hosts the largest festival of its kind in Western Canada. The BC Shellfish & Seafood Festival means 10 delicious days filled with 45-plus culinary events, shellfish and seafood producer tours, celebrity chef demos, wine pairing dinners and other enticing activities from crabbing experiences to snorkel sessions with seals.
From Seattle, your best travel bets include getting yourself up to wonderful BC capital Victoria (via uber-convenient Clipper, ferry or float plane) and then renting a car for the two-and-a-half hour drive north to towns like Courtenay. Otherwise, from Vancouver, you can car ferry across to Nanaimo or hop flights to Comox/Campbell River from Vancouver Harbour.
Staying in Courtenay gives access to plenty of non-seafood-centric events, too, like outdoor activities aplenty plus charming cafes and local breweries in which to refuel. For the ultimate unexpected treat, try Billy D’s pub dessert lineup; think pecan flan and deep-fried Oreo decadence.
Enjoy a spectacular celestial show in Oregon’s Willamette Valley
Watch the total solar eclipse from wineries in the Willamette Valley — Photo courtesy of Andrea Johnson
On August 21, Oregon will be treated to a rare celestial event. The solar eclipse will cross the entire continent, first making landfall in Oregon. Although everyone in the state will see at least a 90 percent eclipse, many will flock to fully experience the cosmic happening inside the “path of totality” – a band south of the Greater Portland region that’s about 90 miles wide and crosses cities like Lincoln City, Salem, Madras and Baker City. (Once it’s dark, people within that path can look at the total eclipse without eye protection.)
Check out festive events happening around the state. Willamette Valley wineries (within the path) that are hosting events include Illahe Vineyards and Brooks Winery, which will offer both daytime and “Starry Night” packages. Evergreen Escapes offers a three-day, guided Oregon Coast Solar Eclipse Tour that departs from Portland August 20.
Since most campsites and hotels along the “path of totality” have been sold out for awhile, consider looking into accommodations in nearby areas like the Tualatin Valley and Mt. Hood Territory – welcoming regions that feature their own local gems when it comes to breweries, cideries, restaurants and cafes.
Island hop around the San Juans
Explore the beauty of San Juan Island’s Pelindaba Farm — Photo courtesy of Carole Sue Conran
Switching over to island time should top everyone’s summer to-do list, and Washington’s gorgeous San Juans prove the perfect place to do just that.
The islands are a breeze to get to, thanks to ferries that regularly push off from Anacortes and seaplanes that make the journey even speedier. To get to San Juan Island, Clipper Vacations offers another appealing option that combines easy transport from downtown Seattle (to Friday Harbor) with an awesome wildlife adventure.
Activities abound on San Juan Island, whether you’re into outdoor adventures or the arts. Hike Mt. Dallas (the highest point on the island), sip local cider, brandy and gin at Roche Harbor’s San Juan Distillery, get a history lesson at American Camp and English Camp, or glimpse sea life at Lime Kiln State Park. To get out on the water, enjoy intimate excursions with highly knowledgeable Captain Hobbes on San Juan Island Whale & Wildlife Tours.
In Friday Harbor, enjoy tasty pub fare and fresh, seasonal seafood dishes (as well as a laid-back, inviting vibe) at Cask & Schooner. Just steps from the ferry dock, relish a delicious and locally-sourced meal – with elevated water views – or an overnight stay at luxury-tinged Friday Harbor House.
A few miles away, Lakedale Resort at Three Lakes provides a lovely, 82-acre oasis that appeals to every type of traveler, thanks to accommodations ranging from cozy lodge rooms to BYO-tent camping spots and canvas glamping “cabins.” If you’re seeking some pampering among the trees, book a 350-square-foot Canvas Cottage, which means lakefront sites with king-size beds and your own bathroom complete with shower and a glitzy chandelier, among other perks.
Orcas Island, referred to as “The Emerald Isle,” features a killer combination of stunning shorelines, charming hamlets and the highest mountain in the islands. Here, wooded bliss meets Caribbean-tinted waters, creating a natural paradise for hikers and boaters alike. In friendly Eastsound, the island’s most populated hub, enjoy fresh smoothies from the Co-op, rice bowls from Wild Island, waterside seafood dishes at Madrona Bar & Grill, refreshing cocktails at The Barnacle, Mexican fare at Mijitas and local beers and snacks at Island Hoppin’ Brewery.
At Rosario Resort & Spa, The Mansion Restaurant serves creative seasonal cuisine in a stunning waterfront location; try standout dishes like the rabbit bolognese, Pacific albacore tuna crudo (sourced from Lummi Island), Judd Cove oysters and Moroccan spiced eggplant. Head to Doe Bay Resort & Retreat for its delicious restaurant, popular music fest (August 10 through 13) and soothing soaking tubs, where the views are incomparable (and clothing optional).
Note that island ferries get incredibly packed during summer months; making reservations is highly recommended. (For alternative island fun, check out Whidbey and Camano, too!)
Get active in Lake Chelan
Feel the rush this summer in Lake Chelan — Photo courtesy of River Recreation
About four hours east of Seattle, Lake Chelan proves a sun-kissed mecca for summer adventurers. Sure, you can find an endless list of standard activities like paddleboarding, canoeing, kayaking, water skiing, hiking, cycling and fishing. But for those seeking a true adrenaline rush, Lake Chelan has you covered.
Whiz around the thriving wine region via four-hour Chelan Electric Bikes Winery Tours, or go white water rafting with River Recreation. For elevated exhilaration, let Skydive Chelan take you on their “Tandem Winery Skydive,” the only such offering in the country. Enjoy freefalling and a parachute ride over Washington terrain, before being welcomed back to earth by a bottle of wine, served in the vineyards of Tsillan Cellars.
When it comes to fueling up for lakeside adventures, locals love breakfast spots like Blueberry Hills (which incorporates 16 varieties of blueberries grown on its own farm into dishes), Lake Chelan Coffee Company and Riverwalk Cafe, which serves Hempler’s nitrate-free bacon, cage-free eggs from nearby farms and housemade pastries.
At dinnertime, sample the region’s bounty at venues that range from Wapato Point Cellars (“casually elegant dining” in an upscale grill) to Lakeview Drive-In (for legendary burgers and buckets of fries). Enjoy authentic Mexican fare at Marcela’s Cocina Mexicana and Rancho Grande, dive into artisan pizzas at Local Myth, or mingle with locals in A Shot of Gratitude’s beer garden.
Breathe in Bend’s sweet mountain air
Sunriver Resort means sun-kissed days spent paddling around and nights spent stargazing by the fire — Photo courtesy of Sunriver Resort
Bend, Central Oregon’s charming mountain town of around 87,000 people, has an endless supply of natural beauty, an array of alfresco activity options and an extraordinary lineup of breweries (they don’t call it the Bend Ale Trail for nothing). Regional highlights are paddling or floating down the mighty Deschutes, visiting Smith Rock State Park and the High Desert Museum and dining at local culinary hot spots like Drake.
Sunriver Resort proves the perfect hub in which to recharge. Staying here means deluxe accommodations with awesome amenities (pools, golf courses, a marina, even an observatory), placing folks close enough to the downtown action, but also far enough to relish the property’s 3,300-acre retreat.
The Backyard, the resort’s outdoor, dog-friendly bar, hosts live bands every Thursday, Friday and Saturday throughout the summer. Other offerings include guided fishing excursions and “Brews and Cruise” adventures that take guests along the property’s 40 miles of paved bike paths and conclude with a beer flight reward.
Sunriver hosts its annual, family-friendly 4th of July Bike Parade, and on July 29, vibrant hot air balloons fill the sky, as Mt. Bachelor rises in the background. August 25 and 26 brings the Wine, Cheese & Brew Showcase, featuring more than a hundred wines and Oregon brews plus a silent auction and live music (all proceeds benefit Newberry Habitat for Humanity).
Explore Aboriginal culture in Victoria and Vancouver
The Aboriginal Cultural Festival returns to Victoria, B.C. from June 16 to 18 — Photo courtesy of Aboriginal Cultural Festival
This year, Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary with country-wide events, and Victoria and Vancouver certainly get in on the festivities, too. These two British Columbia cities offer great opportunities to honor and learn about the region’s indigenous culture. In Victoria, the Aboriginal Cultural Festival (June 16 through 18) features more than 25 music and dance performances, as well as vendors selling art and traditional food.
Eagle Wing Tours take passengers around the traditional territory of the Songhees First Nation, exploring the islands known as Tl’chés in the Lekwungen language. In addition to spying local marine wildlife, visitors enjoy exclusive access to hike on the islands and enjoy a fresh seafood chowder lunch on the beach. If lucky, they might even glimpse the lone wolf who calls this island home.
In Vancouver, explore native culture by taking the Talaysay Talking Trees Tour of Stanley Park, dine at Salmon n’ Bannock bistro or book a stay at enticing boutique hotel Skwachàys Lodge, Canada’s first Aboriginal arts hotel. At restaurants around town, enjoy delicious pours from Nk’Mip Cellars, the first Aboriginal-owned winery in North America (located in the gorgeous Okanagan Valley).
Roll on, summer – we can’t wait to experience your sweet flavors, sights and sounds.