Becca’s Best: Top 10 Northwest Escapes

I have had a lot of friends tell me their kids are causing extreme sleep deprivation in their lives as well.  What is going on with kids these days???  So I think it is time to share this post about some great places you can getaway (by car) weekend with just you and your honey.  I am 100% sure you deserve it.  Don’t feel bad for your kids.  They will surely benefit from you having the opportunity to rejuvenate!

Again, I start this travel post with the disclaimer that these are my own opinions, and as I sadly have not been everywhere I would like to have gone, this will most definitely not be an all-inclusive list of the amazing places the Northwest has to offer.  Since people are often ask my recommendations, I am writing a post, but please please tell me what places you feel should be on the list and I will gladly check them out!

1. Whistler, BC

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This is hands down my favorite place to vacation–really with family, friends, or with your spouse–anytime of year.  It has something for everyone, no matter what you like to do.  Great shops.  Great restaurants.  Amazing skiing (the largest resort in North America).  The craziest mountain biking.  Gorgeous scenery. And so many beautiful hotels, resorts, condos, spas, vacation rentals, that I promise whatever you are seeking for your vacation, you can find it here.

Yes, you need your passport (or an enhanced driver’s license) and yes, you may have to wait for awhile at the border, but once you pass Vancouver you won’t regret it.  The Sea-to-Sky Highway is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever been on.

2. Salish Lodge, WA

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If you are looking for something a little closer to home, then THIS is my favorite for that (I guess, that is if you live close to me anyway).  Aaron and I went here for a belated valentine’s celebration after I returned from one of my worst business trips ever.  I got kicked out of my hotel in Kuwait, kicked off the airplane trying to fly to Bahrain, snowed in & chased down by strange men in Istanbul, sick getting ready for my return, and luggage lost on flight home.  To say I was wiped out physically and emotionally was putting it mildly.

Then…the next day we walked into the Salish Lodge to the overwhelming and comforting smell of cedar and then into our room where they had relaxation music playing and a fire already roaring for us.  I started to restore almost immediately.  We headed to the spa and even though we were too cheap to pay for any of the treatments, we still were able to enjoy the therapeutic soaking pool, sauna and steam rooms before heading to what I am not kidding is the most delicious dinner I have ever had.  Pricey? Undoubtedly–our dinner and breakfast were just as much as our room for the night!  But worth every penny.  If you ever see the deal they sometimes sell at Costco, snatch it up!  I know I am going to.

3. Sun Mountain Lodge, WA

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So this one is out in the middle of NOWHERE (about a five hour drive from here and an hour and a half north of Chelan)!  My parents always talked about how much they loved going there for conferences and Aaron and I finally found a reason to check it out too.  Because it is so far off the beaten path, you definitely feel like you are “escaping.”  It has a great perch overlooking the Methow Valley, which is filled with mountain biking and hiking for all levels, and is just a short drive from Winthrop, which is a tiny western-style town with lots of cool festivals throughout the year.

4. Sunriver Resort, OR

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After making this whole list I realized somehow I only ended up with one Oregon place on it.  I guess I need to escape to Oregon more often!!  We really love the Sunriver/Bend area–it is another place that has something fun to do all year round.  It is only a 20 minute drive from great skiing at Mt. Bachelor.  I hear the golfing is great, though I’m not that into that myself, but we did have a fabulous time rafting the Deschutes River!

5. Alderbrook Resort, WA

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At just under an hour drive, this is the closest one on my list for us Olympia folks.  It sits right on the hood canal, so feel free to take your sea plane or your yacht to get there. 🙂 I wish.  It’s location is perfect to hit up one of the awesome hikes on the Olympia Peninsula (Mt. Ellinor is next on my list), take a kayak or sailboat out right from their dock, or just relax and enjoy the view of the Olympia mountains.

Their restaurant is another one you won’t want to miss.  Oh man, looking at their menu made me just want to head out there just for some food right now.  Anyone up for a double date?! 🙂

6. Victoria, BC

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Please tell me I am not the only one who looks at this picture and is mentally taken to some fairytale place where dreams always come true and everyone lives happily ever after.  Isn’t that what we need to be promised in our getaway weekends?  Before going myself, I had heard people talk about Butchart Gardens with such wonder and wondered how they could lavish such praise on a garden.  I am certainly no garden aficionado and wasn’t too interested in going, but since everyone insisted, Aaron and I decided to check it out.

I LOVED it–couldn’t take enough pictures and never wanted to leave.  Victoria has this and countless other cool things to do and see and romantic places to stay–some quaint and some fancy, many of which offer afternoon tea…a specialty of the flagship hotel The Empress.  We took the ferry and not The Clipper, so if anyone has done that, I am curious to hear how that is.

7. Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

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Two Island destinations in a row (and one more at the end!).  Don’t know if that is an indication of what I like or of what our geography has to offer.  The San Juans are a very popular place to get away, and San Juan Island is the most popular of them, so if you want to get away from the “hustle and bustle” of Friday Harbor, just head north to Roche Harbor.  You will have all the same popular options of kayaking, biking, whale watching, but from a fresh perspective.

8. The Davenport, Spokane, WA

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I don’t really talk much about cities when I talk about escaping, but since I know there are some who prefer that to the outdoors (though I don’t know how), I thought I would compromise and include an awesome hotel in a smaller city.  I am sure Seattle has some great hotels too, but since I lived up there for awhile it doesn’t feel like much of an escape.  This is a gorgeous, historic hotel right in downtown Spokane that will take you back in time.  Yet it is still within walking distance of the Riverfront Park, the mall, the movie theaters, and all that to keep you entertained in modern times.

9. The Sleeping Lady, Leavenworth, WA

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Since I talked about Leavenworth a bit in my last adventure post, I won’t dwell too much but to say it is another place that has something to do no matter what time of year you go or what kind of people you go with.  It can be a fun family vacation or a great romantic getaway.  I like this hotel for more romance because it is away from town, closer to the canyon and right on Icicle Creek, with “sustainable gourmet cuisine” and a great spa.

10. Tofino, B.C.

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Chances are, even if you have been in Washington for a long time, you may never have heard of this place.  Truth be told, I am not even sure how I heard about this place!  And honestly I don’t even know how I can call it a local getaway since the driving time alone is 9 hours, and on top of that you will have to wait for a ferry.  But if you break it down and check out Victoria or the San Juans on your way/way back like Aaron and I did when we went, you would have quite the adventure.

Besides, the drive across Vancouver Island to the westside is all part of the getting away experience.  You will definitely feel like you are leaving all civilization and life as you know it behind.  We saw all sorts of whales, seals, sea lions, BEARS (yes, just on the side of the road!), hot springs, rain forest.  We weren’t there at the right time, but supposedly they even have awesome storm watching and surfing in the winter, if you are up for an adventure.

Okay, I think this is officially the longest post I have ever done on this blog…hope you had the stamina to sit through it and got some great ideas of places to escape with your “eternal cream puff” as my sisters used to always say.  If you have favorite places that I didn’t talk about, please share them with the rest of us!

 

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Becca’s Best: Top 10 Places to Explore in Washington

Remember how this was supposed to be a Healthy Living Blog and not just a Healthy EATING Blog?  Obviously I have my priorities (and my obsessions), so all my posts tend to be geared toward FOOD!  Since my other main obsession is exploring, I thought I should add some of my experiences with that to the mix.  So Becca’s Best will be a new regular feature.

These “Top Tens” are of course my opinions alone so feel free to disagree with them in the comment section below.  In fact, please do because then I will have more places on my list to explore in the future.  These are also all my personal pictures from past trips that I found on my computer, so don’t judge them for their meritocracy!

1. Mt. Rainier National ParkNovember 2010 399

I am pretty sure this one goes without saying!  I mean, it is practically the icon of the whole state!!  “The Mountain” as we locals call never ceases to amaze me, whether I am up close and personal hiking a trail at Paradise or just walking out of our Wal-mart on a sunny day and taking in the awesome view.  It is so massive that it deserves a Top Ten post all of its own!  The hikes range from all levels and all lengths (94 miles around the whole thing anyone??) and all views, except down into the lava, which really disappointed Adelyn.

2. Mt St. Helens National Park

Early 2009 196

 

I have always felt a strange connection to St. Helens since it erupted shortly before I was born.  When I was little and still lived in Texas my dad had a business trip up here and brought back some salt and pepper shakers that were made from the ash of St Helens.  I thought they were so beautiful and couldn’t believe how awesome it would be to visit a REAL volcano.  Now that I have I think how crazy it must have been to have lived here during that eruption!  I guess if Rainier ever blows we will find out.

3. Hoh Rain ForestCamping 026

This is another place that I retain a certain degree of childhood wonder for.  When I was in elementary school we had a special unit on rain forests and I was really taken with them.  At the time I pictured them as only in Brazil—I had no idea we had them in America!  So when we moved up here from Texas it became a quick favorite; as you can imagine we had nothing like that in Dallas!  I mean 140 to 170 inches of rain per year?!?!  Yes Erika, they don’t have that in Vegas either, please come visit.  I will take you there and we can search for Vampires and Werewolves as it is very close to Forks.

4. Cape Flattery

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Ok so this one is definitely more random; you may not have even heard of it.  This is the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States, which I know has been on your bucket list!  It is actually really beautiful and has some kind of special feel to it that I can’t explain (play the music from Goonies in your head….that feeling).  Don’t call my crazy.  Maybe that’s because It is also very close to Shi Shi beach which is a great place to hike into and camp on and looks very Goonies-esque.

5. North CascadesAnniversary 2010 008

These are much less traveled to than a lot of other mountain destinations because of the distance and the amount of time of the year that the road stays closed due to snow and avalanche trouble.  Though I have lived up here 17 years now, I actually just went for the first time two years ago.  Aaron and I wanted to explore somewhere new for our anniversary and my mom suggested here.  We were so glad that we took her advice (which I usually do when it comes to exploring since she loves it even more than I do)…everywhere we turned our heads it felt like we were snapping another picture.  When the babes are a little older we will definitely be going back!

6. San Juan IslandsLate Summer 2007 013

This, on the other hand is a very well-known and well-traveled spot, but that doesn’t keep us from going back again and again.  What does keep us going again and again is that we still haven’t managed to spot any of the resident Orcas!  We have seen so many whales here and in Alaska, but never those blasted Killer Whales!!  Guess we need to head up there soon and try again.  Of course that is not the only reason.  Even though it is NOT Hawaii, it still has that laid-back island pace.  It is so relaxing to go there that you really feel you are escaping the cares of everyday life…something you definitely need on your to-do list if you are Living to Last.

7. LeavenworthJuly 2011 022

Leavenworth is a quirky little Bavarian Village up in the middle of  the mountains that has a little bit of everything.  In the summer there is hiking, rafting, horseback riding, fishing, boating, and you can camp if you love that, but if you don’t you can still enjoy the greatness of the real outdoors with a hotel or vacation rental.  Safeway is just down the street and the prices are NOT inflated like most resort towns.  Then in the winter there is snowshoeing, sledding, snowmobiling, sleigh rides, skiing 40 minutes away, not to mention a really special Christmas celebration complete with every kind of Christmas character you can imagine.  And now there is a Cafe Rio only 30 minutes away.  Sounds like I should just move there!

8. Washington State Ferries

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Ok, this might be the most random one of this post but I love them for their uniqueness, their simplicity, and their cheapness!  No, Washington is not the only state with ferries, but I would wager to say that we have the most per person or square mile.  There are so many islands and peninsulas that all have great little nooks and crannies to explore and just get away from the crowd and bustle of city life.  They are a favorite of Aaron’s family whenever they come to visit…yes definitely something you can’t do in Idaho. Ya gotta love this view of downtown Seattle as we headed to Bainbridge Island!

9. Lake ChelanOctober 2010 018

I figured I’d better include something from Eastern Washington, since that IS the majority of the landmass it ought to be represented somehow!  But let’s be honest, no matter how much they brag about their 300 days of sunshine, it just isn’t as pretty.  But we did have a lot of fun when we went there and I imagine if you have a boat you could have even more fun than we did!  It is just nice to visit someplace somewhat close by that actually has warm water to swim in, and at 50 miles long, it definitely has plenty of it.

10. Westport

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I have always been confused why people seem to go to Ocean Shores more than any other place when they want a quick trip to the ocean.  Westport is way better!  They have surfing, crabbing, fishing, whale watching, a cuter little downtown area, way more sand dollars to collect, a nicer state park that has YURTS.  Ok truth be told they are both pretty ghetto as far as beach towns go and we all really love going to the Oregon Coast more, but for a quick sandy beach, this is the one to hit.  If you have a little more time Kalaloch is really beautiful and Seaside is the best…but I guess we will have to save that for an Oregon list.

On my list of places still to visit: Cape Disappointment, Lake Ozette, Hurricane Ridge, Beacon Rock, Mt. Baker, Stehikin.  Please tell me some of your favorite places so I can add those to my list too.  Or better yet, let’s go there together!  And if you live out of state and haven’t been to any, we have an extra room, please come and stay anytime.  You just have to take care of my baby when she wakes in the middle of the night.