Springtime (and Beyond) in Washington: 7 Cities to be on your Radar
Some trips I’ve been on have left a lasting impression. When I flew to Seattle for the IFWTWA 2018 Conference, it was my first time in the state of Washington. Having long heard how beautiful and healing the Pacific Northwest is, I was expecting to become a quick fan. Did I think I’d leave in awe, or quickly plan several returns since? Not so much.
Fast forward two years later, and I’ve been fortunate to head back to Washington a few times.
Reminding me much of California, the state has countless hidden gems, nook, and crannies to explore. From that first arrival into Washington as you drive over Oregon’s Astoria-Megler Bridge, to the sunsets and natural beauty you’ll find on Camano Island, there’s no better time than Spring to visit Washington state.
Don’t know where to start? Or what to put on the itinerary? Here are a few cities I’m partial to, and that has plenty of fun planned for spring and beyond. Where will Washington take YOU?
Like a lot of Washington, Camano Island gives visitors the option to experience a luxurious getaway, or get down and dirty. If the latter is calling to you, Spring is the time to start making your reservations to stay on Cama Beach State Park. A great middle ground to camping, the cabins on-site offer running water, electricity, and beds to sleep comfortably. With minimal wifi and over 485 oceanfront acres to explore, kick back and unplug for a while.
Nearby at Deception Pass State Park, wander over 4,100 acres of trails, lakes, and saltwater shorelines. While it’s said to be Washington’s most popular national park, it’s vast enough to somehow always have a tranquil spot.
With a population just shy over a thousand, Langley boasts everything you’d expect in a small island town. Located on the South end of Whidbey Island, Langley comes alive each spring with an array of fun events and a Shakespeare Festival every summer.
Known as one of the best places in the state to whale watch, eager eyes come to Langley in hopes to ring the Whale Bell at Thomas Hladkey Memorial Park; if you spot a whale, you ring the special bell to shout it from the rooftops!
If you want to plan a unique summer visit to catch some excellent Shakespeare productions, the Island Shakespeare Festival has announced its 2020 season. Although it’s a small venue on the outside, it’s what’s inside that matters. Each year, the community of Langley brings this theatrical labor of love to fruition and produces marvelous shows.
Washington’s very own Emerald City. As Seattle begins to come out of its hibernation, light nights past eight starts to arise, and you just have the urge to stay outside. An extremely diverse city, something Seattle has going on for it are its attractions. While sometimes a city’s “must-see’s” are a poorly priced waste of time, landmarks like Pike Place Market and the Space Needle are a MUST for your itinerary.
To avoid traffic, stay at the airport’s Crowne Plaza. Not only are you in the airport vicinity, but also the Light Rail, Seattle’s excellent public transportation. With the station right outside the lobby (basically), the trains ran frequently and easily got me around the city.
Plan a few hours at Pike Place Market, and grab a CityPass to enjoy the iconic landmarks of Seattle including the Space Needle and Museum of Pop Culture. Remember I said you’ll want to enjoy a late light night? See a Mariners game at T-Mobile Park. Alas, I’m not the biggest sports fan yet to see some of the best views of the city and take in a great atmosphere, a Mariners game is one of my favorite things to do in Seattle. Come early, enjoy the sights, take pictures, and grab your first round of food and drinks. T-Mobile Park offers it all from nachos and beer to sushi and wine.
The season begins March 26th, and tickets start at just $28. Play ball!
The state’s capital, Olympia was the very first Washington city I spent time in. As soon as I realized I was just a few blocks away from Kurt Cobain’s old apartment and found gluten-free fish and chips, I was hooked.
Bringing to mind the vibes of the notorious era, Olympia continues to have grunge, edgy vibes as you walk their downtown streets. Their food and beverage scene continues to be among my favorites that I’ve experienced. The quality, craft, and attention to detail the chefs and mixologists of Olympia have is inspiring, and the dedication showed in their plates and cocktails.
Check out Sip, Stroll, Savor in March, and Spring Arts Walk April 24th through the 25th. Olympia also has a terrific Farmers Market every Saturday that has enough to keep you busy an entire morning or afternoon. There’s a reason Olympia has the second largest farmers market in the state!
Continue past Olympia, and you’ll soon find yourself in the adorable Gig Harbor. One of the things I love most about road tripping through the “PNW” are those small, funky seaside villages. There’s aplenty and Gig Harbor ranks among my favorites.
Check into Maritime Inn, downtown’s only hotel, and enjoy a glass of wine either on their patio or in your suite; several feature waterfront views. Just outside your door, walk Harborview Drive and be prepared to decide on some foodie stops. Millville Pizza serves up mouth-watering pies (gluten-free, too) while Heritage Distillery Co. makes some of the best vodka (distilled from red wine grapes) in the state. The main drag also has an array of artistic shops that are ideal for some shopping.
With clearer weather ahead, Gig Harbor is a fabulous choice should you be looking to get your feet wet. There’s kayaking, sailing, even gondola rides, to get your sea legs going.
Who knew the sleeper town of Washington’s Long Beach Peninsula (population: just shy of 1500) is home to both one of the longest stretches of beach in the world, as well as one of the top places to fly a kite in the WORLD? Not to mention their cranberry bogs that supply the tart berries to little known brands like Ocean Spray.
Check into Boreas Inn, Long Beach’s #1 bed and breakfast, and enjoy the ocean views from the backyard while you sip some tea or read a book. Learn about the fascinating history of the “West Coast Berries” at the Cranberry Museum, while the World Kite Museum allows visitors to learn more about the intricate history of kites through the years and in different cultures. If you feel inspired after your tour to get out on that “long beach” and fly a kite of your own, the gift shop sells a great variety.
Confession: I’ve yet to make it to Bellingham! I know several friends in the “PNW” that adore this city and for good reason. Bellingham, like a lot of Washington, is a terrific wine region and also boasts plenty of vegan and gluten-free options.
Up-coming fun for Spring include a St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Beer Week. Looking further out ahead, tickets are now on sale for their popular Northwest Wine Festival. The annual July favorite features over 200 wines from 60 “PNW” winemakers, and is the only judged wine competition between Seattle and Vancouver BC. If the wines aren’t enough to entice you, there’ll also be numerous restaurants and chefs sampling their signature dishes. You need some adequate grub to keep up with 200 wines, no?
It’s clear to see that I love Washington and the Pacific Northwest. I’m hoping to make it back this year and let me know where you hit up in this great state! xo
(*Disclosure: I was hosted in several or all of these cities and therefore, some recommendations were hosted. All opinions are my own.)