What’s North of Seattle?
Bainbridge Island Vineyards
This small, family-run vineyard and winery is only a 35-minute ferry ride across the sound. They are open for self-guided tours Monday through Sunday, 12 p.m.-5 p.m., and professionals are available to show you the most the winery has to offer on Sundays at 2 p.m. Wine tasting is free if you purchase a bottle or an affordable $2 if you would simply like to sample the offerings of the great Northwest.
Another privately-owned location, the Bloedel Reserve is an incredible horticultural area, with over 150 acres of beautiful, lush gardens and an array of landscapes, from Japanese gardens to meadows to woods. The Bloedel reserve offers a truly unique and uplifting experience, whose gardens and tranquil isolation encourage spiritual awakening and meditation. In an active attempt to keep the public at bay, Bloedel Reserve is available for viewing by reservation only, Wednesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Rates for entry to this magical locale are $10 for adults, $8 for seniors and $6 for children.
Whidbey Island Vineyards and Winery
Located on Whidbey Island, the longest island in the continental United States, Whidbey Island Vineyards and Winery offer a quaint tasting room, and a delicious, delicate white wine known as Madeleine Angevine, whose grapes are grown on Whidbey Island itself. Other regional wines are available, with many Eastern Washington-based grapes. Enjoy your wine and some lunch on the adjacent lawn and picnic tables with a beautiful view of the vineyards themselves.
Meerkerk Rhododendron Gardens
For a small $5 admission fee, you can access this beautiful 43-acre preserve 7 days a week, 9 a.m to 4 p.m. Enveloped by beautiful woodlands are 10 acres of display and educational gardens, home to a vast array of both common and more exotic rhododendrons. Gardening gurus can bulk up their knowledge of the official Washington State plant, and purchase in-bloom rhodies at the garden. Optimal viewing time at the garden is from April through May, when the largest amount of flowers are in full bloom.
Cottages: Chauntecleer House, Dove House, and Potting Shed
(360) 221-5494 or (800) 637-4436
If a romantic getaway is in your vacation plans, one of these three charming and unique cottages is just the place. Schedule a few nights in Chauntecleer House for incredible views of the Puget Sound and the lovely white peaks of the Cascade Mountains. Slip into serenity with a soak in a private hot tub surrounded by lush gardens, and enjoy panoramic views from the spacious deck around the cottage. While Dove House, another option, lacks the views of Chauntecleer, it boasts its own private outdoor spa, bright skylights, a cozy woodstove, and beautiful breakfast nook. For those who like it country style, the Potting Shed Cottage offers smaller but beautifully decorated quarters with an enchanting garden motif, complete with handmade twig bed and two-person jetted tub. All cottages feature a full kitchen, each stocked with everything you need to make yourselves a delicious breakfast or breakfast in bed! For the budget-minded traveler, somewhat reduced winter rates are available. Whenever you decide to stay, you will want to be sure you reserve your cottage well in advance as dates fill up quickly even in the off season.
San Juan Islands/Anacortes
Lopez Island Bike Circuit
Suitable for the whole family, Lopez Island features a 30-mile bike circuit that is one of the flattest and tamest in the San Juan Islands. If you would rather not bring your own bike, Lopez Bicycle Works (360) 468-2847 will rent you one for the day. Be sure you stop by the Lopez Village Market for an array of home-grown treats, and don’t forget to wave at passersby while biking or driving; Lopez Island is notorious for its friendly neighborhood atmosphere.
Moran State Park
Surrounded by Moran State Park, Mount Constitution is the San Juan Islands’ highest peak, standing at 2,409 feet. Reaching the top is a nice hike, or an easy drive for the less athletic sight-seer. A historic stone lookout, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936, waits at the top, and offers unmatched panoramic views of surrounding areas, including the surrounding islands, the cascades, and variety of both Canadian and American cities. Day visitors should plan to see the sights between 6:30 a.m. and 10 p.m. in the summer, and between 8 a.m. and dusk during the winter months. Overnight camping is also available here year round, but some of sites are closed during for winter.