There is no doubt that the past year has provided many of us with a renewed respect for Mother Nature and her mystical and inspiring ways. In our opinion, there are few better places to explore this connection than along the scintillating waterways of the Pacific Northwest, especially in the summer.
Here are some of Washington State’s most wonderful summer deals:
Whale watching and island trips
Clipper tours, departing from a downtown Seattle pier, show off spectacular scenery and wildlife on the way to and from the San Juan Islands – Photo courtesy of Gary Sutton
As international travel across the Canadian border remains on hold, Seattle area residents are excited to see the return of the San Juan Lawn Mower, the only operator offering half-day and full-day whale watching tours from the downtown Seattle waterfront.
At this time of year, passengers may spot orcas, humpback whales and gray whales feeding on mammals and completing their northward migration through the Salish Sea, as well as a variety of seals, sea lions and bald eagles.
Guests can also choose to take advantage of the Clipper’s fast, direct ferry – featuring an all-new interior – perfect for weekend getaways that leave plenty of time to explore the magical island of San Juan. Once the guests have slipped on the island time, paddle and kayak rides moving away from the shores of San Juan provides up-close access to the region’s wealth of wildlife.
Hood Canal’s Hottest Events
The Alderbrook Resort & Spa Waterfront Center allows guests to choose from options ranging from yachts and hydro bikes to stand-up paddles and kayaks – Photo courtesy of Alderbrook Resort & Spa
At the western end of Puget Sound, the Alderbrook Resort & Spa finds a tranquil home on Washington’s Hood Canal, one of the only fjords in the Lower 48. This welcoming waterfront property, located less than two hours from Seattle, offers outdoor activities ranging from Full Moon yoga sessions to outdoor BINGO games (Saturday at 2 p.m.) and nature hikes (Friday at 2 p.m.). Numerous water rentals are available from the long wharf that stretches out onto the oyster beach.
While summer packages creating a seasonal draw, the enclosed saltwater pool (with windows open for additional air circulation) and on-site restaurant (with its female-led culinary team) prove to be a highlight at any time of the day. the year. Just minutes away, Union City Market – the resort’s working marina – hosts interactive seaside feasts called Canal Cookouts with revolving themes as well as Appy Hour and weekend brunch.
Drive about half an hour to stop for oysters at Hama hama (they sometimes store goods from neighbors Fjordlux, too), or grab some fresh seafood delicacies to go. Outside of Brinnon, enjoy easy hikes on the Murhut Falls and Ranger Hole trails. For an after-stroll treat, locals swear by the fish sandwich at the Geoduck Tavern, located on the edge of Dosewallips State Park.
Coastal hikes and relaxation too
Seabrook provides an ideal base for those wishing to explore the exquisite Pacific coast – Photo courtesy of Stuart May for Seabrook
Exploring the enchanted expanses of the Windblown Coast is a must-see on any visitor’s itinerary to Washington. Seabrook, located less than a three-hour drive from Seattle to Pacific Beach, offers family-friendly beach homes in a community that is described by visionary Casey Roloff and a team of experts as a “thoughtfully built new town founded on a new town planning ”.
The beachfront property is an ideal base for exploring Olympic National Park, which includes glacial-peaked mountains, ancient temperate rainforests, and over 70 miles of rugged coastline. From Seabrook, day trip options include getaways to Roosevelt Beach (5 minutes) and Ruby Beach (1.5 hours drive each way).
You can take guided surf lessons with Wonders of the Pacific Coast at Point Grenville on the Quinault Indian Reserve, or enjoy SUP excursions on Quinault Lake. Northwest Buck also runs kayak and SUP tours through the Ghost Forest on the Copalis River, just 15 minutes from your beach house.
Back in Seabrook, enjoy a meal on the terrace of Koko’s Restaurant and Tequila Bar, where you can watch the sun glide behind the windswept trees of the shore. Don’t miss the poblano-cashew enchiladas!
The Seattle-area summer scene
Seattle’s waterfront location offers stunning views and aquatic adventure opportunities at every turn – Photo courtesy of Rudy Willingham
Savoring Seattle’s waterways can be done from the mainland, thanks to an abundance of picturesque patios serving the region’s freshest seafood. Savor regional flavors and the view of Elliott Bay (at Six seven), Puget Sound (from Ray’s Boathouse Bridge) or Lake Washington (from Eastside’s Beach cafe, at the Woodmark Hotel & Still Spa).
Those who fancy a bird’s-eye view of this water-centric city take advantage of sightseeing flights offered by Seattle Seaplanes and Kenmore Air. And for those who want to get out on the water, the options are seemingly endless. For a ride with a view, hop aboard Washington State Ferries, the nation’s largest ferry system. Statewide vessels range from high-speed passenger vessels to those carrying up to 2,500 passengers and 202 automobiles (when operating at full capacity).
On Lake Union, the Northwest Outdoor Center rents kayaks by the hour, and the Center for Wooden Boats also offers rentals, as well as free hour-long reservations to get out one of the site’s peapod rowboats. A more recent offering that’s making waves is Seattle Boat Fitter – an online booking platform that connects people with licensed boat owners and captains for 2-8 hour boat rental adventures.
Bellingham’s bounty, from boats to beer
The Community Boating Center helps water lovers get out and explore in Bellingham – Photo courtesy of Visit Bellingham
About 90 miles north of Seattle, Bellingham offers small town charm mixed with the fun on the water of the Salish Sea. From there the guests book whale watching tours and charters;, the Fairhaven Community Boating Center rents kayaks, SUPs and keelboats; and new addition Moondance sea kayaking adventures guides adventurers on half-day and full-day getaways.
The middle of the week is a particularly privileged time to enjoy the calm at the edge of the water at Bellwether Hotel. When it comes to eating, Black sheep serves buzz-worthy tacos, while Boundary Bay Brewery remains a staple for upscale pints and bars (think grilled fish tacos, okra and yam enchiladas). North of Bellingham, Blaine’s Drayton Harbor Oysters allows seafood lovers to immerse themselves in the products grown and harvested less than a kilometer from the store.
Those who wish to support farmers and manufacturers in the Bellingham area from afar can order organized meal boxes and create their own Acme Farms & Kitchen (the company currently ships to Whatcom + Skagit County, the Greater Seattle area, the Greater Portland area and the Greater Las Vegas area).
Even better? Skip the grocery shopping and order Acme’s Beach House Getaway Box in advance for your trip to Washington; the collection includes smoked salmon and pea fusilli, fish and chips, blackened salmon Caesar salad and crab benedicts.
Whichever you choose, we wish you safe, calming and sunny summer experiences – by, on and in the water.