6 Coastal & Lake Getaways

by Heather Larson | Photo © Shore Lodge

From Vancouver Island to the Oregon Coast to western Montana, we searched for idyllic coastal and lake getaways to make sure you have ample opportunities to spend time in the sun and on the water this summer. Whether you opt for the soothing glassiness of a calm lake or the rhythmic dancing of the surf, these waterfront vacation spots will slow you down, shower you with warmth and let you refresh. Round up the tribe, pick a delightful beach read,  pack your flip flops and your favorite swimsuit and take off for an epic beach getaway. >> 

Pacific City, Oregon


Wake up to waves on the sandy beach just outside your window. Then spend the day riding sandboards, flying kites, hang gliding or tipping a few craft beers at the Pelican Pub & Brewery(yourlittlebeachtown.com/pelican) right on the beach. If you try the Silverspot IPA, feel good knowing some of the proceeds go to research for the threatened Oregon Silverspot butterfly.

You won’t be able to visit this charming fishing village of Pacific City just once. Memories will keep you coming back—for the romantic walks on the beach, the joy your dog feels running in the sand, horseback riding in the dunes and dining on the freshest seafood around. Check out the local artisan’s shops in town, taste some wine and return to the beach.

Stay here:  Guest rooms at the Inn at Cape Kiwanda and the Cottages at Cape Kiwanda look out over the Pacific Ocean and “the other” Haystack Rock (you can’t miss it—it’s a perfect profile of King Kong’s head with a pony-tail). You can even get a starter kit from the front desk to make a beach fire and all the ingredients for s’mores.  yourlittlebeachtown.com/inn

Kirkland, Washington


No other city in the Puget Sound region has as many pocket beaches or beach parks as Kirkland, a town along the shores of Lake Washington, east of Seattle. Downtown Kirkland’s Marina Park, one of the largest beachfront parks in town makes an ideal spot for sunning, boating or indulging in a hot dog from the local vendor while waiting for the Argosy Sightseeing Cruise boat (argosycruises.com/sightseeing-cruises/kirkland-lake-washington-cruise/), a tour that gives you a glimpse of homes of the rich and famous who live along the lake.

Get your morning off to a delicious start with a flaky marionberry croissant and a cappuccino at Aura Bakery & Coffee Bar (aurabakery.com). Play some beach volleyball at one of the parks along Lake St. S. or bike (rentals available downtown) the 5.75-mile-long Cross Kirkland Corridor (kirklandwa.gov/Residents/Community/Cross_Kirkland_Corridor.htm) and along the way stop for a craft brew at Chainline Brewing Company (chainlinebrewing.com). Enjoy a meal al fresco at the Beach Café(thewoodmark.com/beachcafe) or bin on the lake (thewoodmark.com/bin-on-the-lake/) featuring 80 wines by the glass, both conveniently located in Carillon Point.

Stay here:  The Woodmark Hotel, situated lakefront (the only hotel on Lake Washington), features a premium sleep experience including a pillow menu, the Still Spa and a wide variety of watercraft rentals like jet skis and paddleboards. thewoodmark.com

Wallowa Lake, Oregon


This must be the Beaver’s State best kept secret. Located just one mile from the art-filled town of Joseph in northeastern Oregon, stunning majestic peaks frame a four-mile-long lake of crystal blue water. Here, fishing and swimming blend with kayaks and stand-up paddleboards. Swimmers prefer the north end of the lake because it’s a bit warmer. Hike, ride a tram to the top of Mount Howard, paraglide at the top, rent motorized or paddle boats, but be on the lookout for the Wallowa Lake Monster. The Nez Perce legend says the monster turned over a canoe containing a maiden and a brave who were about to be married. They were never seen again.

In Joseph, visit the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture, the Discovery Center, art galleries, tour Valley Bronze of Oregon foundry or take the Main Street Art Walk.

Stay here:  Choose from a cabin, condo or home through Wallowa Lake Vacation Rentals. Wherever you stay the kitchens are stocked, linens, blankets and towels are provided, patio furniture is at-the-ready and you’ll find a good mix of games, books and movies. wallowalakevacationrentals.com

Payette Lake, McCall, Idaho


Sparkling Payette Lake, fed by clear glacial water, is 390 feet deep at its deepest point. Located in the town of McCall about two hours north of Boise, the mountain scenery makes a stunning backdrop for water skiers, boating, picnicking and swimming. Choose from two public beaches—North Beach, 6.5 miles from downtown McCall, or Legacy Park in the heart of McCall. The town holds numerous events throughout the summer including the Payette Lake Classic and Wooden Boat Show (in 2015, the first weekend in August).

Ponderosa State Park, which borders the lake, plays host to a variety of hikes. The 4-mile Lily March Loop takes you past abundant wildflower patches and through dense forest to an impressive vista of the lake.

Stay here:  At Shore Lodge, first-floor suites have beach access to Payette Lake. You can watch films in their cozy indoor movie theatre and rent canoes or kayaks. Reflect and renew at The Cove spa, dine in three different restaurants and shop at the Mercantile, all at Shore Lodge. shorelodge.com

Flathead Lake, Montana


At 30 miles long and almost 15 miles wide, Flathead Lake in western Montana is the largest natural freshwater lake in the West, making it clean, clear and inviting. You can book boat tours(flatheadlakeboattour.com), sailing excursions (flatheadlakesailing.com), rent a jet ski (marinacay.com) or take a fishing trip (aablefishing.com) where you might just land a trophy trout. Don’t miss Wild Horse Island (stateparks.mt.gov/wild-horse-island/), a day-use state park with hiking trails, wild horses (of course), bighorn sheep and a variety of birds to watch.

In Bigfork, where the Swan River flows into the lake, shop for antiques, art, play golf and dine in a quaint western town. Take in a summer theatre performance or explore one of the museums. At the north end of the lake Kalispell and Whitefish are must-visit towns for a day trip. At the south end of Flathead Lake, the charming village of Polson awaits your visit. Take part in the Main Street Flathead Cherry Festival in July, the largest car show in the Pacific Northwest in August and the Flathead Lake Blues Festival, also in August.

Stay here: Averill’s Flathead Lake Lodge in Bigfork is an all-inclusive beachside dude ranch with enough family-friendly activities to fill an unforgettable week-long vacation. The resort’s lake activities include sailing, kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding and more. At Averill’s, the rustic lodge-like accommodations with luxury amenities, the family-style meals and the choices of recreational activities define what a real Western vacation should be. flatheadlakelodge.com

Ucluelet (called Ukee by the locals), Vancouver Island, B.C.


Ucluelet means safe harbor in the First Nations’ language and their presence has been felt here for more than 4,300 years. Located 180 miles north of Victoria and only 25 miles south of Tofino, on the wild west coast of Vancouver Island, this destination yields some of the most surfable waves in Canada. Kayaking in calm sheltered waters, a more relaxing option, lets you enjoy the antics of harbor seals, sea lions and an occasional whale. Fresh water fishing at any of the river estuaries is likely to net you one or more cutthroat trout.

At the Aquarium (uclueletaquarium.org), view an assortment of marine life, including starfish, clams, sea cucumbers and giant octopuses from local waters. In the fall all the residents are set free and returned to their natural habitat while in the spring divers collect new aquatic animals for display. Zipline (wcwild.com) into the Kennedy River Canyon, nurture yourself with a spa escape, shop for First Nation’s art or hike the Wild Pacific Trail (wildpacifictrail.com).

Stay here:  Retreat to the award-winning Black Rock Oceanfront Resort after a full day of play. Besides the magical beauty of the lodge’s setting, you’ll dine on locally-inspired cuisine where every table offers a breathtaking view. blackrockresort.com