7 Charming City Getaways

by Allen Cox | Photo © Russ Veenema

When winter weekends call for a change of pace—and scenery— urban dwellers seek sanctuary away from crowds and traffic, and country dwellers crave stimulation not found on the back 40. Travel urges like these are just made for the Northwest’s smaller cities. These seven distinctive destinations each offer a winning combination of big city amenities and small town charm, just the ticket for a Northwest weekend getaway.

1. Port Angeles, Washington

The city of Port Angeles straddles the land between two scenic heavyweights: the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains. A fascinating way to get your bearings both geographically and historically is by joining one of the daily Port Angeles Underground Heritagea two-hour narrated walk that includes a journey into the city’s recently unearthed “underground.”

After the tour, head to the city pier and climb its observation tower for a view out to sea. To get a closer glimpse at what’s offshore and beneath the surface, visit Feiro Marine Life Center, also at the pier. This nonprofit aquarium makes fun and games out of learning about conservation and the local marine environment—great for kids.

Next to the city pier, art lovers can browse the work of Northwest artists
at Landing Art Gallery located at the Landing Mall. From the waterfront, head back downtown for some retail therapy at independent shops, such as InSpired at 124-B West First St.

For more information about visiting Port Angeles, go to portangeles.org or olympicpeninsula.org.

>> Port Angeles Underground Heritage Tour, portangelesheritagetours.com
>> Feiro Marine Life Center, feiromarinelifecenter.org
Dining Tips:
>> Breakfast at Chestnut Cottage, 929 East Front St., chestnutcottagerestaurant.com
>> Lunch at Next Door Gastropub, 113 West First St., nextdoorgastropub.com
>> Wine at Wine on the Waterfront, 115 East Railroad Ave, waterfrontwine.com
>> Dinner at Michael’s Seafood & Steakhouse, 117-B East First St., michaelsdining.com
Lodging Tips:
>> Colette’s Bed & Breakfast, colettes.com
>> Olympic Lodge, olympiclodge.com

2. Friday Harbor, Washington

Getting to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island is half the fun. Your two choices are Kenmore Airlines or Washington State Ferry (unless you have your own boat). The city harbors a village feel, suitable for walking. And, if you want to explore more of the island, bicycles are a fun (and healthy) way to go. San Juan Island sits on the edge of a rain shadow, so fair weather, even in winter, is distinctly possible. Besides charm, scenery and an unhurried pace, three things attract visitors to Friday Harbor: art, whales and the local food.

Galleries occupy many of Friday Harbor’s storefronts. Start your self-guided art walk at San Juan Islands Museum of Art (540 Spring Street). Arctic Raven Gallery and WaterWorks Gallery are also worth a stop.

For an education on all things cetacean, visit the Whale Museum where you’ll learn all about whales, from environment to anatomy, vocalizations and conservation. Then for a possible sighting you won’t soon forget, pedal or drive the nine miles to Lime Kiln Point State Park on the west side of the island. Here, orcas often surface just off shore near the lighthouse.

For more information about a trip to Friday Harbor, go to sanjuanisland.org or visitsanjuans.com/the-islands/fridayharbor. For Washington State Ferries, go to wsdot.wa.gov/ferries.

>> San Juan Island Museum of Art, sjima.org
>> The Whale Museum, whalemuseum.org
>> Lime Kiln Point State Park, parks.wa.gov/parks/?selectedpark=Lime%20Kiln%20Point
>> Island Bicycles (rentals), islandbicycles.com
Dining Tips:
>> Breakfast at Rocky Bay Cafe, 225 Spring Street
>> Lunch at Market Chef, 225 A Street
>> Wine at Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar, 135 2nd St. N.
>> Dinner at Coho, 120 Nichols St., Cohorestaurant.com
Lodging Tips:
>> Tucker House Inn, tuckerhouse.com
>> Earthbox Inn & Spa, earthboxinn.com

3. Wenatchee, Washington

A getaway in this city on the Columbia River packs a load of fun from tasting local wines to frolicking in the snow at Mission Ridge. Wenatchee is the largest city in north-central Washington, so you’ll find no shortage of activities to fill a weekend.

Start by touring downtown on foot.The few blocks on Wenatchee Avenue from 2nd Street to Orlando Avenue offer up cafes, wineries and shops. If you’re a wine lover, don’t pass up the Chamber Tasting Room (1 S. Wenatchee Ave). For a $4 tasting fee, you’ll sample the region’s finest.

From there, stroll three blocks to Pybus Market, the second largest public market in the state. This is a hub of artisan foods and goods in the valley, and an excellent spot to refresh with a cup of coffee and a fresh pastry.

Hockey fans can catch a Wenatchee Wild game at Toyota Town Center. And, about a half hour from downtown, you can kick up some powder for the day at 2,000-acre Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort.

To learn more about visiting Wenatchee, go to wenatchee.org.

>> Pybus Market, pybuspublicmarket.com
>> Mission Ridge Ski & Board Resort, missionridge.com
>> Wenatchee Wild Hockey, wenatcheewild.pointstreaksites.com
Dining Tips:
>> Breakfast at Caffe Mela, 17 N. Wenatchee Ave., caffemela.com
>> Lunch at Lemolo Cafe & Deli, 114 N. Wenatchee Ave.
>> Wine at the Chamber Tasting Room, 1 S. Wenatchee Ave., wenatchee.org/listing/the-chamber-tasting-room
>> Dinner at Visconti’s Italian Restaurant, 1737 N. Wenatchee Ave., viscontis.com
Lodging Tips:
>> Coast Wenatchee Center Hotel, coasthotels.com/hotels/washington/wenatchee/coast-wenatchee-center-hotel
>> IvyWild Inn, theivywildinn.com

4. Tri-cities, Washington

Richland, Pasco and Kennewick make up southeastern Washington’s Tri-cities. With attractions found no place else on the planet and some of the state’s top wineries, Tri-cities (only 3.5 hours from Seattle) is a must-see.

Lewis and Clark were the first non- Native Americans to pass through this area marked by the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers. Today, their journey is commemorated at several sites throughout the Tricities, most notably the Sacajawea State Park Interpretive Center in Kennewick.

Fast forward to the 20th century. Most people have heard that Tricities is the home of the U.S. Dept. of Energy’s Hanford site. But did you know you can have the rare opportunity to geek out on a guided walking tour of the facility, including the world’s first full-scale plutonium production reactor—the historic B Reactor? While you’re there, you’ll also get a fascinating briefing on today’s Hanford cleanup mission. (Check the website below for security requirements and registering for a tour. Tours fill up fast, so plan ahead.)

This is vineyard country, and Tulip Lane in West Richland is perhaps the shortest wine trail on the planet, with Barnard Griffith Winery, J. Bookwalter Winery and Tagaris Winery side-by-side, each with a tasting room, great food and often live music on weekends. (To find Tulip Lane, take Exit 3 off of I-183 and follow the signs.) To find out more about a Tri-Cities getaway, go to visittri-cities.com.

>> Sacajawea State Park Interpretive Center, parks.wa.gov/stewardship/sacajawea
>> Hanford Site Tours, hanford.gov/page.cfm/HanfordSiteTours
Dining Tips:
>> Breakfast at Ripples Riverside Grill, 802 George Washington Way, Richland, redlion.com/our-hotels/washington/richland/dining
>> Lunch at Country Mercantile, 232 Crestloch Rd., Pasco, countrymercantile.com
>> Wine at 3 Eyed Fish Wine Bar, 1970 Keene Road, Richland, 3eyedfishwinebar.com
>> Dinner at Taverna Tagaris, 844 Tulip Lane, Richland, tagariswines.com
Lodging Tips:
>> Red Lion Hotel Richland Hanford House, redlion.com/our-hotels/washington/richland

5. Medford, Oregon

This fourth largest city in the state is a hub for the best artisanal foods and wine the fertile landscape of southern Oregon has to offer. Of course, there’s plenty to do between meals, but during your visit you can be sure you’ll indulge in some of the finest foods to be found.

For starters, head to Central Point and pay a visit to Rogue Creamery to sample their award-winning blue cheeses and buy your favorite with some accompanying snacks from their gourmet shop. And, dessert is not far away. Go next door to Lillie Belle Farms Handmade Chocolates for such exquisite chocolate creations you’ll think you’re in Belgium. So far, you may have acquired the makings of a sumptuous picnic, but don’t forget the wine.

For lovers of the grape, happily the Medford area is wine country. You can map out your own tasting room trail without leaving town. RoxyAnn Winery, 2 Hawk Winery and Dancin Vineyards are all located in Medford.

For all the information you need to plan a Medford getaway customized for you, visit travelmedford.org.

>> Rogue Creamery, roguecreamery.com
>> Lillie Belle Farms, lilliebellefarms.com
>> Locate area wineries at Southern Oregon Winery Association, sorwa.org
Dining Tips:
>> Breakfast at Sunrise Cafe, 130 E. Main St., medfordsunrisecafe.com
>> Lunch at Downtown Market Co., 231 E Main St., downtownmarketco.com
>> Wine at 2 Hawk Winery, 2335 N. Phoenix Rd., 2hawkwinery.com
>> Dinner at Pomodori Bistro & Wine Bar, 410 E. Main St., pomodorirestorante.com
Lodging Tips:
>> The White House Bed and Breakfast, thewhitehouse-bedandbreakfast.com

6. The Dalles, Oregon

For each of the 22 miles you travel from Hood River east toward TheDalles, you can subtract one inch of rain per year. Here, it’s all about the sun. This means ideal conditions for those who want to hike the rain shadow terrain of the National Scenic Area surrounding the city or explore the downtown core (umbrella free).

The Dalles is also all about history. At the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Museum, you’ll learn about what shaped the region’s remarkable landscape, about the Native American civilization that has thrived in the region for 10,000 years, and about more modern events, such as the Lewis and Clark journey and the pioneers that followed.

Delight in discoveries as you explore downtown. Take in the current exhibit at The Dalles Art Center and Gallery. Browse the downtown shops, such as Klindt’s Booksellers and Stationers, the oldest continuously running bookstore west of the Mississippi. And stop by the brilliantly repurposed Sunshine Mill, now a
winery and event center.

For more information about visiting The Dalles, go to thedalleschamber.com.

>> Columbia Gorge Discovery Center and Wasco County Museum, gorgediscovery.org
>> The Dalles Art Center and Gallery, thedallesartcenter.org
Dining Tips:
>> Breakfast at Cousins Restaurant, cousinsthedalles.com
>> Lunch at The ANZAC Tea Parlour, anzactea.com
>> Wine at Sunshine Mill Winery, sunshinemill.com
>> Dinner at Baldwin Saloon, baldwinsaloon.com
Lodging Tips:
>> Celilo Inn, celiloinn.com

7. Moscow, Idaho

A small city with a sophisticated lifestyle, Moscow offers visitors easy access to the great outdoors and plenty of culture.

In this town with a university, you’ll discover warm coffee houses, cafes, galleries and interesting stores that will call out to your inner shopper. (Tip for foodies: Check out the Moscow Food Co-op, with it’s enormous inventory of local bounty and artisan goods.)

Moscow’s main cultural event in winter is the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival (Feb. 19-22, 2014). For nearly five decades this international festival has hosted the likes of Sarah Vaughn, Dizzy Gillespie, The Manhattan Transfer and many others, and has been a major educational event for students of jazz.

When you’re not bouncing to the beat or shop-hopping downtown, you can take in the bounty of art that Moscow displays. Many galleries show the work of regional artists, and there’s no better way to gain a sense of place than by tuning in to the creative minds and hands at work. Begin at the historic City Hall’s Third Street Gallery to see what’s on display, then head to the university’s Prichard Art Gallery, also downtown.

At night, cozy up in your own retreat with a bottle of local wine. Moscow is a B&B and vacation rental kind of town, and you’ll have plenty of options. (Tip: If you visit during the jazz festival, book your accommodations well in advance.)

To plan a perfect Moscow getaway, visit moscowchamber.com.

>> Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, uidaho.edu/jazzfest
>> Third Street Gallery, ci.moscow.id.us/arts/Pages/gallery
>> Prichard Art Gallery, uidaho.edu/caa/galleries/prichardartgallery
Dining Tips:
>> Breakfast at The Breakfast Club, 501 S. Main St.
>> Lunch at Maialina Pizzeria Napoletana, 602. S Main St., maialinapizzeria.com
>> Wine at Camas Prairie Winery Tasting Room, 110 S. Main Street, camasprairiewinery.com
>> Dinner at Sangria Grille, 2124 W. Pullman Highway, sangriagrille.com
Lodging Tips:
>> Andriëtte’s Bed, Book and Bicycle, andriettes.blogspot.com
>> Little Green Guesthouse, alittlegreenguesthouse.com
>> Paradise View Bed & Breakfast, paradiseviewbb.com