won't get palm trees or a good tan on Washington's San Juan Islands,
but the lack of a subtropical climate hardly detracts from the allure.
Home to more eagles and orcas than any other region in mainland
America, the San Juans are a mecca for naturalists and anyone in
need of a little scenic tranquility.
There are four islands - San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw - that
are easily accessible
by state ferries, and, except for Shaw Island, by
seaplanes. All four offer stunning views and a serene, rural
ambience, yet each has its own distinct spirit.
Known as the Pig War Island, San Juan is the location of a military
altercation between Britain and the United States that began over
the shooting of a pig, and ended with America being rewarded the
San Juans. The locations of the American and English camps are home
to historic buildings, exhibits, and reenactments. In addition to
being historic landmarks, the locations are also quite scenic. American
Camp affords views of whales, seals, and porpoises, while English
Camp has excellent hiking trails and an English Formal Garden, designed
by the camp's second commanding officer.
Overnight visitors to the San Juans have plenty of lodging options
from quaint bed
and breakfasts to the hotels, cottages, and condos offered at
Resort & Marina.
However, to experience the finest luxury accommodations the islands
have to offer, a trip to Orcas Island is necessary. As the home
an historic resort built in 1904 as the retirement home of shipbuilder
Robert Moran, Orcas has gained a reputation as the most highbrow
of the islands.
Moran Mansion, which acts as the central hub of the resort, was
built by turn-of-the-century shipwrights, and is outfitted in Honduran
Mahogany, Indian Teak, and Italian Marble. Guests enjoy stunning
views and have access to the full-service spa. Rosario's Friday
Seafood Buffet and Sunday Brunch are magnets for all visitors to
As the largest of the four islands, Orcas has accommodations
and activities for all types of travelers. Moran
State Park features 30 miles of trails and more than 150 campsites.
Also not to be missed is Mt. Constitution, the highest point on
the islands, with a dramatic 360-degree view of San Juan Archipelago,
Vancouver Island, and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges.
While all of the islands have a relaxed pace, Lopez and Shaw are
the most sedate of the four. The 29.5 square miles that make up
Lopez Island are known for their friendly inhabitants and simple
island living. Composed of pastoral scenery, quiet beaches, and
abundant with bed
and breakfasts, the island has everything necessary for quiet
pampering. Aside from the shops and restaurants in the small Lopez
Village, the island is refreshingly free from the usual barrage
of tourist attractions, making it an ideal escape for harried, urban
Shaw Island, in comparison, makes Lopez seem like Manhattan. Merely
7.7 square miles and home to only 150 people, the island has no
tourist facilities other than a grocery store. However, as a place
for quiet contemplation, Shaw can't be beat. In fact, the island
is home to two monasteries that make up a large part of the island's
population. Shaw makes for a good side trip from the other islands.
Aside from the chance to witness the ultimate in small-town island
living, Shaw Island's historic school, museum and nun-operated ferry
are worth checking out.
Whistler Way [ Whistler, B.C. ] | ph: (800) 515-4050
Whistler Resort hotel is ideally located at the base of Whistler
and Blackcomb Mountains, just steps from championship golf, fabulous
dining, boutiques, and an variety of all-season activities. The
resort has 288 guestrooms, many with spectacular mountain views.
Don't miss the Mountain Health Club, indulge with a luxurious massage,
Jacuzzi, or a swim.
Cascade Loop Highway
400-mile self-guided driving tour was named "One of America's
grandest, most spectacular drives" by National Geographic
Traveler. Indeed, the scenic trip travels through some of Washington's
prime territory and includes historic towns, opportunities for marine
and wildlife sighting, gorgeous mountain views, and resort towns.
drive begins in the Snohomish River Valley, continues through Stevens
Pass and the Cascade foothills, before climbing northward toward
the Columbia River, Lake Chelan, and the Methow Valley. It then
heads into the North Cascades Highway and the Skagit Valley, and
before completing, travels through Whidby and Fidalgo Islands.
the way are opportunities for nearly every type of outdoor activity.
These include paragliding over Lake Chelan, golfing in the Methow
Valley, river rafting in the Cascade foothills, eagle watching in
Cascade Pass, and whale watching in Everett. Of course, there are
also a wealth of places to ski, snowmobile, camp, hike, bicycle,
route is peppered with interesting tours and historical exhibits,
as well. The town of Snohomish, alone, boasts over 450 antique dealers,
a self-guided walking tour of lavish Victorian homes, and the Boeing
Assembly Plant Tour. A stop in Cashmere, a small, all-American town
located in the geographic center of the state, yields a tour of
the Aplets & Cotlets candy factory and the 13,000 square foot
Pioneer Village and Museum - both excellent places for children.
home to some of Washington's best attractions, the Cascade Loop
makes for superb road-tripping, whether done as one long journey,
or several small excursions.
Birch Bay, Washington
hundred miles north of Seattle and 40-miles south of Vancouver,
British Columbia, Birch Bay is a popular vacation destination for
Americans and Canadians alike. With the warmest waters north of
California, Birch Bay is one of the few northwest beaches where
getting into the water is as pleasurable as gazing at it from the
shore - although only the very bravest venture in during January's
annual Birch Bay Polar Bear Swim.
options include camping at the waterside State
Park, and an array of bed
and breakfasts, vacation cottages, and condos. For those in
search of upscale accommodation, Resort
Seimiahmoo provides decadent lodging on grounds that include
a spa, marina, fitness center, and golf course designed by Arnold
Bay is perfect for a week or weekend of pure relaxation, and its
ample opportunities for kayaking, sailing, and hiking also make
it a prime spot for active travelers.