Two Romantic Weekend Getaways in Washington State

Who doesn’t love a weekend getaway to celebrate an anniversary, Valentine’s Day or the solace of a long weekend off work?

We sure do! And we take advantage of time together whenever possible.

If you’re looking for trips on either coast, Midwest or anywhere else check out the Passport section of my blog for some awesome ideas and detailed itineraries. BOOM I’ve already planned it for you!

These two weekend trips are great for a three to four day weekend so you can drive out and really enjoy the areas. No matter what you like, there’s something for everyone. Check them out!

LAKE CHELAN, WA

Even though Lake Chelan would make the perfect warm weather destination for their lake activities, it was also a great Valentine’s weekend for hiding from the cold and wine tasting.

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Driving in there are so many wineries and fruit fields!

We stayed at Campbell’s Resort which will commonly come up on your searches as the main place to stay. The location and restaurant were great and while the rooms were decent, they were not what we saw in the photos. There are several different sections to the hotel and we were fine with the cheapest room block just to have a place to sleep. You’ll be exploring, anyway!

Campbell’s is also a great choice because this area is so spread out. We prefer to walk to the bars, drink and eat our way through town then walk back so we will pay a little bit more to do that. There are a few options in town for you to choose from if you want to walk, otherwise grab a ride to venture out.

We have a habit of visiting a local Italian restaurant whenever we travel and if there were ever a romantically lit room with fantastic food and delicious local wine, Andante‘s is it! This intimate restaurant is packed with style and character and made for a great date night.

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We enjoyed a few more drinks at some nearby casual bar, Stormy Mountain Brewing and Local Public House. Super friendly staff and laid back vibe!

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“Designated as an official American Viticulture Area (AVA) in 2009, Lake Chelan offers a one-of-a-kind wine tasting experience featuring over 30 wineries hugging the shores of a breathtaking lake.” – Lake Chelan Visitor’s Website

Our plan for the first full day was to go wine tasting in the Manson area. so while we waited for the vendors to open up we explored local shops and grabbed YUMMY (seriously) pizza at Westside Pizza.

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Getting to and from the wineries was my least favorite part of the entire trip. There are several options to get taxis, limos or other forms of shuttles but we opted for a local casino’s shuttle.

Of course they will stop halfway at the Mill Bay Casino where you will have to wait about 30 minutes until the next ride comes along. We decided to grab drinks and play a few games while we waited (it is a free shuttle so this is what they bank on you doing).

 DO NOT load one of their stupid cards, just use your money elsewhere. If you do load the card play, play, play until you use all of your money!

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This was a fun thing to do together except I was 24 hours post Lasik surgery so the smoke was not friendly to my new eyes. Getting off the shuttle in the village center puts you right next to the local restaurants, bars, wineries and shops. This is a great little strip! While you could drive and easily find parking, it was also smarter to just use the shuttle.

Walk around, try the wines, pair them with food and chocolate, grab a beer and supper at Lake Chelan Brewing Co. and enjoy the night. We caught the last shuttle back and went out for a few more drinks on the town.

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We wrapped up the trip with a breakfast in Campbell’s Pub and Veranda. Service will be very busy pretty much all the time so expect to exercise patience.


LEAVENWORTH, WA

Oh, how I wish we had visited Leavenworth more than one time. Everyone has a little German town near them but Leavenworth is popular for wedding and event destinations, beer, wine, great food and a gorgeous, intricate town. It’s especially popular (and insanely booked up + expensive) over Oktoberfest and Christmas time.

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Leavenworth is a Bavarian-styled village in the Cascade Mountains, in central Washington State. Alpine-style buildings with restaurants serving German beer and food line Front Street. The Nutcracker Museum displays thousands of nutcrackers, some dating back centuries. On the Wenatchee River, Waterfront Park is a habitat for ospreys and eagles. The village is a gateway to nearby ski areas and wineries.

-Source Online.

As you drive into this small town, every home and business is decked out in the appropriate Bavarian style architecture. Our hotel, The Evergreen Inn, hosted us in the Jacuzzi/Fireplace Suite ( #51 ) which was an awesome, large space for us! The feel is definitely that of an old family cabin but it was still a space entirely our own and not the typical cramped motel room.

Private entrance to our suite at The Evergreen Inn.

It was walking distance to the main strip and, even though it was cold and still decorated from Christmas in February, we didn’t mind the walk one bit.

We stopped in for drinks at several awesome breweries and distilleries, one of our favorites being Icicle Brewing Company! We also got a tour of a local distillery.

I’m sure if you walk around you will end up in all of the same places as we did but a majority of these places you walk into for a drink will be casual; come and drink as you are. There are basement wineries, rundown pubs, karaoke, classical music, corner bar and cafe’s…something for everyone to enjoy!

If you want a beautiful view with a more upscale feel, the infamous Visconti’s will give you a gorgeous date night. You also need to have an empty stomach for the authentic German food at another popular choice: Andreas Keller. You will want to make a reservation at these two places, or anywhere that you visit.

Another bonus is this town is very family, kid and dog friendly. If you’re a couple or looking for a family vaca, head out to Leavenworth. You will NOT be disappointed!

There are so many stores, shops, shows and things to do in Leavenworth and just outside of town you don’t need to drink the whole time if that’s not your thing. On our way out of town we filled up on a breakfast at Sandy’s Waffle Haus and hiked riverside through knee deep snow at Wenatchee National Park just outside of town.

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No, not the most prepared compared to the snowshoing visitors but it was incredibly fun and we still laugh at memories we made there. We always love playing hard then getting out to work hard.


Hope you had a great time visiting! If you have any places we must visit on the east coast, please let me know.

 

Cheers to another year of traveling and exploring!

Marin

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Christmas in Whistler, BC

This trip was December 19-23, 2017

Whistler, BC. To some it’s the host location of 2010 Winter Olympics, to summer thrill seekers it’s a hotspot for numerous activities and in the winter everyone and their mother shows up for alpine skiing, snowboarding and winter sports, bringing in over two million visitors annually.

So why did a Kansas girl and Ohio boy decide to ski and snowboard (for the second time in our life) in the top North American ski destination?

 

Well, we loved our trip to Vancouver and Victoria! My husband really wanted to visit Whistler and I had heard from numerous Washington friends that it’s a must visit location. We had our Thanksgiving in Oahu trip the month before, knocking out as many trips as we could before leaving  the PNW.

HEADS UP Whistler is a world-class destination and prices everywhere will reflect that. If you’re buying or renting there are plenty of ways to save and/or splurge. We prefer to take trips instead of buying presents throughout the year and this was one of our Top Three FAVORITE trips we’ve ever taken. Get ready for a great time!


How To Prep

If you’ve never traveled to Canada, check out how to prep here.

A month before the trip (mid-November) I booked our hotel through Expedia. When we travel our main concerns are 1) Walking distance to nightlife/downtown and 2) Price. The best choice for us was staying at the Aava Whistler Hotel. This was minutes away from the gondola lifts, the Whistler Village and  included a free locker for our ski gear.

Aava Hotel Room

Aava Hotel Room

We don’t own any gear so we rented everything from JBLM’s Northwest Adventure Center was closed during our rental so we went to Adventure’s Unlimited on McChord. They gave us coats, helmets, skis, snowboard, boots and poles. No, it won’t be the best gear or cutest helmets but it will get the job done. We agreed that, if nothing else, we would buy our own helmets. We don’t go skiing or snowboarding often enough, and move too often, to justify snow gear.

Hints…this very attractive photo of the goofy helmets

Whistler, BC

Whistler, BC

FUN FACT Whistler brings in tons of Europeans, Australians and others from around the world. It’s cool to be around the families who spend their ‘holiday’ for weeks/months at a time. It’s a popular choice among college students in Australia to spend their breaks or a year ‘off’ in Whistler either in the service industry or giving ski lessons. Plus, you might even ride the lift up with a young girl, Jemimah, who will be doing a double black diamond while you crash into the lift chair…so…yeah….

Let’s Go!!

December 19, 2018

Driving up we noticed the farther north we drove the messier the weather got. We kicked in the four-wheel drive a few times but didn’t have to put chains on.

From Lacey, WA to Whistler, BC it was just over a five hour drive. While we never slid off the road we saw several people slide off so drive careful!

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By the time we checked into Aava it was getting dark and it was a cute little town with the Christmas lights and skiers coming off the mountain. Aava was a very modern hotel with clean, simple rooms and big, white robes which were perfect for our trips to the outdoor hot tub and after a long day on the mountain.

As you know by now, our favorite thing to do in a new city is walk around eating and drinking from place to place downtown.

I brought cute outfits and heeled booties to wear but everyone is in jeans and a cute top, winter coat and snow boots if they’re not in ski gear. Be comfy and don’t slip on the ice, wear the big snow boots girl!

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I don’t think we had a bad meal or drink the entire time we were there. There was a great mix of high-end, casual, pubs, pizza, steakhouses and much more. If you’re looking for something specific you can get exactly what you want on their website. A few places that we went to on night one were Stonesedge Kitchen, 21 Steps, Brewhouse was close to the Olympic Rings and ice skating rink so we checked out this side before stopping in for dinner. Amsterdam Cafe Pub was one of the only places open on our way back to the hotel. Once we sat down a couple came over asking if we were stationed at the same location in WA which we were. Ended up we had mutual friends!

PS: Gloria has her own blog and cute IG that you can check out here and her blog www.brunetteventure.com. She travels all the time, finds the best food and drinks and shares her trendy outfits.

amsterdam pub

 

Although we didn’t go in the Ketel One Ice Bar would also be a unique and super fun experience!

 

December 20, 2018

After a night out…this was a rough morning! With all of our gear and boots on, it was about a 10 minute walk (if that) to the lifts. Most lodging areas will have a shuttle if you’re not within walking distance.We bought our ski lift passes at the base of the mountains but they were super busy so I would get them online here 7+ days beforehand. Grab a map before you head up!

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We were unsure of what options, mountains, etc. we would be doing when we got there but, after seeing it, definitely purchase beforehand!

Wear your access card in your pocket by itself, push it up against the machine and you’re in! There are several restaurants on the mountain top, a few in the middle and several at the base. You can get off and ski to another lift to keep going up or practice on the Olympic runs and greens. There are two mountains; Whistler and Blackcomb.

This first day we stayed on Blackcomb where I ate S**T!! MANY times! There are several sections where you will cross over so just watch out for people coming down (they have the right of way) and will move around you…or help you stand back up and bring your ski that fell off.

I started to get my ‘ski legs’ as I will call them by the end of the day and watching the sun set on the mountain while we grabbed poutine and beer at Longhorn Saloon and Grill.

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That night we went out to a few new bars including a downstairs bar next to a movie theater called Three Below. Yes, it felt like we were in a mall but they had an awesome live band. Of course, when in Canada, you have to get truffle fries at Earl’s.

 


December 21, 2018

Day Two on the mountains was much better for me as I only fell once! We spent most of the time on Whistler and took their record setting glass-bottom lift (record setting) from one mountain to another called Peak to Peak. You get a 360 view of the mountains, the valley and Whistler.

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It was a gorgeous day, sunny and clear. I noticed even though it was 0 degrees or something freezing and crazy, it felt like a dry cold so it wasn’t miserable or the biting cold we experienced in the Midwest.

Here are some videos going down through heavy snow machines…this was the choppiest iciest run we had and yes, that is me snow plowing and Drew crashing HA! and some other runs of the day.

After a few runs we grabbed some lunch at an Irish pub at the main area at the base of the mountain called Dubh Linn Gate Irish Pub for burgers and beer.

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Whistler had amazing skiing, unbelievable views and made me consider doing more ski trips in the future. One of the coolest things we noticed on the tops of Whistler Mountain were Inukshuks.

Read more at www.mylocalcollaborative.com

Read more at www.mylocalcollaborative.com

As you can tell by the unedited pictures below the views were breathtaking. This Iconic Statue is the Whistler Mountain Inukshuk, created for Whistler as a Symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. If you’ve skied Whistler Blackcomb in the last couple of years, or visited the summit in the summer, chances are you’ve noticed the large stone statue at the top of the mountain.- Source

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That night I enjoyed the outdoor hot tub next to the pool with a few other visitors.

Read more at www.mylocalcollaborative.com

Read more at www.mylocalcollaborative.com

The door to the pool was also next to the indoor sauna if you wanted to check that out. We had a casual dinner night and found super yummy food for CHEAP at El Furniture Warehouse. Sounds weird, right? Just trust me and go there! For our actual meal we stopped in at Beacon Pub & Eatery. We had tried to stop in once before but they weren’t serving food.


December 22, 2018

Day Three we went to the VERY TOP of Blackcomb mountain. One of the stops on the mountain were the Olympic Rings where we were able to stand on the platform and swap pictures with other skiers.

It was hilarious because we thought we had messed up because all we saw were black diamonds. At the very top were some more amazing views, above the clouds, it’s a long winding path before you can choose to separate to the trick and ramp area, novice or blacks and double blacks.

The best part of this day was that I didn’t fall ONCE! We were some of the last people to get on the lift so the way down was serene and easygoing. We also didn’t run into any bears. So that’s fun.

Out of the two days we really felt like we were on the mountain a majority of the day getting in as many runs as possible.

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For our last night we had a ‘fancy’ dinner upstairs at 21 Steps.


December 23, 2018

Check out day! If you wanted to grab some duty free goodies, beer or anything cheaper than in the states go ahead and grab it now.

Driving Home

Read more at www.mylocalcollaborative.com

Luckily it was great weather to drive back but as we crossed the border back into the US we noticed the roads were jam-packed with the Christmas rush. We were an hour behind schedule  because of crossing back into the border and we actually had to leave our dog in the kennel until the next day because we weren’t going to make it back in time. Just some weird tips from the border patrol: When going back and forth have your glasses off, passports out, back windows open and answer the questions quickly and simply.

 

I would love to hear if you’ve been to Canada especially now that we are on the East coast! Tell us where we should go, what we should see and do.

Cheers!

Marin

 


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Washington Family Trip: Anacortes & San Juan

Living 2,000+ miles away from our family the last three years has had it’s own challenges but it’s also one of the best things we could have done for us as a couple.

One of the perks of living far away is being able to offer a home away from home for family vacations. Both sides of our family and our friends have been awesome about coming to visit and we’ve been able to see and do a lot of fun activities with them. I’m going to go more in depth on some of the more popular areas (like Seattle) but the Upper Left Corner makes for a great trip no matter age, group size or time of year.

The first time our families come to visit we offer them a tour of our everyday life: the capitol 15 minutes away Olympia, our hometown Lacey, JBLM and Tolmie State Park (another day hike area I will dive into). We will also take a quick drive out to towns near the Puget Sound Steilacoom, Tacoma and Gig Harbor for great food, drinks and views. If you want to hear where we like to go, leave a comment and I will let you in on a secret.

When our in-laws visited in July 2017 we were looking for more adventure farther up. We looked into the San Juan Islands and nearby areas for hiking, look outs and whale watching. After picking up the family from SeaTac airport, we drove up to Anacortes. We stayed at the Majestic Inn & Spa which offered the best views of the town and the islands, the rooms were large and clean, the hotel was updated while keeping it’s historic charm. The Majestic offered fantastic service including a rooftop happy hour, delicious breakfast, free game/movie rentals and more. We highly recommend staying here.

The entire town has art standing and painted on the outside of buildings. We ate and drank on the strip since we were able to walk down the main street. There are some places where you must be over 21 to enter but there are many more where you can get in with your family. One of them was a super busy pizza place called Village Pizza. We noticed all the restaurants were busy so expect a wait at the popular places, especially as a table of six. We also stopped into the Rockfish Grill & Anacortes Brewery, Brown Lantern Ale House, and the 5th Street Bistro in the Majestic Inn. We also watched the sunset on the docks with the porpoises.

 

Here’s a quick view of the Snapchat story I had taken showcasing our trip. If you want to follow along in real time, here’s my Instagram.

 

A short drive from Anacortes over to the Anacortes Ferry Terminal to catch an early morning ferry over to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We hopped on the Friday Harbor Jolly Trolley (yes, that’s the real name and it was awesome) to tour the island. As soon as you hop off the ferry there are numerous options for trolleys and tours. The immediate area is full of steep streets that were covered in historical, patriotic decorations for the Fourth of July. There are lots of stores, ice cream, food and lavender shops.

I tried some lavender ice cream and some different flavors.

During our tour I was amazed that this was an ISLAND where people lived, worked and attended school. They told us how they take garbage off the island, electricity when it’s storming and routing other utilities or real estate. There were lots of farming fields and livestock as well as a huge lavender farm. We didn’t get off on this stop but even driving through you could smell the freshness. Next to this farm there was a huge tree house up in the woods if you look closely.

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On the other side of the island was Lime Kiln Point State Park. The driver let us off here for a little bit to walk around. You will want to put your phone on airplane mode here (if not the whole island) because of Canadian roaming charges. You can see Victoria from the edge of the coast.

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While we didn’t see whales on this trip there was lots of other wildlife and seals swimming around in the harbor. Last summer when we were in the Port Angeles area to whale watch we saw lots of Gray Whales. We had also seen lots of whales in the islands when we went whale watching with my sister. If that’s your goal, you’re in the right place.

 

Otherwise they do drive you through other attractions that will make you have huge House Hunters envy.  The next day we stopped through Seattle on our way back down to Olympia. While we spent the Fourth at our house, there’s also a really good fireworks show on Main post at JBLM or across the Sound.

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Let me know if you have any questions. Here’s to good adventure…Cheers!

Marin

 

PS: Did you want more to do in the PNW? Check out the Passport section of my blog to plan your trip; like this.