When spring turns to summer and there’s more blue than grey in the sky, all of Seattle yearns to get out and enjoy it. This is when the inner romantic in me comes out, when the hubby and I can take a ferry ride and enjoy the Seattle skyline or drive through the region to soak up the sunny views.
It also is the time of year when I take a break from my international travels to stay close to home. Why leave during the nicest months? When the weather is best in the Pacific Northwest, with Mt. Rainier dominating the horizon and flowers exploding in gardens, the views alone can leave you breathless.
Here’s a short guide to some of my favorite spots in the region during summer.
This town sits on the northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula and is a go-to spot for us in summer. We hop on our motorcycles, take the Bainbridge Island ferry from downtown Seattle, and make our way through the scenic roads of Highways 104 and 19 until we arrive.
The place that locals call “P.T.” is best-known for its Victorian homes perched atop the hill above downtown. In this section of town, you’ll find a handful of cute restaurants and a number of charming bed and breakfasts. One of my favorite things to do in Port Townsend is to browse the shops on Water Street. There’s an interesting mix here, including a metaphysical bookstore, a bead store, and several shops with handmade crafts (some of which sell for thousands of dollars).
My favorite spot for a meal is the Public House Grill, which is located downtown. The food is above-standard pub fare. If you’re lucky, you might find yourself there when a band is playing.
Opposite Seattle on Puget Sound sits the Olympic Peninsula, a huge mass of land that juts out into the Pacific. Starting from Port Townsend, my preference is to drive counter-clockwise along the top of the peninsula, through Sequim and Port Angeles, down the coast, and then east along the Columbia River and back up through Olympia. If you reserve at least three days for this getaway, you’ll have time to visit the Quinault Rain Forest, one of my favorite walking spots in the area.
The highway dips in and out of Olympic National Forest. Along the way, you can stop at hot springs in Sol Duc, detour out to the Pacific Ocean to walk or even sleep on the beach, hike through the Hoh Rain Forest, or stop for a meal in Forks, an old logging town made famous by the Twilight books and movies.
There may be no better way to decompress with your significant other than to unplug on the Olympic Peninsula.
This little city, just south of the Canadian border, has a lot going for it: It’s a university town (Western Washington University is located there), it’s a jumping-off point for the San Juan Islands and Vancouver, British Columbia, and it’s close to the Cascade Mountains.
Viewfinder Tip: If you can plan a mid-week getaway in the Seattle area, you likely will find fewer crowds and lower hotel prices.
I got hooked on “B-ham” when I discovered the city’s Fairhaven district. This area is home to Village Books, one of the best bookshops in the Northwest (and perhaps in the entire country). The district also adheres to a strict building code that requires outward appearances to stick with 19th Century architecture. That means Fairhaven has lots of charm.
Once you’ve explored the shops and eateries of Fairhaven, grab your partner, get a coffee from one of the nearby cafes, and walk the South Bay Trail that follows the waterfront. Enjoy the views. Revel in the romance. This path is especially wonderful in the lovely summer weather.
The village of Leavenworth is a Bavarian-themed town at the foot of the Cascade Mountains. It’s an excellent stopping-point when you take the Cascade Loop from Seattle, west to Wenatchee, and then back up and around through the Cascades.
While the village is most active during festivals such as Oktoberfest and Maifest, the near perfect weather also makes summer a great time to visit. A mix of the surrounding mountains and cozy accommodations makes the area romantic. Of course an ample supply of hiking trails offer great ways to spend dates, too. During summer in the Seattle area, you almost can’t help falling in love.
What are your favorite destinations for a romantic getaway?