Suddenly, it's summer; school is winding down and temperatures are climbing as you scramble for vacation ideas. The Pacific Northwest is the ultimate outdoor experience -- hiking the cool, majestic old-growth forests of the Pacific Peninsula, the majestic snow-capped peaks, boating or kayaking the crystal blue mountain lakes or exploring the miles of scenic coast -- this is the place to be. No matter where you live in the country, getting to... and then around the Pacific Northwest is easy. So as you consider a roadtrip, RV excursion, or camping vacation, here's some places you won't want to miss!
The Awesome Oregon Coast:
Ranked as one of the world's most magnificent shorelines, Oregon provides non-stop "ahh" scenic views of dazzling Pacific, gray whales and rugged geology. Search out Cannon Beach, Haystack Rock, Ecola State Park, Seaside, with famous landmarks dating from the 1920s. Historic Astoria is home to the Columbia River Maritime Museum, and don't miss Lewis and Clark's Fort Clatsop. Not to be missed is Sea Lion Cave, the largest sea cave in the world. Located about 40 miles south of Newport, the Cave was formed about 25 million years ago, rises more than 12 stories and stretches about the length of a football field. Don't trip! Just Kidding - the walking trails are very safe.
Portland... and more!
Detour inland for culture at the Portland Art Museum. Founded in 1892, it is the oldest museum in the Pacific Northwest, and the seventh oldest in the country. Internationally recognized, the museum draws over 350,000 visitors annually. Just east of Portland, the Historic Columbia River Highway will follow the Columbia River Gorge through some of the most stupendous waterfalls in the world. Look for kiteboarders and kayaks amidst the towering scenery. Hiking, fishing, camping, spas, wineries and museums - need we say more?
Hard to narrow it down, but our top five picks for this state are:
Olympic National Park: Taking the ferry to the Olympic Peninsula is just the beginning of the adventure! Encompassing coastline, glaciated peaks ideal for alpine skiers, as well as temperate rainforest in over 922,000 acres, the Olympic National Park is an ideal place for hikers. And be sure to get your Twilight fix while checking out the town of Forks.
Snoqualmie Falls: Truly astonishing and well worth the 40-minute drive east from Seattle, the Falls are located within a beautiful park.
Mount Rainier: So picture-perfect it is a view captured on postcards and calendars; the beauty of Mt. Rainier is even more impressive on a hike. Bring a picnic and experience the massive glaciers, alpine meadows covered with wildflowers and cascading waterfalls around every bend.
Pike Place Market: Grab a cup of coffee at Starbuck's first location and watch the colorful fishmongers sing out and toss fresh fish to each other! Have the kids look for and donate to the gum wall. Gross and fun all at the same time!
Space Needle: Towering more than 600 feet above the city's scenic hills, the Space needle is the heart of Seattle. Built for the 1962 World's Fair, the structure includes a world-famous rotating restaurant, observation deck and gift shop. The forever-views of Puget Sound, skyline and city are best at sunset. Then head over to the Experience Music Project. You just have to see it to believe it.
Defined by its mountain and river regions -- the grand Tetons, and more whitewater river miles than any other state in the lower 48 -- Idaho provides nonstop outdoor rafting and kayaking adventure. Grab an oar and dig into the Snake, Lochsa, Payette and Middle Fork of the Salmon rivers.
For a unique family experience, consider booking a week at one of Idaho's superb western lifestyle ranches. "Working" cattle ranches welcome guest to share the ranching experience. Summer ranch programs are generally offered June-September and are limited to less than two dozen guests to provide a higher level of personal attention and instruction. Activities include cattle drives, roundup, fixing fences, doing a variety of ranch chores, perhaps feeding some of the ranch's baby animals
Daily horseback rides into the spectacular wilderness offers sightings of elk, deer, mountain goats and sheep and moose, set against the backdrop of the rugged Tetons and Idaho's streams and rivers. Parents can relax as counselors and guides lead children's activities such as leather crafts, hiking archery and pony or horseback rides. And of course everyone enjoys the evening campfire sing-alongs under the stars.
Julyamsh Powwow, Post Falls
The annual Powwow and Coeur d'Alene Tribal Encampment will be held July 26-28, 2013 at the Greyhound Park in Post Falls. Featuring costumed rituals, dances, food and fair items, this is the region's largest tribal gathering of the year.
Sierra Silver Mine, Wallace
Authentic and educational, the tour provides live demonstrations of mining machines and methods and a narrated trolley tour both to and from the mine, as well as the underground experience.
So grab the kids, load up and enjoy the Pacific Northwest!