San Juan Islands Lodging

Washington's Top Ten "Must See" Destinations

1 — Mount Rainier - Washington's most awe-inspiring event occurs on those days when this majestic mountain makes an appearance from behind its usual veil of clouds and looms forth to dominate the skyline from every vantage point in the Puget Sound region. To miss a visit to the National Park and experience, firsthand, the intrinsic beauty of Mount Rainier would be a great loss. Massive glaciers and vast snow fields, alpine meadows covered with wildflowers in late summer, worn trails reaching far up to the summit, and mountain streams tumbling through forested valleys await visitors to this natural paradise.

2 — Olympic National Park - Explore miles of Pacific coastline left virtually untouched since coastal tribes lived along these shores long ago. Wander through the ancient Hoh Rain Forest, where stands of Sitka spruce and Western hemlock grow hundreds of feet tall, and a living canopy of mosses and lichens shrouds the forest floor, lush with ferns and sorrel. Hike from lowland forests along river valleys to alpine meadows knee deep in wildflowers, some unique only to the Olympics; or make the ultimate climb up to Mount Olympus. From high on Hurricane Ridge look north across the Stait of Juan De Fuca to Canada or back over the rugged interior of the Olympic Mountains crowned with massive glaciers. In order to truly appreciate the awesome beauty of this National Park, plan time for lengthy exploration at each stop.

3 — Seattle - Plan to spend a few days in the Emerald City - there's lots to see and do. Set on the waterfront and framed by snowcapped mountains, this sophisticated, yet "small-town" city, offers visitors a real sampling of Northwest life. Taste the local flavors prepared by some of the country's top chefs. Seattle is a mecca for the discriminating shopper. This enchanting city is recognized as a leading cultural center on the West Coast. Attend world-renowned performances of the opera, theater, ballet, and symphony. Take in a museum, music concert, or professional ball game. Be sure to visit the Pike Place Market and the International District. Stroll through the grounds at the Seattle Center and check out the spectacular view from the Space Needle. Pioneer Square, the city's historic district, is teeming with one-of-a-kind shops, music clubs, and galleries. A visit to this friendly metropolis wouldn't be complete without venturing out into it many unique and colorful neighborhoods.

4 — San Juan Islands - Nestled between the protected waters of America's northwest corner and Canada's Vancouver Island lie the San Juans; a virtual paradise distinguished for its unspoiled beauty and peaceful lifestyle. Each individual island also has its own unique setting and allure. Plan to explore as many as time will allow. The four major islands, San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw, can be reached by a scenic cruise on the State Ferry. Others are accessible by private boat or plane. The possibilities for recreation are limitless, from whale watching to gallery hopping. Don't miss out on discovering the special romance of the San Juan Islands.

5 — Mount St. Helens - On May 18, 1980 this sleeping giant awoke with a force great enough to blow away 1300 feet of its snowcapped peak. The best views of its crater are from Windy Ridge, near Spirit Lake, on the northeast side. The mountain and its surrounding landscape is now designated as a National Volcanic Monument. Travelers should stop at the Visitor's Center near Castle Rock and see the crater by telescope; also view dramatic films and exhibits on the eruption. Then get up close by taking S.R. 504 along the Toutle River basin to the new Visitor's Centers at Hoffstadt Bluffs (27 mi.) and Coldwater Ridge (47.5 mi.). With fifteen years of self-healing and reforestation efforts, Mount St. Helens has taken on a new look of youthful splendor. Learn more about the devastating eruption and man's on-going endeavors towards forest and wildlife recovery at Weyerhaeuser's Forest Learning Center (33.5 mi.).

6 — Grand Coulee Dam - Make time to visit this impressive monument to both man's ingenuity and nature's force. Built during the Great Depression, it is not only one of the largest concrete structures in the world, but is also its third largest producer of hydro-electric power. There are both guided and self-guided tours offered, including a ride down the face of the dam in an glass-enclosed elevator and a special look inside its powerhouses. Every evening, from Memorial Day through September, the world's largest laser light show is projected on the dam's spillway.

7 — Lake Chelan - A spectacular setting for one of Washington's leading recreation destinations. Fjord-like, this pristine glacier-fed lake, is nestled in a gorge considered to be one of the deepest in North America. Chelan is 55 miles long, varies in width from 1 to 2 miles, and is the third deepest lake in the U.S., at 1,486 feet. Chelan Valley, at its lower end, is distinguished by apple orchards, rolling hills, wide sandy beaches, and lakefront resorts. The remote upper lake, accessible only by boat or floatplane is marked by towering granite cliffs, deep evergreen forests, and jagged snowcapped peaks. In Stehekin, at the lake's furthest reaches, there are only about 75 year-round residents, all committed to preserving its unspoiled natural beauty; it lies within the Lake Chelan National Recreation Area.

8 — Columbia River Gorge - From high on Beacon Rock, near Skamania, where dramatic views of the Gorge can be seen, to White Salmon, where a popular white water river of the same name spills into the Lower Columbia, this National Scenic Area shared by both Washington and Oregon offers some of the most distinctive scenery in the country. A unique combination of currents and wind conditions along this stretch of the Columbia attracts world-class windsurfers for recreation and competition. Visitors to Washington should to plan for a road trip or cruise along this historic waterway.

9 — Snoqualmie Falls - Throughout the year the three forks of the Snoqualmie River deliver winter runoff from a melting snowpack high in the Cascade Mountains to the Puget Basin miles below. Along the way they cut through steep canyons and tumble over huge granite boulders until they join forces near the tiny hamlet of Snoqualmie; then as one mighty river it plunges 268 feet to continue on its course. This is a most spectacular sight.

10 — Ferry ride on the Puget Sound - A visit to Washington wouldn't be complete without a scenic ride on a State Ferry across the waters of the Puget Sound. Experience the special magic that the fresh salt air, lapping waves, friendly faces, and unsurpassed vistas bring to every traveler. Any ride, any time, will bestow a unique and rewarding adventure. See spectacular snowcapped mountain views of Mt. Rainier, Mt. Baker, the Olympics and the Cascades, all in one trip. Travel by night and discover the romance of the sparkling city lights of Seattle. Quaint villages greet the ferries at their landings and offer up a special sampling of Northwest life.

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