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Festivals & Festivities

Pretty much year round there is bound to be some sort of annual celebration or festival from the Olympic Peninsula area to the Kitsap Peninsula area.  And this list doesn’t even include the heavy hitters in Pierce, King and surrounding counties like the Washington State Fair or Bumbershoot!  So here is a month by month list of the different festivities happening in our “neck of the woods” January through December.  Be sure to check websites for dates, admission fees, etc.  If you see one we’ve missed, be sure to let us know and we’ll add it on the list!

January:

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March:

April:

May:

June:

July:

August:

September:

October:

November:

December:

Visit Oregon

If you’re looking for a trip destination with odd, unusual or completely different things to do, visit our neighbor to the south, Oregon.  More specifically, Western Oregon.  Pretty much a straight shot down the highway will take you to Portland, Mt. Hood or Florence.  Each destination has something completely different to offer, experiences to be had and amazing sites to see.  If you haven’t already, there is no time like the present to visit Oregon!

Portland has become a destination city in the US.  About 2.5 hours from Union, Portland is situated on the just south of the Washington border. The city has grown and expanded over the years to become a hot spot for breweries, arts & culture, both fine dining and quirky eateries and of course, outdoor activities. Every weekend in Portland March through December 24th, there is the Saturday Market. A huge market filled with local and guest vendors peddling everything from hand-made creations to delicious delectable. It is certainly a weekend event not to be missed. Portland is also well known for its unusual motto: Keep Portland Weird. You’ll find bizarre museums, “alternative” lodging, unusual ghost stories, wacky festivals and let’s not forget, The World Naked Bike Ride. So get ready to expand your horizons, break out of your comfort zone and never feel out of place on a visit to Portland.

Near Florence, OR situated on the central Oregon coastline are the most epic of sand dunes. You’ll have to travel about 5.5 hours from Union to reach the dunes, but if you enjoy off-roading, hiking, photography or any number of other activities in an other-worldly place, pack up and head down. So other-worldly in fact that Frank Herbert was inspired to write Dune after visiting here. Rent ATV’s, dune buggies or take a tour because there are over 40 miles of dunes & coastline to explore.

Mount Hood is the highest point in Oregon and the 4th highest in the Cascade Range. About 3.5 hours from Union, located just east of Portland along the Columbia River Gorge, the area boasts breath-taking scenery. Hike it, bike it, paddle it, sail it, fish it, ski it. Experience this magnificent part of our area and finish the day off with a locally brewed beer. There is actually an “Explore the Gorge Beer Trail”!! Stay at the Timberline Lodge, hike the Bald Mountain Trail or discover the Lost Lake.

Whistler, Vancouver, Victoria & Vancouver Island-Visit Canada

I heard an ad on the radio yesterday about Whistler’s opening weekend and thought it would be a great time to talk about visiting our neighbors to the north.  And because of Union’s premium location, getting there is no problem.  Are you looking for a weekend get-away? Sure living here is absolutely fantastic, but sometimes you just want to get away from it all, take in new sites, new faces, new dining experiences.  In about 6 hours, you can be in an entirely different country!  So get your passport ready to for a short road trip and visit Canada!

The official Whistler website says it it best: “We are all moment hunters.”  I love that.  100% true.  We journey through life hunting out those moments and experiences that will last the rest of our lives.  And taking this adventure will definitely create some of those amazing moments.  Visit their website to book a winter wonderland vacation!

Vancouver, approximately 4.5 hours from Union, is an award winning city recognized by Travel & Leisure Magazine, Trip Advisor’s Traveler’s Choice Awards and the Economist Intelligence Unit. Unique elevation and climate make Vancouver one of the only places in the world that you can ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon. And for the golf lovers in our midst, in Vancouver, golf is always in season. Due to it’s rich history and culture, Vancouver is proud to host diverse culture and nationalities. And while there is plenty of natural beauty to be seen while visiting, Vancouver is also a cosmopolitan city filled with urban amenities and activities. Whether it’s a night on the town for dining and dancing or an educational experience of museums and learning centers, Vancouver has just what you’re looking for to enjoy a lovely weekend get-away.

Victoria is only about 4 hours from Union and includes a relaxing and picturesque two hour ferry ride. It is the capital of British Columbia and filled with inspiring views and scenery. Established in 1843, Victoria is chock full of historic buildings and must-see museums. And whether you’re with your family or taking a romantic get-away, there is plenty of things to do and see for all. Golfing, biking and fishing for the outdoor enthusiast or shopping dining and theater for the cultural buff, Victoria has you covered. And don’t forget to visit the city’s flower gardens which are famous all over the world!

Vancouver Island was rated by Travel and Leisure Magazine in 2014 as one of the top 10 islands in the world. It takes about 7 hours to reach Vancouver Island from Union, but is well worth the trip. “It has one of the world’s most diverse ecosystems: Rainforests, marshes, meadows, beaches, mountains, oceans, rivers and lakes create habitats for multitudes of wildlife species. In fact, the region is one of the world’s premier locations for whale watching, birding, as well as salmon and trout fishing.” There are a great many things to do in this unspoiled, sparsely populated region.

If you haven’t made it up north recently, plan a trip and be a moment hunter!

San Juans Islands

Traveling to the San Juan Islands is easy to do from here, but also feels like you are traveling to a completely different world.  And for anyone who has ever wanted to experience Orca sightings with their own two eyes, there is hardly a better place to go!

The San Juan Islands are an archipeligo located between Washington State and Canada in the Salish Sea. There are 4 major islands and at mean tide, over 128 named islands and rocks. The islands average 247 days of sunshine a year and half the annual rainfall of Seattle. The islands are rich with an array of indoor and outdoor activites. From Union, San Juan Island is approximately 5 hours travel including two ferry rides from Port Townsend to Coupville and Anacortes to Friday Harbor. Or drive directly to Anacortes via Seattle, one less ferry, same amount of travel time.
The San Juans are a treasure trove of wild life. The islands have the highest concentration of Bald eagles in the continental US. They are also home to dozens of other predatory birds like Peregrine falcons and Barred owls. And for the sea watchers, the San Juans are home to Harbor seals, River otters, Steller sea lions, Common minke whales, Dall’s porpoises and of course, Orcas. There are 3 resident Orca pods near the San Juans but are often also visited by transient Orcas.

• Orcas Island– (4.5 hours from Union) Orcas Island is named the “Gem of the San Juans”. The island offers a plethora of activities for both cultural and nature, for the social and for those looking for solitude. Deer Harbor is their marine hub with the boating, fishing, kayaking, whale watching seekers. Eastsound is the cultural and social hub of the island filled with restaurants, boutiques, galleries and history. Moran State Park is over 5,000 acres of forests, lakes and waterfalls for those looking for a quiet nature hike. And finally Doe Bay offers water activities, resort and retreat lodging, dining and hot tubs.
• Roche Harbor/San Juan Island– (5 hours from Union) When you arrive in Friday Harbor, Roche Harbor is only a 20 min drive. The village is rich with beauty and history. Take meandering stroll to get the feel of this lovely community or take a self-guided history tour. Visit the sculpture park or hike on the 6.3 miles of trails around the harbor area. And don’t forget to sign up for a kayaking or whale watching tour!
• Friday Harbor/San Juan Island – (5 hours from Union) Friday Harbor is just one square mile and the hub of San Juan Island. The town is filled with art & artists, boutiques, book stores, antique shops, cafes and friendly faces. Interested in the Orcas? Here you will find The Whale Museum, where you can learn all about the Orcas, local pods and other local marine mammals. And no need for an automobile in Friday Harbor, everything is walkable and you can hop on an intersland ferry right here to get to the other islands.

Olympic Peninsula Town & City Edition

While the Olympic Peninsula is abundant with nature and beauty in almost every square inch it covers, sometimes we feel the need to rejoin mankind, take in a show, enjoy an exquisite meal, mingle at a festival or art walk.  And there is plenty of that in the Olympic Peninsula too.

Sequim– Pronounced “Skwim”, Sequim is located less than 2 hour from Union. A trip to Sequim will provide both plenty of outdoor activities and more city-life cultural activities. There is hiking, golfing, fishing, geocaching, boating, birding, even hot air balloon rides. Sequim is also well known for its berry and lavender farms. The city of Sequim also has a wide variety of shopping, restaurants and the Olympic Theatere Arts to catch a live performance. And every July they host the Sequim Lavender Weekend.

Port Townsend– Located less than 2 hours from Union, Port Townsend is a town with “maritime heritage, artist spirit, and a touch of urban chic”. “National Geographic calls Port Townsend ‘one of the most sophisticated places west of Seattle,’ and arts and entertainment is a large part of the reason why.” Centrum (non-profit for the arts), Copper Canyon Press (poetry publishing house), Northwinds Art Center and the Key City Public Theater provide a hub of arts and creativity here. Almost year round, Port Townsend is chock full of events and festivals including farmers markets, film festival, public theater, food festivals, gallery walks and the very famous annual Rhododendron Festival. There’s no shortage of outdoor activities either between hiking, biking golfing, kayaking and camping! And there is also a considerable amount of Victorian and nautical history in Port Townsend. Spend at weekend here exploring all this great place has to offer.

Port Angeles– Located just over 2 hours from Union; Port Angeles is situated on the northern edge of the Olympic Peninsula along the shore of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and is the headquarters for Olympic National Park. If it is history you’re interested in, Port Angeles is “the site of the ‘largest prehistoric Indian village and burial ground found in the United States,’” which was discovered in 2003. Port Angeles offers an assortment of outdoor and indoor activities. You can spend your day hiking in the Olympic National Park, bird watching, kayaking, fishing, golfing or even charter a whale watching expedition. For indoor recreation there are several casinos, a symphony orchestra, a community playhouse and two movie theaters. And if you’ve got a little extra time, catch a ferry to Victoria BC, only a 90 minute crossing time. For more information and a list of scheduled events and activities, check out their website linked above.

Next time, we’ll venture a little further north and see what new adventures await us in the San Juan Islands!

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Pacific Ocean Destinations

 

While our area of Mason County is filled with water access to Puget Sound, Hood Canal and Mason Lake to name a few, sometimes you get a yearning for the proper ocean.  Endless waters with no land on the horizon.  Crashing waves and tumultuous seas.  And maybe  you’re interested in surfing, boating or tide pools? A night on the town? Hikes and views of the Pacific Ocean? Take an afternoon or a weekend get-away and visit one of the spectacular Pacific Ocean destinations.

 

Grays Harbor Area– Located only 58 miles away from Union is Grays Harbor’s largest city, Aberdeen. Aberdeen has plenty to explore:   parks, museums, theaters, and walking trails. Just a little further along, Hoquiam is a great place to see migrating shorebirds. The Grays Harbor area is filled with history and arts, and there is also hiking, camping, walking, 50 miles of beaches, sport fishing, charter boats and much, much more. And if you’re feeling lucky, there are 4 different casinos within a reasonable distance of The Harbor. Also check out Grayland, Westport (for the surfers!), Ocean Shores, North Beach and Tokeland, all within a 2 hour drive from Union.

“A destination for all seasons…where memories are waiting to be made!”

 

Kalaloch– Located on the coast, and about 2.5 hours from Union, Kalaloch is just north of the Quinault Reservation. Kalaloch is one of the most visited areas in Olympic National Park. Hiking at Kalaloch is an excellent way to see the many species of nesting birds and other wildlife. Due to the protected nature of the area, it is considered a safe haven for thousands of marine species. Camping is available at Kalaloch and for more amenities the Kalaloch Lodge is right on the beach with rooms and cabins available.

 

La Push Beach– A scenic 3.5 hour drive from Union on HWY 101 will bring you to La Push, WA. La Push Beach is a series of beach chains called Beach one, two, and three. Beach one is fourteen miles, beach two is thirteen, and beach three is twelve miles away from the town of Forks. First Beach is the only beach in La Push that can be accessed with a vehicle. In addition to beachcombing, First Beach offers, fishing, surfing, hiking and storm watching. To get to Second Beach, there is about a mile hike from the Quileute Reservation. Half a mile offshore is an archipelago. Sea stacks are mixed throughout the small islands and are known as the Quileute Needle. Third Beach is a 1.6 mile hike from the road with views of Strawberry Bay. Third Beach is one of the Olympic Peninsula beaches which tend to consist of seastacks and driftwood. In the isolated non-developed cove at Taylor Point, there is a waterfall that falls directly onto the beach where tide pools are also featured on the north end. Being the Third Beach down the La Push, Washington coastline, it is the most secluded. However, there are multiple camp sites that put campers within 5 minutes’ walk of the ocean where Teahwhit Head blocks the way to Second Beach.

There are so many amazing places to go and see without having to travel too far away.  The ocean beaches just barely scratch the surface.  Oh the places we will go!  Stay tuned!