Seattle - Off the beaten track
Island-strewn, misty and mysterious, Puget Sound is a great area to explore via ferry. The most popular ferry trip for visitors is the link between Seattle and Winslow, Bainbridge Island's primary town. Winslow has an array of shops and restaurants within an easy walk of the dock, but most people take the ferry simply for the ride and the great views of Seattle. The Bainbridge Island Winery in Winslow is a good destination both for cyclists and wine buffs. Ferries board around the clock at Pier 52 on the Alaskan Way waterfront; the trip takes 35 minutes each way.
Bremerton is the largest town on Kitsap Peninsula and the Puget Sound's principal naval base. The main attraction here is the Naval Museum and USS Turner Joy, a US Naval destroyer at the waterfront park by the ferry terminal. The ferry makes 13 trips daily from Seattle's Pier 52.
Blake Island is a state park whose only approach is by boat, which made it a safe place to host the 1993 APEC conference, where President Clinton met with 14 Asian leaders. The most popular facility on the island is Tillicum Village and its Northwest Coast Indian Cultural Center & Restaurant. Blake Island is 12 miles (20km) southwest of Seattle. Boats depart Piers 55 and 56 for a tour of the waterfront and the crossing to the island. Once there, the package includes a traditional Indian salmon bake, traditional dancing and a film about Northwest Native Americans.
An hour's drive into the mountains east of Seattle is the Salish Lodge and Spa at Snoqualmie Falls. This beautiful resort lodge, perched atop the 268ft (82m) Snoqualmie Falls, was the locale for many of the scenes from the TV series Twin Peaks. The drive into the Cascades, views of the waterfall and short hikes in the area, followed by lunch at the lodge (jokes about cherry pie and a cup of joe are mandatory) make for a nice day away.
Four ski areas - Alpental, Snoqualmie Summit, Ski Acres and Hyak - are another prime draw. The falls and resort are 4mi (6km) northwest of the town of Snoqualmie on Hwy 202.
There aren't many cities in the world that offer Vancouver's combination of big-city lifestyle and outdoor fun in such cheek-by-jowl proximity. Ski in the morning, sail in the afternoon and still make it back to town in time for a cocktail or three.
Taking in some First Nations art and culture is a good way to begin a tour through Vancouver. Continue through its many green spaces, its countercultural and cosmopolitan neighbourhoods, and Gastown, the city's original settlement, now transformed into a gussied-up historical quarter.
The suburban community of Woodinville, 20mi (32km) northeast of Seattle off I-405, is home to two popular wineries and a brewpub. Chateau Ste Michelle was one of Washington's first wineries, and its historic estate lends itself easily to summertime picnics and concerts. Next door is the Columbia Winery, offering still more tippling and touring. Redhook Ale Brewery, one of Washington's first microbreweries, has opened a new Woodinville brewery and pub, the Forecasters Public House. Tours are offered daily here as well.