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planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

Singapore, Singapore
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planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

Hi

I'll be in seattle for 8 days in early May, and will be spending about 3 to 4 days in seattle exploring as well as for work. The other 4 days i'm thinking of planning short trips - any suggestions?

Thinking of spending 1 day/night for visiting vinyards, and my friend recommended Yakima Valley.

Thinking of also driving up to Vancouver and spending 1 or 2 nights there then return to seattle.

The remaining trip thinking of making day trips from seattle - Maybe Mt Rainer?

Any suggestions of a better itinenary anyone? Is Yakima Valley a good place to go and easily assessible, and should i stay in Yakima Valley itself? Any advice will be much appreciated!

Kingston, Washington
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1. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

Hi cOOkiecat,

All of your short trip ideas are good but if the weather is good, I would suggest making the trip to Yakima Valley via Mt. Rainier (use Cayuse and Chinook passes if they are open otherwise go via White Pass). This is a fairly long drive but worth it!

If the weather is not so good, a short trip to Vancouver, BC would work. Bring an umbrella! :)

4 days would probably not be enough to do it all.

Curtis S

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2. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

I think trying to fit Yakima, Vancouver, Mt. Rainier, and Seattle in only 8 days is overly ambitious (they are each one in a different direction and not close).

Not sure what you want to cut, but I think only 2 or 3 out of the 4 would work better. Welcome! suze

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3. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

There are growing regions all over the state. However a fair number of the vineyards and wineries are clustered in the Columbia Valley -- Yakima to Tri-Cities, Red Mountain, Horse Heaven Hills and Walla Walla.

The closest thing we really have to a kind of Napa would be Walla Walla. There is a quaint but sophisticated small town that has quality dining with vineyards and wineries all around. However it is about a 5 hour drive from Seattle. You really need to spend at least one night and honestly you are not going to get much tasting in unless you stay two nights.

http://wallawallawine.com/

Keep in mind that other than just looking at vineyards formal visitation of vineyards -- like tours with vineyard managers -- is uncommon.

They are having Spring Release Weekend May 3-5, 2013. Here is the website description.

"The first releases of a new vintage are the highlights of this weekend. The Valley’s winemakers are on hand to introduce their new wines and share the creative winemaking process. Visitors can be the first to enjoy the new vintage and take home a selection of wines, many of which can be found only by visiting the wineries and tasting rooms themselves. "

The Balloon Stampede -- a hot air balloon festival -- weekend is May 10-12.

Both of these weekends will be very crowded and it is possible that most of the available lodging will be booked. If you are thinking about Walla Walla during one of these two special event weekends I would start looking at planning ASAP.

Here is information on Yakima Valley wineries. There are probably about 50

http://wineyakimavalley.org/

Tri-cities wine touring

visittri-cities.com/visitors/wine/wineries/

Red Mountain

http://www.redmountainava.com

Horse Heaven Hills

horseheavenhillswinegrowers.org/contactus.ht…

For much of Columbia Valley, Red Mountain, Yakima Valley and Horse Heaven Hills you would stay either in Yakima or in Tri-Cities. It is a fairly large area (about 80-90 miles from Yakima to Tri-Cities). You won't be able to realistically be able to visit a significant part of the area (particularly with any drinking) during a one night stay.

Closer to Seattle you could visit the wineries (though there are no production vineyards to speak of) in Woodinville. Close to 100 wineries operate there. http://woodinvillewinecountry.com/ Keep in mind that some places are tasting rooms without winery production facilities. These are basically just shops to try and buy wine -- typically from Eastern Washington wineries looking to capitalize on the foot traffic Woodinville gets from being close to Seattle. That doesn't make them better or worse than a tasting room attached to an actual winery ... in the same way that visiting a winery in a warehouse district is not necessarily a better or worse experience to visiting a winery surrounded by its own vineyards. First and foremost you are looking to try excellent wine. I do think it is fun to visit a couple of actual wineries to see the production facilities and often you will also get to interact with the actual wine maker. Similarly, all else being equal it is fun to visit wineries in the midst of the vineyards where the wine comes from as I think it adds to your appreciation of the terroir aspects of the wine. However once you have traveled to Walla Walla, or Horse Heaven Hills or Red Mountain you don't really have to go back time and time again to appreciate the terroir.

Some of the most illustrious wines in Washington are made in Western Washington -- like Quilceda Creek. There are world class wines and I would think you would be able to enjoy a day of drinking good wine and talking to wine makers and staff around here and get just as much out of it as traveling 2.5 to 5 hours to see wineries and vineyards in Eastern WA.

There are also a fair number of wineries in the Seattle area. Wineries in Western Washington largely source grapes from Eastern Washington. They pick up grapes during harvest and bring them back to their facilities to vinify (crush, fermentation, press, secondary fermentation, racking) and eventually bottle. Here is a Trip List that I created not long ago for visiting wineries in/around Seattle. tripadvisor.com/GoListDetail-i27022-Visting_…

Hope that helps

-K

Seattle, Washington
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4. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

I would distinguish between vineyards and wineries. There are many vineyards (and a number of wineries) in the Yakima Valley, but in May the vines themselves will be pretty unimpressive (any grapes will be very wee). You could save a lot of driving if you visited a number of wineries in the Seattle area instead. The grapes may come from eastern Washington, but the wine tasting rooms, bottling plants, etc., are on the west side of the Cascades. There are a number in the Woodinville area, around 30 min. from Seattle, so easy to do as a day trip (or weekend outing) without having to stay overnight.

I would treat Mount Rainier on a contingent basis. In early May there will still be a great deal of snow on the ground at the visitor centers, but there's also a very high likelihood that the mountain will be obscured by clouds or rain/snow at altitude. If you can see the mountain from Seattle, head out - quickly. If you can't see it, have some other activity as a backup plan.

You might consider adding Whistler to a Vancouver outing. Whistler is a couple of hours up the (gorgeous) Sea to Sky Highway, and even if the weather is less than ideal, the scenery and activities available at Whistler and on the way would still make for a worthwhile trip.

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5. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

(Writing at the same time as klsalas.)

Singapore, Singapore
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6. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

thank you for all your replies!

klsalas: thank you for the very detailed reply, especially about the vineyards/wineries. If we do decide to stay in a vineyard region for a night or 2 to enjoy a stay in the wine country, do we have to go all the way to walla walla or are there nice places to stay in yakima region?

Sounds like Mt Rainer is not too good an idea at the time of the year. How about Mt St Helen's or Olympic National Park instead of going to Vancouver BC?

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7. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

Primarily in Yakima you will find typical chain-type hotels. Nothing particularly remarkable. When we are wine tasting in the Yakima Valley and want to stay the night, I typically stay at the Oxford Suites. I like it because it is right on the river, and I can get out and walk the Valley trail. Nothing fancy though... right in downtown Yakima we have stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn too...it was adequate and comfortable too. There are a couple of B & Bs in the area, but I have not stayed there. Outside of Yakima, in the Yakima Canyon, on they way back to Seattle, the Canyon River Ranch has lovely accommodations. http://www.canyonriver.net/

Outside of Yakima, and an unique experience, consider the Cherrywood B & B in Zillah. As you head to Prosser, about 50 miles from Yakima, Desert Wind Winery has a few lovely rooms above the winery. Also in Prosser, Alexandria-Nicole Cellars was offering "glamping". Then again, as you get closer to the Tri-Cities there are other options.

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8. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

Olympic NP has a variety of climate/environmental zones - alpine (Hurricane Ridge) which will probably be relatively more accessible in May than Rainier, but also a wonderful rocky/stormy coastline, beautiful lakes (Crescent and Quinault) and the unique temperate rain forests of the Hoh and Quinault Valleys. The park comprises a wilderness core with a narrow coastal strip (on the Pacific), so getting from one part of the park to the others requires driving around the periphery. Seeing much of the park requires at least two days, with three or four being advisable. But it's a wonderful place, and May is a good (if wet) time of the year to visit the rain forest valleys on the Pacific coast.

Mount St. Helens is another high volcanic peak (not as high now as previously) that will be subject to the same weather conditions as Rainier. It might be a great outing, or it might be a bust, depending on the day.

While I am very much a "broken record" on the subject, I'd suggest you look at an alternate itinerary that could meet several of your wishes at once.

Travel from Seattle to the Yakima Valley over Snoqualmie Pass (around 2 1/2 hours) and spend a night somewhere in the wine country. The next day travel south on US 97 to the Columbia River near Maryhill. There are wineries along the big river in this area, also the wonderful little Maryhill Museum - www.maryhillmuseum.org . The road between Yakima and Maryhill passes through some beautiful "old west" country - pine and sagebrush because you're on the dry side of the Cascades. Much of the route is through the Yakama Indian reservation, and there are often amazing views of Mount Adams from US 97. http://www.maryhillwinery.com/

Head west along the Columbia River on the Washington side, then cross and spend the night in Hood River, Oregon. Hood River is the center of the Columbia Gorge National Scenic area, and in May the Gorge, along with the Hood River Valley, will be in full spring glory. Along the Oregon side of the river (from Hood River toward Portland) there are a series of waterfalls that will be very impressive with water from melting mountain snows. The Gorge offers marvelous vistas and hikes, white water rafting on the White Salmon River (Washington side) and the Hood River Valley itself will still have orchards in bloom.

A little over an hour from Hood River (south) you can visit Timberline Lodge high on the slopes of Mount Hood. In May there will still be skiing at this altitude, but the views of Mount Hood from the valley floor, and once you get closer, are stunning - IMO every bit as impressive as comparable views of Mount Rainier. The benefit of Mount Hood, however, is that it's close to many other activities, so - again - if the weather is poor, you have choices.

After two nights in Hood River, you can drive back to Seattle up I-5. If the weather is decent, then a detour to Mount St. Helens is very easy while you're on that route.

So in four days you can have high mountains, wineries, fantastic sightseeing, hikes, historic roads, a great little museum... it has it all.

Here are a couple of pictures taken in early May:

Columbia Gorge: http://gardyloo.us/20100509_5a.JPG

Mt. Hood from Hood River Valley: http://gardyloo.us/20100509_85a.JPG

Latourelle Falls, Columbia Gorge: http://gardyloo.us/latourellefallshdr1.jpg

Edited: 10:55 am, March 02, 2013
Port Angeles, WA
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9. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

You have received wonderful advice here. I'll just chime in to say that ONP is lovely in May, but that a visit there requires at least 2 nights. 3 or 4 would be better. The trilliums and orchids will be out in the lower elevations, and the rain forests will be incandescent with new growth. The rivers and waterfalls are particularly impressive in May, because they are swollen with snow melt. This is one of the few times of year when the town of Port Angeles, the gateway to the park, is actually pretty, as there are many gardens there that will be in May glory. It's a great time to visit the Port Angeles Farmers' Market. Lake Crescent is gorgeous in May, as are the beaches.

Like the other posters, I urge you not to attempt too much. If you have only 4 days to explore, you could easily spend all of them in ONP, or in the wine country, or up around Vancouver. Distances are vast here, and you would not want to spend all of your free time in a car.

Seattle, Washington
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10. Re: planning short trips from seattle - vineyards?

As far as overnight accommodations in the Yakima Valley area, as IslandGrl notes they are mostly pretty basic, not the "wine country" experience you may be looking for. One exception is Desert Wind in Prosser (check reviews on TA) which is really nice. Only 4 rooms, so may be hard to get into.

One alternative vineyard region, a bit closer than Walla Walla, is the Willamette Valley just south of Portland. There are a number of nice B&B's and good restaurants in the area. You won't have the warmer, dryer weather of Eastern Washington in early May, though.