5 Travel Bloggers Share Their Favorite
Washington Hikes & Happy Hours
Hike: Fort Worden Upper Bunkers
Happy Hour: Port Townsend Brewing (Port Townsend)
Hike: Oyster Dome
The Oyster Dome has to be one of my favorite summer hikes, as it offers stunning views of Samish Bay and the San Juan Islands.
Reaping the picture-perfect rewards will take an ascent of 2000 feet, but the pain is certainly worth the gain in my opinion. The trail winds up the south side of Blanchard Mountain, ending at a rocky promontory known as Oyster Dome.
While the switchbacks can seem endless, the walk passes by alder, western red cedar, and Douglas fir forests that seem enchanted. Stay a while at the top to soak in the views. When you’re back down the mountain, two fabulous restaurants – Oyster Bar and Chuckanut Manor – are just steps from the trailhead. Enjoy a few post-hike drinks and nibbles!
It’s one of the most popular trails in the Bellingham area, but on a clear day, the Oyster Dome more than exceeds its reputation as one of the prettiest coastal hikes in Washington.
The finer details: The Oyster Dome hike is approximately 6 miles round trip if you start from the trailhead at Chuckanut Drive. Moderate hike with about 1900 feet elevation gain. Keen hikers can extend the route with side trips to the Bat Cave or Lily Lake. Dogs are permitted if leashed.
Happy Hour:Secret Cove(Anacortes)
The perfect summer happy hour consists of delicious cocktails and a water view, which can all be found at Secret Cove in Anacortes.
It has one of the best value happy hours around, lasting 3pm – 7pm Monday-Saturday, and 11:30 a.m. – 7 p.m. on Sunday. Well drinks start at just $3, but I can’t go past a margarita ($5) or Manhattan ($7). There’s also a huge range of appetizers priced at $4, $6 and $8 – try the BBQ Brisket Sliders, loaded nachos or oyster shooters.
When the weather behaves, the patio is the best seat in town. Sit back and watch the local harbor seals and otters frolic in the water below.
Hike: Shi Shi Beach and Point of the Arches
Why we like it: It’s not so much the hike itself that we love, but more the destination! Shi Shi Beach is part of the Olympic National Forest which looks out toward the great Pacific Ocean. The location is pretty far from civilization, and that makes for amazing stargazing at night! There are no city lights or vehicle lights as there is no road to the beach. This is a perfect place to camp for a night, or 2, 3, 5, whatever. On the south side of the beach is Point of the Arches, an archipelago jetting out to the open sea. There are some small caves to explore here with plenty of sea life in all of the tide pools.
Miles: 8 roundtrip
Difficulty: Medium due to mud and a cliff at the end that you must decent, it does include ropes for help.
Happy Hour: Tacoma Cabana (Tacoma)
Food order: We chose Cheese Quesadillas and Tiki Platter because we’re vegetarians. However, we hear that the rest of the menu is excellent!
Happy Hour drink:Aku Aku Zombie. After this happy hour introduction to the Aku AkuZombie we highly recommend the regular Zombie next! Warning – so dangerous that only 2 per customer are served!
Why we love this place: Terrific island vibe going on there. Classy but comfortable. You’ll find no better handcrafted rum beverages even if you have a time machine. The owners Jason and Robin put their hearts and passion into this place, and you can tell. Fresh squeezed juices, fresh garnishes and orchids, a rum collection that is now over 300 varieties, amazing tiki barware and ambiance, never disappoints! If you’re fortunate enough to snag a barstool barside, you’ll get your drink and a show. Watch Jason skillfully prepare your drink with the precision of a chemist. He specializes in pyrotechnics, ask him to make you something with fire!
If I want to make a day of it, Yellow Aster and Aslan will always deliver. Two views and brews that I will never tire of!
Hike: Yellow Aster Butte
Yellow Aster Butte is one of the most beautiful, yet moderate, Mount Baker Wilderness hikes you’ll find. It’s around 8 miles roundtrip, and gives you a variety of terrain and inclines to get your blood pumping. 360º views of the Northern Cascades make this trail a 5-star, awe-inspiring adventure. The best part? You don’t have to climb the last steep 400ft to the top. You’ll get dramatic views no matter your elevation and hiking ability since the drive to the trailhead gives you quite the elevation gain on its own. Expect to see marmots, flowers, berries and plenty of backpackers.
Miles: 8 roundtrip
Happy Hour: Aslan Brewing Co. (Bellingham)
My favorite victory treat is a stop at Aslan Brewing Company, 90 minutes west in Bellingham (on the way back to the highway). Beer after a hike just tastes better! Get there between 2pm and 5pm for Happy Hour and receive $1 off your pints and some really good deals on food. The Ginger Rye is my favorite brew, but their friendly staff will steer you in the direction of something you’ll love. I could also eat the Hawaiian Pork Tacos every day of my life. Not exaggerating.
Small Town Washington
Hike: Ebey’s Landing Bluff Trail
Why I like it: I’m a history nerd, and Ebey’s Landing Bluff trail wanders through a huge part of Whidbey Island’s past. On top of that, it has fantastic Admiralty Inlet and Olympic Mountain views with a trail that goes along a bluff and then down on the beach giving you the best of both worlds.
I like to start the trail at Sunnyside Cemetery, which has an original 1850s block house. From there the trail skirts along private property and then comes to another block house. (Whidbey Island experienced hight tension between white settlers and Indian tribes. Block houses were their solution to fortify their homes from attack.) Then it heads through a meadow straight to the bluff trail. If you decide to access the trail at the cemetery, no Discover Pass is required, but it is at the Ebey’s Landing parking lot.
Miles: 5.6 roundtrip, 6.6 roundtrip from the cemetery
Difficulty: If you start at the parking lot the trail has about a 260 ft ascent to the bluff. Once on the bluff, it is easy going, with some shady spots to sit and take in the views, and then heads back down 260 ft. to the beach.
Happy Hour: Starlight Lounge (Ellensburg)
The Starlight Lounge is a gem in the small town of Ellensburg. First of all, their drink menu has a cosmopolitan city edge, and their happy hour is from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. and then from 10 p.m. to close. It includes half off appetizers, $1 off well drinks and house wines and $1.50 off their 21 signature martinis. I’m a tequila girl, so I prefer the Rico Suave made with Hornitos Black Barrel Tequila Añejo, Manuel Acha SweeCointreauth, Cointreau, orange bitters and simple syrup. For food, I like the Texas style baby back ribs and vegetable rolls, which at happy hour are $4.5 each. Such a deal!