Summer’s end is just around the corner, and Labor Day weekend is about to officially get started. It’s the perfect opportunity to celebrate the season in style and take advantage of the lingering sunshine.
If you haven’t already made your plans, you might want to get started ASAP and enjoy your own fabulous last summer hurrah by visiting one of the Northwest’s top travel spots.
Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington
September is the best time of year in the San Juan Islands. Just getting to Friday Harbor, the main town on San Juan Island, the largest in the archipelago, is a big part of the fun and scenic adventure itself. Enjoy the ride as the ferry weaves through the glistening waters, around the small forested islands until it reaches the dock at Friday Harbor. Once there, you can stroll downtown and its many shops, art galleries and fine restaurants, or take a kayak tour. The water is usually calm, especially this time of year, and you don’t need to have any experience. Orca whales and other wildlife like harbor seals and bald eagles, are abundant in this region, and kayaking is a great way to see them in the wild. If you’d prefer to stay on land, head to Lime Kiln Point and watch for orcas that swim just offshore.
Seattle is a fabulous place to spend Labor Day weekend, or just about any weekend for that matter. You can visit famous Pike Place Market and watch the fishmonkers toss around the fresh catch of the day, and enjoy a ride on the Seattle Great Wheel. One of the largest Ferris Wheels in the nation, it provides amazing views of the Olympic Mountains and Mount Rainier on a clear day, which it looks like we’re likely to experience.
The Space Needle’s Sky City Restaurant is a great spot for a memorable meal, sitting atop the Needle offering more breathtaking panoramic views of the city as well as the dazzling waters of the Puget Sound, the Cascade Mountains to the east, the Olympic Mountains to the west, Mount Baker and Mount Rainier.
Columbia River Gorge, Washington and Oregon
Over Labor Day weekend many of the over 30 wineries and tasting rooms in the scenic Columbia Gorge area host special events, including special releases, mouth-watering food pairings and barrel tastings. The wineries span the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area, stretching across 40 miles of open roads with spectacular views of Mount Adams and Mount Hood. You may want to spend part of your time in the Washington’s wineries, between Underwood and Goldendale, and the rest visiting Oregon’s wineries, stretching from Hood River to The Dalles.
If you want to get out on the water, you might want to see if there are any last-minute spots on a river cruise with USARiverCruises. You’ll get to cruise through this spectacular wilderness area with a different perspective of the towering mountains, volcanoes and glaciers.
Cannon Beach, Oregon
If you’re looking for a romantic Labor Day weekend, there are few better places for romance than Cannon Beach. Set along the ruggedly beautiful northern Oregon cost, there are a number of luxurious resorts that overlook iconic Haystack Rock and the Pacific. Enjoy the sunny weather with a hike in nearby Ecol State Park, with trails that wander through ancient, old-growth forest at the edge of the ocean, and then come back to enjoy at meal at one of the upscale eateries in town.
Seaside is an ideal destination for families, and if you live in the Portland area, like Cannon Beach, it’s just a hop, skip and a jump away. It’s filled with fun for all ages. Visit the Funland Arcade, ride the bumper cars and play an old-fashioned game of pinball, modern video games, or skee ball and any one of the other multiple carnival-type amusements.
Take a stroll on the Promenade, the two-mile paved walkway that borders the three-mile stretch of beach for gorgeous views of the Pacific, or head to the sand and build a castle or fly a kite. At the Seaside Aquarium, one of the oldest aquariums on the West Coast, located just off the “Prom,” you can feed the seals. Kids love the touch tank, where they can feel the sea anemones, sandpaper-textured starfish, and prickly sea urchins.