Victoria's Inner Harbor at Night. Credit: Benjamin Madison.

Victoria’s Inner Harbor at Night. Credit: Benjamin Madison.

This month brings about several much anticipated festivals, meaning there will be no shortage of September things to do in Victoria. Spend a day enjoying the sparkling waters of the Inner Harbour while checking out classic boats or admiring creative chalk drawings. Likewise, you have the opportunity to sample delicious food and beverages during fairs or wine and beer festivals. However you choose to spend the last days of your summer, both your calendar and stomach are sure to be full.

Sample Some of Victoria’s Finest Libations

Booth at the Great Canadian Beer Festival. Photo Courtesy Matt Schmitz, Victoria Beers.

Booth at the Great Canadian Beer Festival. Photo Courtesy Matt Schmitz, Victoria Beers.

Taste some of the best hops in town as well as the best grapes from all over the world at two unique festivals. On September 11 and 12 is the Great Canadian Beer Festival, featuring 62 different brewers and even more unique beers to try. In case you get hungry, the festival will also have several different food trucks with pizza, pulled pork sandwiches, tacos, Caribbean food, perogies and Filipino food. Then, toward the end of the month, on September 25 and 26 you can sample fine wines at the Victoria Wine Festival. In addition tasting wines from about 100 different wineries, you can attended seminars to learn about wines from different regions like Spain, Australia, California or learn how to quickly pair wine with food.

Take in the Stylings of Local Artists

Victoria International Art Festival. Credit: Ronnie Lai.

Victoria International Art Festival. Credit: Ronnie Lai.

In addition to the culinary arts, you can also enjoy the performing and visual arts this September. The Vancouver Island Blues Bash will be music to your ears if you enjoy everything from classic jazz to groovy and rocking blues. Plus, the free performances on Saturday, Sunday and Monday afternoons (the festival is September 5-7) are sure to have you dancing in the streets. However, if you prefer to have a larger variety of genres to listen to, check Rifflandia while the festival “takes over” the town with multiple staging featuring a mix of local and international artists. Make sure you don’t miss the BreakOut West Festival, which allows a few lucky Western Canadian musicians will also get to show off their talents, you never know, you may be listening to the next big thing.

As you venture around the city, plan on passing through Victoria’s downtown to view the incredible drawings from local and world famous artists gracing the streets during the Victoria International Chalk Art Festival. For a truly breathtaking experience, head over to the special 3D chalk painting area by the Bay Centre to see amazing images that pop right out of the sidewalk and seem real enough to touch. Likewise, stop by the outdoor stage found at the intersection of Government and View Street to watch First Nation singers, dancers and drummers will be performing traditional songs and dances.

Soak Up Summer While Preparing for Fall

Draft team at the Saanich Fair. Creative Commons Licensed by Nikki.

Draft team at the Saanich Fair. Creative Commons Licensed by Nikki.

Take advantage of the last few weeks of sunny summer days by spending time on the water during the Victoria Classic Boat Festival, the three-day festival draws in over a hundred boaters and boats from all over the world. Here you can admire everything from yachts, to workboats, to classic wooden boats, taste incredible food, listen to live music and entertainment, discover more about the vessels in the festival through demonstrations and displays. As part of this celebration of the Northwest’s maritime culture you will also have the opportunity to watch the sail boats and schooners go head-to-head as they race around the Inner Harbour to see who can complete the course the fastest.

However, just because summer is over does not mean the fun has to end. Get ready for fall with the the Saanich Fair where there is a variety of entertainment to be had. Check out all kinds of furry friends, such as llamas, alpacas, draft horses, donkeys, mules, goats, sheep, pigs, rabbits, chickens as well as arts and crafts projects. Fill up on tasty fair food or just watch other people indulge themselves during pie, watermelon, cupcake and ice creaming eating contests or enjoy live entertainment with musical performances by Jesse Roper and the Honeymoon Suite or local dance troupes. Or, get in the Halloween spirit with an after-dark guided Lantern Tour at Fort Rod Hill & Fisgard Lighthouse. You will get to experience what life was like from 1897-1956 at the Fort as you watch costumed re-enactors go about daily activities around the garrison and explore the historical buildings. This is the perfect way to spend a Saturday evening doing something different with your friends or family and learn a little more about Victoria’s history.

Looking for more fall fun, such as apple picking, pumpkin carving or hay mazes? Or do you want to scare yourself a little with more spooky or nighttime activities to help celebrate Halloween? Check back in for more ideas on how to get the most out of your fall.

Treats from Bon Macaron. Courtesy of Victoria Food Tours.

Treats from Bon Macaron. Courtesy of Victoria Food Tours.

One of the wonderful things about Victoria is that the town is full of fantastic restaurants. From quaint cafes, to grab ‘n’ go lunch spots, to gastropubs full of craft beers and bar fare, to fancy restaurants for special occasions, there really is an option for whatever suites your fancy. To help determine which places are on the required eating list, we asked our team members what places they head to when in Victoria and then broke them down by occasion. Thus, when you are in Victoria, make sure to try a meal or two at the places listed below. Or, if you want to get a more comprehensive taste of the city, hop on the Victoria Food Tour to try one course at each of Victoria’s secret hot spots.

Breakfast & Brunch

  • Blue Fox Café: Start your day off right with a hearty breakfast or brunch at the Blue Fox Café, which has received numerous accolades has been voted “Best of the City for Breakfast” by the Victoria News. The café serves up ten different types of mouthwatering eggs Benedict or if you are looking for something on the sweeter side, they have several varieties of French toast and Griddle cakes. However, the best thing is the café serves breakfast until they close at 4 p.m. (3 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) so you can enjoy breakfast all day.
  • Clay Pigeon: Another great option for breakfast is Clay Pigeon, which serves brunch well into the afternoon (3 p.m.). You can choose from tasty breakfast sandwiches, omelets, pancakes, eggs Benedict as well as homemade apple fritters that are made fresh every morning – yum!

Lunch

  • Red Fish Blue Fish: This unique fish ‘n’ chip shop created out of a recycled cargo container in Victoria’s Inner Harbour should be a required stop for anyone spending time in Victoria who enjoys seafood. Red Fish Blue Fish is notorious for long lines, but people are rarely seen leaving them without ordering, providing further proof that shop’s fish and chips, tacones and fried oysters featuring fresh fish are worth the wait. After you receive your order, get the Victoria experience by dining outside on the pier.
  • Noodle Box: This southeast Asian fusion noodle bar is perfect for lovers of spicy food and noodles alike. At Noodle Box you fill find large portions (you likely will have enough food leftover for lunch the next day) and dishes such as spicy peanut noodles, kung pao and black bean and garlic noodles. Meals are also quickly prepared, making the restaurant a great option if you want to grab something to go.
  • Pizzeria Prima Strada: Fans of crispy, thin crust pizza will delight in the Neapolitan-style pies topped with house-made sauce and fresh ingredients. If you bring your appetite, Pizzeria Prima Strada also offers plates such as risotto, spare ribs and you can top off your excellent meal with house-made, hand-crafted gelato in flavors like strawberry, hazelnut, stracciatella, Drumroaster espresso and salted caramel. No wonder this restaurant has been voted as the best place for pizza in the city!
red fish blue fish

A Victoria favorite for lunch, Red Fish Blue Fish has a menu of sustainable seafood options and is worth the wait. Photo by Melissa Sitrin.

Happy Hour

  • Spinnakers: With a daily happy hour from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday and a new seasonal beer every month (they have over 30 beers), there is no better place to sample craft beers than at Spinnakers. In addition to beers, the gastro pub features beer cocktails, traditional cocktails, shrubs and wine by the bottle or glass. Of course, the menu would not be complete without traditional pub fare such as wings, pulled pork nachos, poutine, bangers and smashed potatoes and daily made pub pie.
  • Canoe Brewpub: Located at the end of Victoria’s Chinatown, Canoe Brewpub offers the best of culinary and beverage worlds as well a giant outdoor patio featuring tremendous views. Canoe produces four core beers, five seasonal beers and two signature beers. According to a Clipper team member, all the beers they have tried at Canoe are delicious, so you really cannot go wrong no matter what you choose. During happy hour on Mondays through Fridays you also have a chance to get cheap snacks and discounted pints, pitchers, wines by the glass, sparkling cocktails or double Caesars depending on the day.
  • Ferris’ Oyster Bar: Spoil yourself to a luxurious happy hour filled with fabulous fresh shucked oysters or if you prefer the baked variety those are available too, in six different preparations. Wash these snacks down with a creatively made cocktail, champagne, wine, beer or cider.

Dinner

  • Hank’s Untraditional BBQ: This restaurant may be on the small side, but they offer some of the most amazing barbeque around. What makes Hank’s Untraditional BBQ unlike any other barbeque joint you may have visited in that they cure their own meat using their own unique flavor combination on varied cuts of meat. Likewise, they make everything from their buns to sauces and rubs to even their sausages from scratch for mouth-watering smoked meat sandwiches, ribs, briskets and more.
  • Brasserie L’ecole: If you love French bistros, make sure dine at the the Brasserie L’ecole, which takes its inspiration from classic French country-style fare and uses seasonal, local ingredients in the meals. The restaurant is famed for their mussels and frites, so if you like shellfish make sure to give them a try. The eatery has become a popular place to eat so make sure to stop by early and get on the wait-list to avoid waiting in line.
  • Camille’s: Often called “the place to go for special occasions,” Camille’s is definitely unlike most other restaurants in town. What makes the restaurant special is that they cook an entirely new menu every day, taking advantage of the seasonal ingredients that are available. If you want to go all out, try the five-course chef’s tasting menu with wine pairings.
  • Blue Crab Seafood House: For wonderful views of Victoria’s Inner Harbour and great seafood, the Blue Crab Seafood House at Coast Victoria Harbourside Hotel and Marina is hard to beat. They are famous for their crab cakes and also have four to five new specials each day, which often feature special or limited-time ingredients, making them a real treat.

Dessert

  • Bon Macaron: If you are looking for a tasty bite to top off a delicious meal, look no further than Bon Macaron. The patisserie offers over 44 flavors, some which are sweet, savory or both, of these delicate melt in your mouth delectable.

After Hours

  • Sticky Wicket Pub: This cricket themed pub is the perfect place to watch local sports games while sipping on a beer from the pub’s huge selection of craft, domestic and international beers on tap. Once the game is over you can celebrate late into the evening and enjoy snacks like wings, nachos and pizza from their late night menu. The Sticky Wicket Pub has a number of levels and rooms, so if you are feeling sporting yourself make sure to check out the games room for a round of pool, darts, chess or backgammon. There are also open mic comedy nights on Tuesdays if you are in need of a laugh.

When people think of Washington, they often think of the outdoors, and for good reason as both the famous Mt. Rainer and Mt. St. Helens are in our backyard and are definitely a must-see for adventurers who visit the state. In addition to these magnificent mountains, there are an endless numbers of trails to explore in other parks and mountains throughout the region. There is something for every skill level and interest. There are shorter, flatter hikes for hikers who want to enjoy the outdoors without overexerting themselves as well as longer, steeper journeys for trekkers that want to push themselves a bit. Likewise, there are hikes that feature sweeping views of the surrounding areas, rushing waterfalls or crystal clear lakes and streams. Inspired to get out and explore? Here are Clipper team members Brenna Ciummo & Joel Ray’s top 10 picks for hikes in the Washington with stunning views.

Wallace Falls

Wallace Falls. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Wallace Falls. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Perhaps because the trail is only 5.6 miles round trip with just 1,300 ft. of elevation gain or because it is well-known for its tremendous waterfalls, Wallace Falls is one of Washington’s most popular attractions. As result, expect to find a lot of people on the trail, which is just northeast of Goldbar, although it is less busy if you get an early start. The trail features three waterfalls, the Upper, Middle and Lower Falls, all of them make for great photo ops, but the Middle Falls are by far the most stunning.

Snow Lake

Snow Lake - July. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Snow Lake – July. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

The beautiful Snow Lake found in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness region of Snoqualmie Pass offers different views depending on the time of year. If you visit in July there is a good chance the lake will be at least partially frozen over and surrounded by snow. However, the advantage of the lake’s late thaw out is that the trail remains hike-able into the fall. Come October, you can expect to view clear waters surrounded by fall foliage. Either way, the views at the end of 7.2 mile hike, with a 1,800 ft. elevation gain are lovely during both mid and late season.

Snow Lake - October. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Snow Lake – October. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Bridal Veil Falls & Lake Serene

Bridal Veil Falls. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Bridal Veil Falls. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

The Bridal Veil Falls and Lake Serene Trail will remind of you of the “Choose Your Own Adventure” books that were popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s. On this trek, you have the option of exploring Bridal Veil Falls (4.0 miles round trip) or Lake Serene (7.2 miles round trip), which are both stunning on their own, or combining them for a fantastic day of hiking at 8.2 miles round trip with a 1,000 ft. elevation gain. At about 1.7 miles into the trail, the path will spilt, with the trail to the right leading you on a half-mile hike to Bridal Veil Falls. (If you are skipping the falls, continue on the trail you have been following). These rushing falls truly are breathtaking, make sure to check out both the upper and lower views of the falls, which allow you to get up close to falls or get a bigger view of the entire scene. If you decide to continue on to Lake Serene, head back down to the main trail and continue following it until you reach the lake.

Lake Serene. Credit: Joel Ray.

Lake Serene. Credit: Joel Ray.

Eightmile Lake

Eightmile Lake. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Eightmile Lake. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Unlike its name suggests, this Leavenworth area hike is only 6.6 miles long and a 1,300 ft. elevation gain prevents it from being challenging for beginning hikers. Along the hike you will trek through meadows filled with wildflowers, burnt out forests, lakes (do not be deceived and think the first lake you arrive at is Eightmile Lake, it is Little Eightmile Lake and is not your final destination) and mountain streams. At the end of the trail you will reach the grandest lake of them all, Eightmile Lake itself. This is the perfect spot to stop and take a break for lunch and enjoy the view before hiking back to the trail head.

Rattlesnake Ledge

Rattlesnake Ledge (and view of Rattlesnake Lake below). Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Rattlesnake Ledge (and view of Rattlesnake Lake below). Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Located in North Bend, Rattlesnake Ledge is the perfect hike for beginners and even more advanced hikers who want to enjoy breathtaking views without a strenuous climb, as the hike is only 4.0 miles with a 1,160 ft. elevation gain. The ledge at the summit is pretty exposed, so make sure not to get too close to the edge, but take your time at the top to enjoy views of Rattlesnake Lake below as well as Mt. Si and the Cedar River watershed.

Mt. Si

Mt. Si. summit. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Mt. Si. summit. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Towering over the town of North Bend, the popular Mt. Si is also formidable, with a 3,150 ft. elevation gain and 8 miles round trip with switchbacks most of the way. However, the views at the top make trek worth the effort. Just make sure you are not fooled by the people eating lunch at the lower western summit and make sure you end your hike on top of Haystack, Mt. Si’s true summit.

Mt. Pilchuck

Mt. Pilchuck. Credit: Jason Ciummo.

Mt. Pilchuck. Credit: Jason Ciummo.

At 5.4 miles round trip, Mt. Pilchuck is not a long hike, but the 2,300 ft. elevation gain combined with the rocky terrain make the hike a bit more challenging. You will also need to be willing to climb over rock for a few feet to reach the old fire lookout. However, the 360-degree views are worth the effort, as on a clear day you can see Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, the Olympics and even the city of Everett and Whidbey Island in the distance.

Baker Lake

Baker Lake. Credit: Joel Ray.

Baker Lake. Credit: Joel Ray.

Situated roughly 10 miles from Concrete, WA, Baker Lake offers stunning views of snow-capped Mt. Baker and is a perfect spot for both day hiking and backpacking. The trail maintains a fairly steady grade around the lake, meaning hikers can make their trek as long or as short as they wish.

Boulder Lake

Boulder Lake. Credit: Joel Ray.

Boulder Lake. Credit: Joel Ray.

At seven miles round trip and 1,500 feet of elevation gain, Lake Valhalla is a moderate hike that rewards you with ample views and a pristine glacial lake. With the majority of the journey taking place along the Pacific Crest Trail, curious hikers can get a small taste of the 2,663-mile trail.

Lake Valhalla

Lake Valhalla. Credit: Joel Ray.

Lake Valhalla. Credit: Joel Ray.

Nestled in the northeast corner of Olympic National Park is Boulder Lake, is a somewhat strenuous hike at 12 miles round trip with 2,500 feet of elevation gain. Sitting in the shadow of Boulder Peak, this sub-alpine lake makes for an excellent lunch spot.

Victoria is fabulous city with a variety of ways to treat and pamper yourself, for instance you can relax with a luxurious spa treatment, snack on delicious goodies at afternoon tea at the Fairmont Empress or indulge in a shopping spree. However, if you are on a budget, there are plenty of free things to do in Victoria that will allow you to take in the city’s history, culture and fabulous views.

1 – Walk Through Chinatown

Gates of Harmonious Interest. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Gates of Harmonious Interest. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Take a self-guided walking tour of Canada’s oldest Chinatown – there are maps placed at the Gates of Harmonious Interest on Fisgard Street. You can visit historical landmarks such as the Chinese Public School, Ta, Kung Temple and Fan Tan Alley, which at about 1-2m/3.2-6.5 ft. wide is the narrowest street in Canada.

2 – Explore Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park. Credit: Vadym Graifer.

Beacon Hill Park. Credit: Vadym Graifer.

Covering an expansive 200 acres, Beacon Hill Park has a lot to offer. The park is found between Douglas and Cook Street and is filled with woods, gardens, ponds, playing fields, water park – there is a giant watering can that squirts out water and is a great way to cool off on hot days and a petting zoo (Beacon Hill Children’s Farm) filled with goats, sheep, chickens, peacocks, donkeys and more. You can also spot wildlife from the many trails that wind through the park. Keep an eye out for bald eagles and orca whales if you are along the shoreline.

3 – Spook Yourself on a Ghost Tour

Ross Bay Cemetery.

Ross Bay Cemetery.

Victoria is full of notable landmarks and fascinating old buildings, which also help make Victoria the most haunted city in British Columbia. Give yourself a thrill by picking up a ghost hunting guide at the Inner Harbour Visitor Centre and explore the town’s spookiest spots, such as the Old Burying Ground, Ross Bay Cemetery, Bastion Square and Roger’s Chocolates. If you are lucky, you may even run into some of Victoria’s oldest citizens.

4 – Ride the Galloping Goose Regional Trail

Galloping Goose Trail. Creative Commons Licensed by Smably.

Galloping Goose Trail. Creative Commons Licensed by Smably.

Created from an old railroad route, the Galloping Goose Regional Trail is one of the most popular trails in Victoria. The 55km/34 mi trail begins just over the Blue Bridge and runs from Victoria to Sooke, allowing travelers to enjoy a range of scenic landscapes as they bike, walk, run or ride on horseback from the city to the country.

5 – Tour the Parliament Buildings

The Parliament Buildings. Credit: Anne McKinnell.

The Parliament Buildings. Credit: Anne McKinnell.

Learn more about British Columbia’s government by paying a visit to the province’s Parliament Buildings. You can explore the 12 ½ acre property on your own self-guided tour or join a free guided tour, which are available throughout the year. If you plan your visit right you can even observe debates in the Public Galleries when the Legislative Assembly is sitting. There are also an impressive number of landmarks around the building’s exterior, such as Chinese empress tree, Queen Victoria statue, knowledge totem pole, sequoia tree, fountain, rose garden and Speakers’ chair as well as the beautiful stained glass and paintings inside the buildings.

6 – Check the Houseboats on Fisherman’s Wharf and Breakwater at Ogden Point

The Breakwater at Ogden Point. Credit: Vadym Graifer.

The Breakwater at Ogden Point. Credit: Vadym Graifer.

Visit the 30 brightly colored (and even creatively decorated) floating houses near Fisherman’s Wharf and then feed the local harbor seals, which also provides a great opportunity for photos. While you are in the area, stroll over to Ogden Point Breakwater and walk the half mile to the end for fantastic views of the Olympic Mountains.

7 – Rent a Car and Go for a Scenic Drive

View of mountains from the coast. Credit: Rick Ladyshewsk.

View of mountains from the coast. Credit: Rick Ladyshewsk.

The lush green scenery, wooded forests, mountains and surrounding waters make Victoria the perfect place to go for a scenic drive. Journey along Marine Drive to enjoy views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Finlayson, Clover Point, Oak Bay, San Juan Islands and Cascade Mountain Range. Another option is Malahat Drive, which runs along the west side of Saanich Inlet and offers views of old growth forests, salmon streams, Saanich Peninsula and the Gulf Islands.

8 – Wander the Finnerty Gardens

Finnerty Gardens. Creative Commons Licensed by:  David Stanley.

Finnerty Gardens. Creative Commons Licensed by: David Stanley.

The Butchart Gardens are not the only place in town with splendid flowers, if you love fauna, pay a visit at the University of Victoria to wander through the famous Finnerty Gardens. The gardens contain over 4,000 different trees and shrubs but they are most well-known for their rhododendrons, as they have 200 rhododendron species and feature over 1,500 rhodies and azalea plants collectively. In addition to plant life, the gardens feature ponds, path and a variety of benches from which to view the grounds.

9 – Experience Victoria’s Farmers Markets

Victoria Public Market. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Victoria Public Market. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

While farmers markets are often only open during the summer months in other parts of the world, they are such a big part of Victoria’s culture that there is at least always one market running at any given time of year. There is a special winter market that is open from November to April, and the Victoria Public Market at the Hudson that is open year round. Make sure to experience this part of the community and stop by one of the Victoria Public Markets for a free sample or two to snack on.

10 – Take in Natural Sights with a Hike

Goldstream Provincial Park. Creative Commons Licensed by: Brandon Godfrey.

Goldstream Provincial Park. Creative Commons Licensed by: Brandon Godfrey.

Discover Victoria’s natural beauty by going for hike in one of Victoria’s parks. A few popular treks, which also happen to have great views, are Goldstream Park, Avatar Grove, Mystic Falls, Fort Rodd Hill, Mt. Douglas and Mt. Tolmie.

11 – Visit the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

Exhibit at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Creative Commons Licensed by: Samuraiantiqueworld.

Exhibit at the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria. Creative Commons Licensed by: Samuraiantiqueworld.

Admission to the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, is free on the first Tuesday of every month, making this a great time to view works created by Victoria’s Emily Carr and other famous Canadian artists.

12 – Bike Victoria

Bikers looking out to sea. Photo courtesy Pedaler Tours.

Bikers looking out to sea. Photo courtesy Pedaler Tours.

Hiking and driving are not the only way to see the sights in Victoria, there are also many fun bike rides that will take you past historic monuments and neighborhoods or provide scenic water views. Try the Cowichan Valley Wine Bike and sample wine along the 12 km route or try the Seaside Touring Route, which is designed specifically for bike riders who want to see scenery and landmarks along Victoria’s coastline.

13 – Tour Government House

Government House. Creative Commons Licensed by: Andrew Tawker.

Government House. Creative Commons Licensed by: Andrew Tawker.

Pick up some Victoria history and stop by the Government House, which is the office and the official residence of the Lieutenant Governor and the ceremonial home of all British Columbians. Wander through the expansive gardens on the grounds and the go a guided tour (plan carefully as they are only offered on one Saturday per month) of the interior of the house to view the stunning ballroom, dining room, drawing room and Rattenbury Room (it was named after the famous Francis Rattenbury, one of the architects of the 1903 Government House, and contains one of his personal dining room sets).

Portland skyline. Courtesy of Travel Portland.

Portland skyline. Courtesy of Travel Portland.

The weather has been wonderful this summer, and there has never been a better time to get out and explore the city to experience all of August things to do in Portland. Soak up the sun with a run or bike ride, sample the city’s famous food and beverages or discover artisan crafts and goods at local fairs. Whatever way you to choose to spend these last summer days, you are sure to treat your senses.

Relish the Last Days of Summer at Festivals and Fairs

Fair in downtown Portland. Courtesy of Travel Portland.

Fair in downtown Portland. Courtesy of Travel Portland.

Kick of a month of festivities by attending the Hawthrone Street Fair to shop local. You can expect a unique mix of boutiques, cafes, food carts and bar to explore as well as a music stage featuring performances by local artists, arts and crafts and kids activities. In addition, one of the most popular events of the summer the, Oregon State Fair, is celebrating its 150th anniversary this year, which means they are going all out and the event will be bigger than ever! You can enjoy a variety of musical acts, chocolate cake contest, a hands-on educational section dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math, the new “Discover the Dinosaurs” exhibit with 8-10 moving dinosaur scenes, carnival rides, 4-H exhibits, family town, a dog town where you can watch dogs perform tricks and a carts and arts district dedicated to food carts and artisans.

Wrap up concert season on a high note at MusicfestNW. Three day concert showcases performances by popular bands like Foster the People, Beirut, Modest Mouse, Belle and Sebastian, the Tallest Man on Earth, Milo Greene, Twin Shadow, Danny Brown, Lost Lander and more. Of course, a concert in Portland wouldn’t be complete without showing off the city’s famous food trucks. Take your pick of at least eight different trucks, serving everything from sliders, to beignets, to dumplings to shaved iced for dessert!

Soak Up the Sun from Mt. Hood to the Coast

Mt. Hood and water.

Mt. Hood and water.

Take advantage of the wonderful weather we have been having and get outdoors before it ends. Cheer on your favorite team of runners or walkers during the last weekend of August during the popular Hood to Coast Relay. This race is one of the longest and largest (about 18,000 people compete) so teams definitely need your moral support as they race to see who can travel from Timberline Lodge on the slopes of Mount Hood, through the city of Portland, over the Oregon Coast Range to the town of Seaside on the Oregon Coast the fastest. After seeing all the beautiful scenery participants journey through, you may even been inspired to form a team and compete next year.

More August Things to Do in Portland

Seattle skyline. Credit: Michael DeBellis.

Seattle skyline. Credit: Michael DeBellis

It may feel like summer is starting to come to a close, but there are still an incredible amount of festivals, events and summer markets to discover, providing a chance to stock up on local goods and show your appreciation to regional artists. Likewise, many of the Emerald City’s beloved return this month. In fact, the Seattle Sounders FC have already began their 2015 season, hoping to make a return trip to the MLS Cup Playoffs and the back-to-back NFC champions, the Seattle Seahawks, kick off their pre-season on August 14 with a game against their rivals, the Denver Broncos. There is still plenty of summer left (officially, there is about two months), so make sure to take advantage of all these August things to do in Seattle before the lovely weather we have been enjoying is gone.

Eat Like a Local

Sandwich.

Sandwich.

This month there is a chance to sample famous Seattle foods at several festivals being held around the city. At the A Taste of Edmonds attendees will be able to treat themselves to treats ranging from entrees to desserts from over 30 vendors, so make sure you come hungry. Once you grab your food, listen to the sweet sounds of local bands, watch a hypnotist work her magic and shop the booths for something to take home. Once you have whetted appetite, travel further north to the Everett Craft Beer Festival to wet your whistle as well. There will be more than 100 beers to sip from 30 Washington breweries, including a few unique varieties that have been infused with fruit, spices and other ingredients.

If you are up for even more delicious cuisine, stop by the Seattle Street Food Festival to enjoy more treats from food trucks, restaurants and pop-up vendors. As a result you can expect to find well-known vendors as well as surprisingly good newbies, serving up everything from falafels, to donuts to even bao. Top with snacks off with a glass of Elysian Beer in the beer garden and then roam the 75 plus booths full of handmade crafts including things like clothing of all types, jewelry, gifts, bags, wallets, buttons, accessories, aprons, children’s goods, toys, housewares, paper goods, candles, kits, art, food and more.

Celebrate Local History and Culture

Viking ship at Viking Days Festival. Creative Commons Licensed by Dennis Bratland.

Viking ship at Viking Days Festival. Creative Commons Licensed by Dennis Bratland

This month, take some time to explore some of the history and culture that have helped shape the city of Seattle, you may even learn something new. Celebrate the man the city was named after, Chief Si’ahl (which was anglicized to Chief Seattle), during Chief Seattle Days. The event is hosted by the Suquamish tribe and features a delicious salmon bake, traditional drumming and dancing, canoe races, baseball tournaments, a 5K run that goes by historical cultural heritage sites, a parade and a memorial service for Chief Si’ahl at his graveside.

Likewise, some parts of town, such as Ballard, have a strong Nordic influence due to their maritime connections. If this is news to you, you can learn more about this part of Seattle’s history and culture for free during Viking Days at the Nordic History Museum. You will be able to taste Scandinavian foods such as Swedish pancakes, alder-smoked salmon, grilled sausages and then wash it down with craft beer or aquavit in the Valhalla Beer Garden. There will also be entertainment that will provide an opportunity to view of a slice up Nordic life with a large Viking encampment featuring weaving and weapon forging demonstrations and war re-enactments.

Of course, the summer would not be complete without attending one of the largest events in the Pacific Northwest, the Evergreen State Fair. At the fair you will find 4-H exhibits and competitions for all kinds of animals and just as many arts and crafts, auto races, concerts, carnival rides, a petting zoo and a pro-west rodeo. Kids can learn what life was like for early pioneers by being “farmer for a day” and gather eggs, milk a cow and pick apples or learn about life as a lumberjack during the International Lumberjack Show.Whether you are a foodie or are just looking for some fun in the sun, there is no better way to cap off your summer than with one of these August events in Seattle.

More August Things to Do in Seattle

Sunset in Victoria. Credit: Hannah Lise.

Sunset in Victoria. Credit: Hannah Lise

This summer has been absolutely gorgeous, so make sure to relish every last second of it and take advantage of all of the August things to do in Victoria. Escape the heat by checking out sporting events and festivals on the water, view fashion shows to get ideas on how to update your wardrobe for fall or soak in some arts and culture at fairs and farmers markets. Whether you are an adventurer, fashionista or a foodie, there are plenty of fun ways to wrap up your summer in Victoria.

Enjoy the End of Summer in Victoria’s Inner Harbour and Downtown Victoria

Dragon boat races. Credit: Jeremiah Armstrong.

Dragon boat races. Credit: Jeremiah Armstrong

This month, there are an incredible number of festivals and events to experience and explore, especially around Victoria’s Inner Harbour. As a result, you will be able to simultaneously have fun, enjoy scenic views of sparkling water and stay cool. From August 14 through 16, you can watch about 100 dragon boat teams race each other on a 500m/1,640 ft. course, for free, during the 21st Annual Dragon Boat Festival. However, viewing the races themselves is not the only thing to do during the festival. On the first night there is an eye dotting ceremony, where eyes are painted on the dragon faces adorning the boats to “awaken the dragon” as well as a lantern lighting ceremony. Throughout the festival there will also be live music from a variety of genres and dancing ranging from traditional Esquimalt dances, to Chinese dances and to even belly dancers.

Chinese lanterns. Credit: Jeremiah Armstrong.

Chinese lanterns. Credit: Jeremiah Armstrong

Near the end of the month, you can also catch the latest locally produced clothing designs at Victoria’s Fashion Splash, an outdoor fashion show. The show is accompanied by the Ship Point Night Market, which will be open from the evening of Friday, August 21 to afternoon of Sunday, August 23. The market will be full of handmade jewelry, clothing and accessories created by Victoria designers and will also feature live music and food trucks. This a great opportunity to stock up on fall fashions or discover out what will be “hot” in the coming year.

Canadian Snowbirds. Creative Commons Licensed by Tony Hisgett.

Canadian Snowbirds. Creative Commons Licensed by Tony Hisgett

If you are looking for more things to do in downtown Victoria, make sure you do not miss the Snowbirds (the formation flying team of the Royal Canadian Air Force) while they are in town. They will be visiting the BC Aviation Museum in Sidney on August 11 to chat with guests and performing aerial displays over Clover Point on August 12 as a part of an free event for C.H.I.L.D.

Likewise, check out the 29th Annual Victoria Fringe Theatre. According to the festival website, Fringe features “an eclectic mixture of spoken word, drama, musicals, dance, comedy, magic, theatre for young audiences and more.” There are close to 50 fun and hilarious plays presented at 11 different venues downtown, so you are sure to find something that will tickle your funny bone.

Head Up to Oak Bay for More Fun in the Sun

Oak Bay. Creative Commons Licensed by rpaterso.

Oak Bay. Creative Commons Licensed by rpaterso

To soak up more arts and culture, head east to Oak Bay for their inaugural Arts and Cultural Festival. The festival kicks off with a welcome ceremony performed by the Songhees First Nation and is full of other fun activities that are perfect for the whole family. Learn to eat (and perhaps cook) like a local on a heritage picnic or culinary arts tour and explore the arts on a summer gallery walk or at music and movie nights. Visitors to the festival can also partake in a tweed ride, a vintage car festival, Songhees Island cultural boat tours and the Oak Bay Village Night Market.

More August Things to Do in Victoria

Orca whales. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist.

Orca whales. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist

One of the most amazing experiences you can have is encountering whale in the wild. Perhaps it is because the whales live in the sea and not as frequently seen, their large size or even the sad fact that there are not as many whales around as there once was; but there is something magical about seeing these marine animals in person.

The easiest way to have one of these experiences yourself is to visit Seattle and the Northwest during whale watching season and head out on the Clipper III for a Whale Watching and Sealife Search in the San Juan Islands or off of Whidbey Island. However, the best time to see whales is dependent on which species you would like to see. To help you narrow down the options, here’s a breakdown of where you can expect to see each animal when.

Orca. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist.

Orca. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist

Orca Whales

You will find two different types of orcas in the Salish Sea, which consists of Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and the Georgia Strait, known as transient and southern resident orcas. Resident orcas spend their entire life with the pod they are born into and have a smaller traveling range, often spending months in a specific area. The resident orcas that are found in the Salish Sea are called “Southern Residents” and according to NOAA, have been estimated at about 80 whales. The community of whales is made up three distinct pods called J, K and L pods. The best time to view the resident orcas is from May to September, when they seek out salmon (which makes up about 80% of their diet) returning to spawn near the San Juan Islands. In the fall and winter months, the resident orcas will leave the coastal waters of the Salish Sea and swim further out into the ocean to follow salmon. In fact, the Orca Network notes that in October K and L pods tend to disappear and head to waters over the continental shelf between northern California and southeast Alaska, and do not return to the Salish Sea until late spring. Interestingly, J pod often reappears inland during this time.

Unlike resident orcas, transient orcas have a broader range, travel in smaller groups (such as around 10 whales) and feed on only marine mammals like seals, sea lions, porpoises and other large whales. While transients might be seen passing through the Salish Sea at any time of the year but are most frequently seen in the spring and fall when sea lions join the salmon.

Gray whale. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist.

Gray whale. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist

Gray Whales

Gray whales typically arrive in Washington waters from March to May, as they migrate up the coast to return to their summer home (after wintering and calving in Baja California, Mexico) the Bering and Chukchi seas. Mothers and calves are often seen traveling near the shore, and there is a specific group of whales that take a side trip from their migration to feast on the plentiful ghost shrimp found along Whidbey and Camano Islands. Gray whales can often be pretty friendly, so do not be surprised if a whale swims alongside your boat to people watch.

Minke whale. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist.

Minke whale. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist

Minke

Minke whales can often be hard to spot due to their small size (they are the smallest of the baleen whales) and the short amount of time spent coming up for air, but they are found in Washington waters. In fact, Minke whales are generally migratory, but the minkes found in the inland waters of Washington (and California and Oregon) have established home ranges and are considered “residents.” Due to these small resident populations, it is possible to see minke whales year round in Seattle, but they are most likely to be seen from March to the end of October, when they visit feeding areas.

Humpback whale. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations.

Humpback whale. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations

Humpback Whales

Humpback whales used to be a rare sight in the Salish Sea, but in recent years they have become frequent visitors. Humpbacks are migratory and spend their summers feeding in the colder waters off of the Washington coast, making them most likely to seen from May to September. There is also a chance to catch a glimpse of them during the other months of the year while in transit to and from their winter home in coastal Central America and Mexico.

More to Explore in Other Parts of the World

Due the fact that many whale species are migratory, there are a variety of places to see them outside of Northwestern waters.

California

From January through May, you can often see gray and humpback whales from the coastline during their migration, which peaks in March. You might also catch a glimpse of fin and blue whales during the summer, with August being the best month to see them.

Hawaii

If you are looking for humpbacks, plan a visit to Hawaii between October and mid-May, when the whale visit the island’s tropical waters for calving and breeding.

New York

From April through November humpback, minke, fin, blue and sperm whales can all be found in New York waters, with peak sightings through June and August.

Alaska

A number of whales spend their summer months and even early fall in the waters of Alaska, making them easy to spot. According to Alaska Whale Tours, Gray whales are typically the first species to arrive during the months of April and May. The gray whales are soon followed by humpback whales, which can be seen in June and July, as well as orcas and minke whales in June through September. Blue whales often show up later in the season around July and August. While you are in Alaska may even catch a glimpse of beluga whales if you are lucky.

Mexico

Mexico is also a prime spot to have a close encounter with gray whales during December through April as the warm waters make this an ideal breeding and calving location. Blue, finback, Bryde’s beaked and sperm whales are found in this region as well.

Europe

Reykjavik, Iceland and the Azores and are two of the best places in Europe to whales. Peak whale watching in Iceland is from July to August, when orca, minke, humpback and even blue whales are often seen. Likewise, from May through October you have a good chance of seeing blue, finback, pilot, orca and the ever present sperm whales off the coast of Portugal.

Orca whales in the San Juans. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog.

Orca whales in the San Juans. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

Our 2014 fall photo contest winner, Elizabeth Blanton from Yellow Elm Blog recently hopped on the Clipper III with her husband to explore the San Juans and search for whale with her husband Ben. Check out her thoughts on her adventure below.

My husband and I went on Clipper’s Seattle whale watching day trip to the San Juans for our wedding anniversary. It felt like an adventurous mini-getaway, but without the stress that sometimes comes along with a quick trip–all we had to do was get our tickets and board the boat in Seattle.

Deception Pass. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog.

Deception Pass. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

On our ride out to the San Juans I had a good time checking the map in the Clipper guidebook frequently to see our route and watching out the windows of the boat, or visiting one of the decks to get a closer look. Passing underneath the Deception Pass bridge was especially fun to watch from the top deck. I also enjoyed seeing all the little islands that popped up in every direction as we got into the San Juans.

After arriving in the San Juans, we dropped some of the passengers off at Friday Harbor and the boat continued on for whale watching.

Ben and I would’ve had a wonderful day even without seeing whales, but the Clipper captains and naturalists guided us to two different orca pods during the trip and we spotted lots of whales. It was amazing to see the huge, shimmering orcas gliding in and out of the water. I’m glad I had my camera and zoom lens handy to take photos and that I got a few good pictures to share with our friends and family, but it’s impossible to truly capture the experience in a photo. I tried to balance snapping pictures with the simple act of being present and watching the whales move, breathe, dive and play. It’s something you just have to see for yourself if you get the chance!

Orca whales. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog.

Orca whales. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

After whale watching, Ben and I had time to wander around Friday Harbor and enjoy a leisurely lunch at Cask & Schooner before heading back to Seattle. Watching the whales was so exciting that I didn’t realize how hungry I was until we sat down for some seafood, and our meal hit the spot.

The time we spent on the boat ride was beautiful, the weather on the day of our trip was picture-perfect–blue sky, sparkling water, and puffy white clouds–and of course the whale sightings were the highlights of the day. I definitely left the San Juans wishing I had more time to explore!

Whistler and Peak 2 Peak Gondolas. Credit: Paul Morrison, courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb.

Whistler and Peak 2 Peak Gondolas. Credit: Paul Morrison, courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

When most people think of Whistler, they often think of it world-class skiing and snowboarding. However, North America’s favorite resort features a surprising number of summer time activities that run the gamut from horseback riding, to golfing, to ATVing and to even zip lining. The vibrant Whistler Village also offers plenty of opportunities for shopping, dining spa and massage and an active nightclub and bar scene. If you are in Whistler this summer, here are a few things to do in Whistler you must put at the top of your list.

Zip Lining on the Ziptrek Bear Tour. Courtesy of Ziptrek.

Zip Lining on the Ziptrek Bear Tour. Courtesy of Ziptrek

Explore Whistler Above Ground on Zip Lining and Suspension Bridge Tours

Travel through the tree-tops on a series of seven suspension bridges, boardwalks and observation platforms on the Whistler TreeTrek Tour to get a bird’s eye view of the forests between Whistler and Blackcomb Mountains. Some of the trees in this rainforest are up to 800 years old! If you are feeling even more adventurous, try soaring between these trees on the Whistler Ziptrek Bear Tour, which features five zip lines that are up to 1,000 feet long. There is even a freestyle line that allows riders to fly upside down.

ATVs on top of Blackcomb Mountain. Courtesy of Canadian Wilderness Adventures.

ATVs on top of Blackcomb Mountain. Courtesy of Canadian Wilderness Adventures

Ride to the Top of Blackcomb Mountain for a Salmon Bake at Crystal Hut

Journey 6,000 ft. to the top of Blackcomb Mountain via ATV or Jeep 4×4 for salmon bake at the rustic Crystal Hut cabin. Enjoy the beautiful colors of the sun as it sets across the mountains as well as live entertainment while your chef prepares a delicious meal.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Credit: Robin O'Neill, courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb.

Peak 2 Peak Gondola. Credit: Robin O’Neill, courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

See the Mountains from Peak to Peak

Explore both Whistler and Blackcomb Mountain by taking a ride on the Peak 2 Peak Gondola, which reaches an elevation of 1,427 ft. and at 1.88 miles long is the longest continuous lift system in world. Along the way you will enjoy 360 degree views of Whistler Village, mountain peaks, lakes and glaciers, and glass bottomed gondolas allow for a bird’s eye view of the forest. The trip takes about 1.5 hours, but give yourself more time if you want to stop for a hike, meal or to take a look at the Viewing Gallery.

Get Pampered at the Spa

Give yourself some to unwind and rejuvenate at one of the many Whistler spas. The Scandinave Spa is Nordic-themed retreat with a 20,000 square foot spa, hot and cold baths, a wood burning Finnish sauna, an eucalyptus steam room, thermal and Nordic (cold) waterfalls and spaces like solariums and outdoor terraces designed for relaxing.

For something exotic, head to Taman Sari Royal Heritage Spa, which is the only Javanese spa in North America and offers luxurious – massages, body scrubs, body wraps, body masks and facials. Or, let you cares drift away, literally, as you float in pool loaded with Epsom salts for 90 minutes at the West Coast Float Whistler.

Horseback Riding. Courtesy  of Canadian Wilderness Adventures.

Horseback Riding. Courtesy of Canadian Wilderness Adventures

Travel Trails by Foot, by Horse or by Bike

Whistler Blackcomb and the surrounding area are full of trails of varying lengths, so you are certain to find a path that is a good fit for you, whether you are a beginning hiker or are more advanced. A few popular hikes with great views are the Rainbow Lake Trail, Cheakamus Lake Hike, Wedgemount Lake Trail, Medicine Trail and Ancient Cedars Grove. You can also opt to let someone else do all the walking for you and go horseback riding along forest trails or journey across meadows and up mountain paths.

Mountain Biking. Credit: Mark Mackay, courtesy of  Whistler Blackcomb.

Mountain Biking. Credit: Mark Mackay, courtesy of Whistler Blackcomb

However, the trails are not just for animals, there many that are suited for bikes, such as cross country mountain biking routes that travel past rainforest, granite rock and waterfalls or the Whistler Valley Trail and Sea to Sky Trail if you would prefer to cycle on pavement. There is even a park that has been created just for bikers, called Mountain Bike Park that features greens for cruising, technical double black jumps, jump trails and skills centers.

Take in Arts and Culture

Learn more about the history and the culture of the people who first occupied the region, the Squamish and Lil’wat people, at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Centre. In fact, the Centre is designed to look like a combination of the longhouses of the Squamish people and Isken (earthen pit house) of the Lil’wat people. Exhibits include an interpretive forest walk, interactive crafts for all ages, artifacts gallery, theatre and interactive performances such as song and dance.

Waterfall. Courtesy of Canadian Wilderness Adventures.

Waterfall. Courtesy of Canadian Wilderness Adventures

Discover Natural Beauty with Lakes and Waterfalls

There is no end the beautiful landscapes found throughout the region, from rolling green meadows, to craggy granite, to placid lakes and tumbling waterfalls. Allow yourself to soak in the scenery and take a day to fish, canoe, kayak, paddle board or swim in Alta Lake or Lost Lake. Likewise, pay a visit to Alexander Falls, Brandywine Falls, Shannon Falls or Nairn Falls to watch melt water from the mountains roar over the rocks and remind yourself how powerful nature is.

Let Your Adventurous Side Go Wild with Rafting, Bungee Jumping and Rock Climbing

One of the best parts about traveling is to take advantage of the opportunity to try something new or do something that you may not be able to do at home. Splash through the waters of the Green, Elaho and Squamish rivers on a white water rafting tour, bungee jump from a bridge high over the Cheakamus River for a breathtaking 160 foot drop or climb Whistler Mountain by hand using metal rung ladders and fixed cables on Via Ferrata (or Iron Way) tour.

Chateau Whistler Golf Club. Courtesy of Tourism Whistler.

Chateau Whistler Golf Club. Courtesy of Tourism Whistler

Tee Off at a World-Class Golf Resort

Hit the links at Chateau Whistler Golf Club and enjoy 18 holes of golf on this par 72 course. This Arnold Palmer designed course is Canada’s #1 Golf Resort for a reason, as the course not only provides a challenging round of golf, but the nine course lakes, two creeks and mountain backdrop provide scenic views and the chance to spot wildlife such as black bear and deer.

Whistler Village. Courtesy of Tourism Whistler.

Whistler Village. Courtesy of Tourism Whistler

Shop till You Drop

With over 200 shops and boutiques, Whistler Village is a shopaholic’s dream. From May 31 to October 11th, you can also pick up fresh fruit, produce, artisan crafts and a variety of food products from over 80 vendors at the Whistler Farmers Market.

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Taste Award Winning Cuisine

Whether you are looking for pub far, Japanese, Indian, Mexican or Italian style cuisine, look no further than Whistler Village, which includes restaurants that offer all of the above and more! Better yet, a number of the restaurants feature organic and locally sourced ingredients. There are also almost as many options for places to dine as there are types of cuisine, such as on top of the mountain, on the water or in Whistler Village. If you can’t decide where to go, sample a few on a culinary tasting tour, which generally visit five-six locations and enjoy a course at each stop. Speaking of tasting, make sure to visit the Whistler Brewing Company, which is 100% BC owned and 100% BC brewed to tour their facility, view craft beers in the making and, of course, taste the taps!

Check Out Whistler’s Vibrant Nightlife

Dance and party the night away at one of the bars, lounges and nightclubs at Whistler Blackcomb. With so many options to choose from it is no surprise readers of SKI Magazine voted the resort number one for après-ski in 2015. Likewise, there is something for everyone, from the young to the young at heart. Clubs like Moe Joe’s keep the speakers thumping nightly with live music or DJ’s, while watering holes like Buffalo Bill’s Bar and Grill feature dancing, comedy acts and pool tables in addition to live music.

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