Summer is here and it looks like it will be a hot one! Cool off by celebrating Independence Day at a local park, backyard barbeque or festival! The U.S. Women’s soccer team also just made it to the World Cup Final, which is in Vancouver, BC on July 5, which is a great reason to travel north to Canada for the long weekend or at least watch the game from your favorite air conditioned watering hole. Of course, there are plenty of other July things to do in Seattle. Take advantage of the variety of festivals and events happening this month to explore historic wooden boats, sample local wines, beers and cuisine, compete for the fastest bike time from Seattle to Portland in the STP or create the biggest sand sculpture.

Celebrate SeaFair!

Fourth of July Fireworks. Creative Commons Licensed by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Douglas G. Morrison.

Fourth of July Fireworks. Creative Commons Licensed by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Douglas G. Morrison.

It would not be summer in Seattle without Seafair, which has been an annual event since 1950. The festivities “officially” began at the end of June with the landing of the SeaFair Pirates on Alki. However, SeaFair related events really kick into high gear this month and continue in to August. This weekend, July 4, head over to Gasworks Park or South Lake Union Park for a day of celebration at the Seafair Summer Fourth. During the afternoon there will be plenty of activities, games and music to enjoy, capped off by a daring skydive performance over Lake Union. After the singing of the National Anthem, a stunning fireworks display set to music will take place at about 10:20 p.m.

Other SeaFair festivities include community events such as the SeaFair Milk Carton Derby where nearly 100 creatively designed boats constructed out of milk cartons compete to see which vessel can travel across Green Lake fastest. Near the end of the month, on July 25, is the much anticipated Torchlight Parade. This year the parade will be marshaled by Seattle Mariners players Felix Hernandez and Robinson Cano, and will include giant balloons, drill teams, horses, clowns, pirates and bands. Make sure not to forget to attend the classic Grand Prix West Seafair Hydroplane Races and Blue Angels performances (they are back this year with more exciting acts and aerial maneuvers than ever) on the following weekend July 31-August 2. With a slew of family-friendly events, you are sure to find an activity that will appeal to all ages.

Blue Angels. Creative Commons Licensed by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Douglas G. Morrison.

Blue Angels. Creative Commons Licensed by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Douglas G. Morrison.

Explore Seattle Like a Local

Whether you are a greater Seattle area resident or just visiting the region, use the month of July to soak in the flavor of the city. There are a few chances to sip Seattle’s locally produced wines, beers and spirits. During Wine Rocks, you can enjoy wine and music performed by brew masters (as well as a few local musicians) who happen to know a thing a two about both arts. If you prefer beer, head to the Seattle International Beerfest to sample beers that are rare or hard to find. With over 220 beers to choose from, you are sure to find something new or that you have not heard of before.

Of course, you cannot try the local beverages without also sampling Seattle’s cuisine. Stop by the Ballard SeafoodFest to celebrate the fishing industry and the Ballard neighborhood’s Nordic roots. While you are there make sure to try the traditional salmon barbeque, listen to local music, check out the arts and crafts available for purchase and sample even more seafood! There is also a wide variety of food to explore at the Bite of Seattle, which is another long-standing Seattle tradition. Here you can find everything from alligator on a stick to truffle oil to wine slush. For foodies who want to sample everything, many vendors offer menu items that are $3.75 or less so you can get a taste of each type of cuisine. In addition to food, the festival also has five stages where there will be a variety of musical and dance performances.

Sand castle. Creative Commons Licensed by Something12356789.

Sand castle. Creative Commons Licensed by Something12356789.

Speaking of annual traditions, there is Seattle to Portland (STP) Bicycle Classic, which attracts about 10,000 riders who vie to see who can make the 202 mile trek the fastest. Upon reaching the finish line, riders are award with a free apparel item of their choice and a meal at the finish line in Portland. You can also compete creatively this month at the Sandsations contest in Long Beach, and see what team can build the most imaginative sand sculpture in six hours. In addition to being able to escape the heat by spending time on the beach and enjoying ocean views, you will also be able to curb your hunger with free hot dogs and enjoy a beach bonfire. Finally, end the month on a high note at the Capitol Hill Block Party to listen to tons of local bands and party with the community.

More July Things to Do in Seattle

Happy summer! With so many fabulous, blue-skied days ahead, there is no better time to get out, enjoy your summer and discover all the July things to do in Victoria. You will find hanging baskets bursting with colorful flowers, public markets full of fresh, home grown produce and handcrafted goods and a variety of outdoor concerts and festivals. Whether you are an adventurer or foodie, there are a variety of fun ways in and around Victoria to fill your summer.

Celebrate Canada’s Birthday

Canadian Flag. Creative Commons Licensed by Tony Webster.

Canadian Flag. Creative Commons Licensed by Tony Webster

Help celebrate Canada’s 148th birthday by making merry at one of the many parties around town on Canada Day on Wednesday, July 1, which honors the day Canada became a new federation with its own constitution by signing the Constitution Act. Visit Fort Rodd Hill and the Fisgard Lighthouse to join in the festivities for this special day and take in fantastic views. Dance to live music, sing a rousing round of “Oh, Canada” or take part in a variety of fun activities for all ages. Of course, you must not forget to save room for a piece of “Canada Day’s biggest birthday cake” at the end of the evening.

Another option is to stop by Bear Mountain’s Canada Day BBQ to hangout by the pool in the afternoon with live music being spun by DJ Spencer Looysen or enjoy a Canadian inspired barbeque in the evening, live music performed by Shaky Ground, lawn games and great prizes. There will also be a bouncy castle and face painting for kids.

Take Pride in Your City

Rainbow. Creative Commons Licensed by  Anemone Projectors.

Rainbow. Creative Commons Licensed by Anemone Projectors

June 27 kicks off Pride Week in Victoria, and this year the city has done something extra special to lead up to the celebration. The intersection of Pandora and Broad streets have painted with three permanent rainbow crosswalks to celebrate the city’s diversity and show support for the local LGBTQ community. However, these colorful crosswalks are not the only fun thing happening during the Pride Week there is Youth Pride Dance, the Big Gay Dog Walk – a great way watch cute dogs in costumes, Pride in the Word and Drag Ball – Baseball. The event culminates in the annual parade and festival on July 5, which features more than 100 vendors and stages acts that everyone will enjoy.

In addition to Pride Week, there are a variety of other fun festivities and celebrations happening in Victoria throughout July. Victoria’s Festival of Food and Wine returns for its seventh year highlighting locally produced food and wine. During the event more than 30 BC wineries will be pouring over 100 wines and treats from some of Victoria’s popular restaurants like the Fairmont Empress and Veneto Tapa Lounge will be served. Festival-goers looking for additional entertainment should check out the Victoria International Buskers Festival to watch flame throwers, acrobats, magicians, jugglers, unicyclists, balloonists, musicians and more. There is even opportunity to sample more cuisine as there will be an International Food Village with bites from a variety of countries. For a little music, head to the annual Rock the Shores concert in the scenic town of Colwood and enjoy performances by artists such as Black Keys, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, Jane’s Addiction, Bleachers and more.

Discover Local Arts and Crafts

Lavender Fields. Creative Commons Licensed by Silar.

Lavender Fields. Creative Commons Licensed by Silar

No summer in Victoria is complete without visiting at least one garden, so why not stop by the Damali Lavender Fest and stroll through the fragrant fields of lavender, get lost in the labyrinth or explore the vineyard where you can sample wine infused with lavender complemented by lavender treats. There will also opportunities to learn more about lavender, such as the harvesting process, an essential oil distillation and soap making demonstrations and a farm tour. If you would like, you can even get hands on and pick your own lavender or make a lavender wand.

Go local and attend festivals that showcase arts and crafts that have been produced right here in British Columbia. The Sooke Fine Arts Show features over 375 original works of fine art created by artists on Vancouver Island and the surrounding BC coastal islands. During the 11-day event you can enjoy live artist demonstrations, talks and music and of course view the beautiful jewelry, pottery, sculptures, photography and paintings created by the artists – you may even find a few pieces to take home!

More July Things to Do in Victoria

Cat and dog cuddling. Creative Commons Licensed by Mary03101983.

Cat and dog cuddling. Creative Commons Licensed by Mary03101983.

Summer is here and that means it is time to hit the road and do some exploring. However, do not forget to bring your four-footed friends along on your trip. Yep, that’s Fido and Fluffy. After all, they are like family, so you might as well bring them along on your adventure instead of leaving them in a kennel or with a sitter. Traveling with your pets is easier than you think, as you can bring animals with you on the Victoria Clipper. Just make sure you make a reservation for them ahead of time and bring along the necessary paperwork as well as a carrier for them to travel in. While sometimes it can be a little challenging to find accommodations that will accept your pet or pamper them as much as you. Never fear, we have done the dirty work for you and found a number of pet friendly hotels in the Pacific Northwest and Western Canada that will treat your best friend like the royalty they are.

Victoria

The Fairmont Empress

Spoil your cat or dog as much as you spoil yourself at the Empress for a fee of $25.00 CAD per night per pet. Upon you arrival at you will be provided with a brochure featuring pet friendly areas and hotel amenities for pets that are available on request. These goodies include a bed basket, food and water dishes, dry food, bottled water, treats, pet waste disposal bags or litter box. You can also ask the front desk for a dog-walking map so you and your dog can explore the town together.

Hotel Grand Pacific

One pet that is less than 40 lbs. can take advantage of the Hotel Grand Pacific’s Pampered Pooch package for a fee of $50.00 for up to seven nights. The package provides your pup with a plush doggy-bed, food and water bowls, a disposable doggie clean-up kit and a do-not-disturb sign to alert room attendants of your pooch’s presence.

The Oswego Hotel

Your pet will enjoy their stay at the Oswego as much as you do. When you check in your pooch will receive pet-sized Jax & Bones beds, designer food and water bowls, locally made organic dog treats and poop bags as well as a welcome card with suggestions for nearby dog parks and off-leash areas such as Beacon Hill Park and Dallas Road Park.

Inn at Laurel Point

Pets are welcome at the Inn at Laurel Point for a fee of $30.00 per night and will be treated to a doggie bed, bowls and special welcome dog cookies made by Chef Ito.

Westin Bear Mountain Golf Resort & Spa

Dogs are allowed at the Westin Bear Mountain and are treated to their own luxurious Heavenly dog bed.

Chateau Victoria Hotel & Suites

Dogs, and their humans, can stay in the traditional or one bedroom suites at the Chateau Victoria for an additional fee of $15.00 per night. Limit one dog per room.

Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort & Spa

Cats and small dogs, 50 lbs. and under, welcome for a fee of $35.00 per stay/room. Two pets maximum.

Harbour Towers Hotel & Suites

Cats and small dogs, 50 lbs. and under, allowed for a fee of $35.00 per stay/room. Two pets maximum.

Up Island –Vancouver Island

Tigh Na Mara Seaside Spa Resort

Bring your pet to Tigh Na Mara with for a one-time fee of $30.00 per reservation, there are no additional fees for multiple night stays or multiple dogs. If you go out adventuring and do not want to leave your pet alone, the front desk can help you find a sitter.

April Point Resort & Spa, Canadian Princess Resort and Painter’s Lodge

Want to bring your pooch with you on your fishing trip or outdoor adventure? You are welcome to at April Point Resort & Spa, Canadian Princess Resort and Painter’s Lodge for a fee of $30.00 per stay with no additional fees charged for multiple pets.

Seattle

The Edgewater Hotel

Pets of all kinds are welcome at the Edgewater, whether they are a dog, cat, fish or ferret. All the hotel requires is that you sign a waiver to cover responsibility to any damages your pet may make to the hotel and that you bring a travel kennel with you to house your pet.

The Fairmont Olympic Hotel

Small dogs and cats that are 40 lbs. less are welcome to stay at the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, for a pet cleaning fee of $40.00 per pet per stay. Treat your pet to fine dining by ordering him or her snacks from the hotel’s special in room dinning menu.

Hotel Vintage

The Hotel Vintage offers pet accommodations at no extra charge and with no size restrictions. They will also give you recommendations on great local trails and off-leash parks for your pup, help you create a personalized doggie itinerary for your pups or arrange for a dog sitter if you want to spend the night on the town.

The Westin Seattle

Treat your pooch (up to 80 lbs.) to a comfortable getaway at the Westin for no extra charge. They will even supply you with a “Westin Heavenly Dog Bed” and food and water bowls upon your request.

The Roosevelt Hotel

You and up to two of four-legged friends can enjoy the Deluxe category rooms at the Roosevelt for an additional $45.00 once-per-stay, non-refundable fee.

San Juan Islands

Earthbox Inn & Spa

Earthbox happily welcomes two pets per room for a fee of $15.00 per night per pet. Let the hotel know ahead of time that you are bringing your furry friend and they will have food and water bowls, pet blanket and a special treat waiting. San Juan Island is incredibly dog friendly and you will find an off leash dog park only a mile away and most San Juan beaches and parks welcome pups. The hotel can also help you find things to do with your pooch in the San Juans, from doggie spas to dog-friendly dinning.

Vancouver

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver Airport and The Fairmont Waterfront

The Fairmont Hotels in Vancouver want your pets to be just as well taken care of as you are during their stay and have created a special program for pet accommodations called “Pets are People Too.” For a fee of $25.00 CAD per day, all pets staying in the hotel will receive a welcome mat in their room, food and water bowls, treats, a toy and an information sheet on pet-friendly activities and services in town.

Coast Plaza Hotel & Suites

Pets are allowed to stay in all Comfort, Superior and Premium room categories, except Jacuzzi suites. A maximum of two pets may be in each room.

Delta Vancouver Suites

Small cats and dogs that are 50 lbs. and under are welcome at the Delta, for a fee of $35.00 per stay/room with a limit of two pets per room.

Century Plaza

Pets welcome with a nightly fee.

Ramada Inn & Suites

Pets allowed with a $20.00 nightly cleaning fee.

Vista of the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Orcas Island.

Vista of the San Juan Islands and the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Orcas Island.

Full of beautiful scenery, wildlife and a nearly unlimited number of things to do, it is no wonder the San Juan Islands have received accolades from several national publications, including being named as one of the “Top 10 Islands in the World” by the 2014 Travel+Leisure Magazine World’s Best Awards. The San Juan Islands are comprised of about 428 to 743 islands, only 172 which have names. The four largest and most well-known islands are San Juan, Orcas, Shaw and Lopez Islands and they have charming hotels, spas, shops, locavore restaurants and plentiful indoor and outdoor activities. Even better, there plenty completely free things to do in the San Juans, allowing you to experience as much of the islands as possible on a budget.

1. Explore the Lime Kiln Lighthouse – The 36-acre Lime Kiln State Park is considered to be one of the best places in the world to view whales from land, as orcas often cruise by, particularly in the months of May through September. Other frequent visitors to the park’s shores include Minke whales, porpoises, seal, sea lions and otters. If you want to learn more about the park’s wildlife should check out the Interpretive Center, which contains orca statues, a replica of an orca dorsal fin, interactive displays and activities and history about the old lime kiln that inspired the name for the park. You can also tour the park’s lighthouse, which still operates, and on clear days you can see the Olympic Mountain Range and Vancouver Island.

2. Tour the Pelindaba Lavender Farm – If you love lavender, or just flowers in general, you will delight in Pelindaba Lavender Farm. The lavender begins blooming in early May, with some blooms lasting into October. During these months, visitors are free to tour the many fields where over 50 varieties of lavender are grown and see and smell the flowers, cut bouquets from the fields, go on a picnic and taste lavender lemonade, iced tea, ice cream and cookies and pick up lavender products from the farm store. If you happen to visit in the summer, make sure to check out the Lavender Festival on July 18 and 19th where you can learn how to craft with lavender or attend demonstrations on things such as growing or cooking with lavender.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse. Creative Commons Licensed by Dave Sizer.

Lime Kiln Lighthouse. Creative Commons Licensed by Dave Sizer

3. Visit Local Museums – Learn more about the history and culture of the San Juans while you are in town. First, pick up a little by visiting the San Juan Historical Museum where you can view historic buildings and antiques that allow you to imagine what life was like in 1894, when the island was a farming community. Second, for stop by the San Juan Islands Museum of Art for a little art appreciation. Here you can see photography, paintings, art installations renowned artists and workshops for kids and adults (some require a fee). Don’t forget to stop by the nearby Sculpture Park, which features over 20 acres of outdoor art.

4. Hike to the Mausoleum – Accessing the mausoleum is an easy trek through the Roche Harbor Cemetery, at the end of the cemetery you will find a set of gates reading “Afterglow Vista,” travel through them and you find the mausoleum. The Mausoleum, which was created for McMillin family that owned the local lime works, has an interesting history and is worth the hike for at least the beautiful golden glow that falls on the structure as the summer sun sets.

Lavender fields. Courtesy of Pelindaba Lavender Farm.

Lavender fields. Courtesy of Pelindaba Lavender Farm

5. Check Out the San Juan Islands Summer Arts Fair – If you are planning on traveling to San Juan Island July 11-12, stop by the Summer Arts Fair, which has been a Friday Harbor tradition for the past 20 years. During the festival over 50 local artists sell fine art, crafts, jewelry, textiles, natural beauty products and more and there is a creative center for kids as well.

6. Discover San Juans Beaches – The San Juan Islands are full of fantastic beaches such as 4th of July Beach, Cattle Park, English Camp, San Juan County Park and more that provide endless opportunities for activities. Explore tide pools, fly kites, picnic, bird watch, wade in the water, skim board, play volleyball or explore the docks at Friday Harbor Marina.

7. Stroll Through the San Juan Island Farmers Market – San Juan Island began as a farming community, so it is no surprise that they still have a robust farmers market today. The market is held year round at Friday Harbor Brickworks Building, so walk through to pick up fresh produce, handmade crafts and tasty artisan foods.

Boats in the marina.

Boats in the Friday Harbor marina.

8. Take a Hike on One of the Many Trails on the Island – In addition to a variety of beaches to explore, San Juan Island has a number of hiking trails. One of the most popular trips is Mount Young, which passes through historic areas and provides scenic views. Other great options include Mount Finlayson, Jackie’s Lagoon and South Beach Trail.

9. Watch a Theater Production – The Island Stage Left theater company offers free shows year-round to visitors and locals alike. During the summer (July-August) months the company performs a Shakespeare play outdoors under the stars and produces a combination of old and new plays throughout the rest of the seasons.

10. Drive Around the Island and Look for Wildlife – Home to a variety of animals such as deer, rabbits, eagles, wild turkeys, trumpeter swans and raccoons, San Juan Island is a great place to take your kids on a local mini-safari to see what creatures you can find. In addition to local fauna, some of the farms on the island raise non-native animals like llamas, Scottish Highland cattle, ostriches and alpacas. There is even a camel on the island named Mona; see you can spot her on Roche Harbor Road across from San Juan Winery.

Want to explore more of the islands during your day trip or San Juan Island Overnight getaway? Check out this list of things to do in the San Juans for more fun activities.

Our Fall photo contest winner, Elizabeth Blanton from Yellow Elm Blog, was kind enough to write another guest post for us, this one on exploring Seattle. Here are her top four recommendations for places in Seattle where you can find great views for free.

If you are headed to Seattle, you will have no shortage of options for spots to see great city views. In my opinion, nothing tops the Space Needle for a classic view of Seattle, and the Columbia Center Tower observation deck is the highest viewpoint, but there are plenty of places where you can find great views for free if you’re trying to keep your trip on a budget.

Popular parks like Gas Works Park in Wallingford, Kerry Park in Queen Anne and Alki Beach Park in West Seattle offer great skyline views. However, if you’re looking for a lesser-known spot that might not be as busy, give one of these places a try:

Russell Investments Center 17th Floor Terrace

Russell Investments Center Terrace. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

Russell Investments Center Terrace. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

The Russell Investments Center in downtown Seattle (1301 2nd Ave–next to the Seattle Art Museum) has a 17th floor terrace park with views of the water, downtown and Pike Place Market from above. The 17th floor is open during building business hours, and it’s a fun place to take a small picnic lunch.

Bell Street at Pier 66 Rooftop Deck

Bell St. Pier. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow  Elm Blog

Bell St. Pier. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

The Bell Street Rooftop Deck (2225 Alaskan Way) has a great combination of waterfront and downtown views. There are plenty of benches at the Pier, and in my experience it’s usually a quiet area with a lot of space to take good photos, watch ferries go by or eat some takeout. Take note that the rooftop deck does close when a cruise ship is docked in the terminal.

Jack Block Park

Jack Block Park. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

Jack Block Park. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

Take a half mile scenic walk from the King County Water Taxi to Jack Block Park in West Seattle for more awesome views. You can see the Space Needle and downtown buildings across the water. The skyline views are similar to Alki Beach Park, but Jack Block Park is tucked away so it’s not as crowded.

Jose Rizal Bridge

Jose Rizal Bridge. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

Jose Rizal Bridge. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

If you have access to a car or want to try out the King Country Metro Bus system, the Jose Rizal Bridge in Beacon Hill has fantastic views of the city from the South. Park your car at the nearby Jose Rizal Park (1007 12th Ave S.) and then walk over to the bridge. The bridge is an especially good place to take photos after dark and capture the lights of the city.

Seattle Skyline. Credit: Photo Courtesy Haykan Axelsson.

Seattle Skyline. Photo Courtesy Haykan Axelsson

While it appears that summer has already arrived in Seattle, after all 80 degree weather in the beginning of June is pretty spectacular, the season does not officially begin until June 21. However, since summer is one of the most glorious times to visit Seattle (picture sparkling waters, blue skies and verdant scenery) there are a variety of June things to do in Seattle before and after the beginning of summer, to help celebrate the arrival of the much anticipated season.

Celebrate the Summer Solstice

Stilters at the Solstice Parade. Creative Commons Licensed by Joe Mabel.

Stilters at the Solstice Parade. Creative Commons Licensed by Joe Mabel

One of the most popular ways to start the summer season is with the annual Fremont Solstice Parade and Fair. The festival begins on Friday, June 19 with the first Solstice Concert Series performances on the Redhook Main Stage and Main Stage Beer Garden. However, the things really heat up on Saturday with the Solstice Parade itself, which is full of floats, marching bands and bike riders outfitted in crazy costumes and body paint. During the weekend you should also keep an eye out for the Seattle Art Car Blowout, featuring over 75 cars decorated in funny and interesting designs, such as a phone, stiletto, fish and more. There will also be a street fair, craft market and a variety of buskers such as chalk artists, musicians, magicians and jugglers. The fair wraps up on Sunday, June 21 with a cute twist – the Sunday Dog Parade, where four-legged friends of all sizes will march through the fairgrounds. Do not forget to make time to do some sightseeing while you are in town and stop by the Fremont Troll, statue of Lenin or real Soviet-era rocket or visit many of the eclectic shops and businesses in the neighborhood.

Cheers to Dads and Grads

Beer Flight. Photo Courtesy Road Dog Tours.

Beer Flight. Photo Courtesy Road Dog Tours

The Solstice Parade is not the only fun way to kick of summer over the weekend. Toast to summer, dad as Father’s Day is also June 21 or recent school grads at the Washington Brewers Festival. Over 400 beers from 105 Washington breweries will be represented at the festival, as well wine and cider tastings, great food, live music and an all-ages playground featuring balloons, inflatable toys and kids crafts. There will even be a root beer garden, with different varieties on tap throughout the weekend, so families have a place to enjoy dinner together. Want to sip more local brews? Try going on the Seattle Brewery Tour, which will transport you to three of the best breweries in town, where information on what goes into a good brew, the history and culture of craft brew and plenty of beer will be freely dispensed.

Family Fun in the Sun

Booths at the Edmonds Arts Festival. Photo Courtesy of the Edmonds Arts Festival.

Booths at the Edmonds Arts Festival. Photo Courtesy of the Edmonds Arts Festival

There is no better way than spending every minute possible of summer weekends outdoors so you can soak up every ounce of the sun. In the mood for some art appreciation? Head over to the Edmonds Arts Festival, which features a field filled with over 240 artists booths containing everything from paintings, to jewelry, to photography to sculptures and yard art as well as 20 food vendors. Those needing a break from the sun can also find three juried art galleries in the nearby building and school art class exhibits with over 1,000 student creations.

If you would rather take in classics of another kind, visit Seattle’s historic waterfront to view over 50 stylish yachts during Classic Weekend. The classic ships will make for a stunning sight as they parade into Bell Harbor Marina on Friday, June 19 and you will be able to explore most of the yachts from the inside on tours throughout the weekend. While you are downtown, check out of the many new, local businesses that have set up shop on the Waterfront and in Pioneer Square that are helping revive this area steeped in history. Not sure which places to check out? Watch our video guide for ideas:

More June Things to Do in Seattle

Downtown Victoria. Photo Courtesy Brandon Godfrey.

Downtown Victoria. Photo Courtesy Brandon Godfrey

We are excited that there are a variety of festivals and June things to do in Victoria that are near and dear to our heart. This weekend is World Oceans Day at Fisherman’s Wharf, which is designed to help educate the community about how they can help care for and conserve our oceans. Keeping local waters clean is important to ensuring they remain home to amazing wildlife like orca whales, Dall’s porpoises, harbor seals, bald eagles and migratory birds. Not to mention these very same waters enable us to quickly transport you between Seattle and Victoria. In order to teach everyone about the different ways to protect the ocean, there will be fun activities for all ages, such as a scavenger hunt, touch tanks and displays from Ocean Network Canada, Ocean Wise, Robert Bateman Center, Royal BC Museum and others.

Victoria's Inner Harbour. Credit: Ryan Reynolds.

Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Credit: Ryan Reynolds

In addition, one of the wonderful things about Victoria is that you do not need a car to get there; you can travel to Victoria with just a single step by hopping on the Clipper. As we like to say “You can walk between Seattle and Victoria from here.” Once you arrive in the city of Victoria itself, you don’t have to go far to shop or visit popular attractions like The Parliament Buildings, the Fairmont Empress, Royal BC Museum and more. As such, we are happy to see Downtown Victoria celebrate its walkability with Car Free YYJ. During the festival, six blocks of Douglas Street will be taken over to host live entertainment, a craft beer garden, artishow, food trucks, farmers market and vendor booths full of unique goods.

Of course, Victoria would not be the city it is today without its original founders – BC’s Aboriginal people. Learn more about the First Nations with three days of performances by the Songhees and Esquimalt Nations as well other Aboriginal performers from across the province in celebration of National Aboriginal Day. Besides experiencing First Nations culture through dance, musical performances and storytelling, you can also explore their art as a number of Aboriginal artisans will be on-site with carvings, prints and jewelry for sale. Some artists will even be able to give demonstrations on the creative process for their crafts. While you are at the festival, make sure to try some of the delicious food, such as BBQ salmon, fry bread and clam chowder, created by the Songhees Nation and Chef Roger.

These festivals are just the beginning of the many things to do in Victoria this month. You can listen to the sweet sounds of blues and jazz, sample local cuisine or stock up on summer reading at the Comic Book Expo.

Dance the Night Away with Bluegrass and Jazz

View of the Sooke River. Creative Commons Licensed by Ruth Hartnup.

View of the Sooke River. Creative Commons Licensed by Ruth Hartnup

Experience the beginning of the summer the concert season with two lively festivals during the last two weekends in June. First, relax and camp on the banks of the Sooke River Campground (The Flats) and take in the beautiful views and music during the 13th Annual Sooke River Bluegrass Festival. Over the course of the weekend you will get to listen to performances by a variety of local and visiting acoustic talent. In addition, you will have the opportunity to attend workshops hosted by the artists themselves, so you can pick some tips on things like bluegrass harmony singing as well as bluegrass and old time rhythm guitar, fiddle, bango and more. The TD Victoria International JazzFest runs nearly simultaneously during the last week two weeks of June. Not unlike the Bluegrass Festival, JazzFest features a number of different artist performances and workshops. Thus, if you prefer jazz to blues you might want to head here or if you like both genres, stop by JazzFest during its second week so you can catch performances at both shows.

Taste Local Fare at a Variety of Fairs

Charcuterie on the Local Libations on the Peninsula Tour. Courtesy of West Coast Brewery Tours

Charcuterie on the Local Libations on the Peninsula Tour. Courtesy of West Coast Brewery Tours

If you are a foodie, do not miss your chance to sample gourmet food, local wine and craft beer from some of Victoria’s most popular restaurants, breweries or wineries during them at new the food festival, YYJ Eats. Tickets to the festival will get you ten tasting tokens and automatically enter you to win over $400 in gift certificates from the participating restaurants. However, this is not your only opportunity to sample delicious cuisine this month, there is also Fernwood Bites, which has treats from a few more our favorite vendors.

If you can’t get enough of tasty dishes and brews, revisit your favorite places or discover even more local hot spots on either the Victoria Food Tour or Local Libations on the Peninsula tour.

More June Things to Do in Victoria

Victoria's Inner Harbour. Credit: Elizabeth Blantonhttp://yellowelm.com/blog/

Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

Our Fall photo contest winner, Elizabeth Blanton, was recently able to take advantage of her prize and go sightseeing around Victoria. Elizabeth was kind enough to share a few of her travel trips with us in this guest post, which will hopefully help you seek out some new places to explore the next time you are in the city. You can read more about Elizabeth’s and her husband Ben’s adventures on her blog Yellow Elm Blog. Of course, if you have travel tips of your own, we would love to hear them, please share them in the comments.

Last fall, I won a trip for two to Victoria through the Clipper’s Instagram account. My husband and I have wanted to visit Victoria since our move to Seattle from the East Coast two years ago, and winning the contest was just the motivation we needed to check our calendars and book a long weekend.

With busy work schedules and limited vacation days (I’m sure we’re not the only ones in that boat!) we always try to make the most of any trip, and have learned (usually the hard way) what can help a short trip go smoothly and maximize time. Here are a few tips that helped us plan a relaxing weekend getaway in Victoria.

Make a list of activities and restaurants before you leave for your trip

Ceiling in the Parliament Building. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton http://yellowelm.com/blog/.

Ceiling in the Parliament Building. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

I’ve done trips with an hour-by-hour itinerary and vacations with no schedule at all. For our Victoria trip I wanted to strike a balance between the two, and so I made a list of restaurants places we were interested in visiting like the Parliament Building. If a restaurant closed at 7:00 p.m. or wasn’t open for lunch I made a note, and I tried to include addresses so we could find things as we were walking around. Though it took some research ahead of time, having a list gave us enough direction to make good decisions on-the-go about what to do or where to eat. It was just the right amount of structure for a long weekend.

Try a non-traditional meal schedule

We had a lot of restaurants on our list for our trip to Victoria, so for a few of our meals we went to several places and ordered small plates. That way we could try a lot of different restaurants in a short amount of time. In some cases it also helped avoid crowds and waiting in line for a table.

We ate at Red Fish Blue Fish, and everyone we talked to about it ahead of time warned us there would be a line. We went at 3:00 p.m. for a late lunch, and there was a line, but I imagine it wasn’t as long as if we had gone at a more traditional lunch or dinner hour. We also ate at Brasserie L’ecole, which is another restaurant we heard can have a long wait. We stopped by and put our name on the dinner list at around 6:00 p.m., and while we waited for our table we went and grabbed an appetizer at another spot, which turned out to be more fun than if we had gotten a table right away.

If you can, walk and bike

Elizabeth Blanton. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton http://yellowelm.com/blog/

Elizabeth Blanton. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

I see so much more when I walk or bike around a new place than when I am in a car. Walking and biking engage the senses in such a personal way, you are exposed to all the smells, the weather, bumps in the road, cracks in the sidewalk, snippets of conversation, those little details always make me feel like I’m getting to know a place better.

My favorite part of our trip was the bike ride we did along the waterfront. The Hotel Grand Pacific, where we stayed as part of the package I won, has complimentary bike rentals for hotel guests. We got some good advice and a map from the hotel desk, and took a breathtaking ride along Dallas Rd.

Ben Blanton. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton http://yellowelm.com/blog/

Ben Blanton. Credit: Elizabeth Blanton / Yellow Elm Blog

Likewise, it was very easy to walk around Victoria and see the sights. Even though there are some spots that look gorgeous outside of town that I hope to visit someday, I am glad we spent most of our time walking around in the downtown area of the city on this first visit.

Happy travels!

It is hard to believe that Memorial Day weekend is already almost here! If you have yet to figure out how to spend your long weekend, you do not have to look any further than your own backyard, as there are plenty of May things to do in Portland. Experience a few of the features that make the city unique, like wonderful wines and beers, the lively biking community and the many flowers found in the city; after all, Portland is the city of roses. It looks like Portland is due to have a fabulous weekend in terms of weather, so there is no better time to get out and explore the city.

Taste or Cycle Your Way Through Portland

Willamette Valley grapes.

Willamette Valley grapes.

Wine and bike enthusiasts rejoice! This long weekend grants to you the opportunity to immerse yourself in either your favorite grapes or the creative world of cycling or a mix of both if you desire. Travel to Williamette Valley for Memorial Weekend in the Wine Country where you can sample wines from over 150 wineries and tasting rooms in the area. Relax and take in stunning views while you taste new wines from your favorite labels, sample food and specialty wine pairings, listen to live music, tour a winery or enjoy a vineyard picnic.

Still from Cyclocross Jump by Patrick Deijkers. Photo courtesy of Filmed by Bike.

Still from Cyclocross Jump by Patrick Deijkers. Photo courtesy of Filmed by Bike.

If bikes and films are more your speed, check out the 13th Annual Filmed by Bike Festival, which features the best bike movies from around the world. The event kicks off with a street party hosted by New Belgium, where attendees can enjoy live entertainment, a speed raffle, a beer garden, a video storytelling booth as well as a photo booth. During the festival, you can get a glimpse into worldwide bicycle cultures by watching these 50 short films that have been produced as close to home as right here in Portland, to as far as way as Slovenia, Hungary, Portugal, Australia, France and Ireland. Throughout the festival there will also be variety of special events each day, such as filmmaker question and answer sessions, a panel discussion on women in cycling and a biking brewery tour with the filmmakers.

Stop to Smell the Flowers and Enjoy the Festivals in the City of Roses

Rose. Credit: Eric Huff.

Rose. Credit: Eric Huff

Celebrate the city of Portland with the CityFair, also known as the Rose Festival. The event opens on May 22 just time for Memorial Day weekend and continues to run for the two subsequent weekends, ensuring you get a chance to enjoy the fair. On the first night of the fair there will be a dance party and concert as well as gigantic fireworks display. The second weekend of the Fair is filled with more music, and activities that are also great for the whole family, like an exotic animal zoo, arts and crafts, and treasures from past festivals in the Rose Festival Museum. This weekend you can also watch the ever popular Starlight Parade that has been a Portland tradition since the early 1900s. About 100 illuminated floats, some of which are even hand built, along with marching bands and other community groups parade down through the city. Festival-goers in the mood to continue partying after parade, can attend the first ever Starlight After-Party in the Rose Festival “RoZone” and dance the night away to Sir Mix-A-Lot, Crazy 8s and Nu Shooz. The third and final weekend is a treat for those interested in all things maritime, as it highlights Fleet Week with ships from the U.S. Navy, U.S. Coast Guard and Canadian Maritime Forces.

Luckily, all the fun events in Portland do not end with Memorial Day weekend, in fact it is just the beginning. The following weekend starts another renowned festival in the city, the Festival of Flowers, which takes place in the heart of Portland. Every year the Pioneer Courthouse Square collaborates with a local artist or design firm to create a colorful design that spans the Square grounds out of thousands of plants and flowers. This year’s design, titled “Donut Trip” celebrates two Portland classics, coffee and donuts. The design has yet to be created, but the site plan for it looks pretty incredible. While you will want to make sure you catch sight of these flowers when they are on display, the festival is followed by a flower sale where you can cheaply purchase the plants used to make the design.

More May 2015 Things to Do in Portland

This time of year is all about taking in the culture of the city and enjoying the longer, warmer days by finding more activities to do outdoors, and there are a number of May things to do in Vancouver, BC that can help you do exactly that. Celebrate the arts by attending some of the many art festivals and performances around town. Likewise, get ready for summer by visiting a farmers market to stock up on fresh, local goodies or by attending a beer and tequila festival to discover what drinks you should have on hand for your summer barbecues and parties. Whether you are entertaining or want to be entertained, there is no shortage of things to do this month.

Discover Local Brews and Foods at Farmers Markets and Festivals

Raspberries at the West End Farmers Market. Creative Commons Licensed by Jennifer.

Raspberries at the West End Farmers Market. Creative Commons Licensed by Jennifer

One of the best things about this time of the year is the return of farmers markets. Most of Vancouver’s farmers markets open this month, with a few opening in June, so you can peruse through the stalls for fresh produce, meats, flowers as well as artisan food and arts and crafts. The Richmond Night Market is also now open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays until October 12. The market features a variety of goods, with 80+ food vendors and 250+ retailers. You can also expect to find live entertainment and carnival rides.

Taps at Vancouver Craft Beer Week. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver Craft Beer Week.

Taps at Vancouver Craft Beer Week. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver Craft Beer Week

If you are looking for some new brews to wet your whistle this summer, indulge in Vancouver Craft Beer Week, which runs from May 29 to June and features a lumberjack theme this year. Whether or not lumberjacks are your thing, the week’s proceedings certainly will be, as the festival includes 60 breweries, over 30 venues and more beer events and tastings than you can you can imagine. The week kicks off with an opening night gala where attendees will receive a souvenir tasting glass, unlimited craft beer samples and canapés from the CRAFT Beer market. Other events throughout the week include a rare brews and barbecue tasting, a trivia night, sandwich and beer paring, a Belgian beer showcase, sour beer paired with six food courses, fruit beer tastings and more.

However, if you prefer your beverages slightly harder, there is also the Vancouver International Tequila Expo that features over 25 tequila and mescal brands. Better yet, tickets to the festival get you 20 tokens to use for drink samples.

Take in Vancouver’s Arts and Culture

Vancouver International Childrens Festival. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver International Childrens Festival.

Vancouver International Childrens Festival. Photo Courtesy of Vancouver International Childrens Festival

This May there are also a number of opportunities to take in Vancouver’s arts scene with performances and art shows. Enjoy a show set in a forest full of whimsical and enchanted creatures with Cirque Du Soleil’s Varekai. To check out visual arts, head to Art! Vancouver the first international art fair to be held in Vancouver, which is designed to showcase fine arts like paintings, sculptures and photography. During the festival collectors and visitors can go guided art tours, listen to lectures from prominent art professionals and see musical acts.

There’s even a chance for kids to experience arts and culture, with the International Children’s Festival. Performances include stories by Anne Glover featuring a woven loop of string, an extravaganza of circus, music, theatre and comedy all rolled in to one show put on by Les Parfaits Inconnus, French-Canadian folk music and a puppet show. Kids also have the opportunity to get an the action by learning circus skills, exploring a musical maze or playground, playing string games, creating origami or bicycle spin-art or getting their face’s painted.

More May 2015 Things to Do in Vancouver, BC

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