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30 Things to Do in the Pacific Northwest in 2016

The ball has dropped in Times Square, the Space Needle’s fireworks have burst into a stunning blaze of color and 2016 is finally here. A recommended resolution for the New Year? Spend more time exploring the Pacific Northwest’s vast and beautiful cities and landscapes right in your own backyard. Lucky for you, Clipper Vacations has 30 years of experience as your local travel experts and are here to help guide you on the best advice for unforgettable adventures, romantic getaways and scenic road trips in our beloved region. Thus, in honor of this year being our grand 30th anniversary, we’ve provided our recommendations for 30 things to do in the Pacific Northwest in 2016.

Do one, do them all…whatever the case may be, we always want to hear from you and see your photos so be sure to share on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram using #DiscoverClipper. Happy exploring in the year ahead!

1. Take a Bite Out of Seattle

From some of the freshest seafood around to creamy, homemade ice cream, Seattle has a copious amount of phenomenal eats just waiting to be sampled. Tempt your taste buds with bites from local artisans and restaurants on a Food and Cultural Tour of Pike Place Market or treat yourself to the city’s finest sweets on a Chocolate Indulgence Tour.

2. Celebrate Chinese New Year in the Second Oldest Chinatown in North America

Colorful parades, captivating dragon and lion dances, restaurants serving scrumptious handmade dim sum, tea ceremonies and a treasure trove of shops make Victoria’s thriving and historic Chinatown the perfect place to ring in the year of the Monkey.

Trapper's Run Dogslde Tour.  Photo Courtesy Canadian Wilderness

Trapper’s Run Dogslde Tour. Photo Courtesy Canadian Wilderness

3. Mush Your Way Through Whistler’s Winter Wonderland

When it comes to gliding down Whistler’s icy slopes, typically skiing and snowboarding come to mind. However, navigating the specular old growth forest of Callaghan Valley becomes a lot more exhilarating when four-legged friends are involved. Hop on the Trapper’s Run Dogsled Tour and let your eager and powerful dog team lead you across the land.

4. Spend Valentine’s Day in One of the Most Romantic Cities in the World

With views of sparkling waters, stunning historic architecture, horse-drawn carriage rides and an abundance of beautiful gardens, there is no place more romantic than Victoria to spend Valentine’s Day. Cozy up with that special someone and discover why Victoria has been named the “Most Romantic City in Canada” for two years in a row.

Tigh Na Mara Spa

Tigh Na Mara Spa

5. Escape to Vancouver Island’s Tigh Na Mara

Located on 22 acres of evergreen forest and within a stone’s throw from three kilometers of pristine sandy beach, Tigh Na Mara Seaside Spa Resort provides a haven from the daily hustle and bustle. If the fabulous grounds are not enough of a draw, the resort features a beautiful rock-ensconced grotto spa, complete with a whirlpool, sauna and a warm water mineral pool.

6. Have a Whale of a Time in Puget Sound

At 50 feet long and weighing in at 35 tons, the mammoth gray whales dwarf Puget Sound’s other cetaceans, making them a truly magnificent sight. Embark on a gray whale watching trip to catch a rare glimpse of these mammals when the whales make a pit stop in Washington waters during their epic (12,400 miles round trip) migration between Mexico and Alaska.

7. Savor Okanagan Valley’s Award-Winning Wines

In the heart of British Columbia, lies the Okanagan Valley, one of Canada’s premier grape growing regions. Drive through the unique, intimate town and watch as the sun disappears behind the mountains on a while you sip and savor award-winning vintages at three boutique wineries on a sunset wine tour.

8.Travel the Galloping Goose Trail from End to End

Stretching from urban, asphalt paved streets, through loamy rainforest floors covered with ferns and shrubs, to steep, rocky canyons, this former rail line that runs from Victoria to Sooke is the perfect way to view the finest scenery in British Columbia.

Ziptrek Bear Tour. Photo Courtesy of ZipTrek.

Ziptrek Bear Tour. Photo Courtesy of ZipTrek.

9. Fly Through the Trees on a Zip Line Adventure

Get a squirrel’s eye view of frosty, icicle-laden trees as you soar through the forest canopy on five different ziplines ranging between 200-1,000 feet long on the Whistler Ziptrek Bear Tour.

10. Delight in Tofino’s Winter Storms

Live like a true Northwesterner and embrace the cold and damp winter days with a trip up to Tofino on Vancouver Island’s rugged coast to revel in the stormy weather. Don your best waterproof gear and head on the beach to watch giant swells and lashing waves pummel the shore.

11. Climb to New Heights in Vancouver

Venture off the ground to experience Vancouver from a new perspective. At 460 feet long and hanging a jaw-dropping 200 feet over Capilano River, Vancouver’s popular Capliano Suspension Bridge offers spectacular views of the lush rainforest vegetation and canyon below.

Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Photo Courtesy Oak Bay Beach Hotel

Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Photo Courtesy Oak Bay Beach Hotel

12. Pamper Yourself at Victoria’s Five-Star Spas

Slow down, rid yourself of stress and rejuvenate at one of Victoria’s elegant spas. Indulge your senses by soaking in steaming hot mineral pools by the sea at Oak Bay Beach Hotel, treat yourself to nature-inspired spa treatment or relax in a soothing eucalyptus steam room and sauna at the Willow Stream Spa at the Fairmont Empress.

13. Dine Atop Blackcomb’s Mighty Peak

Experience the serenity of Canada’s high alpine wilderness and panoramic views of the Coast Mountain Range as you crawl up Blackcomb Mountain while tucked cozy and warm inside a powerful snowcat. At the peak, relish a delicious and romantic, candle-lit mountain top fondue dinner accompanied by hot, fresh baked fruit pie at the charming Crystal Hut.

14. Scuba Dive & Snorkel in Nanaimo’s Watery Depths

Plunge deep into the cold, clear waters that surround the “Up Island” town of Nanaimo and slip into a different world. Explore the three sunken ship wrecks just outside the city’s harbor to a view a myriad of sea life, including rock fish, wolf eel, octopus and starfish. If you prefer to be less submerged, try snorkeling with the playful harbor seals found in the shallow waters off the coast.

15. Explore Portland’s “Gem” of a Neighborhood

Renowned for stylish shops, world class art galleries, premium restaurants and bars, the chic Pearl District is one of the most vibrant and fun neighborhoods in Portland. Be sure stop at the iconic Powell’s City of Books, the largest used and new bookstore in the world.

Orca. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist

Orca. Credit: Justine Buckmaster / Clipper Vacations Naturalist

16. Scout the San Juans for Orcas

Cruise through glimmering waters on a San Juans whale watching and sealife search as you look for the three distinct pods known as J, K and L that make up the growing community of Southern Resident orca whales. These beautiful and highly intelligent animals are curious creatures and will often swim near the boats. If you are lucky, you may even see one of eight claves born during the 2015 baby boom!

17. Take Victoria by Bicycle

With over nine popular biking trails that wind past local vineyards, bucolic farmlands and steep highlands, there is no better way to explore Victoria than by bike. If you left your bike at home, some hotels, such as the Hotel Grand Pacific, will even provide complimentary bikes to guests.

18. Gaze at One of Washington’s Poplar Mountains

Rising tall behind Seattle, the stately Mt. Rainier is one of Washington’s most popular attractions and perhaps one of the most elusive. Avoid waiting for the perfect moment to catch sight of the glacier-carved mountain and head straight to national park itself for a Mt. Rainier Tour that will allow you to view wildflower-filled alpine meadows, crashing waterfalls and the snowcapped summit.

19. Experience Seattle’s Nightlife

The numerous amount of local theaters, lively music venues and trendy clubs provide a seemingly endless source of entertainment. Enjoy a rousing show at Paramount, Moore or Neptune Theatre or check out the bars in Pioneer Square and Fremont to experience Seattle’s vibrant nightlife.

20. Visit Whidbey Island’s Waterfront Towns

A short boat ride across the Sound, or impressive drive over Deception Pass, will land you in the seaside towns of Coupeville or Langley. Experience part of the Northwest you wouldn’t normally see and swing by historic red wharf building or sample the famously delicious Penn Cove mussels and in Coupeville and check out the mix of jewelers clothing boutiques and book stores in Langley’s artists’ mecca.

21. Tour Victoria’s Craft Breweries

Unofficially known as the “craft beer capital of BC” since Canada’s first brewpub, Spinnakers opened in 1984, Victoria features over six exceptional craft breweries. To help narrow down where to wet your whistle, check out the Definitive Craft Brewery Tour, which will transport you to three of the city’s most popular breweries.

Beluga at the Vancouver Aquarium. Photo Courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium

Beluga at the Vancouver Aquarium. Photo Courtesy of the Vancouver Aquarium

22. Discover Vancouver’s Natural Beauty at Stanley Park and the Vancouver Aquarium

Stroll through Stanley Park’s glorious green oasis to experience glistening lakes, sandy beaches, grassy meadows, rose garden and an impressive collection of totem poles. Be sure to stop by the Vancouver Aquarium to view their collection of more than 90,000 fascinating and exotic creatures from all over the globe.

23. Wander Pelindaba Lavender Farm’s Deep Purple Fields

Breathe in the sweet, floral scent of lavender as you walk through fields of delicate purple flowers on the 25-acre San Juan Island farm. The blooms are at their peak during July, but you are welcome to visit Pelindaba anytime of the year and delight your taste buds with sweet lavender lemonade, iced tea, ice cream and cookies.

24. Check out Lime Kiln Lighthouse and Keep an Eye Out for Whales

Named after a historic lime kiln, the 36-acre park offers stunning views on the Olympic Mountain Range and Vancouver Island and is one of the best places in the world to catch a glimpse of the 80 or more orca whales that make the waters of the Haro Strait their home during the summer months. Need a way to get up to San Jaun Island? We’ve got you covered.

25. See Whistler from Peak to Peak

The longest continuous lift system in world, Whistler’s PEAK 2 PEAK Gondola is more awe-inspiring than your average gondola ride. Fly through the crisp mountain air and experience 360 degree views of volcanic peaks, sparkling lakes and frozen glaciers for an unparalleled perspective on British Columbia’s rooftop.

26. Take a Walk on British Columbia’s Wild Side

Situated between Vancouver Island and mainland BC, the secluded Discovery Islands are a prime location for wildlife viewing. Cruise the sapphire waters along Quadra Island’s scenic coastline on a whales and bears nature tour to catch sight of black bears, seals, bald eagles and herons.

Kayaking in Victoria's Inner Harbour. Photo Courtesy of Ocean River Adventures

Kayaking in Victoria’s Inner Harbour. Photo Courtesy of Ocean River Adventures

27. Kayak Victoria’s Inner Harbour

Paddle through the calm, protected waters surrounding Victoria’s Inner Harbour during a relaxing kayak tour that will allow you to experience the city’s fascinating landmarks up close. You may even catch a glimpse of local wildlife such as seals or bald eagles.

28. Soak in Seattle’s Native Heritage

Travel across the waters of Puget Sound to the birthplace of Chief Seattle on the picturesque Blake Island for a Tillicum Village Salmon Bake and experience the Northwest’s tribal culture. Feast on a scrumptious buffet of steamed clams and alder-smoked salmon followed by spellbinding performances by Tillicum village dancers.

29. Tour Victoria’s Castles and Historic Buildings

Featuring streets lined with 19th century architecture such as the elaborate Parliament Buildings and not one, but two, extravagant castles (Craigdarroch and Hatley) Victoria is the perfect place to indulge your inner history or architecture buff and wander through these gorgeous buildings.

30. Chase Oregon’s Waterfalls

While Portland often gets a bad rap due its damp climate, there is nothing more exhilarating than heading out on the Columbia River Gorge Waterfall Tour and witnessing all the rain being transformed into the magnificent and memorable Multnomah Falls, Latourell Falls, Horse Tail Falls and more.

With a variety of unique and fascinating regions to explore, the opportunities for amazing 2016 Pacific Northwest adventures are endless. Whether you want to smell the flowers in the expansive and beautiful Butchart Gardens in Victoria or track down some of the famous food trucks in Portland, you are sure to find a getaway that suites your fancy. With so much to see and so in the Pacific Northwest, the hardest part will be deciding where to start.

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Snowshoeing at Grouse Mountain. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

As the days draw shorter and colder, you might be dreaming of white sandy beaches, palm trees and blistering heat. Before you jet off to an exotic locale, consider the abundance of wintertime fun to be had in your own backyard. Offering some of the most diverse landscapes in the United States, the Pacific Northwest is the perfect area for a holiday escape.

Play outside under clear blue skies while freshly fallen snow crunches underfoot, drive through cosmopolitan cities to take in glittering lights or cozy up in a luxury resort and watch the fireplace roar. The best part? Most of these destinations are just a hop, skip or short drive away. Pack your weekend bag and make the most of the winter season with these five must do Pacific Northwest holiday adventures.

1. Enjoy World-Class Skiing and Snowboarding in Whistler

Skiing on Whistler Blackcomb. Photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler

Skiing on Whistler Blackcomb. Photo courtesy of Tourism Whistler

With crisp mountain air, slopes covered in glistening snow and icicle-laden trees, you’ll be hard-pressed to find anything more magical than a Whistler getaway for the winter holidays. The two majestic peaks receive an average of 410 inches of snowfall each winter, creating a paradise for wintertime activities.

Shred some fresh powder. Trek through serene old-growth forests on snowshoes to catch a glimpse of local wildlife. Mush a powerful dog team through Callaghan Valley or feel the wind in your face as you tube down Whistler Blackcomb’s icy slopes. After a day outdoors, experience the resort’s famous après ski activities and unwind at one of the many spas, sample award-winning cuisine or dance until the wee hours at one of Whistler’s legendary nightclubs.

2. Explore Leavenworth’s Winter Wonderland

Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

True winter wonderlands are a rarity these days, but they are not as scarce as you may think. Travel a few hours northeast of Seattle, to the snowy mountain town of Leavenworth to discover plenty of holiday cheer. During the first three weekends of December, enjoy a step back in time as the quaint Bavarian town hosts their old-fashioned Christmas Lighting Festival. The smell of roasting chestnuts and brats fills the air, Gluhwein tents selling hot spiced wine and cider line the streets and carolers are found on nearly every corner.

The highlight of the festival centers on the evening lighting ceremony. As the last rays of the sunlight fade from the horizon, follow the harmonic sounds of Alphorns to the town Square and watch the parade of stars and bells before welcoming Santa amidst thousands of twinkling lights. The winter fun does not have to end there. Be sure to soak in the festive ambience with a carriage ride through town or relish the chance to enjoy the snow by sledding or snowshoeing in Riverfront Park.

3. Experience Vancouver’s Towering Heights

Capilano Suspension Bridge with Christmas Lights.  Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

Capilano Suspension Bridge with Christmas Lights. Photo courtesy of Tourism Vancouver

From pristine trees to majestic snowcapped peaks, the Pacific Northwest winter landscapes are the stuff postcard designers drool over. Dive into the natural beauty of the region with a getaway to Vancouver, where you can experience these stunning landscapes from a new perspective. Venture more than a hundred feet off the ground at the awe-inspiring and popular Capilano Suspension Bridge Park and get a squirrel’s eye view of the region’s ancient evergreen trees, including the world’s tallest Christmas tree. During the holiday season the grounds are made even more spectacular when strands of lights cause the park’s bridges, trees and walkways to glitter like diamonds.

For more breathtaking vistas, visit the neighboring Grouse Mountain to see the snowy peaks set against the city and ocean. On the mountain, frolic in the snow during the Peak of Christmas celebrations. Take in the crisp mountain air as you glide across an 8,000 square foot skating pond or grab a steaming cup of cocoa and cozy up with that special someone on an unforgettable mountaintop sleigh ride.

4. Tour the Lights of Portland

Christmas at Pittock Mansion. Photo courtesy of Hub World Tours

Christmas at Pittock Mansion. Photo courtesy of Hub World Tours

As if delicious street food and trendy boutiques are not enticing enough, the abundance of sparkling lights lining the city’s streets are reason alone to visit the vibrant metropolis of Portland. To ensure that you catch the biggest and brightest displays, hop on the Portland Christmas Tour, which will take you past historic mansions and neighborhoods decked out in their holiday finest. You will also drive through the breathtaking Winter Wonderland at Portland Race Track, which has been dubbed the “Largest Holiday Light Show West of the Mississippi” and features more than 250 creative and colorful dazzling displays.

5. Embrace the Rain with Storm Watching in Tofino

Vancouver Island

Vancouver Island

Perched on Vancouver Island’s rugged west coast, about a four and a half hour drive from Victoria, Tofino is a prime location to revel in the stormy northwest weather. For a full-on storm immersion, don your warmest clothes, best raincoat and rubber boots and venture out onto Tonquin Beach and Trail. Stand where the beach meets the forest, breathe in the salt sea air and look on as the lashing rain and howling gales stir the ocean into a lather and toss driftwood around like matchsticks. When you feel like drying off, ensconce yourself in the popular Wolf in the Fog or Pointe Restaurant at Wickaninnish Inn, cozy up with a piping hot drink and relax to the sound of pattering rain and crashing waves.

From exploring snow-covered peaks and valleys to reveling in the rain, there are plenty of amazing adventures to be had in the Pacific Northwest this season with no visits to crowed airports or lengthy flights required. Grab your friends and family for a memorable holiday escape and discover the beauty of winter in the Pacific Northwest.

Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

Photo: Leavenworth Chamber of Commerce

With the holiday season quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to plan a city escape and experience one of our favorite winter traditions – the annual Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival. This old-fashioned celebration runs during the first three weekends in December and provides no shortage of holiday magic and cheer.

Holiday Parade and Singing

During the weekend festivities, Father Christmas, Saint Nicholas and Santa Clause parade into town at noon along with other costumed holiday characters. Following the parade, there is live music at the Front Street Gazebo, featuring performances by hand bell choirs, an Army National Dixie Guard band, soloists as well as some of the our region’s best high school and professional choirs.

Outdoor Fun and Shopping

Visitors can also explore Leavenworth’s winter wonderland by taking a carriage ride through the town, sledding in Front Street Park or by snowshoeing along Riverfront Park. Pick up last minute gifts at the quaint stores that line main street and enjoy holiday treats such as roasted chestnuts and hot spiced wine and cider. On festival Sundays, kids 12 and under can enjoy free cookies at participating businesses and take a tour of the town by following the “Cookie Crawl” map available at the Leavenworth Visitor Center or at the Front Street Gazebo.


Lights, Lights and More Lights!

Of course, the highlight of the festival days center around the evening lighting ceremony. Alphorns and boellers lead off the parade of stars and bells before joining Santa to bring the town to life with thousands of sparkling lights.

Traveling to the snowy mountain village is both comfortable and convenient with Clipper’s Christmas Lighting Festival Day Trip. Remove the stress of winter driving and allow one of our luxury motor coaches to provide roundtrip transportation from one of several locations around the greater Seattle area. Sit back, enjoy the complimentary breakfast box from Clipper Café (and snack on the return trip home) and relax while enjoying majestic views along the way. Space is limited and will sell out, so be sure to book your Leavenworth Christmas Lighting Festival Day Trip early to join in the celebrations!

Crisp autumn leaves. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Crisp autumn leaves. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

When it comes to fall colors, New England gets all the credit. However, there is beautiful fall foliage right here in the northwest. Right now many of the leaves are at their peak, making this weekend an excellent opportunity to head out for a hike or drive to experience them yourself. Not sure where to start? Here are our favorite spots for seeing fall colors around the northwest, from Victoria to Portland.


The Butchart Gardens

Japanese garden at The Butchart Gardens. Photo courtesy of The Butchart Gardens.

Japanese garden at The Butchart Gardens. Photo courtesy of The Butchart Gardens.

When it comes to fall foliage in Victoria, The Butchart Gardens cannot be beat. Not only are there eye-catching orange and red maples in the Japanese gardens, but there are also colorful shrubs like the purple beautyberry and magenta euonymus, yellow ginkgo and late blooming dahlias and chrysanthemums to provide fall hues throughout the gardens.

Beacon Hill Park

Beacon Hill Park. Credit: Vadym Graifer.

Beacon Hill Park. Credit: Vadym Graifer.

Enjoy Victoria’s mild autumn days by taking a stroll through Beacon Hill Park and passing through the crisp yellow, orange and bronze leaves carpeting the ground that are just begging to be crunched. Along the way you can take in views of red maples, yellow birches and Gary Oak as well as orange willows sweeping the surface of ponds. If you are lucky, you may even encounter one of the peacocks that wander the park grounds.

Hatley Castle

Hatley Castle. Creative Commons licensed by smably.

Hatley Castle. Creative Commons licensed by smably.

Surrounded by crimson hedges, orange maple trees, covered in ivy and topped with a notched battlement, Hatley Castle looks like it is straight out of a fairy tale. It is no wonder that the historic grounds are often used as a filming location for television shows and movies.


Washington Arboretum

Washington Arboretum. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Washington Arboretum. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

While the entire Arboretum offers a number of opportunities to see changing leaves, tucked inside the expansive grounds are the Japanese Gardens, which are hands down the best place for fall colors in Seattle. Bring along a picnic lunch and spend an afternoon enjoying the vibrant Japanese maples, Asiatic maples, mountain ash as well as the koi pond and trickling streams.

Highway 2 and Leavenworth

Tumwater Dam along Highway 2. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Tumwater Dam along Highway 2. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

If you are looking for a scenic fall road trip, head out on Highway 2 between Monroe and Leavenworth. Here, aspen trees, big leaf maple, dogwood, vine maple and other deciduous trees surround both sides of the highway, creating a canopy over the road that “snows” down yellow and orange leaves.

Kubota Gardens

Pond at Kubota Garden. Creative Commons licensed by BWorks.

Pond at Kubota Garden. Creative Commons licensed by BWorks.

The bright orange to the deep plum leaves found on Japanese maples create some of the most spectacular displays of color. As a result, gardens with an Asian theme are often your best bet when looking for fall colors. This hidden gem, which blends Japanese design concepts with northwest plants, is located in the Rainier Beach area of Seattle and provides the perfect escape from the city.


Cathedral Park

Cathedral Park. Creative Commons licensed Ian Poellet.

Cathedral Park. Creative Commons licensed Ian Poellet.

This tranquil park, located under St. John’s Bridge, provides great views of the Willamette River and the changing leaves of deciduous trees. You can also catch sight of the Gothic, cathedralesque arches that support the bridge, which gave the park its name.

Multnomah Falls

Multnomah Falls. Creative Commons licensed by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives.

Multnomah Falls. Creative Commons licensed by Gary Halvorson, Oregon State Archives.

Situated just east of Portland, the famous Multnomah Falls are magnificent any time of year. However, the 611-foot-tall roaring waterfall becomes even more awe-inspiring when surrounded by the yellows, oranges and reds of autumn leaves.

McKenzie-Santiam Pass Scenic Byway

Fall foliage. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

Fall foliage. Credit: Brenna Ciummo.

One of the most scenic drives in Oregon, this route through the Mt. Washington Wilderness area makes for the perfect day trip. Red vine maples next to old-growth forest, lava rock and winding rivers result in fabulous views.


Queen Elizabeth Park

Queen Elizabeth Park. Creative Commons licensed by Shaund.

Queen Elizabeth Park. Creative Commons licensed by Shaund.

A popular spot for locals to enjoy autumn scenery, this free, 130 acre park is full of gorgeous trees and shrubbery. Each fall, the deciduous trees transform into fiery oranges and reds and create a breathtaking contrast against the park’s evergreens.

VanDusen Botanical Gardens

VanDusen Garden Cypress Pond. Photo courtesy Tourism Vancouver.

VanDusen Garden Cypress Pond. Photo courtesy Tourism Vancouver.

During this time of year these public gardens offer a very colorful experience. You can look forward to a collection of autumn blooming flowers such a heather, angelica tree, autumn crocus, asters and hydrangeas combined with bright yellow vegetation and tree leaves in every shade from ruby red to brilliant gold.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park in the fall.

Stanley Park in the fall.

Always a perennial favorite when it comes to exploring the outdoors in Vancouver, Stanley Park does not disappoint when it comes to fall foliage. Around Mid-October, plants and trees all over the park turn red, purple, bronze and gold.

When people think of Washington, they often think of the outdoors. This is no surprise 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 number 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. However, do 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 at the top are amazing, 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.

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.


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.


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.


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.

One of the many advantages to taking a Gray Whale watching excursion with Clipper Vacations is the two-hour stop in either Langley or Coupeville. These quaint, historic towns offer an incredible variety of things to see, try and explore!


Selected goods at edit, a store in Langley, WA

edit. is a shop in Langley, WA selling a select few items handpicked by the owner.

If you love wine, cheese and bread, you can’t go wrong at bayleaf in Coupeville. They offer an incredible selection of artisan cheeses, and their helpful staff can help you select the perfect wine pairing.

If you’re interested in rustic and handmade items, swing by edit. in Langley. The shop offers a handful of items that are thoughtfully curated by owner David Price, which are selected for their usefulness and thoughtful design.

On sunny days, there’s no better place to be than Kapaw’s Iskreme in Coupeville. Tons of delicious flavors and generous scoop sizes; what could be better?


If spotting Gray Whales has left you famished, both Langley and Coupeville offer some fantastic places to eat! Front Street Grill in Coupeville offers a great menu, fresh mussels and an incredible view of Penn Cove.

Prima Bistro in Langley features French-inspired Northwest cuisine, fresh Penn Cove mussels and rooftop seating if weather permits.


In need of a caffeine fix? Useless Bay Coffee Co. roasts all of their coffee in small batches on site an offers a variety of roasts, from the light House Breakfast Blend to the dark Smokey Saratoga.

In Coupeville, Coupeville Coffee & Bistro Coupeville Coffee & Bistro serves renowned Portland-based coffee roaster Stumptown Coffee and offers a variety of light lunch options.

Points of Interest

Callahan's Firehouse glass-blowing studio

Once the Langley firehouse, this building is now home to a glass-blowing studio. Photo by Melissa Sitrin

One of the more unique spots in Langley is Callahan’s Firehouse. Originally built to be Langley’s firehouse in 1939, the building has recently been converted into a glass-blowing studio for renowned local artist Callahan Campbell McVay. In addition to using the space to create his own art, McVay also offers glass-blowing experiences by appointment. While you likely won’t have time to make your own glass creation before the boat leaves, be sure to stop in to watch his art being made, and maybe even bring a piece home for yourself!

If you’re in Coupeville, make sure to check out the historic Coupeville Wharf. Originally built to house grain and other goods, it now houses a number of shops and restaurants. The wharf also features several exhibits about local marine life, including a Gray whale skeleton suspended from the ceiling!

With so many things to do in both Langley and Coupeville, watching the whales is only half the fun!

For a sneak peek at Gray Whale Watching from Seattle with Stop in Coupeville or Langley on Whidbey Island with Clipper Vacations, watch this video:

One of the things we love the most about this time of year is that it brings about the arrival of some the most fascinating and beautiful marine life in the Northwest, such as gray whales and orcas. However, what is even more exciting is the calves they often have in tow! This year in particular there seems to be a boom in orca calves that have been born in the past few months and spotted in the Salish Sea. This is exciting news, as they are the first babies the Southern Resident killer whales have had in two years, bringing the total number of Southern Residents to 80. While the number of these endangered animals is still painfully low, it is encouraging to see that the community is gradually increasing.

J Pod Babies

J pod (which is often spotted year-round in the waters of the San Juan Islands, Southern Gulf Islands, lower Puget Sound and the Georgia Strait) has been luckily enough to have two babies recently join its ranks, increasing the pod to 26 members.

The first newborn orca in J pod was spotted on December 30 in the Salish Sea, when it was only a day or two old. The baby, now known J50, has been determined to be female by the Center for Whale Research, based on the pigment pattern on the underside of the whale. However, researchers have still been attempting to verify whether the mother of J50 is the 43-year-old J16 (also known as Slick) or Slick’s 16-year-old daughter J36 or Alki.

Baby J50. Credit Dave Ellifrit and the Center for Whale Research.

Baby J50. Credit Dave Ellifrit and the Center for Whale Research.

On February 12, a second baby orca was seen in the Haro Strait with J pod. The new baby was about one week old and has been designated as J51. The presumed mother of J51 is the 36-year-old J19, who is also known as Shachi.

Baby J51. Credit Dave Ellifrit and the Center for Whale Research.

Baby J51. Credit Dave Ellifrit and the Center for Whale Research.

L Pod Babies

In just the past few days, L pod (the largest of the three Southern Resident pods) increased its size to 35. The new baby orca, L121, was spotted by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) on February 16, about 15 miles west of Westport. The calf’s mother is the 20-year-old L94, or Calypso, and while the baby does not have an official name yet, researchers hope to name it “Shimada” after the research vessel the calf was spotted from. Watch this video from Komo News to see L121 in action.

Hope for Southern Resident Killer Whales

According to an article by Jeff Burnside for Komo News, the recent orca “baby boom” could be because “the number of female Southern Resident killer whales at calf-bearing is age is at its highest known levels.” As such, researchers hope this is the beginning of a positive trend for the orcas, and hope to see more calves in the future.

Other wildlife has been thriving in the Salish Sea as well. At the Pacific Whale Watch Association conference earlier the week, Photo ID expert Mark Malleson from Prince of Whales announced that 90 different humpbacks were identified last year, which is three times as many than there were three years ago. Not to mention the gray whales are expected to arrive in the Salish Sea next week as they make their way to Alaska for the summer. Make sure to keep an eye out for all of these amazing animals and more the next time you are on the water.

Although these past few days in the Northwest have been gloriously sunny and the flowers are already starting to bloom, there’s a chance there may be a few more winter-y days before it is officially springtime. Even if it does happen to be cold, gray and drizzly out (or all of the above) there are a variety of fun and interesting locations to explore around the Northwest. In fact, one of the best ways to beat those rainy day blues by heading to a nearby museum and learning something new!


Robert Bateman Centre

Robert Bateman Centre

Robert Bateman Centre

If you love animals and nature, make sure to check out the Robert Bateman Centre, which features over 100 works of art created by this famous wildlife artist. In case this wasn’t enough of a reason to visit, the museum is offering free admission on Wednesday evenings from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. in March as part of their Winter Wednesday program.

Royal British Museum

Discover the history of Victoria and British Columbia at the Royal British Museum by exploring the First People’s, Modern History and Natural History galleries. The most recent traveling exhibit, the Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2014, runs until April and showcases award-winning images of nature taken by some of the world’s most respected photographers.

Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre

View the marine life of the Salish Sea at the Shaw Ocean Discovery Centre. The Centre houses over 3,500 animals, such as fish, eels, octopuses, jelly fish, anemones, crabs and more! Besides getting to see these creatures up close and personal, you will also learn what you can do at home to protect local waters so these wonderful animals are here for generations to come.

Parliament Tours

Pay a visit to Victoria’s Parliament Buildings to learn about British Columbia’s Legislative Assembly and view the beautiful architecture and stained glass windows of the buildings. There are daily guided tour or you can explore on our own. With Parliament in session for much of March, April and May you may even have the chance to sit in on a meeting.


Experience Music Project

Experience Music Project

Experience Music Project (EMP)

Indulge in everything music, the history, the culture and play around with the instruments themselves in this eye-catching museum. In addition to music, the Experience Music Project often features special pop culture showcases such as the We are 12 featuring Seahawks memorabilia or the Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic that includes costumes and props from movies and shows like The Princess Bride, Game of Thrones and Harry Potter.

Boeing Future of Flight Tour and Museum of Flight

Explore where many of the planes you travel on are assembled, manufactured and flight tested on the Boeing Future of Flight Tour in Everett. You can then travel down to the Museum of Flight in South Seattle to see the finished product, as the Museum has more than 150 air and spacecraft related artifacts.

Chihuly Garden of Glass and Museum of Glass

Visit what seems like a different world entirely at to the Chihuly Garden of Glass, which is filled with local artist Dale Chihuly’s beautiful glass sculptures. You can also head down to Tacoma to see more of Chihuly’s work, exhibitions and collections by other artists and watch live glassmaking in the Hot Shop.

Seattle Pinball Museum

Pinball wizards rejoice! The Seattle Pinball Museum features over 30 different pinball machines that were created as early as 1930 and as recently as 2010. Of course, the best part is that for a flat fee you can play on all of them for as long as you want!

Seattle Aquarium

One of the city’s much loved attractions for visitors of all ages, the Seattle Aquarium has a variety of Puget Sound animals on display, such as tide pool life, octopuses, sharks, fish and marine mammals and shore birds. You will also get a chance to experience sea life you might not normally see from the tropical Pacific.


Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium

Vancouver Aquarium

A trip to Vancouver is not complete without a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium, which is the largest in Canada and one of the five largest in North America. In addition to viewing impressive displays of jelly fish, local and exotic fish, and even reptiles and amphibians, you can check out live shows featuring beluga whales, dolphins and sea lions.

Vancouver Maritime Museum

Designed to educate people about the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest and the Arctic, the main exhibit in the Vancouver Maritime Museum is the St. Roch a historic arctic exploration vessel. However, the Museum also houses extensive galleries of model ships and maritime art. Outdoors, visitors can look on as craftsman build model boats.

Science World

Find out everything you ever wanted to know related technology and science at Science World. The Museum’s many galleries offer hands on exhibits to educate you about the power of the human body, allow you to create experiments of your own, explore the wonders of nature, discover how to help establish a more sustainable future for all of us and more.

Vancouver Police Museum

Ever wonder what it is like to be a part of the police department? If so, make sure to pay a visit to the Vancouver Police Museum to see the city’s old police office, coroner’s courtroom, morgue and autopsy facilities, discover the history of Vancouver Police Department and learn about the science of policing.

HR Macmillan Space Centre

Explore space without even leaving the ground at the H.R. Macmillan Space Centre. Educate yourself all about the universe, our planets and space exploration and enjoy shows in the planetarium star theatre.


Pittock Mansion. Creative Commons Licensed by Chrismiceli

Pittock Mansion. Creative Commons Licensed by Chrismiceli

Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI)

Ranked as one of the top science centers in the United States, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry has five exhibit halls, eight hands-on science labs, the USS Blueback submarine, Kendall Planetarium and the Empirical Theater, providing people of all ages plenty of opportunities to learn.

Powell’s Books

Founded in 1971, Powell’s City of Books is one of the largest independent new and used bookstores in the world. The store covers about 68,000 square feet and has an inventory of over four million new, used, rare and out of print books. Rated by CNN as “one of the ten coolest bookstores in the world,” Powell’s is a must for anyone who reads.

Hat Museum

Immerse yourself in the world of hats at the Portland Hat Museum, which has over 1,000 hats that have been carefully chosen in styles of past eras. As such, visitors will get a lesson in history as well as in fashion. Make sure to contact the museum before you visit to arrange a private tour or you will not be able to get in.

Portland Art Museum

The oldest art museum in the Pacific Northwest, the Portland Art Museum is well known for allocating most of its space to permanent exhibitions. As much, the Museum has an extensive collection of European and American art as well as galleries of English silver and graphic arts.

Pittock Mansion

Peek into the past at Pittock Mansion. Home to Portland pioneers Henry and Georgiana Pittock from 1914 to 1919, this mansion overlooking the city has an eclectic design and a rich history, making a must see for Northwest history buffs.

Tennis Pro

Tennis Pro

Last week we had the pleasure of meeting Seattle indie band Tennis Pro before they hopped on the Victoria Clipper to travel up to Victoria for a show at the Copper Owl. Before Tennis Pro left on their journey they explored our boat and I spoke with band members Sean Lowry (drums), Phillip Peterson (bass) and David Drury (guitar) about their music, their film Big in Japan as well as their future plans. Speaking of the future, if you want to see Tennis Pro yourself, you can fairly soon as Big in Japan will be playing at the Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) from February 20-26, with performances by the band on February 20 and 21.

Where are you from? How did you get into music? Had you recorded with other groups before forming Tennis Pro?

Sean: I’m a Western Washington native and I have been in Tennis Pro for 12 years. Phil and I played in some bands before Tennis Pro and I’ve always played music, I played music in elementary school, so I just kept doing it.

Phil: I’m a Northgate native, and I still live in Northgate in the same house. I have been doing music my whole life, I have played the cello since I was three and I’ve recorded with many, many other people locally and internationally. Nada Surf, Maroon 5, Pink, Owl City, as well as many local arts over a series of a couple of decades. Now Tennis Pro has been together for quite a while and we are continuing to make music.

David: I did grow up in Snohomish, but my family moved to California when I was a kid. I was a fan of one of the bands that these guys [Sean and Phil] were in and they had a guitarist that was leaving the band, so I made sure to get chance to jam with these guys, and instantly was the new thing after that. That was 12 years ago.

What are your musical inspirations for the sound of Tennis Pro

Phil: We get a lot of water here in Seattle, so I like to pretend that it is nice water that could be swam in or surfed in, so I think the environment, nature and definitely a coastal vibe [influence our music]. I like to influence other people’s music, I don’t usually like them to influence mine.

David: I think bands that we have liked to listen to and bands that people have liked to talk about when they talk about Tennis Pro are Weezer, the Pixies, Nirvana, They Might Be Giants and Fountains of Wayne.

Sean: Violent Femmes.

Phil: The Sonics are a local Seattle-Tacoma band. The Ventures and the Sonics I would say are a big influence.

David: So we like to have fun, and we like to play rock ‘n’ roll. Sometimes it is kind of surfy.

What song of yours are you most proud of?

David: I like “We Put the Punc in Punctuation.” I feel like that became sort of little of who we are and what we are about, so I’m proud of that.

Sean: I like a lot of our songs off of our last album “Shimokita is Dead?” because a lot of them were written and inspired by our touring of Japan. To me like the newest and coolest and kind of represents some of the funner times for us.

Phil: We have a song called “Dance Hit Number One,” which is about how much you want to dance to the song, so it is kind of like a funny, like dog chasing its own tail kind of concept.

Tennis Pro in the wheelhouse

Tennis Pro in the wheelhouse

Can you tell us a little bit about your movie, Big in Japan and what inspired you to make it?

Sean: I think we all felt like we wanted to go to Japan, I think we felt like maybe our music would resonate with the people in Japan better than here in Seattle. I think we had experienced a little bit of success locally and nationally our music always charted in the college charts but we had never really kind of broke out. I think we sort of hatched this desperate plan that if we could buy some plane tickets and get over there, maybe we could get them to notice us and have a camera on us. At probably 2009, Phil and I had done some very peripheral work with MTV for their web series, $5 Cover. On a drive to Portland to play a show, I was like “oh my god, we could get MTV to film us over there, unscripted trying to make it and everything.” Phil knew a producer and we told her the idea and really liked it, so she put me on the phone with MTV.

Phil: MTV gave us their blessing, saying to go forward with the project, and then we were able to procure John Jeffcoat, who did Outsourced, as our director. Then the MTV thing fell away as it was kind of seasonal a thing for MTV at the time anyway.

Sean: We pitched it to MTV as an unscripted reality series. So, when they walked away we were left with John Jeffcoat as a director and John was like “let’s make a movie” and we were like “okay” and that’s now it started. So it is a [scripted] narrative feature film. We advertise it as semi-fictitious, but it fairly closely follows reality. [However,] it is scripted so we are playing a caricature of ourselves.

Phil: With the exception of all of the music, which is real and not scripted per say.

Sean: All the musical performances in the movie are actual performance. In that way, it has a bit of a documentary element to it a little bit.

What part of creating the movie did you enjoy the most?

Sean: I think touring Japan, playing shows in Japan. I think, for me anyway, coming out of it with all our friends that we made over there and locally too. We made some friends for life, and I think all of us really miss being over there and miss all the people we got to know through this experience.

Phil: The culture of playing music in Japan is extremely attractive. All the bands, after the shows they all hang out. Here, everyone has their own gear and their own stuff so after the show you have to go find your vehicle, load out and sort of take care of your own thing. In Japan, everyone shares gear and most of it is owned by the club. So, after you have played your show, and shows tend to be a little an earlier too, then all the bands just go out and party out together. I think that was my favorite part, there is a lot of comradery that happened after the shows. You sort have all put your music out there and the crowd enjoyed it and just every night there is this sort of after party environment. There is something a little bit deeper having performed with these other bands than just an after party. There’s a connection there.

David: I think we fell in love with Japan and Tokyo more than maybe we thought we would and we felt like that was reciprocated, and our shows were really great and people really responded to the music. That was my favorite part was connecting on a bigger scale than we even thought that we were going to.

Phil tried his hand at captaining the vessel.

Phil tried his hand at captaining the vessel.

Do you have plans to go back to Japan or do more touring this year?

Sean: We don’t have immediate plans, but we are trying to procure distribution for the film right now in Japan. We have been in talks with some record labels in Japan as well, so if we were to get that record deal we have been talking about, then they would bring us over and hopefully that would be this year.

Phil: Short story, yes, we are working on it, but there is nothing definite yet.

Are you going to tour in the U.S.??

Sean: We have some potential management companies that might work with us, so if that happens, we would love to tour the U.S., or any country where we are well received. I think for us to just to plan our own tour in the U.S., you know geographically it is such a big space and so much of the time in the U.S. is spent driving between cities, it would have to be well planned and funded by people other than Tennis Pro.

Phil: It would have to be more of a professional type of tour, where the supply and the demand match each other. Not just going out, beating the streets and playing wherever, just hoping that something [would work out]. It would have to be something that was booked and seats sold.

David: We’ve all done our fair share of touring in vans and I think we decided we were going to do it a different way, which is spend a lot of time on the writing and the recording. That might be why we’re still together.

Phil: Not beating each other up in a van somewhere in Minnesota.

You guys have a show tonight up in Victoria, that’s why you’re here. Have you ever been up there before?

David: I lived in Canada for two years but I never went to Victoria, I was always in Vancouver.

Phil: I have been several times and I absolutely love it.

You guys have a show at the SIFF too right?

Sean: Starting February 20th for one week, Northwest Film Forum will be doing a theatrical run of Big in Japan. On Friday the 20th and Saturday the 21st, the film screens at 8:00PM and we will perform afterwards. The film can be seen from Friday to Thursday of that week. Hopefully the will extend the run, so it might play up to two weeks, but right now it is just guaranteed for a week.

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