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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.

Dusk at Paradise, Mt. Rainier. Credit Lauren Riker

Dusk at Paradise, Mt. Rainier. Credit Lauren Riker

Since the winter months are colder in many parts of the world, often necessitating finding indoor activities to enjoy, they provide the perfect opportunity to cozy up to a fireplace with a good book. Not sure what to read? Why not dive into some historical fiction to experience life through the lenses of the many communities in the Northwest or grab a non-fiction title to learn more about the background of your own town. Whether you are you dreaming of a Pacific Northwest getaway or want to learn more about your own “backyard.” You may even discover more fun and interesting, things to do in Victoria, Seattle and other cities throughout the region. Here are a few books to inspire you and get you in a Northwest state of mind.

1) The Good Rain by Timothy Egan:

A native of the Pacific Northwest himself, Timothy Egan dives deep into the history, culture, geography and flora and fauna of the region. He travels through Washington, Oregon and Victoria on Vancouver Island, exploring salmon fisheries, redwood forests, Okanagan Valley, the Columbia River and the volcanoes of the Cascades. The book contains an abundance of information and is great for lovers of the Pacific and newbies alike.

2) Sometimes a Great Notion by Ken Kesey:

Although “Sometimes a Great Notion” is purely fictional, the book provides a look at what life would be like as a logger in the 1950s working in a small lumber town on the Oregon coast. The book is incredibly well written and depicts the rainy season in Oregon perfectly, causing many critics to describe it as “the quintessential Northwest novel.”

3) Into the Wild by Jon Krakauer:

Nature lovers and adventures alike will be drawn into this book as Krakauer retraces the tragic journey of Christopher McCandless through the West in order to determine what caused the young man with such a bright future to give up everything. While Krakauer is unable to provide an answer about McCandless’s demise with absolute certainty, the book serves as an excellent example of what it is like to venture into the northern wilderness and is a good reminder about the power of nature.

4) Skid Road: An Informal Portrait of Seattle by Murray Morgan:

Ever wonder what Seattle was like before grunge, coffee, tech companies and professional sports put it on the map? “Skid Road” provides a narrative history of Seattle’s first 100 years. The book’s compilation of short stories discussing Seattle’s pioneers, towns, landmarks and community, gives you an informative and engaging look at how Seattle developed into the city it is today.

5) The Weather of the Pacific Northwest by Cliff Mass:

Not just for scientifically-oriented (although they are sure to geek out over the graphs and denser sections of this book) this book offers a breakdown of the weather in the Northwest that a layperson can understand. In it, popular radio commentator, blogger and University of Washington Professor of Atmospheric Sciences, Mass explains how our geology effects the weather, includes history on sever weather events and even offers tips on how to predict the weather yourself.

6) The Jump Off Creek by Molly Gloss:

While some people may have learned how tough it was to survive as a pioneer playing the computer game “Oregon Trail” from the ‘70s to the ‘90s, this book provides a more in-depth look at what the experience would have been like if you were a women doing it on your own. Such is the story of the fictional Lydia Sanderson, a widow who sells everything in her home town of Pennsylvania to travel to Oregon and homestead on a mountain. Author Molly Gloss draws from pioneer diaries, journals and stories from her own family to exemplify the hard physical conditions and rituals of frontier life.

7) A History of Pacific Northwest Cuisine: Mastodons to Molecular Gastronomy by Marc Hinton:

Those of who live in the Pacific Northwest, and even those who do not, know one thing is for certain – our food Is delicious! Our lush landscape provides an array of tasty edibles from fruit and vegetables, meat, seafood and even wine and beer! In this book, Hinton studies the history of food in Washington and Oregon (from potlatches to five-star restaurants) and how it has shaped our meals today. Of course, there are also delicious recipes thrown in!

8) Natural Grace by William Dietrich:

When people often think of Seattle, Portland and the rest of the Pacific Northwest, they often think of city life and culture. However, animals and nature still play important roles in the Northwest life. Dietrich explores what we can learn from these plants and animals, and encourages others to do the same, in this collection of natural history essays adapted from articles he wrote for Pacific Northwest Magazine.

I recently had the pleasure of chatting with one of our frequent Clipper ferry travelers, Liana Bugslag, who has made an impressive 35 round trip visits between Victoria and Seattle in the past year and a half. Liana explained much of the inspiration for her travel is to visit her university sweetheart and partner, Jessie, who she has been dating since her senior year at the University of Arkansas. Following graduation, and a year of living in Arkansas while Jessie finished his Master’s degree, Liana and Jessie made the trek up to the beautiful Pacific Northwest. Liana moved back to her hometown of Victoria, BC and Jessie settled in Seattle, WA. Ever since Liana and Jessie have established themselves in their respective cities, the Victoria Clipper has been the gateway for their cross-border relationship.

Of course, all the trips have made Liana a bit of an expert on riding the Clipper ferry. Liana states, “As someone who is a frequent ‘Clipper-er’ and Commodore member, I have gained some valuable insight for travelers making the three-hour voyage.” Luckily, Liana was kind enough to share a few of her tips, so when you travel on the Victoria Clipper you can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride and scenic views.

Have travel tips of your own? We love hearing your feedback. Whether it is your favorite restaurant, a trendy place to shop or secrets for exploring the Pacific Northwest, please share in the comments below. See you aboard soon!

Jessie and Liana

Jessie and Liana

Tips for Traveling on the Victoria Clipper Ferry

By Liana Bugslag

1) Reserve Early. You receive your boarding number based on when you made your reservation, not when you get to the ferry terminal. Book earlier to take advantage of a low boarding number, and lower fares!

2) Pick up your boarding pass prior to your trip. The Clipper Vacations allows you to pick up your boarding pass the entire week prior to your travel date. Not only will this save you significant time on your day of travel but it a will also allow you to avoid the line at the ticket counter (unless you need to check in luggage the day of).

3) Bring a sweater. Sometimes the temperatures in the Clipper ferry run a little cooler, to prevent people from getting overheated. Therefore, even in the summer, a small sweater will keep you comfortable. You can also borrow a blanket, if needed, from the Clipper’s service counter onboard.

4) Turn your phone off, or on to airplane mode, once on the ferry. Remember that you are crossing the border while still on the boat, so unless you have an international plan, you will likely be charged unexpected roaming costs if you are using your phone to browse the web or sending messages.

5) Sit near the back of the ferry to get off first. The ferry unloads from the back. If your goal is to get off as soon as possible, sit as close to the opposite back corner as you can. The Clipper ferry also unloads in two groups, first for people who don’t have checked luggage, and then for those who do have checked luggage, so keep this in mind if you have somewhere you need to be upon docking.

6) Talk with the people around you. I have met the most fascinating people from not only all over Canada, and the United States, but also from multiple areas around the world. You never know the story of the person who is sitting next to you! I have met everyone from a couple who was celebrating their 65th wedding anniversary, to a young couple from Australia traveling the west coast of North America. The Clipper ferry really does offer a great opportunity to learn about different cultures, as well as learn local favorite restaurants and activities in and around Victoria and Seattle.

In my experience, Clipper Vacations has been the most convenient, and pleasant way to travel between downtown Seattle, and downtown Victoria. With no unexpected lines at the border, smooth sailing and a knowledgeable staff, I highly recommend their service to anyone traveling or thinking about making a trip to visit our friendly neighbors across the border.

Don’t forget to enjoy the view!

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