Sunday, December 7, 2014

Top 5 Travel Experiences of 2014

As I look over the past year of travels, I have my clear favorites. These are my best travel experiences in the Pacific Northwest as that is where I have concentrated my exploration this past year. I have discovered a world class kite museum as well as culinary delights in Oregon and Washington.

Spokane Falls: Amazing in Spring
1. Spokane Washington. Spokane, the amazing River City in Central Washington, surprised me. As a child I remember arriving by train and seeing the lighted falls. I wasn't prepared for the changes Spokane Falls and the downtown area offered.

Spokane has a developed a vibrant, beautiful area along their urban river. You can enjoy viewing the rushing falls, shop the new River Park Square, and go wine tasting in the Cork District.

Even with this vitalization of the downtown area, Spokane has been careful to retain some of the historic architecture such as the beautifully restored iconic Davenport Hotel.  I enjoyed a walking tour of the area which took me by historic buildings and along the Spokane River. There is much to do and explore in Spokane.

2. Washington's Long Beach Peninsula. In SW Washington, you'll find the Long Beach Peninsula, a Depot Restaurant with the locally sourced cuisine of Chef Michael Lalewicz. 
The kites on the Long Beach Peninsula will surprise you.
destination for great sea food, exciting activities and amazing festivals. You can go clamming on the sandy beach, shoot photos of the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and end your day in the cozy

The Long Beach Peninsula has an extensive list of enticing events. In the lead is the annual International Kite Festival. Long Beach is a great place to fly kites. You'll see competitors from around the world during the festival. Year 'round you can enjoy the colorful kites and displays at the two story kite museum, a must-visit when you are in Long Beach. 

When you are ready to go home (IF you are ready to go home) stop at Jesse's Seafood market in Ilwaco for some fresh off-the-boat seafood to take home and cook.

SE Wine Collective
3. Portland's SE Division Street Restaurant and Wine Scene. SE Portland is an up and coming culinary center with a great neighborhood vibe. The SE Wine Collective makes wines in their urban winery and serves up great small plates at their tasting bar. In the summer, enjoy sitting outdoors on the sidewalk sipping your favorite selections. In fall, you might find an exciting event such as the recent Nouveau Division Crawl with wine, seasonal food and music.

SE Division has become a popular place to open a restaurant. The newly trendy street is home to such foodie destinations as St. Honoré Boulangerie, Lauretta Jean's, Block + Tackle, Son of a Biscuit and Cibo.

Wahclella Falls
4. Hiking the Columbia River Gorge. Every other June, the Columbia River Walking Club hosts a mega event, spanning four days. With maps in hand, walkers and hikers discover the beauty of the waterfall trails gracing Oregon's spectacular Columbia River Gorge.

It's a great way to enjoy such amazing sights as Multnomah Falls, Dry Creek Falls and Wahclella Falls. The trails are measured and rated so you won't over-do unnecessarily. My favorite, event or not, is the beautiful Multnomah Falls, just a short drive east of Portland.

5. Washington's Olympic Peninsula. Rain forests, Native American culture and a wild and exciting coastline are features of the Olympic Peninsula.

A great destination for hikers and walkers is the Hoh Rain Forest.

View at sunset from Kalaloch Lodge
The Olympic Peninsula is also known as home of the popular Twilight series. You can visit sites described in the books and stop by to chat with locals at the Forks Visitor Center.

When you aren't out hiking or kayaking, a great place to stay and dine is the scenic Kalaloch Lodge.

Photos copyright: Elizabeth R. Rose Photography