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March 10, 2011 1:27 PM   Subscribe

Help me find a weekend retreat somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. I'll be by myself and ideally, but not necessarily, would like to learn some sort of new skill.

I live in Seattle, and I'm willing to drive up to 4 hours or take a seaplane (I have enough frequent flyer miles to fly for free to the San Juan islands or Victoria) to get to my destination. My car is insured in Canada as well, so driving north would be great, too. I've done most of the "city" things in Victoria, Vancouver, and Portland, so that doesn't really appeal to me.

Since I want to be alone, camping will be too scary for me so I'd like to stay in a lodge or cabin somewhere. A spa vacation would be lovely, but outside of my budget. Most importantly, once I get there, I'd like access to activities that are appropriate to engage in by myself (i.e. no hiking or anything that leaves me alone outside of civilization). Structured classes, like a weekend photography program or a yoga workshop or fishing or horseback riding would be even better, but I don't mind spending two days just taking walks and reading books and playing my banjo.

Do you have any experience doing something similar? Can you suggest any great places to go? Alternatives to this whole thing are welcome, too.

I'm looking to go the weekend of April 1st or April 8th. Thanks!
posted by halogen to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
 
Don't know your budget but I am very partial to the Alderbrook Resort, which often runs very reasonable specials on rates. (For example, $119/night for a lot of dates in March right now.)

Another great option which would put you very close to whatever programs the college is running, not to mention the very fun area of Fairhaven, is to stay in Bellingham. You could try a place like the Chrysalis Inn & Spa (with special right now on rates at $149/night) or a B&B. This site may be helpful.

Finally, you could consider a visit to the Skagit, where there are several nice towns, including the artsy one of La Conner. There are also a lot of great and reasonably priced places to stay there.
posted by bearwife at 2:04 PM on March 10, 2011


A little on the faraway side is the Ashland, Oregon Shakespeare Festival. At the same time, you can also check out the Ashland Independent Film Festival.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:07 PM on March 10, 2011


Probably outside your driving radius, but Breitenbush Hot Springs offers workshops, some basic spa services, and an utterly gorgeous location. It's east of Salem, OR, so about an hour southeast of Portland.
posted by catlet at 2:08 PM on March 10, 2011


Husband and I had a fantastic time kayaking in the San Juan Islands year before last. We used Outdoor Odysseys who were really wonderful and it looks like they have a Women on the Water tour which looks really fun. We did take a kayak class before we went. One day on the river paddling about and another pool session later specializing in getting in and out of your kayak (ie: getting dumped and climbing back in). However, for the tour, we were in a double kayak which is very stable and more difficult to flip. But, I think they take absolute newbies, too. It looks like they have a range of tours from half days to multi days. We did a three day tour with a camp-out. Outdoor Odyssey provided tents, food, a cook, etc. Message me if you want more info and definitely call them if you're curious -- I found them eager to talk on the phone and very helpful.
posted by amanda at 2:33 PM on March 10, 2011


The Sitka Center on the Oregon Coast is a bit further than 4 hours, but maybe the course offerings appeal to you? They do not have lodging, but link to quite a few lodging options that are nearby.

I really dig the Sou'Wester Lodge in Seaview. They have occasional workshops and other "happenings" but you'd have to call or email for info about those (their website is circa 1999.)
posted by vespabelle at 2:38 PM on March 10, 2011


I've always wanted to take one of Fungi Perfecti's mushroom cultivation classes, though it looks like they're sold out for spring. Waiting list?
posted by small_ruminant at 2:39 PM on March 10, 2011


Many of the local Indian tribes offer cultural classes periodically throughout the year. Traditional boat building, basket making, carving, that sort of thing, along with interesting history.

Here in Anacortes, the annual Waterfront Festival will be May 21-22. For the last few years, the most popular event has been the "quick-n-dirty" boat building contest, where groups of participants, most with no prior experience, slap together boats built from scratch and then race them. There are also in-depth courses in boat building available from some of the participating organizations.

I'll bet that other waterfront communities have similar offerings as well.
posted by xedrik at 3:14 PM on March 10, 2011


My friends honeymooned in different areas in the pacific northwest.
I dug up their blog and found the places they stayed around that area:

Camano Blossom B&B. Looks like they also offer Chinese cooking classes.

Otters Pond Bed & Breakfast in San Juan islands

A Hidden Haven
posted by KogeLiz at 3:28 PM on March 10, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't have any recommendations as to where to stay, but something I've always wanted to do is go to Tree to Tree Adventure Park in Gaston, Oregon. It's a ropes course and they do a training/certification session first and then let you go as far as you want on your own.
posted by peep at 3:51 PM on March 10, 2011


Pot Townsend is nice (check out their event calendar here http://www.ptguide.com/).
posted by MsKim at 4:53 PM on March 10, 2011


Great Vow Zen Monastery
posted by ainsley at 6:00 PM on March 10, 2011


Do you specifically want wilderness? If you're open to something a little more populated (but ever so adorable and quaint) then I of course vote for my own home town, La Conner.

Tulip season is coming up, so you can drive around and see all the pretty flowers if that interests you.

Bicycling is also big out here, and you can ride the roads and get some amazing views and experience, without actually being alone (in the sense that you would hiking). Plus you can stop and check out the tulip fields and the snow geese at your leisure.

In town, there's a glass blowing studio that also offers classes. The artist who runs it (Jeff Marriott) is a great teacher!

Not to mention walking along the channel, checking out the stores (antiques, beads, yarn, an indie book store, much window browsing at the galleries), and small locally-owned restaurants. No chain stores! Farmstands! Handmade ice cream made with milk from local dairies!

(In order to keep the town so awesome, every year we sacrifice a body in the channel, but don't let that put you off.)
posted by ErikaB at 7:12 PM on March 10, 2011 [2 favorites]


The Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavenworth may work for you.
They have yoga, guest lectures....there is a meal plan included with the stay.
I have never been there, but have heard about it for years.

http://www.sleepinglady.com/our-story.php
posted by jennstra at 7:12 PM on March 10, 2011


Wanderlust tours in Bend, OR, has a plethora of awesome outdoors activities guided by brilliant, scintillating rare birds enthusiasts...such as my brother. I hear they also have more beer drinking activities available than even a Portlander could shake a stick at. Send me a message if interesting and I will use my coercive older sister powers as necessary.
posted by bloggerwench at 9:12 PM on March 10, 2011


Looks like you've already gone, but I'd highly recommend the San Juan Islands. relatively quick drive up to Anacortes for the ferry, and then a gorgeous ferry ride. The Outlook Inn on Orcas Island is insanely relaxing, and was very comfortable and engaging on my own recent solo trip put there. The staff was amazing, and there are lots of nice things to do around town and on the surrounding area. It would also make an amazing romantic weekend For a couple - particularly with the ocean view suites that have a fireplace and jetted tub!
posted by Onlywhatilove at 3:24 PM on April 27, 2011


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