Surprise Weekend Trip - West Edition
September 12, 2013 9:18 PM   Subscribe

I want to treat my lovely bf to a weekend getaway somewhere within a few hours flying distance from the PNW. Details inside.

I've been dating an awesome, adventurous, laid-back-yet-refined guy for a couple of months, and he's been working on an intense project at work for lots of months which is wrapping up shortly. So, I'm planning a weekend (Fri-Sun) trip for us in early October to get out of town and celebrate his successful project completion as well as have a fun, active weekend together. We've done a bit of exploring in our own part of the world (Seattle), and will have already done Whistler a couple weeks prior to the trip weekend. For other reasons, I'd like to leave out Vancouver, Victoria, Portland, and any California city north of SF.

Ok, so - prefer no more than a 3-4 hour flight so we can maximize vacation time. Would LOVE to stay in a charming, quirky, relaxing place. We both love running, hiking, outdoor adventure but also love being pampered so somewhere with access to nature but also spa amenities would be nice. Great food and music a huge bonus.

Places I'm considering - Santa Cruz. Monterey. Anywhere in Idaho or Montana that could be recommended? Maybe Tahoe. Would love some new ideas as well as specific lodging/restaurant options, or even just advice on how to set up filters to find easy short flights from SEA. I want this weekend to be about relaxing, doing things we both like, and exploring a new place together, with an emphasis on being able to celebrate his hard work. Thanks in advance!
posted by DuckGirl to Travel & Transportation (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Come to San Diego! Alaska Air often has cheap direct flights. Early October is often plenty warm in the day (occasionally it's Santa Ana hot, but keep in mind that there's a 10-20 degree difference between the hot interior county and the cooler coast), but our heat goes off when the sun goes down. Tourist season is over so nothing's crazy and there ought to be some deals.

I like Airfare Watchdog, where you can get deals mailed to you that are specific to your home location, and set up fare alerts for destinations you're interested in. You should also get set up on Alaska's site and sign up for their frequent flyer club.
posted by Lyn Never at 9:26 PM on September 12, 2013

A little out there, but fly up to Alaska and spend a few days at the Alyeska Resort in Girdwood? It won't be ski season yet, but there is plenty to do in the area including lots of beautiful hiking. It's also a nice jumping off point for Whittier or Seward, both of which are unbelievably scenic and have lots to do.

Alyeska itself is beautiful and incredibly relaxing. It has a great spa, a saltwater pool with views of the mountain, and nice restaurants. There's also the famed Double Musky and Jack Sprat.

SEA to ANC is 3.5 hours, not sure if that qualifies as short in your book but it's definitely easy. Fares are in the $250 range and flights shouldn't be super crowded in October.
posted by charmcityblues at 9:41 PM on September 12, 2013

How about Palm Springs? It's got a lot of the things you mentioned, including good food, outdoor activities, and laid back yet refined.
posted by Dansaman at 10:01 PM on September 12, 2013

The Grand Canyon, obviously.
posted by carsonb at 10:22 PM on September 12, 2013

Sun Valley, Idaho? It is amazingly beautiful with gorgeous mountains, spas, great food and cute shops. It is also minutes away from where Ernest Hemingway is buried (Ketcham,ID) -a little bit of the cool touristy factor if you're looking for that.

I think you'd have to fly into Boise (1-hr flight) then drive 3 hrs into Sun maybe that's a deal breaker (you will gain an hour going into mountain time zone...but of course you'll have to give it back). Usually they have direct flights from Seattle to Sun Valley's airport, but now that I am looking, it looks like your travel time is during the off season and they won't have flights available from Seattle.

The area is so beautiful-differently worth the time it takes to get there.
posted by W.S (disambiguation) at 10:33 PM on September 12, 2013

I second your nomination of Monterey.

rednikki and I lived in Monterey for 4 years. It is a lovely place to visit.

The music scene collapsed there a few years ago, but it has everything else on your list. You can go hiking in the hills or along the coast, rent kayaks at a couple different places, and there's a bike/ped rec trail that runs from Asilomar to Watsonville with bike and surrey rentals in several places. There are plenty of nice hotels and spas. The food is good but is pretty "California Coastal Cuisine" centered. There is awesome wine tasting all over the county, scenic drives (if you have a car drive down the 1 to Big Sur), beachcombing, kite flying and more. Oh, and the world-famous Cetacean Institute is located there.

It's nestled among Carmel-By-The-Sea, Carmel Valley, Pacific Grove, Sand City and Seaside so it's kind of like a small-town sampler pack.

Yes, Monterey is a lovely place to visit.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 10:46 PM on September 12, 2013

A direct flight from Seattle will have you in Honolulu 3 hours later by the clock. Hooray for westbound travel! You'll lose it on the way back, of course. Chance you could secretly wrangle him that Monday off, too?
posted by mumkin at 12:06 AM on September 13, 2013

Phoenix would be great... just wait until at least late October.

You can rent a car and drive to lots of great places that are less than two hours away. Prescott is a great little town up in the forest with good food and cute hotels, only an hour and a half at most. Sedona is hippie-tastic but incredibly beautiful, same distance. You could stay in Phoenix one night and hike in our desert parks around town, road trip and see northern Arizona for a night, and then cruise back to Sky Harbor to fly back. The Seattle flight is about 2 hours and 20 or so.

Also, I would echo recommendations to try Monterey/Carmel/Big Sur. Or, further south you could try Pismo Beach, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay. Near there is wine country too. Great place for a weekend and about 3 hours away from LAX and a bit less from San Jose.
posted by Old Man McKay at 2:02 AM on September 13, 2013

It's a quick two hour flight from SEA to RNO. Then rent a car and it's an easy 1-hr hop to Tahoe. I live on the North Shore, which is quieter, as opposed to the South Shore, which has the casinos and traffic. Stay in a cottage here. It's quirky and quaint. Things you can do in Tahoe:

Drive or bike around the entire lake.
Take a gondola at one of the ski resorts for fantastic views of the lake.
Bike or run the Flume Trail.
Hike on one of the thousands of trails overlooking the lake.
Paddleboard or kayak the lake.
Hunt for giant sugar pine cones which can be as big as two feet long.
Hit divey hamburger stands, splurge at all-you-can eat sushi bars, stuff yourself at a casino buffet, indulge in a steakhouse dinner.
posted by HeyAllie at 12:19 PM on September 13, 2013

Tahoe is totally great and I love it here, but I'm not sure October is the best time to visit. It's not guaranteed to be snowy, but there's a very real chance it will be. I've only been here two years but we've had snow both Octobers, although not the kind that sticks around very long. But you should definitely come to Tahoe at some point. Happy to provide more suggestions if you'd like.
posted by carolr at 7:44 PM on September 13, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks, everyone! I think I've made my selection, but I'm hesitant to say it out loud in case for some reason he tracks this down, but it IS one of the places recommended here and I'm super excited! Thanks for the help!
posted by DuckGirl at 12:11 PM on September 16, 2013

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