In 1803, President Thomas Jefferson commissioned an expedition to discover a navigable passage to the Pacific Ocean. The Corps of Volunteers for Northwestern Discovery, led by Lewis and Clark, consisted of 31 men, one woman and a baby. They reached Washington state in the autumn of 1805. Today, modern explorers are lured by Western Washington's oceans and forests, which create an omnipresent backdrop for daily life. The local resorts perpetuate the spirit of discovery.
Mount Baker and Mount Rainier loom over the I-5 corridor and are visible from Seattle and Tacoma. When winter arrives, they entice snow sport enthusiasts to play in the snow. A series of forested roads meanders toward Crystal Mountain, Washington's biggest ski resort, where the Mt. Rainier Gondola will make its debut in December 2010. The forests hint at Crystal Mountain's most distinctive feature -- its tree skiing. Alta Crystal Resort, a 10-minute drive from the mountain, offers resort-style lodging. Amenities include a hot tub, on-site grocery store and a recreation lodge with ping pong, foosball and board games. Chalet suites and one-bedroom cabins are available. Mt. Baker, near Bellingham, is Washington's no-frills resort with no-frills prices. Lift tickets, as of 2010, cost $49.50, but the low price does not reflect its steep slopes and deep snow conditions. The Inn at Mount Baker is 23 miles west of the resort and offers special ski and stay packages, which include a gourmet breakfast. In-room spa packages are also available.
Twin Peaks Country
Fans of the "Twin Peaks" movie and television show can't forget the Great Northern Hotel, which is actually the Salish Lodge and Spa at Snoqualmie Falls. The lodge, built in 1919, is situated at the crest of a 270-foot waterfall. Guest rooms feature wood-burning fireplaces and over-sized whirlpool tubs. There's a full-service spa on the premises, as well as a gourmet restaurant. "Babymoon" packages are available for moms-to-be and include prenatal massage, a special pregnancy pillow and a baby gift.
Hot Springs and Twilight
If your teenagers are fans of the book and movie "Twilight," they might agree to accompany you to the Sol Duc Hot Springs Resort, located in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsula. Port Angeles is home to the Bella Italia Restaurant, where "Bella and Edward" had their first date. The town has a distinct "Twilight" culture, with a movie theater presenting late-night showings of the film, and Twilight souvenir shops galore. While your kids explore vampire culture, calm your fears by luxuriating in the waters of the mineral hot springs, booking a massage or taking a hike. Cabins with and without kitchens are available. There's a restaurant on the premises, as well as many dining options in Port Angeles.
When one person wants a Vegas-style vacation, and the other craves the outdoor life and quaint ocean front villages, gambling on the stability of your relationship is unnecessary. The casino resorts of the Olympic and Kitsap Peninsulas offer an acceptable compromise. The Suquamish Clearwater Casino Resort is located on the Kitsap Peninsula. Poulsbo, a picturesque town with a Scandinavian ambiance, is nearby. The 22,500-square-foot casino is open seven days a week and features games, such as crap, a variety of 21 games, roulette and poker. Most of the rooms have ocean views. There's a full-service spa, and live music on Friday and Saturday nights. The Quinalt Beach Resort and Casino is located on the Olympic Peninsula, about an hour from Olympic National Park and the Quinault Rain Forest. Dunes, wild beach grasses and 200 acres of protected wetlands surround the resort premises. Rooms, decorated with warm rich colors, have 10-foot ceilings and double sinks. There's a full-service spa and fitness center on the premises, live entertainment on Fridays and a casino-typical all-you-can-eat buffet on Wednesdays.