The number of summer days is dwindling as we make our way through August. Instead of mourning the approach of fall and the oncoming school year, take advantage of the time you have left. There’s nothing quite like the excitement of a summer getaway, and with plenty of options just a short drive away, planning and booking a last minute trip is fast and easy. Consider an end-of-summer adventure to one of these destinations.
From Portland, OR to Bend
Considered an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true, Bend is a quick three-hour drive from Portland. The area offers visitors the opportunity to explore the high desert by foot, bike, raft, or belay and then refuel with some of the best food and brew that Oregon has to offer.
With the scenic Deschutes River snaking its way through the city center, you can spend your afternoons floating leisurely through the area by inner tube—an activity favored by both locals and visitors—or you can hit up Sun Country Tours and brave the rapids for some adrenaline-pumping fun. Tumalo Creek Kayak & Canoe offers half-day kayak tours, standup paddle board night tours, and yoga paddleboard classes for a more zen approach to water play.
Bend is home to an abundance of mountain biking and hiking trails that provide breathtaking views and access to waterfalls, lakes, forested areas and more. Phil’s Trail Complex is favored by bike fanatics and Cascade Lakes trail gives adventurers the opportunity to see beautiful water features. Check out Bend Trails to find the route that’s right for you.
If your family likes to climb, Smith Rock is nearby and is both hikable and climbable. If you’ve never scaled a sheer rock wall, or aren’t sure what to do with the kids, Chockstone Climbing Guides provides families and individuals with lessons and tours.
There are 22 breweries in Bend, so hitting up at least one is a must while you are there. Deschutes Brewery is arguably the most famous of the 22 and is the perfect place to grab a cool craft brew and bite at the end of a long day of activity. Grab one of their burgers to satiate big appetites and order off the kid’s menu for the smaller and pickier eaters in your crew.
Days packed with hiking and biking call for evenings filled with warm soaks and soft beds. Book your stay at McMenamins Old St. Francis School for a touch of Portland with Central Oregon flair. This hotel offers the perfect end to every day so you return home rejuvenated.
(photo credit: Annette Benedetti)
From Seattle, WA to Mt. Rainier
Mt. Rainier lies two short miles away from Seattle’s hustle and bustle. With stunning hikes, scenic train rides, and a national park to explore, the options for adventure during your getaway are endless.
Located in Elbe, Washington, Mt. Rainier Railroad and Logging Museum has an excursion to fit almost every occasion. Whether you are looking for some family fun or a romantic getaway, you are sure to be pleased with their weekend excursions. These special trips take you through the foothills of Mt. Rainier where you are sure to see the local wildlife and experience the mountain’s tranquility. The railroad also hosts special excursions like the Washington Wine Express, which features a sampling of wines from around the states, food, and live entertainment. You will want to book your trip ahead of time.
Mt. Rainier National Park is open year-round and gives visitors the opportunity to truly escape the city and experience the grounding effect of nature with hiking trails that take you through some of the most beautiful wilderness areas on earth. Grab a map from the friendly Rangers as you enter the park and ask them for advice based on your preferences and skill level. They are sure to point you in the right direction. Check out Visit Rainier for Mt. Rainier travel info, vacation planners, and news.
For breakfast, lunch, and dinner dishes that are made from scratch, visit Copper Creek Restaurant in Ashford, WA. They serve pancakes, steaks, and pies that will please everyone in your crew. Book a local cabin with Three Bears Lodge and round out your mountain escape experience. They have 8 beautiful cabins that come with indoor fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, and hot tubs located outside under the stars. The fully equipped kitchens make eating in and preparing your meals for picnics possible without packing extra cooking equipment. Your stay is guaranteed to make the mountain start to feel like home
From Anchorage, AK to Denali State Park
Denali State Park is the perfect place to soak up the last rays of summer. Just under a two-hour drive away from Anchorage, this park gives you the chance to experience the rugged beauty of the Alaskan wilderness up close and in person. Denali Park Village takes visitors on tours that trek 62 miles into Denali National Park. Chances are good that you will catch a glimpse of moose, caribou, wolves, and perhaps a grizzly bear.
If you prefer a little more distance from the wildlife but you still like a shot of adrenaline with your site seeing, book a flightseeing tour with Denali Summit Flight. Your craft climbs 21,000 feet and provides you with an unforgettable view of the Denali Summit and Denali National Park. You can always keep your feet on the ground and hike the park area as well. Be prepared for beautiful views and chance wildlife encounters. Find out more about the local trails here.
For true Alaskan grub, try Denali National Park’s restaurant, The Salmon Bake. The Halibut tacos are sure to hit the spot after a long day of hiking or try one of their satisfying burgers for a larger appetite. End your days with panoramic views of the Denali Canyon when you book your overnight stay at the Grand Denali Lodge. It’s close to the National Park entrance and you have the choice of staying in a guest room or reserving an entire cabin.
Wherever you decide to go to drink in the last days of summer remember, don’t despair—both autumn and winter bring on the holidays. Year-round fun just takes a little research and planning. Some of the best vacation destinations are just a short drive away.