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    12 Northwest escapes for 2012

    Need a vacation? Of course you do. It's January in Seattle. A month-by-month travel guide to keep your mood up all through 2012.

    Sunset at Missoula (July 2011)

    Sunset at Missoula (July 2011) Sue Frause

    Kelp on Copalis Beach near Iron Springs Resort (September 2011).

    Kelp on Copalis Beach near Iron Springs Resort (September 2011). Sue Frause

    Vancouver's Coal Harbour (January 2011).

    Vancouver's Coal Harbour (January 2011). Sue Frause

    As a travel writer, I’m frequently asked for my recommendations and favorite spots, and I’m more than happy to share. Last year, my two dozen trips took me from Port Townsend to Vietnam, traveling by train, plane, helicopter, and automobile. The majority of my adventures were in the Pacific Northwest, which has no shortage of places for overnight or long weekend getaways. Here are 12 places for 2012, listed month by month. Bon Voyage!

    January - Dine Out Vancouver: This 17-day food festival, Jan. 20 - Feb. 5, is the largest in Canada. It features 225 restaurants offering three course meals for $18/$28/$38. Hotels are also in the mix, with discounted rates of $78/$108/$138. www.tourismvancouver.com

    February - Iron Springs Resort: Located on Copalis Beach, Washington, this has been a favorite Pacific Ocean getaway since 1947. The resort was recently bought and renovated by the True family of Seattle. Twenty-five cabins, ideal for storm watching, cooking, and catching up on reading. The Chocolate on the Beach Festival is Feb. 24-26, 2012. www.ironspringsresort.com

    March - Whistler: You don’t need to ski or snowboard to enjoy winter in Whistler. New this year are an outdoor skating rink and two Olympic experiences at Whistler Sliding Center: the skeleton and the bobsleigh, with speeds of up to 62 and 75 MPH. Or do nothing but take to the indoor/outdoor waters, sauna and solarium at Scandinave Spa. www.whistler.com

    April - Tacoma: No more Aroma of Tacoma. This is now a classy, glass city, from the Museum of Glass to the nearby Tacoma Art Museum. It was the biggest surprise of my travel year. Hotel Murano’s Hot Piece of Glass package includes two tickets to the Museum of Glass, along with glass blowing lessons and making your own glass creation. www.traveltacoma.com

    May - Missoula: The Garden City is my new favorite town. Located on the Clark Fork River, it’s home to the University of Montana Grizzlies. Springtime is perfect for biking or fly fishing. There’s a fun food scene (Red Wine Bar, Hob Nob Cafe, Lolo Creek Steak House) and the 20th Annual Garden City Brewfest is May 5, 2012. Running May 5-12 is the 35th International Wildlife Festival. www.destinationmissoula.org

    June - Campbells Resort: - This Lake Chelan landmark opened in 1901 and is a fourth-generation owned and operated business. A $3 million renovation a few years ago resulted in updated cottage-like decor, modern yet retro. The resort features two swimming pools, hot tubs, a boardwalk, sandy beach, plus a full-service spa. More than a dozen of the Lake Chelan Wine Valley's wineries are located nearby. www.campbellsresort.com

    July - Whidbey Island: It’s my backyard, but if I didn’t live here, I’d sure visit. Langley features locally owned shops, galleries, and restaurants — plus Whidbey Island Center for the Arts and a 75-year-old movie palace called The Clyde Theatre. Farmers markets are open on the weekends, plus Langley’s Second Street Market on Fridays. My favorite place on the planet is just up the highway in Coupeville — Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve. www.visitlangley.com

    August - Alderbrook Resort & Spa: Enjoy the heart of Hood Canal at this resort and spa, with views to the Olympic Mountains. There’s a marina, golf course, full-service spa (best massage I had all year), plus workouts and yoga by the water. Twice weekly during August, enjoy a two-hour narrated cruise aboard the 54-ft. yacht Lady Alderbrook. www.alderbrookresort.com

    September - Portland: Take Amtrak Cascades to The Rose City, which now boasts more than 200 food carts clustered in pods throughout the city. Sept. 20-23, 2012 marks the debut of Feast Portland, a four-day food festival. The downtown restaurant scene is thriving, with Little Bird (sister restaurant to Le Pigeon); Bunk, a gourmet sandwich shop; Rome native Simone Saviano’s Mucca Osteria; Chef Cathy Whims’ Oven & Shaker; and a Portland outpost of Seattle-based Via Tribunali. www.travelportland.com

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    Posted Sun, Jan 15, 10:13 p.m. Inappropriate

    How about Forest Road 23, from Randle off of US 12 south to the Columbia River at White Salmon? On a summer weekend you could drive it and maybe see a dozen other vehicles per day. And it passes within 5 miles of Mt. Adams, the "hidden volcano". No one else sees it that close. My favorite is the "Grand Canyon of the Cascades", the north fork of the Cispus River. It has walls 1000 to 2000 feet high, yet a road runs along side of it !!! A small RV would suit it just fine in dry weather.

    Posted Mon, Jan 16, 3:59 p.m. Inappropriate

    Thanks for the tip ... I need to take more road trips. I was planning on going to Stevenson, WA in Skamania County and White Salmon is about 25 miles away. So I'll put it on my list (once the snow stops flying!).

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