I’ve traveled all over the world and I am always eager to come back home to the Pacific Northwest and our abundance of beauty. Choosing just four of my favorite places is tricky, because in each direction we have exhilarating and interesting vacation spots.

But here goes:

Suncadia, Suncadia, Suncadia

I wrote an article ages ago about Christmas at Suncadia that highlighted the abundance of activities and the special touches of magic they offer for kiddos (elves that come to your resort room and chat with the kids on behalf of Santa before reading them a book and tucking them in — huge dose of awe for most kids).

Since writing that article, we have visited frequently. Our favorite way to go now, though, is to skip the lodging at the resort and rent a large home with multiple families. Suncadia, even after all these years, still delights with new and fun adventures for every season.

We enjoy hiking and strolling along their amazing wooded trails, sitting quietly at the river, cuddling up by the fire and reading a book while the snow slowly falls, or enjoying a late-night cocktail in the hot tub while the kids are tucked in their beds (likely not yet sleeping since it’s always so fun for a gaggle of kids to be together in a vacation home).

The resort offers interesting activities each season. Swimming, ax throwing, ice skating, snowshoe tours, gingerbread house building, hiking, fishing … and the list goes on.

Even during the pandemic, Suncadia creatively pivoted and made a lot of activities safe and enjoyable. Instead of an elf tuck-in this Christmas, an elf came to the door (unexpectedly for the kids, the adults had scheduled it) of our rental home and had presents for each of the kids and a special, detailed letter from Santa.

Suncadia also boasts a winery and a spa to delight the adults. Glade Spring Spa is the kind of spa where you can easily spend all day, enjoying the outdoor hot tub in between services. Suncadia is close, gorgeous and filled with activities for every vacationer.

Manzanita, Oregon

I’m a sucker for the Oregon Coast. The water is cold, the weather is unpredictable, but man, the bold beauty just pulls me in time and time again.

I’ve stayed in a few of the communities, up and down the coast, but I have returned most frequently to Manzanita. This little village is a five-hour drive from Yakima, but once you’re there, it’s a different world. You can hike in deep forests, just a stretch away from the roaring surf, and then spend hours walking up and down the coast looking for shells and sand dollars.

We usually book an Airbnb close to the beach when we stay simply because there are tons of houses to rent and we like the flexibility to cook in our own kitchen and spread out in multiple rooms.

Manzanita has a handful of yummy restaurants, as well as a half-dozen fun shops that have everything from beach gear to jewelry. And best of all, they have an old-fashioned candy store that we frequent at least once a day.

Summer is a great time to visit because you’ll almost certainly have good weather; I can spend hours in a good beach chair just watching the water roll in and the sun sparkle across the spray. But winter is special, too. Bundled up from head to toe, we brave the beach and the rain and watch in wonder as the raging surf comes in from a winter storm. Later, a bonfire and s’mores. After the kids are tucked away, I curl up by the fire and read a good novel with the rain hammering the windows.

Stehekin

Getting to Stehekin takes some work, which means only the most adventurous choose to go. Hikers love it. But so do families and the romantics among us who just want to unplug and be together.

This small village may well be one of the last places in the United States where you can comfortably go and just be “off the grid,” surrounded by a stunning wilderness.

To get there, you can hike in (17 miles) or take the Lady of the Lake Ferry (3 hours). Travel guides advise bringing cash since there is no internet connection to run credit cards should you be dining out; one restaurant just wrote down my credit card details and added to my balance throughout my stay to charge my card “in town,” i.e. Chelan, when they took the ferry down lake. This kind of thing delights me.

If you are unlucky enough to go on days when the famous bakery is closed, don’t fret. They put out a ridiculous spread of treats in their gazebo with a tin can to collect your money.

You can bring a hammock and set it up by the shore and read all day or be adventurous and take on any number of activities. Kayaking, fishing, bike rentals, ATV rentals, horseback riding and hiking are just a few of the activities in Stehekin. We have stayed at the lodge there but there are fun houses to rent, too.

Treehouses

If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you absolutely MUST go and stay in a treehouse. Don’t be alarmed, this isn’t your backyard Dad-built-it-on-a-weekend-variety (though kudos to those dads!), but rather elaborate, darling, luxury houses built up in the branches of one of our most beloved natural beauties.

The most famous treehouse stays are at TreeHouse Pointe outside of Issaquah and a short drive from the fabulous Snoqualmie Falls. My husband and I stayed there for a romantic getaway and I wrote an article about it for this magazine.

One of the treasures of this location is their adults-only policy. Don’t get me wrong, I love to travel with my kids. But sometimes we just need a break and living high up in a tree all weekend can be truly restful.

There are treehouses to rent all over Washington and Oregon, from the San Juan Islands to downtown Seattle to out in the Columbia Gorge. A quick Google search or Airbnb query will help you locate these wonders. Take the kids or call the grandparents and go without them, but do go luxuriate in a treehouse for a restful vacation.

Of course, there are loads more wonderful vacation spots an easy drive from Yakima. People from all over the world fly in to Seattle to visit Mount Rainier and the Olympic Peninsula as well as the North Cascades. Seattle and Portland offer cosmopolitan escapes and Lake Roosevelt houseboating is top of my list for next summer as well as a visit to a dude ranch in Republic, Washington.

As travel opens back up, and we eagerly board flights to places farther afield, don’t forget the wonders in our own backyard.