Embrace the Outdoors
Enjoy some camraderie on a winter hike or bike ride
Hearty Seattleites don’t stop hiking just because the weather turns wet and gray—ask any member of The Mountaineers. This club, open to all (yearly membership $75–$130; nonmembers can join two activities as guests; mountaineers.org), has been getting people outdoors rain or shine since 1906. The nonprofit offers day hiking, climbing, snow adventures and seminars to brush up on climbing skills and avalanche safety. Choose your level of difficulty and activity (winter is an especially great time for bird-spotting) and then sign up for a day at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge or any number of lowland hikes in the Issaquah Alps, including the new Margaret’s Way trail. Make a weekend of it by booking a place in one of five Mountaineers lodges located around Snoqualmie Pass, Stevens Pass and Mount Baker. Each cabin has its own character and opportunities for exploration; we like the Winter Carnival at Meany Lodge, in the Wenatchee National Forest near the Stampede Pass train tunnel, which has a private ski slope for lodge guests only and boasts 32 downhill runs. The sleeping accommodations are bunk style, so it’s even better if you can get a group of friends together.
Take a guided snowshoe walk at Snoqualmie Pass ($15–$25 suggested donation); offered by the U.S. Forest Service on weekends from January through March. Sign up in advance for the 90-minute, 1-mile trek that’s appropriate for beginners. As you walk on snow several feet deep, you’ll be at eye level with the middle tree canopy of the old-growth forest; from this perspective and with insights from your guide, you’ll see and learn about lichen and the forest ecosystem. Done snowshoeing before? Then sign up for the hike around Commonwealth Basin, or for the photography outing at Commonwealth Creek, both at Snoqualmie Pass. Snowshoes and snowshoeing instruction for all tours are provided. Or go further afield to Stevens Pass or to Mount Baker where exact walking location is determined by snow levels and weather (go to discovernw.org/ and search “snowshoe”).
Above and below: Join a Mountaineers hike for a walk on a snow-free forest trail or head to a higher elevation for a U.S. Forest Service guided snowshoe tour offered at a number of locations including Mount Baker
Image by U.S. Forest Service
Take a free group bike ride with Cascade Bicycle Club (cascade.org/rides). Choose your pace and distance, from 10-mile joyrides to 100-mile excursions, each offering a variety of terrain. The rides take place daily and are led by experienced cyclists. Even better, sign up for the Chilly Hilly, a 33-mile ride around Bainbridge Island and the club’s official kickoff to the biking season, this year on February 26. New to cycling? Experienced but needing to brush up your skills? Cascade has a class for you.
You don’t need to be part of a club to hike and bike during the winter. But if you don’t join a like-minded group, will you really get off the couch and step outside where the fun is? NS
Image by Eddie Bauer
Test a jacket before buying in the Eddie Bauer Ice Box at the Bellevue Collection store
Put your winter gear to the test in Eddie Bauer’s Ice Box
Whether your winter plans include a ski trip to Whistler or a walk around your neighborhood on a frigid day, ensure your cold-weather gear is good to go by making Eddie Bauer’s in-store Ice Box your first stop. Temperature controlled to reach as low as 10 degrees Fahrenheit, the 8-by8-foot glass chamber is the centerpiece of Eddie Bauer’s recently renovated flagship store in Bellevue and was created for customers to test winter coats against conditions similar to what they would find outdoors. The idea is based on how store founder Eddie Bauer and fellow employees used to test products in the 1950s: spending the night with camping gear and apparel in storage lockers in downtown Seattle. With a scenic mountain landscape as the interior backdrop and ice-block bench to sit on, the EB Ice Box of today is far more civilized and…well…pretty cool. SM
Eddie Bauer, The Bellevue Collection, 1050 Bellevue Way NE; 425.453.0450; eddiebauer.com
Sometimes, getting through a Pacific Northwest winter means going south to the desert. These destinations—just one flight away—offer a healthy dose of sun so fun it’s sinful
Image by Parker Palm Springs
The pool at the Jonathan-Adler designed Parker Palm Springs
Palm Springs: Sun, Shop and Play
Boasting 269 days of sunshine—117 more than Seattle—and just 134 minutes away via Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, the former Rat Pack playground of Palm Springs still offers a welcome burst of warmth and sun-soaked activities.
Stay: Kick off a long weekend at the spunky, Jonathan Adler–designed Parker Palm Springs, where Brad and Angelina fell in love in happier days. This month, a top-secret “bohemian glamour” renovation is being unveiled, refreshing the rooms, lobby, pool, spa (and you). Be sure to check out the swanky new wine bar, Counter Reformation.
Shop: The city overflows with curated vintage shops filled to the brim with modernist furniture and decor. Cruise the Uptown Design District, where contemporary shops such as Just Modern, Christopher Anthony, Bon Vivant and A La Mod mingle with Trina Turk’s flagship shop.
Play: Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ($17-$26) up to hiking trails, killer views and a 30-degree temperature drop. Trek 40 minutes outside Palm Springs to Pioneertown, which began as a set for Western movies. Today, Pappy & Harriet’s roadhouse is where Paul McCartney and Cold War Kids have been known to pop in for a surprise show. Chase away the rainy blues at the happening Ace Hotel, where it’s all about lounging poolside with hip, beautiful people and sipping artisanal drinks. (Day passes, $20, are available weekdays to those not staying at the hotel.)
Image by Jamie Kowal
A bartender at work at Bootlegger Tiki
Eat: A 90-year-old theater now houses the sleek, James Beard Award–winning Workshop Kitchen + Bar, which boasts a farm-to-table menu and gourmet cocktails. Crowd favorites include the duck fat fries, mesquite-grilled pork chop and the Prohibition-inspired gin drink Bee’s Knees. Grab a Stumptown cold brew at Ernest Coffee, named after the tiki bar’s founding father, Ernest Gantt. For happy hour, head next door to the speakeasy Bootlegger Tiki, where rad cocktails await. LARA MORGENSON BURNAP
If you go...
Parker Palm Springs: Palm Springs, 4200 E Palm Canyon Drive; 760.770.5000; theparkerpalmsprings.com
Palm Spring Aerial Tramway: Palm Springs, 1 Tram Way; 888.515.8726; pstramway.com
Ernest Coffee: Palm Springs, 1101 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.318.4154; ernestcoffee.com
Bootlegger Tiki: Palm Springs, 1101 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.318.4154; bootleggertiki.com
Bon Vivant: Palm Springs, 766 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.534.3197; gmcb.com
A La Mod: Palm Springs, 886 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.327.0707; alamod768.com
Just Modern: Palm Springs, 901 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.322.5600; justmodern-decor.com
Christopher Anthony: Palm Springs, 800 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.322.0600; christopheranthonyltd.com
Trina Turk: Palm Springs, 891, 895, 897 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.416.2856; trinaturk.com
Workshop Kitchen + Bar: Palm Springs, 800 N Palm Canyon Drive; 760.459.3451; workshoppalmsprings.com
Ace Hotel: Palm Springs, 701 E Palm Canyon Drive; 760.325.9900; acehotel.com
Pappy & Harriet’s: Pioneertown, 53688 Pioneertown Road; 760.365.5956; pappyandharriets.com
Image by Kimpton Hotels
Hotel Palomar's rooftop bar and pool
Phoenix: A sun time in the big city
You know how bad it can be in Seattle in winter, right? That’s how good it is right now in Phoenix. January averages a high of 67 degrees with 21 days of sun, which is probably why you see so many dazed and blissed-out Seattleites there every winter. If you’ve never been, what are you waiting for? Hop a flight from Sea-Tac to Sky Harbor Airport and get ready to spend the weekend admiring towering saguaro cacti from behind your Ray-Bans.
Stay: Outdoor pools are ubiquitous at Phoenix hotels, but Hotel Palomar offers a distinctively larky plunge: a rooftop pool with adjoining bar. Get your vitamin D fix while sipping an icy Buffalo Trace Manhattan. Or go old school at the vintage 1929 Biltmore, especially if you’re a Frank Lloyd Wright fan (he helped one of his students design the hotel). With multiple pools, a spa, sprawling golf courses and amenities from here to eternity, you won’t want to rush home to the cloud bank.
Image by Foskett Creative
High above town, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West
Play: If you think all desert plants look alike, you’ll learn differently at the Desert Botanical Garden. Take the docent-guided tour to discover how the plants of the Sonoran Desert have adapted to violent temperature variations. In the afternoon, head uphill to Taliesin West, once Wright’s winter headquarters. Take one or more of nine tours that explore different aspects of the architect’s genius, and then imagine what it would be like to spend a couple of weeks in a self-built hut on the grounds, which artists and architecture students still do during prestigious residencies.
Begin your next day in Old Town in nearby Scottsdale at the early-morning dining spot, The Breakfast Club, and then browse neighborhood stores, from touristy boutiques to refined shops selling Native American jewelry. And if you get a sudden urge for cowboy boots (and you will), Saba’s, a Western wear shop, is calling to you. Resistance is futile.
Hike the afternoon away at the South Mountain Park/Preserve, where you can take your pick of 50 miles of marked desert trails. On the fourth Sunday of each month, dubbed Silent Sundays, no motor vehicles may enter the park, affording an exquisitely peaceful opportunity to commune with nature. You’ll discover, as local Edward Abbey said, that “wilderness is not a luxury, but a necessity of the human spirit.”
Eat: As one local pointed out, Phoenix mirrors Seattle in one way: Restaurant openings are weekly events. Since you’re in the Southwest, eat locally inspired cuisine. Dick’s Hideaway is known for its authentic New Mexican menu. For a more upscale experience, the new Barrio Café Gran Reserva, helmed by James Beard Award–nominated chef Silvana Salcido Esparza, features nouveau Mexican cuisine. Start your day at Luci’s at the Orchard (look for the signature water tower), a café, juice and coffee bar with outdoor seating. It’s part of The Orchard Phx, a recently redeveloped 2-acre property that was once an orange orchard and now also includes a restaurant and a candy and ice cream shop. VIRGINIA SMYTH
If you go...
Arizona Biltmore: Phoenix, 2400 E Missouri Ave.; 855.689.2878; arizonabiltmore.com
Hotel Palomar: Phoenix, 2 E Jefferson St.; 877.488.1908; hotelpalomar-phoenix.com
Desert Botanical Garden: Open daily, $10–$22; Phoenix, 1201 N Galvin Parkway; dbg.org
Taliesin West: Open daily, prices vary; Scottsdale, 12345 N Taliesin Drive; 480.627.5340; franklloydwright.org/taliesin-west/index.html
South Mountain Park/Preserve: Phoenix, 10919 S Central Ave.; 602.262.7393; phoenix.gov/parks
Barrio Café Gran Reserva: Phoenix, 1301 W Grand Ave.; 602.252.2777; barriocafegranreserva.com
Dick’s Hideaway: Phoenix, 6008 N 16th St.; 602.241.1881
Luci’s at the Orchard: Phoenix, 7100 N 12th St.; 602.633.2442; lucisorchard.com
The Breakfast Club: Scottsdale, 4400 N Scottsdale Road; 480.222.2582; breakfastclub.us