Road Trip: Concrete and East Skagit County

Enjoy a scenic drive and stay out in eagle country
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View the eagles during the Skagit Eagle Festival; snap a pic and enter it by January 15 in the Skagit River Bald Eagle Center’s 20th anniversary photo contest. Go win it!

WHERE: Concrete and east Skagit County.

WHY: Eagles are flocking to their spectacular winter getaway—why not join them? The Skagit Eagle Festival (1/1–1/31; concrete-wa.com) happens every January weekend, and your car makes a perfect blind for snapping pictures without scaring off these magnificent birds. Celebrate along the Skagit River with arts and crafts, wine tasting, photography tours and river rafting for eagle spotters.

NIGHT OWLS: Check out the Concrete Theatre, built in 1923 (45920 Main St.; 360.941.0403; concrete-theatre.com), updated for films, live music and events during the festival. early birds: Stop by 5b’s Bakery (45597 Main St.; 360.853.8700; 5bsbakery.com) for quality gluten-free baked goods and more for breakfast or lunch. For dinner, there’s Annie’s Pizza Station (44568 State Route 20; 360.853.7227; anniespizzastation.net), whose handcrafted cuisine would be a hit even in a town bigger than Concrete, population 753.

RULE THE ROOST: Spend the night in one of Ovenell’s Heritage Inn log cabins, located on a historic ranch across the river (46276 Concrete Sauk Valley Road; 360.853.8494; ovenells-inn.com). Pick up a steak or two—the cows are raised right there on the ranch—and throw them on the provided barbecue. Had enough of eagles? Elk, deer and coyotes are known to roam the ranch on a daily basis. 

Road Trip: Sandpoint, Idaho

Road Trip: Sandpoint, Idaho

It’s the definitive Pacific Northwest winter wonderland
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Schweitzer Mountain, whose $5 million, 9,000 square foot lodge debuts in December

Where: Sandpoint, Idaho, about five hours and 30 minutes from Seattle. 

Why: It’s the definitive Pacific Northwest winter wonderland. Surrounded by three mountain ranges and sitting on Lake Pend Oreille, Sandpoint offers endless outdoor activities including ice skating, sledding, ice fishing and skiing. Start your getaway with cross-country skiing on more than 7 miles of groomed trails at Round Lake State Park (1915 Dufort Road, Sagle) or enjoy the 2,440 feet of vertical drop at blessedly uncrowded, 2,900-acre Schweitzer Mountain (10,000 Schweitzer Mountain Road; 877.487.4643; schweitzer.com), just 11 miles from town. Afterward, grab a drink and thaw out at the new Summit Lodge. Back in town, check out whatever is playing at the restored 1927 Spanish Mission gem, The Panida Theater (300 N First Ave.; 208.263.9191; panida.org), such as the Winter Wildlands Alliance’s Backcountry Film Festival ($10–$20, December 2; soleexperiences.org) or a musical performance of A Christmas Carol (times and prices vary; December 16–18 and 22–23).

 

For the Foodie: Trinity at City Beach (58 Bridge Street; 208.255.7558; trinityatcitybeach.com), with a view of the lake and mountains, has a menu that includes trout year-round and house-made coffee ice cream with bacon.

Unwind: Get your achy bones to The Highland Day Spa (1315 U.S. Highway 2; 208.263.3211; highlandsdayspa.com), because who doesn’t crave a massage after shredding the gnar? And then settle in at The Lodge at Sandpoint (41 Lakeshore Drive, Sagle; 208.263.2211) with 600 feet of waterfront housing.