Road Trip: Victoria, BC

This charming coastal city on Vancouver Island is only a three- to five-hour trip northwest of Seattle
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Where: Victoria, British Columbia, a charming coastal city on Vancouver Island that’s a three- to five-hour trip northwest of Seattle (via the Victoria Clipper, clippervacations.com/seattle-victoria-ferry; or by car and state ferry; wsdot.wa.gov/Ferries).

Why: The iconic Fairmont Empress Hotel (Victoria, 721 Government St.; 250.384.8111; fairmont.com/empress-victoria) recently finished phase one of a two-part renovation, unveiling 235 revamped guest rooms ($299–$599), a new fine dining restaurant (Q at the Empress) and a makeover of the Lobby Lounge, where the traditional Tea at the Empress has been in place since 1908 ($75–$120, children $37.50; 250.389.2727). Indulge in a midafternoon delight of ethically sourced loose-leaf teas, raisin scones and much more. Then peruse the rooms’ new look—modernity with a nod to the past—featuring local Canadian artwork and design touches that embrace the hotel’s legacy and the city of Victoria herself.


Feast Your Eyes
: The nearby Butchart Gardens (prices vary; 250.652.5256; butchartgardens.com) offers weekend-only tours in November through the lush greenhouses, where visitors can chat with the gardeners and peek at the upcoming holiday decor.

See the City: For more happenings in and around Victoria, from scenic hikes to the trendiest eats (and for some delicious eye candy), check out Tourism Victoria on Instagram (@tourismvictoriabc).

Holiday Bonus: Time your visit for Saturday, November 26 to enjoy sparkling floats and vehicles at Island Farms Santa’s Light Parade at 5:45 p.m. in downtown Victoria.

Road Trip: Concrete and East Skagit County

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.