Special Report

Best Weekend Trips on the West Coast This Fall

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Leavenworth, Washington

Leavenworth, a Bavarian-style village nestled in the Cascades due west of Seattle, has been throwing a fall festival for more than 50 years. This year’s Autumn Leaf Festival, scheduled for September 27-29, includes a parade, brass band performances, a street dance and a classic car show.

This beautiful region has many opportunities for outdoor fun such as hiking, horseback riding, birdwatching and biking. Several breweries, wineries and distilleries offer tours and tastings.

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Walla Walla, Washington

Head east from the coast to experience the first taste of the new wine vintage at Fall Release Weekend, scheduled for November 1-3 in Walla Walla. Visit wineries, learn about the winemaking process from the pros, sample their wares and gain insights into expectations for the latest harvest’s yield. Several wineries offer wine and snack pairings, special dinners, live music, fireside tastings and art exhibitions, as well as an opportunity to purchase the wine at the source.

Tours of Walla Walla wineries are available on weekends into December.

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Olympic Peninsula, Washington

The cool temperatures and moist air of coastal Washington make the region seem like an ideal site for the North Olympic Fiber Arts Festival, taking place in Sequim on October 4-6. Exhibitions, demonstrations and workshops are scheduled at this 14th annual event; there’s also a marketplace offering the fruits of the artists’ looms and needles.

For art of a different stripe, how about the Kinetic Sculpture Race in Port Townsend, October 5-6. Participants compete in “human-powered” vehicles they’ve created from found objects such as bike parts, Styrofoam and — everyone’s fave — duct tape. The Mediocrity Award, the event’s most coveted prize, shows racers’ devotion to not taking themselves too seriously.

If observing all this art has worked up an appetite, consider dropping by the 35th annual Oysterfest in Shelton, October 5-6, where pros vie for the West Coast Oyster Shucking Championship. Visitors can consume their fill of local seafood, wines and craft beers; enjoy live bands and maybe even adopt a cat while there.

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San Juan Islands, Washington

Love the locavore life? Get an up close and personal look at it on the Orcas Island Farm Tour, set for September 28-29. Highlights include tastings of sweet and savory foods from single-varietal preserves to freshly smoked fish; exploring uses of medicinal herbs; and learning about farming best-practices.

The San Juan Brewing Company hosts its third annual Oktoberfest on October 12, in Friday Harbor. Games and activities include a costume contest, liter-holding competition, a German-themed menu, live entertainment and, of course, beer. There could be more than a dozen varieties of the bubbly brew on offer at this event, including San Juan’s Festbier.

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Whidbey Island, Washington

Sample ciders hard and soft at the Whidbey Island Cider Festival on September 28. Expect an array of cider-friendly foods such as oysters and a variety of sausages, including elk, plus baked goods and more. The event will benefit the Pacific Rim Institute for Environmental Stewardship, in Coupeville, where the festival will be held.

Want to make your own scarecrow? Or just taste locally crafted beers and wines? All of the above is on the agenda at the Whidbey Island Harvest Festival, October 5-6, in Langley, along with live music, food and crafts vendors, pumpkin carving and more.

The folks on Camano Island, Whidbey Island’s next-door neighbor, redefine surf and turf with their meat- and seafood-laden 24th annual Chili & Chowder Cook-Off. This year, two dozen professional and amateur chefs will gather at the Camano Center on November 9 to vie for top honors in chili, chowder and booth decor categories. Libations and live entertainment are also on the menu.

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