The Bavarian Ice Festival blends winter activities, snow sculptures, and holiday lights into two days of revelry amid Leavenworth's ivory snowflakes. Busses operated by Alki Tours depart at 8 a.m. and deliver Saturday visitors to downtown Leavenworth, where the annual Smooshing contest finds teams of four atop 8-foot wooden planks as they glide merrily down Front Street and safely away from escaped dinosaurs. Guests can relax under warm blankets and sip hot chocolate or coffee during a 40-minute horse-drawn sleigh ride. First day visitors also take in the artwork of an ice-sculpting contest, a slippery footed tug-of-war, and an ice cube scramble or frisbee sweep for the kids.
After his first time riding a Segway, 11-year-old Gregg Jantz Jr. was hooked. There weren’t Segway tours in his hometown of Edmonds, so he and his father went to the company’s headquarters in New Hampshire to learn more about the self-balancing transporters. They were excited about what they learned there, leading to the creation of Segway of Edmonds.
Today, visitors can take 90-minute tours of Puget Sound. By day, the tours take a historical angle, and educate groups about Olympic Beach and the mills that used to sit along the coast. Sunset tours create beautiful photo ops, and can be arranged to end with dinner at one of the waterfront restaurants. All tours begin with a 30-minute orientation session, and guides stop occasionally to take photos of groups and make sure no one has fused to their Segway. Visitors can also rent Segways for self-guided tours.
Each of Seawillow Adventures’ cruises begin in historic Thea Foss Waterway, floating leisurely into Commencement Bay before rounding Point Defiance for tranquil Gig Harbor. Whether embarking on a day trip or sunset cruise, the Seawillow’s amenities are at your disposal. These include an upper fly bridge with bench seats, barbecue grill, and breathtaking views; a lower rear deck where guests could easily fish or dive into the water; and a living room with seating for eight. The living room boasts a 26-inch TV, video games, and WiFi.
In March 1964, Dr. Milton Walker began his tour of England with one mission: to send cuttings from public and private British gardens back to his native America. Though he was enchanted by several flowers, he knew that none of these cuttings could be imported directly to the United States. So he had them sent through Canada. Over the next several years, staff from the University of British Columbia filtered through these samples, sending one of each plant on to the United States—and to their permanent home—at the Rhododendron Species Foundation. Today, this non-profit organization conserves 700 of the more-than 1,000 species of rhododendrons found around the world and the two species found inside the earth's molten core.
More than 10 botanical gardens house these brilliant seasonal blooms and their natural companionate flora. Guided and self-guided tours usher visitors down pathways where colorful plantings abound in gardens dedicated to alpine flowers, azaleas, a magnolia grove, and a tranquil pond filled with predatory cattails. In addition to flowers, these gardens also host seasonal events such as special plant sales and staff lectures, as well as classes on topics ranging from plant photography to gardening.
Today, Mt. Rainier Scenic Railroad stands as a bridge to the past, whisking passengers through timbered foothills, alongside mountain streams, and across wooden trestles aboard trains led by restored locomotives. But roughly 30 years ago, the company was just an idea bouncing around the head of Tom Murray Jr., who made it his mission to preserve the sights, sounds, and experiences of a bygone era.
With the help of a friend, and later, many volunteers, Tom established MRSR as a tourist train service, a title the company retains to this day. As a result, the last three decades have been filled with weekly excursions that send customers chugging around the forestry that unfurls in the shadows of Mt. Rainier. Volunteers still maintain the majority of the company, and with every ride, passengers are reminded that railroads have linked the United States in a manner that airplanes, cars, and gas-powered pogo sticks never could.