A family of ducks swims along Devils Lake, river otters play across Lake Merwin, and a kayak tour floats along the water. When Tracie Driver started NorthWest EcoExcursions, she envisioned a recreation company that would combine outdoor thrills with respect for the environment. To this end, NorthWest's guides, who each boast either a postgraduate education or more than 10 years in park-ranger experience, educate their customers on local wildlife and geology during trips that run the gamut from hiking to whale watching to goat-packing tours. The staff also maintains eco-friendly practices, serving strictly organic foods on camping trips and ensuring all of their office's plants are 100% solar powered.
For two days each spring and each fall, Chehalis Valley Wine Tour participants can choose their own adventure in the lush Washington valley. The tour has no set route—participants visit at least six wineries, such as Agate Creek Cellars and Scatter Creek Winery, in whichever order they choose. At every one, they sip samples of boutique vintages poured into their passport wineglasses, glassware that also functions as a tour ticket. There are hors d'oeuvres for revelers to nibble on, too, all much tastier than the original winery snack: bacon-wrapped corks.
A certified Surfing America member school, Oregon Surf Adventures preaches wave riding fundamentals and sea-sport safety. This three-hour beginner group lesson (a $198 value) includes gear rental (a $30 value), outfitting pupil duos with soft top boards, Quiksilver wetsuits, gloves, booties, and a temporary ability to command ocean creatures. With all instructors trained in first aid and CPR, classes maintain a low student-to-teacher ratio and begin with 45 minutes of schooling upon dry land. The salty syllabus then moves on to topics such as ocean awareness, water safety, equipment use, and Emily Post's surf etiquette.
Locals who frequent the nine holes of Skyline Golf Course have taken to calling it Cathlamet’s “Emerald Gem.” With its undulating fairways and scenic views of the Columbia River Basin, the course offers little to challenge this honored epithet. Designed by architect Ralph Rodahl, its treacherous doglegs and ponds have been distracting hole-bound balls for nearly half a century. Among Rodahl’s most challenging designs are two holes at par 5 and two at par 3, each of which requires golfers to navigate a fairway rife with hazards and packs of feral golf carts.
Situated near the first tee, an ample driving range allows for long-distance practice before setting off to conquer the high-risk, high-reward course. After the round, players can replenish with a cold refreshment or savory snack on the clubhouse deck, or upgrade their golf gear with a new sleeve of golf balls from the pro shop or a cyborg caddy from the future.
Course at a Glance:
The stylists at Mitchell's Salon & Day Spa have beautified Cincinnati-area clients for the past 30 years. During that time, the staff has grown to more than 400 employees across five locations. They've also garnered several press mentions, including their most recent victory in The Knot's Best of Weddings 2013. These accolades are all possible because of the meticulous care that the salon pours into both its posh ambiance and soothing treatments. Stylists perfect 'dos with haircuts and smoothing keratin treatments, and aestheticians perform antioxidant facials, which make the skin more resilient against hazards such as environmental damage and cheek-pinching aunts.