With the help of their family, John and Dorie Belisle planted BelleWood Acres' initial orchard in 1996. Today, that orchard has grown to include more than 25,000 trees, creating one of the largest U-Pick operations in Western Washington. Against a backdrop of Mount Baker, the orchard buzzes year-round as families fill up bushels and baskets. Come fall, visitors scour the property for the perfect pumpkin to carve or replace them at jury duty. But fans of BelleWood Acres products don't necessarily have to visit the farm to stock up on its treats, since a lot of them are sold at local businesses around Oregon and Washington. Plus, BelleWood Acres boasts a new, 14,000 square foot building at the heart of its property, which includes a farm market, gift shop, bistro, and bakery.
Outer Island Expeditions' fleet of kayaks and boats safely cruises at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour through frothy crests ebbing amid the striking sights and wildlife of the San Juan islands. Venturing as far as 50 miles into Canadian waters, whale-watching excursions foster personal rapport between patrons and boat-side orcas, gray whales, or humpback whales trying to learn human etiquette for future espionage missions. Tours of Stuart Island's Turn Point lighthouse begin aboard a 22-foot Kodiak skiff, which buoys patrons through 16 miles of waters inhabited by sea lions and porpoises before they disembark and hike to the lighthouse's historical museum. Fishing charters set sail in search of ocean creatures and potable salt water from all of Outer Island Expeditions' four launch points: Smuggler's Villa Resort, Semiahmoo Resort, Lopez Island, and The Willows on Lummi Island.
With Langley's picturesque countryside as its backdrop, Neck of the Woods Winery concocts red, white, and sparkling wines using grapes grown primarily in the surrounding Fraser Valley. The facility takes advantage of the area's cool climate–which is similar to that of Northern France and Germany–to oversee the entire production process from pressing to bottling. After spending quality time with their maker or a court-appointed barrel, products migrate to store shelves throughout Fraser Valley and Vancouver, or stay right at home in the winery's tasting room. There, visitors pass through daily to sample the varietals, or hang out in the showroom, warmly stocked with rustic casks and a crackling fireplace.
Bisqueware-lined walls and buckets of bright paint await sparks of creativity to bring them into full-colour radiance. At Vikki's Clay Art Studio, artists first select an unfinished piece of pottery or a fused glass project-in-potentia, and then set to work with provided tools, patterns, stencils, and glazes to create their own unique piece. Expert supervision is always on hand as guests decorate pots or piece together cut glass under expert supervision. Once finished, the pieces disappear into the studio's kiln and emerge ready for pickup after about a week. Private parties let crafters socialize over glass or bisque art while testing out ideas for a set of risqué tea saucers on pals first.
Although mambo 'taliano's mustard-yellow awning calls the eatery a "ristorante and piano bar," it's difficult to say which aspect has more influence. The chefs fully commit to the menu of traditional Italian staples by rolling pastas, curing Alaskan salmon, and making fresh mozzarella in-house. These sorts of touches add a homespun quality to dishes such as the spaghetti with pancetta and pecorino romano cheese, and the thin-pounded veal milanese with arugula and cherry tomatoes. To help prime palates, the appetizer selection features everything from marinated Sicilian olives to a shareable antipasto platter with cured meats and roasted vegetables. The aromatic herbs and the sight of diners enjoying meals at the outdoor patio help attract passersby, but so does the sound of live jazz emanating from the dining room. Solo pianists and ensembles aim to entertain patrons with soothing background melodies. Coupled with the sounds of spirited conversations, these performances help create a lively atmosphere where diners can comfortably enjoy a casual meal, a glass of wine, or an impromptu dance off.
A dragon perches on a rock and bares its fangs, desperately wanting to take flight. But it remains chained to the ground. For this snarling beast lacks one important thing: colour. That?s where Paula Harvie comes in. As owner of Club Colour, she opens her studio to 40 people at a time to add pigment to more than 100 available ceramic pieces, from the dragon to cupcake trinket boxes and coffee mugs. Whether using stencils and patterns or following the lead of their sugar-stimulated day dreams, patrons can apply artistic designs to the ceramics using the studio?s stock of non-toxic acrylic and glaze paints. Handy staff members then glaze and fire the projects in a kiln to make them dishwasher and microwave safe.