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.
Like an escalator coated in peanut butter, your routine can easily bog you down in the quotidian. Get up, go to work, see people, go home, build dog agility course, and repeat. Experience the world you largely ignore with today’s Groupon: $25 gets you a three-hour bus tour of Seattle’s most popular sights from Tours Northwest, a $49 value. Follow @Groupon_Says on Twitter.
An osprey hovers 30 feet in the air over Lake Washington, virtually silent until it spots something beneath the water's surface. Quickly, it folds its wings and plunges into the water, emerging seconds later with a fish ripped firmly between its talons. Nearby, Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers' founder, Dan Henderson, floats by silently. This slice of the pristine outdoors happens to be his workplace, but none of it would have happened if his mother hadn't forced him to take a canoeing lesson in 1972. Despite his initial reluctance, Mr. Henderson took to the water like a robot to a magnet store. He went on to race whitewater canoes and flat-water Olympic-style canoes, eventually earning four medals as a member of the U.S. national team. Later, Mr. Henderson became a coach and set out to train a new crop of water athletes. To this end, Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers serves as the natural continuation of Mr. Henderson's journey: a place to, in his words, "share paddling with the community in a manner that is fun and safe."
Under the leadership of expert guides—many of whom learned their trade directly under Dan Henderson's wing—visitors embark on day trips into inlets and bays, paddling in the shadow of the Olympic Mountains or tailgating orca whales. The staff also leads canoe and kayak classes that aim to take novices from beginner to expert. Their efforts have proved fruitful, as three of Cascade Canoe & Kayak Centers' students have made it to international-level competitions.
An approved FAA part 141 flight school with an option for part 61 training, AcuWings bestows certifications and ratings for fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters upon trainees who have passed their gauntlet of training curricula. The outfit operates its fleet out of Renton Municipal Airport, a full service airport with an operational control tower that allows aspiring aviators to practice radio communication. The school's instruction comprises hours logged both in the cockpit as well as in ground school, where students study aviation topics such as flight theory, chart navigation, and aircraft systems, in a one-on-one setting with the instructor. Potential pilots interested in an initial taste of flight before signing up for a full-blown certification regimen can take advantage of the introductory flight. Flyers share control of the aircraft with the instructor for approximately an hour and log their time spent aloft in a logbook.
Customized Tours leads groups on guided expeditions of Seattle's most breathtaking spots. Outdoor adventurers can try the Mount Rainier National Park tour or the winery and waterfall tour, which travels across Lake Washington on the 7,700-foot Evergreen Point floating bridge to the world-renowned Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery. City tours explore a variety of coffee shops and tourist attractions across the Queen Anne, Fremont, and Chinatown neighborhoods.
One of the more unique tours is the Boeing Factory tour, which gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at airplane assembly. It also gives them a chance to design their own airplanes using touch-screen computers, or, for traditionalists, old geometry homework.