As the founder of Seattle Food Tours, Michael Rogers couldn't have started a more perfect business for himself: as a former chef and frequent traveler, he appreciates the feeling of discovering new places. He's surrounded himself with a team of similarly knowledgeable tour guides, including a professional baker, a wine tasting expert, and an international tour guide.
Given the group's impressive backgrounds, it's not surprising that they operate top-notch excursions. They lead the curious through Pike Place Market, and even though it's one of the most visited culinary destinations in the country, their trip grants access to five spots not featured on any other market tour. A progressive dinner through Belltown Restaurants welcomes groups to sample libations from a nationally renowned cocktail bar, and taste the creations of a sushi chef who is a two-time James Beard nominee. Each outing can be amended for vegetarians or those with fork allergies, or reserved for private groups.
Sprawling across 100 acres in the verdant, picturesque Spokane Falls, Riverfront Park beckons with awe-inspiring visual and auditory wonders. The newly constructed SkyRide invites visitors to survey the land from above, swooping across the Spokane River and past city hall, where they can wave to their favorite comptroller. Back on the ground, the historic Looff Carousel, built in 1909, whirls riders around on 54 horses, two Chinese-dragon chairs, one giraffe, and one tiger, and a tour train chugs through the park on a 30-minute narrated jaunt. Among other attractions, such as the Sculpture Walk and pony rides, Riverfront Park houses an enormous IMAX theater with one of the largest indoor screens in the Pacific Northwest. Standing 53 feet high and stretching 69 feet wide, the screen is slightly taller than the average human and displays crystal-clear two-dimensional images, which are complemented by the sounds of a booming, wraparound surround-sound system.
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.
Cellar 55 cares for precious potables with 24-hour surveillance and a private, climate-controlled facility. Controlled access, private lockers, and personal locks keep each bottle of treasured toast-fodder secure from even the wiliest cat-burgling sommeliers. Constant conditions of 55 degrees Fahrenheit and 70% humidity preserve perfect taste and keep aged wines from complaining about the weather. For no additional charge, Cellar 55 will receive shipments of wine and place them in a customer’s private vault or hold them to be picked up. Wine collectors experiencing separation anxiety can check up on their favorite bottles seven days a week from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m.
There's a revolution happening in Woodinville, Washington. There's no violence though, unless you count the stomping of grapes. Home to hundreds of boutique wineries, the region is beginning to rival Napa Valley as the United States' biggest wine producer. Woodinville sits at the same longitude as France's wine country, allowing for optimal adult-grape-juice production and the ability to wear a beret with dignity. Barrel Wine Tours, a co-op of Woodinville winemakers, takes guests throughout the community on tours of the distilleries and wineries of these passionate part-time vintners. On a luxury coach, participants ride to four distilleries or wineries, and three-course lunches and wine pairings occur during each tour.
On a childhood fishing trip with his dad in the San Juan Islands, Shane Aggergaard noticed a group of orcas swimming toward his boat. Rather than steering clear of human contact, they swam directly under the boat—one even looked Shane right in the eye. It was a moment of whale-human connection he never forgot, and nowadays tries to approximate through Island Adventures. The whale-watching tour company, which Shane founded with his wife, Jennifer, brings passengers into close contact with the aquatic mammals of the Pacific Northwest.
Depending on the season, wilderness-savvy guides—who’ve led more than 6,000 collective wildlife tours during their careers—can introduce passengers to minke whales and the San Juan’s three resident orca pods, migrating gray whales, or humpbacks. Their 101-foot vessel, The Island Explorer 3, boasts a large bow pulpit and a viewing deck with more than 400 feet of railing, ideal for seeing whales in their entirety, from their tails to their trusty sets of water wings. The team backs each tour with a whale-sighting guarantee and strives to ensure future sightings by making sustainable choices, from its ecofriendly cleaning products to the boat's cabin floor made from recycled tires.
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