Think quick: When was your last getaway with your partner? Thought so. Every couple with kids knows how hard it is to make time for one another amid busy lives filled with work, school and activities. How about if you make a Valentine's Day resolution to take a weekend away this winter or spring to recharge your parenting energy and rekindle your relationship?
These four getaways are within easy reach for Puget Sound couples for a short weekend away — and each one features activities that are best done without kids in tow. Browse through each, or pick your favorite.
Walla Walla: Wine-tasting paradise
This sunny destination in the southeast corner of our state draws visitors year round to sample wines from the area's more than 100 wineries. While away your kid-free weekend sipping cabernet sauvignon and enjoying views of the vineyards. Or rent a bike and tour the countryside with stops at wineries for tastings. Popular wineries to try include Dunham Cellars (near the airport), aMaurice Cellars (7 miles east of town) and L'Ecole No. 41 (12 miles west).
For winter fun, you'll find 21 downhill ski runs and a snowboard half-pipe at Ski Bluewood, which is located in the Blue Mountains an hour and 15 minutes southeast of Walla Walla.
Eat: The dining scene in Walla Walla is gaining a reputation that rivals its wine-making, and February is the town's annual "Foodie Month." Great choices for eats, all located downtown, include Saffron Mediterranean Kitchen, Brasserie Four and Public House 124. Don't leave town without picking up a selection of delicious baked goods from Colville Street Patisserie.
Stay: Numerous hotels and B&Bs, including the historic and elegant Marcus Whitman Hotel (downtown, starting from $124/night) are within close proximity to downtown tasting rooms.
Getting there: Walla Walla is about 4.5 hours by car from Seattle. Take I-90 to Ellensburg, then follow I-82 south toward Yakima and continue through the Tri-Cities. Then take US-12 East to Walla Walla.
Victoria, B.C.: Foodie fun just a Clipper trip away
A quaint, walkable harbor town, Victoria is a foodie's delight. The compact downtown is packed with excellent eateries from a wide range of cuisines, many featuring produce, meat and cheese grown, raised or made in the region. Eat your way across town and sample a wide variety of contemporary and ethnic cuisine. The charming Chinatown is the oldest in Canada and has many historic buildings, as well as dozens of authentic Asian restaurants. Several old-style English and Irish pubs are located within blocks of each other and also have live music in the evenings. Walk off your meals with a stroll along the Dallas Road Waterfront Trail just south of downtown.
Eat: Excellent choices for lunch and dinner located near downtown include: ulla for excellent locally sourced Northwest contemporary cuisine; Spinnakers Gastro Brewpub for upscale pub food and great beer; Foo Asian Street Food for casual Asian-inspired bites; and Santiago's Cafe for cozy Brazilian specialties. And of course, you can't miss afternoon tea. For the full tea experience in style, go to the Fairmont Empress (downtown, afternoon tea starting at $49.95 CAD). If you'd like a more low-key tea, try one of the many cute tearooms including the Venus Sophia Tea Room and Vegetarian Eatery (downtown, starting at $26 CAD).
Stay: Dozens of hotels and inns ring the harbor, including the Inn at Laurel Point (1 kilometer west of downtown, starting from $114 CAD/night), Delta Victoria Ocean Pointe Resort (1 kilometer northwest of downtown, starting from $149 CAD/night) and the Fairmont Empress (downtown, starting from $219 CAD/night). Find more at tourismvictoria.com/hotels.
Getting there: The best and most convenient way to get to Victoria is on the Victoria Clipper. This high-speed boat whisks you from downtown Seattle to the heart of Victoria in less than three hours. Enjoy views of the San Juan Islands and Olympic Mountains while you sip coffee or wine aboard. Boats leave twice daily. Many hotels in Victoria have packages available that include hotel stay and Clipper tickets.
Bellingham: Outdoors galore + cold brews
In a competition for the most outdoorsy town in Washington State, Bellingham would win hands down. This college town with the spectacular setting on the bay has endless options for a fun, active weekend. Dozens of hiking trails start just outside of town including the popular Fragrance Lake route (trailhead is 7 miles south of downtown). Runners can circle Lake Padden's flat 2.6-mile loop (4 miles southeast of downtown). Hone your mountain biking skills on the steep Galbraith Mountain trails (the north entrance is 3 miles east of downtown). Or use Bellingham as your base for great skiing at Mount Baker Ski Area, 90 minutes to the east.
Bellingham also has plenty of low-key activities, and strolling quaint historic Fairhaven is a great way to unwind. Don't miss Village Books for three floors of new and used books in a beautiful brick building. A flat 2.5-mile walking trail connects Fairhaven with downtown Bellingham.
Eat: Bellingham has a great mix of inexpensive college-budget-friendly restaurants as well as several fine dining spots. Fuel up for your hike with a giant breakfast burrito at Nelson's Market (a few blocks east of downtown), then grab a burger for lunch along with an award-winning beer at Boundary Bay Brewery (downtown) and end your day with handmade pasta and a quiet dinner for two at the romantic D'anna's Cafe Italiano (downtown). If you're staying in Fairhaven, start your day with a hearty breakfast at the longtime Colophon Cafe.
Stay: The Chrysalis Inn and Spa (Fairhaven, starting at $179/night), Hotel Bellwether (downtown waterfront, starting at $168/night)and Fairhaven Village Inn (Fairhaven, starting at $149/night) are the most expensive and luxurious hotels in town, and many rooms have bay views. For a less expensive option, try the budget Coachman Inn (located close to I-5, starting at $60/night) or check into one of the area's cute bed and breakfasts. Find more at bellingham.org.
Getting there: Bellingham is an easy 90-mile drive north of Seattle on I-5. For a beautiful and slower drive, turn onto State Route 11/Chuckanut Drive near Burlington and follow this gorgeous route the rest of the way into Bellingham. Another option is to leave the car behind and take an Amtrak train. You'll get a scenic two-hour-plus ride, landing in Bellingham's Fairhaven neighborhood.
Coupeville: Waterfront sunsets with small-town ambiance
Lesser known than neighboring Langley but just as atmospheric, Coupeville is a quaint waterfront town in the middle of Whidbey Island. Relaxation is the goal in this peaceful town. Poke around the cute shops in the walkable downtown. Stroll the long wooden pier at sunset for beautiful views of Penn Cove. Or take an easy hike along the stunning cliffs at Fort Ebey State Park or Fort Casey State Park.
Eat: A half-dozen excellent restaurants are packed into this small, walkable town. A few popular choices include Christopher's on Whidbey for seafood, The Oystercatcher for upscale French cuisine, Mosquito Fleet Chili for a casual lunch and Knead & Feed for brunch.
Stay: Coupeville is tiny, so most accommodations are in small inns and bed and breakfasts. Three options include the Blue Goose Inn (downtown, starting at $60/night), Anchorage Inn (downtown, $99/night) and Captain Whidbey Inn (3 miles west of Coupville, starting at $103/night). Many vacation rentals are also available nearby through VRBO, or try coupevillelodging.com.
Getting there: Coupeville is just under two hours from Seattle. From Seattle, take I-5 north to the Mukilteo Ferry Dock and cross to Clinton. Follow State Route 525, then State Route 20 to Coupeville. If ferry lines are long, an alternate route is to drive to Mount Vernon and take Highway 20 east, then continue down through Deception Pass and onto Whidbey Island.