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Classes & Educational Opportunities

Vacations are meant to entertain but they're also meant to inspire! Look for all manner of fun, hands-on learning opportunities for the young and the young at heart all the way around the byway! Some opportunities will introduce guests to new and exciting ways to connect with the past while others introduce folks to the future. 

Seattle NorthCountry

History buffs have their minds blown (in a good way, we promise) by the heart rending exhibits on display at the Paine Field Aviation District: Flying Heritage & Combat Armor Museum, Museum of Flight Restoration Center and the Historic Flight Foundation. Often the museums have volunteer experts on staff who actually served during WWII and other conflicts who are amazingly friendly, willing to answer questions and give personal accounts of their experiences. It's a game changing, mustn't-miss experience.


Photo Credit: Historic Flight Foundation photo

And speaking of the Paine Field Aviation District, for folks with their eyes toward today and the future, there is a host of other excursions available too. Think about team-building, trust and leaving your fears behind by taking in a day at the High-Trek Adventures ropes course. It's a great way to reconnect with your traveling partner(s) and get your body moving! If you're an aviation enthusiast but want to see the latest technology in action while also touring the largest building in the world, head straight to the Boeing Future of Flight nearby. View the Boeing twin-aisle airplanes before they take to the sky, including the 787 Dreamliner, 777, 767 and 747!

High-Trek Adventures

Photo Credits, left to right: High Trek Adventures, Seattle NorthCountry photo, Boeing Future of Flight photo

The kids will flip over the Imagine Children's Museum in Everett. Not only do they get to get the wiggles out, they can try on costumes, pretend and get seriously hands-on. If you're traveling with the wee ones, you gotta go here!


Photo Credit: Imagine Children's Museum photo

Leavenworth/Cascade Foothills

Leavenworth is best known as Washington State's Bavarian Village, but it also happens to be a hub for local arts. One location, Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort, is really unique in that it boasts an amazing outdoor art installation featuring work by Dale Chihuly in addition to providing a lush on-site organic garden that guests can explore and learn how food travels from garden to table on the property. The grounds features native landscaping techniques and offers guests learning opportunities in an authentic, natural outdoor environment. For guests seeking lodging here, the faculty is fully LEED certified and guests are encouraged to learn how to tread lightly on the environment throughout their stay

Sleeping Lady Outdoor Art

Photo Credits left to right: Sleeping Lady Mountain Resort photo featuring Dale Chihuly sculpture, Cascade Loop photo featuring guests exploring the on-site organic garden

Wenatchee/Columbia River Valley

Looking to learn about some local history--native culture, industry and the development of the apple industry in Washington State? Make sure you've added additional time to spend in Wenatchee. The Wenatchee Valley Museum & Cultural Center does an amazing job of telling the story of how Washington became the world's leader in apple and other fruit growing, packaging and distribution. Permanent and traveling exhibits from around the world are often on display along with an amazing gallery of fine art. The kids have lots to choose from as well including activities in Coyote's Corner, the apple packing exhibit and of course the miniature train--always a favorite!


Photo Credit: Cascade Loop photo, Wenatchee Valley Museum Wine Gala

Just outside of Wenatchee en route to Chelan, two of the most popular destinations can be found--Ohme Gardens and the Rocky Reach Dam & Discovery Center. Ohme Gardens is an alpine garden built by one of the original families in the Wenatchee Valley. It has since been converted to a public garden but their story is told throughout the campus--this is a great spot for a picnic and photos! The Rocky Reach Dam & Discovery Center is truly unique in that guests can walk across the dam, view the fish ladder that helps salmon and other species bypass the dam safely AND there is a fish viewing room where the massive fish pass right in front of your nose--always exciting! Note that the Discovery Center is getting a serious face-left this year in effort to create more hands-on learning experiences for guests so will not be open 2020. Look for announcements about their exciting grand re-opening in 2021.


Photo Credits left to right: Cascade Loop photos, Group relaxing at Ohme Gardens, Rocky Reach Dam & Discovery Center Fish Viewing Room

Methow Valley

Another location that is rich in local history and culture is the Methow Valley Interpretive Center located in Twisp. Look for exhibits sharing the history of the area's first people, local geology and natural history. Take a walk outside the center and explore the garden designed with native species of plants.


Photo Credit: Methow Valley Interpretive Center photo, Native Plants Garden

North Cascades

Continuing on the Loop, head toward the North Cascades National Park. Plan stops at Washington Pass Overlook, Ross and Diablo Lake Overlook to learn about the park's jaw-dropping geology. Want to get some hands-on eduction on topics ranging from mushroom identification, watercolor painting and photography (and a LOT more)? Plan to spend some time at the  North Cascades Environmental Learning Center.   They also have a program called Base Camp where lodging is paired with educational excursions. Another don't-miss stop in the North Cascades National Park also happens to be on Diablo Lake. Consider adding a guided boat tour of this magnificent lake to your itinerary. The photo opps are out of the this world, but the folks with Skagit Tours leading the trips have soooo much inside knowledge of the area's wild history, it's seriously fun. The North Cascades National Park also has a Visitor Information Center just past Newhalem. Plan a stop here to stretch your legs on the multitude of accessible trails here. There are also hands-on exhibits, maps and audio-visual displays indoors.

Education ClassesSkagit tours boat

Photo Credits, left to right: North Cascades Environmental Learning Center, Skagit Tours Boat Tour of Diablo Lake, NCI photos

Are you hoping to take home hundreds of photos to share with friends and family? Perhaps you might think about taking a photography excursion with local expert Andy Porter Photography. Andy is world-renowned for his landscape photography and also offers photography classes for beginners through advanced learners. Andy is located out of Sedro-Woolley but often takes his students allll over the North Cascades National Parks to snag the ultimate shots, something you only get when you're hanging out with the local in-the-know! 

Park Butte Lookout Andy Porter

Photo Credit: Andy Porter photo of Park Butte Lookout

Skagit Valley

Also in Sedro-Woolley is a one-of-a-kind way to explore local history and attractions. The folks at Willowbrook Manor have put together a program called Tea & Tour where guests start out at the tea house (also a small family-owned chamomile farm), hop on their cruisers and bike around the area to Tea & Tour lock boxes containing information about the stops along the way. It's super fun, you learn a lot and you get a little exercise too!

Photo Credit: Pacific Northwest Quilt & Fiber Art Museum photos

Whidbey Scenic Isle Way

Drive over the mammoth Deception Pass Bridge and south along the Whidbey Scenic Isle Way toward Fort Ebey Historical State Park. It's hard not to think of the young soldiers bustling around the grounds as they did here during WWI and WWII! Wind your way through the catacomb-like batteries and bunkers and feel for yourself a little slice of military life from 100 years ago. Fort Casey, Fort Worden and Fort Flagler together were known as the "Triangle of Fire," a cluster of strategically placed defenses to Puget Sound's entrance at the turn of the 20th Century. Scan the Puget Sound from the top of the bunkers, take selfies next to a mint condition canon or wander over to Admiralty Head Lighthouse, built in 1903. Wind your way up the spiral staircase and visit the interpretive center. And if you can manage it, plan your visit for sunset--you'll take home some amazing photos! Guests can also stay in historic lodgings at the neighboring Fort Casey Inn, formerly officers quarters.

Photo Credit: Cascade Loop photo, photographer shooting Admiralty Head Lighthouse at sunset

Watchable Wildlife - California Quail
One of the most prevalent birds to be found year round on the Cascade Loop are the California Quail. These birds are Identified by a topknot, a protruding group of feathers on the top of their head. The male quail (cock) topknot is larger than the female (hen), and it droops forward and shakes when he walks and calls. Read More >>>>
Bird of the Week: Gray Partridge
The Gray Partridge (Perdix perdix) is also known as the Hungarian Partridge, or around these parts, especially for game bird hunters, simply "Huns." Like many of our other "game birds," they were introduced from Europe around 1900 or so. I've never seen one in a pear tree, in fact I don't see them much in the mid to upper Methow Valley where I live, but they can be locally common in various spots throughout Okanogan County. They don't migrate and are active year-round, generally sticking to cultivated or old agriculture… Read More >>>>
Bird of the Week: Spotted Towhee
It's that time of year when we are starting to see fewer birds. The long-distance migratory birds like our warblers are long gone, and many species who just head a little bit south or simply fly over the Cascades to the west side of the state have been on the move in the last recent weeks. Read More >>>>