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Thankful on a Tankful

Thankful on a Tankful: 7 Washington Destinations Worth the Drive this Autumn

Posted at Fri, Nov 3, 2023 8:00 AM

Thankful on a Tankful: 7 Washington Destinations Worth the Drive this Autumn

Everyone knows Thanksgiving brings loved ones together. But sometimes, we don't feel like we’re together.

Whether you’ve got a friend who’d rather scroll Instagram, a husband who just wants to go Black Friday shopping for the newest kitchen gadget or a mom who wants to watch the newest season of The Crown in peace, opportunities for relationship-building can be hard to find.

Luckily, a group drive is a time-honored solution. Get your loved ones in the car and take a day trip to one of these adventure-offering, autumn-friendly Washington locations.

This fall, skip Black Friday shopping and search out some autumn leaves instead. At Mullinax Ford, we’re thankful on a tankful.

Annual SpokAnimal Thanksgiving Day Dog Walk

Every year, our canine companions and feline friends top the list of “people” we’re thankful for. This holiday season, give back to your pooch by taking them along for the SpokAnimal’s Dog Park annual Thanksgiving Day Dog Walk.

For the past 14 years, Spokane dog lovers have bundled up on Thanksgiving morning to congregate at High Bridge, coffees in hand, and give their pets a morning stroll before the day of eating begins.

The suggested donation price of $10 per dog goes directly to raise funds for SpokAnimal, the humane society of the Inland Northwest.

No dog? No problem. Give the shelter a call and they’ll find a four-legged walking partner for you and your family. A shelter dog will get a chance to take in the sights of Spokane, and you’ll get a new friend for the morning. It’s a Thanksgiving win-win.

State Park Free Admission

Native American Heritage Day falls annually the day after Thanksgiving, and Washington’s State Park Department celebrates by offering free “Autumn Day” admission to all state park visitors.

Grab your nature-loving family members or friends and visit one of Washington’s over 140 parks. Or — to get the most for your tankful — hit multiple parks in one day. There are only 12 days per year when a Discover Pass isn’t needed to visit a Washington State Park, so hiking enthusiasts have to make the most of each one.

Our state park recommendation? Deception Pass, located in northwest Washington. It’s the most-visited state park in the state, and for good reason. Enjoy 38 miles of hiking trails with views of mysterious coves and rugged cliffs alike.

Plus, the Pacific Northwest Trail, a 1,200-mile footpath leading from Montana to the Pacific Coast, runs through Deception Pass for 10 miles. Hit the trail alongside weary-eyed thru-hikers before reconvening at Campstuff Coffee or Sister Sister Kettle Corn for post-hike concessions.

Thanksgiving in Yakima Valley

The day after Thanksgiving, Yakima Valley wineries open their doors for a weekend of live music, holiday specials and of course world-class reds and whites from the first nationally recognized wine-growing region in the Pacific Northwest.

Yakima holds one-third of Washington’s wine vine acreage, but Thanksgiving in the Valley is about much more than grapes. Bring the whole family to enjoy live music from local artists like Amanda Simmons at Freehand Cellars or journey outside wine country to West Valley U-Pick, where you can gather organic apples and brew your own cider on a hand-cranked press.

The weekend after Thanksgiving also happens to be Small Business Saturday. Stop by Downtown Yakima, where you can pick up a passport at your first stop and get it stamped at every business you visit for entry into a raffle for gift baskets filled with local goods.

Wineries throughout the valley also offer special holiday savings that weekend, so be sure to pick out the perfect wines for your holiday parties or as gifts for loved ones.

Great Tree Lighting in Seabrook

If you’re looking for family-friendly, wine-free activities for the day after Thanksgiving, look no further than Seabrook’s Great Tree Lighting. Bring the kids and a camera to kick off the holiday season with a fluorescent North Beach flare.

Bicycling elves and Christmas candles are just a few of the supporting acts to the event’s big attraction — the lighting of the town tree in Merriweather Square. But don’t go dashing through the snow once the tree is lit. The event also includes holiday performances from area choirs and bands and the fire-department-escorted arrival of Santa Claus himself.

Snap a picture of your little one on Santa’s lap before warming your hands with a free hot beverage and holiday cookies from the cocoa bar. Free food, free music and a free consultation with St. Nick — what better way to spread holiday cheer?

Storyville Coffee Company

Every Washingtonian knows nothing says thankfulness like a hot mug of coffee.

This beloved Pike Place coffee shop is worth a visit year-round, but the crisp autumn air makes its smooth espressos and housemade hot chocolates that much cozier. And that’s not to mention its holiday-tradition Peppermint Marshmallows, which you can munch while you sip.

Storyville takes its roast seriously, sourcing only from the top 2 percent of the world’s most delicious beans and roasting each one with “scientific precision.” No surprise USA Today and Wine Enthusiast alike have declared Storyville “Seattle’s Favorite Coffee.”

After you’ve had a sip of Storyville’s flavorful brew, you’ll want to stock up on its beans for your home coffee machine. Luckily, the company offers whole, espresso and single-serve styles. Visit its website to choose your blend or spread the coffee cheer by ordering bags as holiday gifts for friends and family.

Not sure of your loved ones’ favorite blend? No problem — order an online gift card and they can choose their own coffee adventure or even grab hardware like a Storyville porcelain coffee mug or electric kettle.

Mount Rainier Camping

Washington may be the Evergreen State, but we may like its scenery even better when the leaves turn maple, aspen and ashy. This autumn, enjoy the fall colors Washington has to offer with a stay at a cabin near Mount Rainier.

Tent camping might be a tough sell amid chilly November temps, but luckily Mount Rainier is surrounded by cabin rentals — some steps from the National Park itself — so you can enjoy days of hiking and have a warm bed waiting upon your return.

Furnished cabins like Hiker’s Haven and Betsy’s Cabins are just a few of the options open all four seasons for a weekend getaway. Or, stay onsite at one of Mount Rainier’s two year-round historic inns.

Mount Rainier is one of the best-known landmarks of Washington, but you can escape the crowds by avoiding popular locations like Paradise and Sunrise for lesser-known gems like the bike-friendly Carbon River Trail or Rain Forest Nature Trail, which is the only inland rainforest in the park.

Kraken Games at Climate Pledge Arena

In 2021, Washingtonian hockey enthusiasts rejoiced when the Seattle Kraken joined the NHL — making it the first pro hockey team to play in Seattle since the Totems in 1975. Bundle up and drive to the newly renovated Climate Pledge Arena, which offers great views from every seat.

The city offers free public transit for up to two hours ahead of game time, so catch a monorail or bus and avoid gameday traffic woes. Can you say “thankful?”

The Lair, the Kraken’s team store, is open on Kraken game days 90 minutes prior to puck drop to meet all your Kraken gear wish list needs. Grab a beanie or jersey for yourself or as a holiday gift for Seattle friends.

Once inside the stadium, defrost from chilly outdoor temps with a hot sandwich from Met Grill and Shaq’s new chicken restaurant BIG Chicken — or spring for countless other vendors, including Din Tai Fung or Go Poke — before settling in to cheer on the new pride of Seattle.

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