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Celebrating People, Places & the Good Life in SW Washington State
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The Incessant Rain has Stopped! Celebrate Summer in Southwest Washington

The incessant rain has stopped. The sun has returned. Is there a better place to live and recreate than the Pacific Northwest in summer? And don’t we deserve it?!

For more than 100 posts, ZEST has shared interesting places (and people and events) around Southwest Washington. Looking back and planning forward, here are favorite ideas for celebrating summer in our region.

Go for a summer paddle!

Go kayaking – You may like the thrills of white water kayaking but we’re talking about paddling the scenic, relaxing waterways of the area. Rent a kayak at Ridgefield Kayak in Ridgefield and paddle Lake River out to the Columbia (classes and tours available) or check out Columbia River Kayaking in Skamokawa where there are day tours and classes available and more options for paddling the Columbia. Check out the ZEST post on kayaking Vancouver Lake and Lake River.

At the trailhead for the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Hike in a refuge – Southwest Washington has a surprising number of National Wildlife Refuges. Two of the better known are the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge and Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge. See a complete list of Washington State refuges here. Sarah Coomber wrote about a family-oriented hike in Ridgefield in Five Boys, Three Moms, Trolls and Treasure at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge.

View of the Gorge from Cape Horn

Drive a scenic loop —  We featured a road trip around Southwest Washington in June 2011. Check out the recommendations here at Road Trip! A Loop Through Southwest Washington.

Kites and Happiness on the Long Beach Peninsula (photo by Spence Photo Design)

Get beached – There are activities happening all summer on the Long Beach Peninsula. Check out for details. The Long Beach area won the ZEST’s Happiest Place in Southwest Washington contest in 2010.  The ZEST post includes the winner plus 10 honorable mentions for happy places.

Tasting Wine at the Westport Winery

Go wine tasting – Shawna Burkholder shared lots of great ideas in the ZEST post  The Art of Wine Touring in 2009. From the Westport Winery on the coast to Maryhill Winery and others in the Gorge and more than a dozen wineries in Clark County, you have plenty of choices. You’ll find a long list here. And 14 Clark County wineries are listed here. Read the April 2012 ZEST interview with Michele Bloomquist of Heisen House Vineyards for a winemaker’s perspective on our growing wine industry.

Feeding the goats at Pomeroy Living History Farm

Touch history – Southwest Washington offers a tremendous number of historical sites and museums to visit. The Coast offers multiple historical sites and museums. See Pacific County: An Abundance of Museums and Historical Sites  for a few of the many museums in Pacific County. The Fort Vancouver site could easily fill a day. One of our favorites for families is the Pomeroy Living History Farm. Read the 2009 ZEST post  A Visit to the Pomeroy Living History Farm.

The best barbequed oysters EVER are available in South Bend

Savor oysters – South Bend, “the oyster capital of the world,” provides table slapping good oysters. Check out ideas for visiting the area (including oysters, museums and kayaking) in this ZEST post, Adventures on Washington State’s Cranberry Coast, Part 1.

Stay home and see the world – The Columbia Gorge International Film Festival returns to downtown Vancouver August 15-19. More than 300 films will be shown in various locations. Check out this 2010 ZEST interview with the Festival director, 10 Minute Conversation with Breven Angaelica Warren.

Mavis Staples opening the 2010 Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival

Enjoy  art, wine and jazz from your lawn chair – The 15th Annual Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival is always the last weekend in August in Esther Short Park. This three-day festival always brings Grammy winning musicians, art from throughout the region and wines from around the world. Check out the ZEST post on the opening night of the 2010 festival.

A few of the Kumorican 2011 characters

Step into anime – The weekend after the Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival, Esther Short Park will offer a totally different experience when the 10th Annual Kumorican Convention returns to Vancouver for Labor Day Weekend.  You don’t have to be a follower of anime to enjoy the hordes of people who do when they fill the park in full, elaborate costumes. It really is a fun and friendly gathering. At Kumorican 2011, we photographed some of the characters. You can check out the ZEST post Hanging Out with Johnny Depp and Otaku in Downtown Vancouver.

You could fill your whole summer without leaving the region. Enjoy the dry weather and fun places and events. Fall will be here soon enough. As they say, you’ve got to “make hay while the sun shines.” Get out there!

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