Shoulder season in the Pacific Northwest runs from April-May and September-Oct typically. It’s those times of year just outside of peak seasons. When the crowds are in full force during ski season and also during those prime summer months, the “shoulders” of these seasons make a super time to visit.
First, you’ll want to book accommodations. Lucky for you, shoulder season means lower rates on premium vacation rentals. If you’re looking to keep some cash in your pocket, consider a shoulder season getaway to take advantage of those deals.
Crowds are smaller in the spring and fall in destinations like the Alpine-WY, the Yellowstone area, and others. The milder temperatures also make it a wonderful time to visit the mountains and enjoy the feeling of having some spots to yourself.
Enjoy a “Locals” Experience
Live like a local in Victoria and other areas during spring and fall. Take in the Greater Victoria Performing Arts Festival, when for six weeks local students take to the stage with dance, music and theater performances. Or attend a performance by the Victoria Symphony, with several events set in March and April. Take the kids to visit baby goats at Beacon Hill Children’s Farm. Either way, with the slower pace usually found in the shoulder seasons, you’ll feel like you’re a part of the local crowd wherever you go.
Save on Fun
Not only can you get low rates on accommodations, but the shoulder seasons are also a great time to save on attractions as well. For example, get a 30% off coupon for the Victoria Butterly Gardens, valid through March 31. Enjoy free admission at museums on April 4. More than a dozen Washington museums are participating in Free Museum Day, including Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture, Asian Art Museum, Seattle Art Museum, the National Nordic Museum and the Museum of Flight. There are also three free days at Washington State Parks on March 19, April 11 and April 22.
Some activities only take place during the shoulder seasons. The northward migration of the gray whale is one of those. From late March to June, whales migrate back to Alaska. Each spring, about 18,000 whales pass close to the Oregon Coast, creating some perfect whale watching opportunities. Cannon Beach has three awesome vantage points for spotting these magnificent creatures. And the San Juan Islands are also a favorite!
The Skagit Valley Tulip Festival is a driving tour held April 1-30 in La Conner, Wash. The festival takes spectators past fields where millions of blooming tulips scatter throughout the region.
Another driving tour is the Hood River County Fruit Loop, as April is blossom time in Oregon. Located at the foot of Mount Hood, it’s a wonderful way to see this beautiful region. Twenty-nine member stands offer a variety of fruit, vegetables, flowers, ciders, wind and food.
Then there’s Spring Sensations 2020, throughout the month of April when the small town of Leavenworth-WA, shows off its apples, peaches, pears, cherries and plums to visitors.
Fall Festivals and More
Fall also provides great opportunities to see the amazing aspens as they turn to a vibrant yellow and dominate the valleys and mountains of the Northwest. You can also hear elk bugling during those prime Sept and October months during their breeding season.
You can also catch many great fall festivals, such as the Autumn Leaf Festival in Leavenworth, the Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival in WA, and the Bend Fall Fest in Bend-OR.
Come visit this spring or fall, and discover a whole other side of your favorite destinations during the shoulder seasons!
When you’re looking for your next insta-worthy photo, we’ve got seven can’t-miss spots in the Northwest to add to your vacation itinerary.
A mountainous area in Washington’s Olympic National Park, Hurricane Ridge offers some of the most stunning photographs of the Olympic Mountains. Popular for hiking, skiing and snowboarding, Hurricane Ridge offers year-round access to this gorgeous area.
Lake Crescent is strikingly beautiful, and folks love to photograph its majesty within Olympic National Park. A deep lake (624 feet at maximum depth), Lake Crescent is known for brilliant blue waters and extraordinary clarity. The water is missing nitrogen which inhibits algae growth thereby creating the deep, clear water. Lake Crescent is located in a recreational area where visitors will also find trails in abundance as well as “Devils Punch Bowl,” a swimming and diving area.
Mt. Hood is a potentially active stratovolcano in the Cascade Volcanic Arc, formed by a subduction zone on the Pacific Coast. About 50 minutes east/southeast of Portland and Oregon’s highest mountain, a snow-covered Mt. Hood is an amazing photo as it reflects into Mirror Lake.
The North Cascades are home to Liberty Bell Mountain, about a mile south of Washington Pass on the North Cascades Highway. The peak, made from a mixture of granite and difficult rock, is well-known within the state for high-quality alpine climbing. Don’t leave your phone behind, because you’ll definitely want to hashtag some insta-worthy shots of this natural phenomenon.
The highest point in the San Juan Islands and second-highest mountain on an ocean island (in the contiguous 48 states), Mount Constitution is an Orcas Island treasure. A stone observation tower resembling a medieval watch tower is found at the summit of this breathtaking climb. The tower offers excellent panoramic views and photographs of the neighboring islands as well as the Cascade Mountains.
Northwest Wyoming is home to Grand Teton National Park, with 310,000 acres and some major peaks. Ten miles south of Yellowstone National Park, the protected areas of Grand Teton make up part of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. The Park itself is named for Grand Teton, the tallest mountain in the Teton Range. Folks from far and wide travel to see the natural beauty here and photographs, while nothing short of spectacular, rarely do it justice. But, it’s fun to try!
Haystack Rock, in Cannon Beach, is a 235-foot sea stack that can be reached by land. The spot is popular with tourists and the rock is adjacent to the beach, accessible by foot at low tide. The Haystack Rock tide pools provide a habitat for starfish, sea anemone, crabs, chitons, limpets and sea slugs. Additionally, the rock is a nice resting spot for sea birds, including terns and puffins. There are so many angles and reflections at Haystack Rock that it is really hard to take a bad picture.
Ready to head out to some of these and try your hand at photography excellence? Book your accommodations first (because it’s always good to know where you’ll lay your head), and plan your trip to get that perfect shot that lights up Instagram! We’ve got the perfect Kabino for you!
For outdoor and nature lovers, a trip to a National Park is what vacation dreams are made of. Many even plan their trips around the park scene including Grand Teton and Yellowstone, where there’s plenty to do no matter if you have a week to explore or only 48 hours to take it in. To make the most of your trip, browse our guide to spring openings to help with your planning.
Yellowstone National Park
With two distinct seasons, it’s important to know dates surrounding the springtime schedules. The early season begins in late April as the snow is cleared from the roads and facilities will follow on a staggered schedule. For 2019, the schedule is as follows (provided conditions are suitable):
- April 19: West Entrance to Madison Junction, Mammoth Hot Springs to Old Faithful, Norris to Canyon Village.
- May 3: East Entrance to Lake Village (Sylvan Pass), Canyon Village to Lake Village.
- May 10: South Entrance to West Thumb, Lake Village to West Thumb, West Thumb to Old Faithful (Craig Pass), Tower Junction to Tower Fall.
- May 24: Tower Fall to Canyon Village (Dunraven Pass)
- May 24: Beartooth Highway
For a color-coded map and to double-check road conditions, visit Yellowstone Park Roads.
Enjoy all that is Yellowstone from wildlife to rafting, horseback riding and amazing waterfalls. And, don’t forget, Kabino has Yellowstone rentals with all the amenities of home, and so easy to book! With rates starting as low as $100 a night, there’s something available for every budget on a Yellowstone vacation.
Grand Teton National Park
Just to the south of Yellowstone and connected by the Rockefeller Parkway is the scenic Grand Teton National Park. The park is 26 miles long and attractive to visitors thanks to a beautiful mountain range and plentiful wildlife, including the Great Gray Owl. Visitors enjoy hiking, boat rides, rafting and huckleberry milkshakes, but you’ll want to know when things are open.
- Highway 26/89/191 (the outer park road) is open year-round.
- Summer is when the park is busiest, given the lovely weather. The only road closures you should encounter might be construction. All services should be open and available as well.
- Springtime is when it can be tricky. Snow melting is the biggest factor for opening in the spring, with many roads closed annually from November 1 through April 30. Most all are officially open as of May 1 to be on the safe side.
Whether you’re looking for a cottage or a lakeside cabin, browse our selection of vacation rentals near Grand Teton National Park and start planning the perfect outdoor adventure this summer. Always remember to book direct for the best price guaranteed.
April showers bring May flowers! But also, the two months collectively provide lots of opportunities across the northwest for travel and entertainment. Planning a trip to the northwest? This might help you find festivals or events that you simply don’t want to miss!
Seattle in the Springtime
Enjoy the Northwest Art and Fine Craft Show April 13-14, 2019, with some 90 artists in various categories from jewelry, clothing and painting to glass art and sculptures. Held at Hangar 30 in Magnuson Park, there will also be food trucks. This show is also held in November.
The annual Cherry Blossom Festival is a fantastic way to celebrate Seattle’s friendship with Japan and its prized cherry trees gifted to the city in 1976. Come and find fun with Japanese art, dance, music, martial arts, and food at the Seattle Center from April 26-28, 2019.
May 16-June 9, 2019 brings the 45th Annual Seattle International Film Festival—America’s largest film festival. Top directors will be there along with actors and critics.
Of course you’ll need accommodations in the Seattle area, so be sure and spend some time choosing the perfect home away from home.
Jackson Hole/Tetons/Teton Village Events
April 1-16, 2019 is Spring Cycle Days in Yellowstone, where folks can enjoy the National Park before the roads open to motorized travel. Ride in the Park for free and spend a fabulous day (or longer) exploring by bike, on foot, or rollerblades (conditions allowing).
Jackson Hole offers a unique option for Memorial Day—Old West Days Celebration, held May 23-27, 2019. Visitors enjoy a parade, rodeo, Old West Brew Fest, Draft Horse Pull, Mountain Man Rendezvous, American Legion Memorial Services, Pipes for Peace, Single Action Shooting Match, and so much more! Check out area lodging for the best, most comfortable places to hang your hat.
Leavenworth, Washington Events
Good times are happening at the 13th Annual Leavenworth Ale Fest on April 13, 2019. Enjoy a great mix of breweries, cideries, music and all-around fun in Leavenworth’s beautiful alpine setting. New for 2019, the festival now serves as a benefit for local non-profit Icicle Creek Center for the Arts, helping to bring the arts to families and communities across North Central Washington.
May 18, 2019 don’t miss the 2019 Red Bull Pump Track World Championship—a 2nd Annual Qualifier race. There will also be a kid’s race for the little ones. And, speaking of kids, find your family-friendly vacation rental early for the best selection.
Whistler and Victoria, British Columbia, Canada for Fun Festivals
The World Ski & Snowboard Festival makes for five days of extreme fun April 10-14, 2019 in various locations around Whistler. This spring festival celebrates the Whistler mountain culture with winter sports, music, and the arts, including the world’s steepest ski and snowboard competition.
With hundreds of annual festivals and events, it’s always easy to find fun in British Columbia.
Victoria plays host to the 156th Victoria Highland Games & Celtic Festival on May 18-20, 2019 at Topaz Park. This year the event has expanded even more, celebrating Scottish and Celtic music, arts, and culture with a Tartan Parade through downtown, a pub crawl, and tons of performing arts activities. This event is sure to bring a weekend of fun so make your accommodation reservations quickly.
Check out Victoria’s SwiftSure International Yacht Race from May 23-27, 2019, the largest yacht race on the West Coast of North America with more than 200 race boats and 1400 race crew members.
Spring Festivals on Oregon’s Coast
Are you a foodie? This just might be your kind of festival—Beer & Cheese Festival on April 13, 2019 in Rockaway Beach, Oregon looks to be delicious! Join brewers and cheesemakers as they pair their goods for partakers. There will be food trucks serving locally-sourced foods or you can dine at the Pelican Taproom. Proceeds will go to Food Roots, which will be on-site selling local foods. Leave with a little souvenir also—a free tote and logo tasting glass.
Less than an hour from Cannon Beach in Astoria, Oregon you can find the 37th Annual Astoria Warrenton Crab Seafood & Wine Festival with great coastal cuisine, arts and crafts, wine tasting, and more! The Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce hosts the festival held on April 26-28, 2019. Start the planning by searching for the best accommodations to call your home base.
Fun in Park City, Utah
Join the fun for the 1st Annual Utah Latin Dance Festival. Enjoy the biggest salsa and bachata festival in Utah history on May 3-5, 2019 for an unforgettable weekend of fun. The event takes place at the Double Tree by Hilton in Park City (world-renowned destination and home of the SunDance Film Festival). Choose a nearby condo or hideaway for a true destination getaway, complete with all the comforts of home, which you’ll long remember.
The Tulip Festival in Mt. Hood, Oregon
Highly-regarded and tons of fun, the Tulip Festival is the prized event of Mt. Hood and takes place March 23–April 29, 2019. This extensive festival is jam-packed with everything tulips as well as hayrides, a children’s play area, a Cow Train, food vendors, crafts, balloons and a huge variety of other activities. Be sure and visit the website for a schedule of events for this amazing event and book a lodging spot today!
San Juan Islands and Orcas Island, Washington for Spring
Orcas Island Lit Fest is designed to bring folks together who share the love of reading books with authors who love to write them. Less than a half an hour drive from San Juan Islands, guests can find Washingon vacation rentals at both places and be near the event which takes place April 5-7, 2019 at the Orcas Center. Come and participate in this annual celebration of literature.
Tour De Lopez is April 27, 2019 and is a non-competitive bicycle tour of Lopez Island, beginning in San Juan Islands. Every year there are lots of return riders, which speaks to the fun of this beautiful getaway.
This is by no means a complete listing, but a sampling from each area. There’s a lot of fun travel in the northwest, and we invite you to be a part of it all this spring!