Hike the Washington Cascades
A two-hour drive east of Seattle (or a scenic three-and-a-half-hour trip on the Amtrak Empire Builder) gets you to one of America's strangest mountain towns: Leavenworth, Washington. In the 1960s, city fathers refashioned their former logging town into a Bavarian village, complete with alpine chalets and polka bands. Somehow, it works, in no small part due to its Alps-like setting on the Wenatchee River.
Check in to the Bavarian Lodge (from $150 a night) and head to one of the town's many outfitters for kayaks, climbing gear, fishing poles, and whatever else you need. Local trails are well marked, so mountain biking and hiking are largely DIY. A local favorite: the eight-mile day hike to Colchuck Lake. "It's insanely beautiful," says John Race of Northwest Mountain School. "Once you get to the lake and pick your jaw up off the ground, you'll never want to leave."