USA Independence Day Special: One hour from Seattle

Wine, whales and song in Washington state
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The Independent Travel

Discover the twin-peaked delights of Washington state, home of Frasier – not to mention Bill Gates.

Discover the twin-peaked delights of Washington state, home of Frasier – not to mention Bill Gates.

Eastside Wine Country

Tempt your taste buds at Washington state's oldest wine producer. The Columbia Winery in Woodinville features daily tours and tastings in its sumptuous grounds. Time your visit to take in one of the forthcoming open-air concerts at nearby Chateau Ste Michelle featuring top names such as Linda Ronstadt, the Gypsy Kings, Emmylou Harris and Alison Krauss + Union Station. On the way back to Seattle, stop off at the legendary Herb Farm restaurant, nestling at the foothills of the Cascade Mountains, for a six- or nine-course dinner made from the home-grown garden produce. Booking essential. By car: take Highway 520 east, then Interstate 405, followed by Highway 522; journey time approx 45 mins.

Museum of Flight

Play at Top Gun at this top-flight aviation museum, highlighting the history of flying from the Wright brothers to the space age. This "hands-on" collection is in a converted hangar by the side of the working Boeing Field Airport and has more than 50 aircraft on display. Be Mr President aboard the original Air Force One (aka the flying Oval Office) or Tom Cruise in the cockpit of an F/A-18 fighter jet. By car: take Interstate 5 to exit 158 and follow signs; journey time approx 20 mins.

Snoqualmie Falls

For natural beauty at its best you can't beat the 270ft torrent of Snoqualmie Falls, as seen in David Lynch's Twin Peaks. Perched near the top is the luxury Salish Lodge, which also featured in the cult TV series. Lunch in Salish's award-winning restaurant and indulge in a spa treatment. For retail therapy head to the nearby North Bend factory outlet shops beneath the towering twin peaks of Mount Si. By car: take Interstate 90 east to exit 27 and follow signs; journey time approx 30 mins.

Whidbey Island

This stunning 50-mile snake of soil north of Seattle is the longest island in the US. Theleafy waterfront town of Langley is crammed with cafes, galleries, antique emporia and fabulous guesthouses. Don't miss the magnificent Meerkeek Rhododendron Gardens – 2,000 varieties of the state flower. Get back to nature on the walking trails through the spectacular Deception Pass State Park in the north and for the best sunset moment, down a cocktail at the Captain Whidbey Inn, overlooking Penn Cove. By car and boat: take Interstate 5 north to Mukilteo and then ferry across to Clinton on Whidbey; journey time approx 50mins.

Mount Rainier National Park Soaring some 14,410ft above sea level, volcanic Mount Rainier is clearly visible (weather permitting) from as far away as Seattle. The popular 378-square mile park offers great outward-bound pursuits such as hiking, climbing and cross-country skiing, plus superb sightseeing. Expect glaciers, thundering waterfalls and wild alpine meadows. By car: take Interstate 5 south, then Highway 167 and follow signs; journey time 1 hour-plus.

San Juan Islands

Fly by seaplane to one of the 743 stunning islands. Get your bearings on San Juan at Friday Harbor, a laidback town boasting plenty of bars, cafés and an excellent Whale Museum. There are particularly good whale-watching trips from here. Orcas Island is log-cabin nirvana with plenty of hiking, bird watching, biking and trail walking pursuits. By plane: take one of the frequent Kenmore Air seaplanes from Lake Union Terminal; journey time approx 40mins.

Futher Information

The Destination Group (020 7400 7073 www.travel4less. co.uk;) offers 4 nights at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Seattle from £549 per person, including return flights and car hire. For a free visitors' guide to Seattle and Washington State tel 020 7978 5233 or visit www. experiencewashington.com.

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