It’s a new year, a time for fresh starts, new pursuits and ambitions, and maybe some resolutions. And, in addition to those personal goals, add some community exploration and celebration to your 2017 bucket list. Here are some of the highlights of Grays Harbor County to explore this year.
Visit one of Grays Harbor’s Museums
From the Lady Washington to the Polson Museum, the Westport Maritime Museum to the Aberdeen Museum of History, there are numerous opportunities to take in a bit of local history and learn something new about where we live. If you haven’t experienced one of Grays Harbor’s museums, make 2017 the year to do it.
Catch a Movie at Hoquiam’s 7th Street Theatre
The 7th Street Theatre is a wonderful 1920’s era building, full of historic features and charm. They’re gearing up for their movie season, which starts with a showing of Rocky on January 20th and 21st. Keep an eye on their events calendar as they are often the venue for various performances throughout the year.
Get Fit with a Class at the YMCA
If a healthier lifestyle is on your list of New Year’s resolutions, consider signing up for a group class at the YMCA. There’s something for everyone and every budget, whether you’re into swimming, yoga or strength training. Working out on your own is great, but having a group to help motivate you is one of the many benefits of our local YMCA. Check their website for scheduling and more information.
Have a Snowball Fight at Wynoochee Lake
One thing I sometimes miss living in the Harbor are heavy winter snows. If you’re looking for a place to sled, build a snowman, or have a snowball fight, head to Wynoochee Dam this winter. Chances are good for show but check with the Forest Service for road conditions and closures before you head out. You can read more about Wynoochee here.
Discover Authentic Mexican Pastries at La Unica
When my family and I left Texas for Grays Harbor, I was sure we were bidding farewell to great authentic Mexican pastries like pan dulce. Imagine my surprise when I walked into La Unica in Aberdeen. If you find yourself craving a sweet treat (or tacos) in 2017, stop by La Unica. You won’t regret it.
Take a Hike at Lake Sylvia
Choosing a single spot to recommend a hike is impossible in the Harbor. There are so many wonderful trails to hike, bike or even horseback ride. For now, I’m recommending Lake Sylvia, not only for the great hiking, but also because it typically plays host to many events throughout the year offering many things to do in one location. With swimming, canoeing, fishing, hiking, a playground for kids, camping for both tents and RVs, Lake Sylvia is a treasure.
Stop by the Westport Aquarium
The people at the Westport Aquarium put a lot of love and effort into what they do. The aquarium celebrates marine life local to our coastal area and is entrenched in the surrounding community. There’s always something new going on and they host events throughout the year.
Experience the Annual Shorebird Migration
Grays Harbor just happens to be a pit stop for literally hundreds of thousands of migrating shorebirds each spring. The annual festival includes oodles of events including guided field trips, or you can venture out on your own to see the birds. Either way, spring is the perfect time of year to plan some bird watching.
Treat Yourself at a Local Coffee Shop
Coffee, breakfast, wine, live music, you can find it all in the Harbor. Ocean Beach Coffee Roasters, Tinderbox, and Luna Rana are a few favorite spots to kick back with a cup of coffee. Each has its own vibe and its own specialty. Head to Ocean Beach Coffee Roasters for wine and a date night, Luna Rana for open mic nights and a gourmet sandwich, or Tinderbox for top notch, locally roasted coffee.
Run the Dirty Dash in McCleary this June
If you’re into obstacle courses, running a 5k, or getting ridiculously muddy, then hopefully you’re already signed up for the South Sound Dirty Dash, happening June 24th. Wrangle some friends or sign up solo. There’s even a Piglet Plunge for kiddos who want to get in on the fun.
Go for a Swim in Lake Aberdeen
When summer days are especially hot and it seems like everyone is heading for the beach, I like to head to Lake Aberdeen. Surrounded by forest, the lake is a peaceful spot. It’s a great place for a swim, a picnic, fishing or just a moment of quiet reflection.
Visit a Big Tree at Lake Quinault
Having the Quinault Rain Forest in our neighborhood is one of my favorite things about living here. I look forward to packing up the kids and heading out to see giant trees any chance I get. There are six world champion trees in the forest around Lake Quinault, and getting out to see them will top my list this year.
Have Some Fun at Logger’s Play Day
Probably my favorite local event of 2016 was Logger’s Playday. A huge parade, tons of food, vendor booths, competitions and activities all day long make this a “don’t miss” event in September.
Come to Grayland for the 24th Annual Cranberry Harvest Festival
When fall rolls around and the days get shorter and wetter, there’s at least one thing to look forward to. The Cranberry Harvest Festival can help boost dreary day spirits and 2017’s event includes events such as a cook-off, parade, bog tours and even a raw cranberry-eating contest. Check out the event calendar for specific times and dates.
Catch a Hayride and Pick a Pumpkin at a
Another great thing about fall is a visit to a pumpkin patch. Here in the Harbor we have Chapman Farms and Shaffner Farms to choose from. Both have hayrides, corn mazes and tons of pumpkins to choose from every year.
Check out Cranberry Road Winery and Bog Water Brewing Co’s New Building
After a fire last year, the Bog Water Brewing Co. in Westport reopened for business in July. If you haven’t visited since the reopening, make time in 2017 to check it out. It’s an excellent place for great food, drinks and atmosphere.
Experience Damon Point
When I first moved to Grays Harbor, one of the top recommendations was to hike Damon Point. Although I’ve been to the beach near the point multiple times for picnics, kite flying and exploring marine life at low tide, I’ve only hiked the length of the point once. It was a magical experience and I hope to make it a yearly activity. The Washington Trails Association has great tips for making the trek here.