Northwest

Rolling Huts of the Methow Valley

The Methow Valley is as picturesque as any in the world. Nestled in a high pocket of the North Cascades of Washington State, the valley is all forests and flower fields, ravines and rivers, snow peaks and sunshine1. And it’s all crisscrossed by biking, hiking and running paths — and by one of the longest cross country skiing trails in the world.

Until recently, one of the few blights on the Methow Valley was a particularly unattractive RV park northwest of the town of Winthrop. Happily, the Winnebagos there have given way to a wild meadow that’s mostly untouched except for the unusual, low-impact accommodations offered by Rolling Huts. It is a fantastically cool place to stay.

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The Treehouse is the Point

Staying here is a curious mix of luxury and roughing it

Seattle is a Spot Cool Stuff favorite city. We love experiencing its vibrant urban heart. And we love how easy it is to escape that for the accessible natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest.

A case in point (literally, a “point”) is The Treehouse Point. The complex—part treehouse hotel, part quaint event venue, part wilderness preserve—is in the middle of a lush forest yet only a 35-minute drive from downtown Seattle’s famed Pike Place Market.

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How To Go Boating in a Hot Tub

Hot Tub Time Machine is terrible. But a hot tub boat? Now that’s cool!

Spot Cool Stuff loves unlikely hybrids of two travel products. Previously we’ve reviewed a scooter that doubles as a wheeled bag, a wheeled bag that’s also a backpack and a backpack that’s also a downhill bike, among other hybrid travel products.

In that spirit of Dr. Moreau-inspired travel ideas comes hot tub boating.

There are, surprisingly, at least two places on the planet where you can take a small boat out in the water whilst simultaneously lounging in a hot tub. One is in Seattle. The another in IJlst, Holland.

It might be the coolest travel hybrid experience we’ve found since the tent-hammock-treehouse. Our look at each:

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The Shipping Container Starbucks

Most Starbucks are architecturally rather cookie cutter and bland. But the popular chain of coffee shops does have a handful of locations with a cool edge to them. Perhaps none more than the company’s drive-thru located in outside of Seattle in Tukwila, Washington. The Starbucks there is built out of used shipping containers!

Since Spot Cool Stuff’s first post about shipping container architecture, use of the eco-friendly building material has grown hugely in popularity. Sadly, it hasn’t grown as quickly as the surplus supply of used containers. But nearly every day work begins on at least one new shipping container house or office building somewhere on the planet.

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Seattle to the Max

Supposedly, Seattle as a travel destination embodies the funky and artsy. Yet, surprisingly, there are only a handful of hotels that match that reputation. The majority of high-end hotels in Seattle seem stale, corporate, and predictable.

Those adjectives are light years away from the Hotel Max. This downtown, Seattle boutique hotel is all about being fun and trendy.

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Overnight Inside a Giant Beagle

At this affordable bed and breakfast, paying the bill is not a bitch

Getting sent to the doghouse can be a very good thing if you happen to be traveling through central Idaho. Because there, on a rise on the outskirts of the town of Cottonwood, is where you’ll find the Dog Bark Park Inn, an unusual bed and breakfast that’s shaped like an enormous beagle!

The gregarious proprietors of the Dog Bark Park, Dennis Sullivan and Frances Conklin, describe their property as “a noble and absurd undertaking.” That sounds exactly right to us.

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6 Cool Bicycle Stores

There’s no other bicycle shop in the world where you have to give serious thought to your wardrobe before visiting.

The best bike shops in the world do more than sell and fix bicycles. They fill you with a sort of enthusiastic energy that makes you want to get out there and pedal.

There are lots of great community bicycle stores out there, too many for us to declare the six we feature below to be the absolute best. But each one is superlative in its own way:

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Go Skiing (But Not On Snow)

While skiing the dunes, sand will get inside your clothes. And it will go to places you very much would rather it wouldn’t

Ski bums, do not despair when the weather warms at your travel destination. Though the snow may vanish, your opportunity to partake in downhill skiing and boarding needn’t.

Here’s a Spot Cool Stuff look at three non-snow ski surfaces and where to enjoy them:

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