Swedes drink vodka and dance around maypoles. Greeks jump over bonfires. Pagan and druidic Brits gather at Stonehenge. For many Northern Hemisphere cultures, the summer solstice is a time of rebirth, rejuvenation and major partying.
While astronomically the solstice officially occurred at 10:04 p.m. Pacific time Thursday, Friday night is only one second longer at eight hours and four minutes, leaving nearly 16 hours of daylight to be enjoyed.
In the Northwest, we not have long hours of official daylight between this mornings 5:14 a.m. sunrise and tonights 9:10 p.m. sunset and a twilight that lingers for hours and if the skys clear of clouds a rosy glow over the Sound and mountains. Friday nights nearly full moon rises at 7:22 p.m., so therell be moonlight even after dark. Add in the possibility of a fine, mild evening, and you have perfect conditions for outdoor fun.
So how will you party? Think watching the years most northerly sunset over cocktails, catching outdoor music or taking long, long hikes. If you need more ideas, weve compiled a list of fun things to do to rock the South Sounds summer solstice.
Anchored up and down Puget Sound are dozens of waterside eateries offering oysters, burgers, wine and whats most appreciated on the longest day of the year: mind-expanding views. Order a microbrew and a bowl of clams and watch the sun set. (That last ones free.)
CHAMBERS BAY GRILL, University Place
The restaurant at Chambers Bay golf course offers altitude without attitude at its outdoor patio. Park yourself on the edge of the bluff overlooking the golf course/park and soak up the views from Puget Sound to the Olympics. But dont waste your time if you cant get an outdoor table or its too wet to sit outside.
Hours: 6 a.m.-dusk daily
6320 Grandview Drive W., University Place; 253-552-4868, chambersbaygolf.com
BOATHOUSE 19, Tacoma
At Tacomas newest waterside dining spot, happy hour runs 3-6 p.m. daily and starts again at 9 p.m. That gives you 10 minutes to toast the sun in the restaurants outdoor area before it sets Friday night. But drink and food specials continue until closing.
Hours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily
9001 S. 19th St., Tacoma; 253-565-1919, boathouse19restaurant.com
KATIE DOWNS, Tacoma
From The Ram to the Lobster Shop, theres no shortage of waterside dining options along Tacomas Ruston Way. But Katie Downs is the place to go for the pizza- and burger-craving 21-and-older crowd. Watch the tides come and go on the restaurants long deck.
Hours: 11 a.m.midnight Fridays and Saturdays, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays
3211 Ruston Way, Tacoma; 253-756-0771, katiedowns.com
BUDD BAY CAFE, Olympia
Youll feel downright nautical while dining on the outdoor deck at this waterside restaurant. Inspired? Four different salmon dishes are on the menu along with a bounty of other seafood selections. Plus youre surrounded by moored boats.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Saturday and Sunday breakfast: 9 a.m.-noon. 525 Columbia St. NW, Olympia, 360-357-6963 buddbaycafe.com.
TUGBOAT ANNIE'S, Olympia
Across the water from Budd Bay Café and the Anthonys restaurants is this casual eatery with an outdoor deck. Order a microbrew and the Barge Burger (the largest burger around) and watch the sun paint Olympias eastside orange and pink.
Hours: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sundays-Thursdays; 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Saturday and Sunday breakfast: 9 a.m.-noon.
2100 Westbay Drive NW, Olympia (Westbay Marina)
WATERSTREET CAFE, Olympia
Celebrate the solstice with the Waterstreet Cafés Late Night music series: Friday night features Dennis Hastings and the Joe Baque Trio blending Latin, jazz and pop. 9-11:30 p.m. Friday night. 610 Water St. SW, Olympia. Dinner and show reservations at 360-709-9090, waterstreetcafeandbar.comOUTDOORS
The summer solstice also means a series of low tides, which makes for a great opportunity to explore a local beach. Good places to search for marine life are Titlow Park in Tacoma; Fox Island bridge, Kopachuck State Park and Penrose Point State Park in the Gig Harbor area; Quartermaster Harbor at Vashon Island; and Salters Point Beach and Sunnyside Beach Park in Steilacoom.
At Titlow Beach on the Tacoma Narrows, the low tides will be Friday, 10:09 a.m., -2.4 feet; Saturday, 10:55 a.m., -3.3 feet; Sunday, 11:42 a.m., -3.8 feet; Monday, 12:30 p.m., -3.8 feet; and Tuesday, 1:17 p.m., -3.3 feet.
You can get tide information for other Puget Sound locations at saltwatertides.com.
ROAD TRIP FOR TROUT
With more than 16 hours of daylight when you include dusk and dawn a trout angler could hit plenty of waters in a day this time of year. Here is an itinerary worth considering; just bring along a partner.
Start your day at dawn at Purdy Spit, where the outgoing tide might put the sea-run cutthroat trout in a feeding mood. Then head south to Munn Lake in Tumwater. This special regulation lake offers a chance at some big trout, as well as largemouth bass, plus no water skiers and the like to mess up the water. A short drive away is the Deschutes River, giving you a small stream experience.
During the heat of the day, let your partner snooze while you steer east along U.S. Highway 12. That route offers a chance to fish the upper Cowlitz River and Leech Lake at White Pass. Be sure to try your luck in the Tieton River (depending on river flows) and Naches River before arriving in Yakima.
End your day fishing the evening caddis hatch on the Yakima River, stopping at spots along state Route 821. Ellensburg offers plenty of options to refuel yourselves and your vehicle before heading home. Then its your turn to sleep while your partner drives home.
Make sure you have your fishing license and know the rules for each area you fish (wdfw.wa.gov).
HIKE HURRICANE RIDGE Hurricane Ridge is a destination worthy of the longest day of the year. Located high above Port Angeles, Hurricane Ridge is loaded with scenic hiking opportunities and a visitor center with plenty of interpretive opportunities.
Camping is available down the road at Heart O the Hills. Its possible to hike from the park boundary to Hurricane Ridge and beyond if you really want to take your time.
There is still snow on the ground here. Weather permitting, the road is open 24 hours per day. This is good, because Hurricane Ridge, with views of the mountains and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, is an ideal location for watching the sun set (or rise).
The entry fee at Olympic National Park is $15 per vehicle. Learn more at nps.gov/olym.
EXPLORE THURSTON TRAILS
Linking the multipurpose Chehalis Western and Yelm-Tenino trails creates the longest section of paved trails in the South Sound. If you park at Woodard Bay and try to cover it all, youll go 63 miles.
While that might take only about three hours for a fit cyclist, it can be a fun way to spend a very a long day with extra daylight.
The 22-mile Chehalis-Western Trail runs through Lacey and along the Deschutes River before connecting with the 14.5-mile Yelm-Tenino Trail near Rainier.
The trail is popular for cyclists, walkers, runners, skaters and others, but if you really want to take your time, try geocaching along the way. This trail is a gold mine for players of the GPS treasure hunting game. There are so many caches (more than 175) hidden along these trails, even the years longest days might not offer enough daylight to find them all.
For more information on the trails, go to co.thurston.wa.us/parks. To learn more about geocaching and find coordinates for caches hidden along the trails, go to geocaching.com.