WHERE: Cannon Beach, Oregon.
WHY: The 48th Annual Sandcastle Contest (6/9, sculpting starts at 7:30 a.m., judging at noon; cbsandcastle.com), featuring incredible feats of architecture using the world’s most fickle medium. Open to contestants (register online) and spectators, the friendly competition invites sand sculptors of all ages to transform 20-foot-square plots of sand into spectacular creations—including castles, giant sea creatures and ships.
SIDE TRIP: On the way, stop at Fort Stevens State Park to visit the wreck of the Peter Iredale, one of the most easily accessible shipwrecks in the Pacific. A functioning military installation from the Civil War through World War II, the park now houses explorable relics of the historic fort (yurt and cabin camping available; oregonstateparks.org).
GETTING THERE: From Seattle, take Interstate 5 south to U.S. 30 West, then take Highway 101 south (the scenic coastal route) and follow signs to Cannon Beach.