Cannon Beach's Annual Sandcastle Contest

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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.

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Road Trip: Concrete and East Skagit County

Road Trip: Concrete and East Skagit County

Enjoy a scenic drive and stay out in eagle country
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View the eagles during the Skagit Eagle Festival; snap a pic and enter it by January 15 in the Skagit River Bald Eagle Center’s 20th anniversary photo contest. Go win it!

WHERE: Concrete and east Skagit County.

WHY: Eagles are flocking to their spectacular winter getaway—why not join them? The Skagit Eagle Festival (1/1–1/31; concrete-wa.com) happens every January weekend, and your car makes a perfect blind for snapping pictures without scaring off these magnificent birds. Celebrate along the Skagit River with arts and crafts, wine tasting, photography tours and river rafting for eagle spotters.

NIGHT OWLS: Check out the Concrete Theatre, built in 1923 (45920 Main St.; 360.941.0403; concrete-theatre.com), updated for films, live music and events during the festival. early birds: Stop by 5b’s Bakery (45597 Main St.; 360.853.8700; 5bsbakery.com) for quality gluten-free baked goods and more for breakfast or lunch. For dinner, there’s Annie’s Pizza Station (44568 State Route 20; 360.853.7227; anniespizzastation.net), whose handcrafted cuisine would be a hit even in a town bigger than Concrete, population 753.

RULE THE ROOST: Spend the night in one of Ovenell’s Heritage Inn log cabins, located on a historic ranch across the river (46276 Concrete Sauk Valley Road; 360.853.8494; ovenells-inn.com). Pick up a steak or two—the cows are raised right there on the ranch—and throw them on the provided barbecue. Had enough of eagles? Elk, deer and coyotes are known to roam the ranch on a daily basis.