Redmond is a great place to live, work and play — summertime or anytime. But it wouldn’t be summer without a road trip or two.
If a tight budget or crammed calendar has you stuck in your same old surroundings, travel experts at Redmond’s AAA Service Center can provide tips and discounts to ease the pain, even for a brief change-of-scenery.
WHERE TO GO
What are the current “in” spots for Redmond folks craving a mini-break?
The town of Forks on Washington’s Olympica Peninsula is suddenly a big draw, said Jeanne Sutherland, a member travel counselor at the AAA Redmond office.
“There’s not much there, but people have read the ‘Twilight’ series,” Sutherland explained, displaying mild amusement.
The Washington and Oregon coasts are easy to reach but just far enough away if you want to escape and unwind, she suggested.
“You can walk along the beach, explore the tide pools, or the kids can run and climb on the sand dunes,” she said.
Seaside, Ore. has long been a popular vacation spot, with its busy promenade, carnival rides, arcades, mini-golf and other attractions.
Closer to Redmond, not-so-crowded and less commercialized Long Beach, Wash. features “small shops, kites to fly, places to make sand castles or take a walk along a boardwalk,” said Sutherland.
There are lots of lighthouses along the Pacific coast, for those who enjoy a bit of history. And animal lovers agree that the Newport Aquarium in Oregon is one of the nicest places anywhere to check out marine life.
Heading east of Redmond, “there’s always the Mountain Loop to Leavenworth, hitting Old West locations like Winthrop and Twisp — or Lake Chelan is beautiful this time of year,” Sutherland noted.
SAFE AND SANE
No matter where you’re heading, hotels and motels fill up quickly this time of year and room rates can be sky-high if you didn’t book reservations in advance or use a travel program that offers discounts, said Sutherland.
If you’re headed to a resort or national park and can’t find lodging right near the attractions, consider staying an hour or two away to increase your selection and find cheaper accommodations, she said.
AAA Road Atlases, which include information on lodging and scenic areas, will be on sale at a special price, $5.95, through the end of August, at the AAA Redmond Service Center. You don’t have to be a member to shop there, although members get preferred pricing.
Kids’ travel games, luggage, packing tools, TSA-approved locks and security items such as money belts are also sold there.
“Never travel without a money belt,” Sutherland emphasized. “You can be pick-pocketed here, as well as internationally.”
AAA memberships at various levels ($32-89 per person, per year) cover emergency services such as towing, unlocking a car, fixing a flat tire or pulling your car out of deep snow or mud. Buying a membership for yourself, your teen or elderly parent buys “peace of mind,” said Sutherland.
A lot of people associate AAA members with “frequent travelers” but if you have a student heading to college or a family member who likes to ski, it doesn’t matter if your car breaks down 50 or 500 miles from home. It’s still inconvenient or dangerous, she pointed out.
“Even if you’re in Seattle late at night and come out of a theatre to find a flat tire, we’ll come to take care of it. It’s safe and secure,” said Sutherland.
The AAA Redmond Service Center also offers expert advice and competitive pricing for cruises, Disneyland packages, international travel and insurance coverage. Located at 7950 164th Ave., Suite 102, adjacent to Banner Bank, the office is open Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.aaawa.com or call (425) 869-9222.