Friday, August 15, 2008

Wanderlust: Wonderful Walla Walla

As part of a recent work project (when I'm not blogging, I moonlight as a magazine writer and editor), I polled friends, acquaintances, and a few total strangers in the Pacific Northwest about their favorite weekend getaways. It's a tough job, I know, but someone has to do it.

Joe Futschik, a designer of wonderful things in Portland, Oregon, responded immediately and raved about Walla Walla, Washington. (Go ahead -- say that five times fast.) Joe even sent me a bunch of snapshots from his summer visit to this charming burg, along with comments on each of them. I swooned just looking at the pictures, and couldn't resist sharing a few of them here. Thankfully, Joe agreed to narrate his vacation slideshow.

Take it away, Joe!

"After design, travel and food are my two great loves. Walla Walla, a four-hour drive from both Portland and Seattle, is an amazing weekend getaway. It's in the middle of beautiful farm country and has great food, wine, and culture.

My friend GianCarlo Solimano owns a spa retreat in Walla Walla called Areus. The photos at top are of Areus' 'backyard.' And above are the pool with its Turkish daybed (I slept there under the stars!) and the spa's outdoor dining room.

A guest room and bath at Areus. The Icarus light is by Tord Boontje, and the owl lamp and carved wooden stag head are from Roost.

In the morning, breakfast was waiting for us on the beautiful community table.

GianCarlo also owns a crazy-cool clothing store in town called Cheval.

Willow is a great shop and art gallery that another good friend, Kary Beckner, just opened in June. The store's willow tree is by metal artist Douglas Gisi.

The focus at Willow is on handmade American design and regional artists.

Petit Noirs is a fantastic artisan chocolate shop housed in an old bungalow in the town of Milton Freewater, Oregon, ten minutes outside Walla Walla.

The shop has a French-boudoir look and sells things like these incredible molded chocolate shoes.

This is the view during the ride out to the tiny town of Waitsburg, about 15 miles from Walla Walla. We were off to Jimgermanbar there for incredible food.

I was an amazing trip, and I was so impressed with Walla Walla. It's a great spot for a quick weekend away!"

Thanks so much, Joe. I may just have to swing through Walla Walla on our next Northwest roadtrip. (And did I mention that Joe makes the most amazing lights, lightbox paintings, and other beautiful objects under the name jefdesigns? Check them out right here.)

P.S. Any other wannabe Wanderlust contributors out there? Feel free to share your vacation snaps and tell me about your favorite places to visit -- just so long as they don't involve, like, camping or hiking, both of which I'm (cough!) allergic to.


Anonymous said...

One note - Walla Walla is HOT in the summer. Like over 100 degrees hot.

We really love heading to the coastal beaches of Long Beach or Ocean Shores, WA. They're sorta old-timey and rustic. We've mostly taken day trips, but I know people love Klaloch Lodge and Iron Springs.

We're off to the Oregon Coast in a couple of weeks (Otter Rock) so I'll report back.

becky from hatch said...

That willow tree in the shop is INCREDIBLE!

Walla Walla Mama said...

Leah, I really hope you make it to Wala Walla sometime - fall is stunning here, without the 100 degree temperatures. Excellent food and wine, a thriving art community plus lots for a family to do. In the interest of full disclosure, I work for the downtown development group and have been a one-woman cheering section for the charms of Walla Walla since I came to go to Whitman in 1987. As a starry-eyed fan, I can tell you that the tree in Willow is even more stunning in person, and artist Douglas Gisi is the most down-to-earth gentle talent you are likely to meet. Try it - you'll like it!

andrea of ffft said...

This is kind of a funny post. I grew up in White Rock British Columbia (that is in Canada) which is about five minutes north of the border. I used to drive down to Oregon every summer and Walla Walla was just someplace that you drove past to get to where we were going. It never would have occurred to us to stop. Now that I live further away and never travel down that way, I find out what a nifty place it is. I will have to make a point of doing that someday.

LOVE the chocolate shop!!! Love it. LOVE the shoes! The parasols, the orange chair, the shoes... did I mention that I LOVE the chocolate shoes?!? How is it possible that I have never before thought of chocolate shoes?!? Lovely. Yummy and lovely. Mmmmmm...

Dallas said...

How random! I used to work at Cheval for GianCarlo and my wife and I spent the first night of our honeymoon in that room at Areus with the Icarus Light and Owl Lamp. My wife loved that owl lamp so much I found one in a local boutique called Opal Studio, which, as it turns out, is run by the sister of one of my coworkers.

It might also be of note to some of your readers that Walla Walla boasts the second largest wine industry in America. I actually work for a wine-centric web company in Walla Walla called (we do more than just Walla Walla wines).

This town is GREAT! It does generally get really hot in the summer, but as of lately this summer has been really mild. It's gotten up to the 100s, but today (Aug. 21) it is currently 62°. Quite mild.

Great post. I should tell GianCarlo about it (he's only two buildings away!).

Anonymous said...

Are those Lisbeth Dahl umbrellas in Petit Noir? I've never seen them in those stunning colors!


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