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(Image: Lauren Allain)

Take an outdoor adventure up Highway 20 to savor Skagit County

The naked cyclists have welcomed the summer solstice. We made it past July 5, which everyone knows is when summer really starts here. Magic is upon us, Seattle. Time to dig deep into those drawers and find the one pair of shorts necessary for living here and head off for summer adventures. If a day outside Seattle city limits sounds ideal, head north and then east on Highway 20 for a tour of farmland, forest, and some of Skagit County’s best eats. Here are some essential stops on a day trip from Seattle up Highway 20.

Grab breakfast and a to-go picnic at 5b’s Bakery

It was 26 years ago when Em Beals was one of the first people at UW Medical Center to leave with a diagnosis of celiac disease, an immune reaction to eating gluten that causes medical complications. While she wasn’t excited about this diagnosis, she said it was manageable. It wasn’t until her twin three-year-old sons were diagnosed that it became a real problem.

"When it was just me not eating gluten, it was doable - no fun, but doable," Beals said. "The game changer was when my sons were diagnosed. No birthday cake. No Saturday pizza. No brownies."

So Beals set out to re-imagine her favorite childhood foods - but without the gluten.

After years of experimenting and home baking, Beals opened 5b’s Bakery in Concrete, a dedicated gluten-free operation, and the perfect stop for brunch.

Beals said the perfect morning fuel at 5b’s includes their homemade buttermilk biscuits and gravy or the chicken and waffles. But be sure to order some goodies to go. Cupcakes, cookies, muffins, eclairs, biscotti, kolaches or donuts. Or become your future’s best friend and grab a to-go box filled with a variety.

If not everyone in your party is excited about gluten-free food, 5b’s Bakery is undetectably missing gluten.

"It is just plain good food; the way it should be," Beals said.

5b’s Bakery is located at 45597 Main Street in downtown Concrete and open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. Friday through Monday.

Explore the trails of Highway 20

A true highlight of Highway 20 is the trails that dot the scenic drive, some in old-growth forest, which is a must-visit during Seattle summers. If you’re interested in hiking through fields of wildflowers with stunning views, Sauk Mountain is a four-mile out and back hike with views to the San Juan Islands on a clear day. Anna Roth of the Washington Trails Association said the hike is a great option for day hikers heading up Highway 20.

For a great experience in the old-growth forest with minimal effort, Shadow of the Sentinels Interpretive Site is a half-mile loop that combines boardwalk with paved trail for an accessible experience. As a bonus, the trailhead takes off from Baker Lake Road, which offers views of both Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan on clear days.

Reminisce on the day at Bertelsen Winery in Skagit Valley

After a day of hiking, nothing beats a cool glass of refreshing rosé. Pair this with a patio and an artisan pizza and you just defined peak summer in the Pacific Northwest.

Visible from I-5 on the drive back to Seattle, Bertelsen Winery is an ideal final stop to enjoy an evening on the patio with appetizers, pizza, or salad and Washington state wine. Opened in 2014, Bertelsen Winery is a small, family-owned winery that sources grapes from all over the state to offer excellent wines at affordable prices.

Furry friends are invited to hang at the winery while humans can enjoy the 2021 rosé from Wahluke Slope or the 2018 Barbera Reserve from Red Mountain, new to the winery this year.

You’re in luck if you happen to be around on Friday evening for the live music, but really any afternoon in the Skagit Valley with wine is superb.

"Sitting on the patio at sunset is just gorgeous, looking over the Skagit farmlands and the vineyard," said Ali Bertelsen.

So make some summer magic and memories with treats, trails and sips on your day trip to Skagit Valley.

Bertelsen Winery is located at 20598 Starbird Rd, an easy stop in Mount Vernon. The winery is open from 2 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Wednesday and Thursday, noon to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon until 6 p.m. on Sunday.

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Lauren Allain is a freelance writer for Seattle Refined. See more of her work here.