Escape Humdrum City Life with These 3 Unique PNW Retreats

Find solace inside a decades-old seminary, former working grain silos, and a renovated dairy truck.

By Gabriel Granillo January 26, 2022

Abbey Road Farm's renovated grain silos

Some might say, "Life is all about perspective." With that in mind, Portland, even with its small-town vibes with big-city problems, has got it pretty good. Foodies can find vast expanse of endless obsession-worthy dishes, and outdoor enthusiasts are thrilled by Forest Park. We've even got some pretty stellar hotels for weekend staycationers. But still, it's good to get out of the city every now and again, perhaps to a place that might make you feel as though you've stepped into the past or an alternate life. 

From a former Catholic seminary to transformed grain silos to a renovated dairy truck, these unique lodgings in the Pacific Northwest will help you escape the humdrum city life. 

The Lodge at St. Edward State Park at night

The Lodge at St. Edward State Park

This 90-year-old former Catholic seminary lies among the western hemlocks and Pacific madrones that decorate Saint Edward State Park in Kenmore, Washington, just north of Seattle. Saint Edward Seminary opened in 1931, the brainchild of longtime Seattle bishop Edward O’Dea and designed by renowned architect John Graham Sr., and for several decades it was home to young men studying to become priests. A year after the seminary closed in 1976, Washington State Parks acquired the building and the surrounding site, and for a few decades the seminary remained mostly vacant—save for park rangers who stayed overnight and that one time Macklemore rapped in the halls and the attic for a music video

Since May 2021, however, the space has been The Lodge at St. Edward State Park, a boutique-style hotel complete with a star chef restaurant, Cedar and Elm, and a luxury spa. While there’s plenty that’s new here, the lodge pays homage to its holy history in many ways. A hallway along the basement level is lined with black-and-white photographs of the construction in the 1930s, boys in the dorms (which have been renovated into the guest rooms), and of life when Saint Edward was in full operation. And there are touches throughout the hotel that harken to the past—the floor tile, staircase railing, and, of course, the stunning Romanesque revival architecture remain unchanged. 

Must Do

Order a cocktail in the Tonsorium Bar, which used to house the seminary barber shop. Visit the third-floor library for a chance to play old-school editions of Clue, Monopoly, and other board games. Explore the 326-acre Saint Edward State Park and catch a vibrant sunset on the shores of Lake Washington.

Five suites in three renovated silos are available to rent out at Abbey Road Farm, and each is decked out with a jacuzzi, heated floors, and cozy farm vibes.

Abbey Road Farm

On a road trip through the Willamette Valley, you’re bound to catch views of rolling vineyard hills and acre upon acre of picturesque farmlands. You may spot a few cows and moo at them as you drive by. Another common farm sight are silos used to store bulk materials like grain, wood chips, coal, and more. But in three silos at Carlton's 82-acre Abbey Road Farm, you won’t find wet grains or silage. Instead, you’ll find the Silo Suites Bed and Breakfast.

Two of the silos had been used on the farm, and a third was added to complete the renovated bed and breakfast in 2003. Five suites are available to rent, each decked out with a jetted tub, heated floor, and cozy farm vibes. Book one or gather up to 15 friends and rent out the entire B&B and adjacent ranch house for a rustic sleepover.

Must Do

Wander the property with glasses of Abbey Road’s own wine, feed the dwarf goats some collard greens, and soak off the farm in your jetted tub. Enjoy a multicourse breakfast with innkeeper and chef Will Preisch. Hike at the nearby Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey trails.

Breitenbush's "Milky Way" dairy truck

Breitenbush Hot Springs "Milky Way" Dairy Truck

There are reasons aplenty to escape the city for Breitenbush Hot Springs, in the Willamette National Forest east of Salem: to check out its new winter offerings that rival its must-experience summer months, and to take a dip in the namesake hot springs, pools, or spiritual tubs. In anticipation of summer 2021 guests, Breitenbush built new elevated tents complete with double beds, reading lamps, and picnic tables. It also offers personal retreats in a wood-and-stone "Forest Shelter" and its geothermal heated "Sundial Yurt." There's also room for personal vehicles and RVs. But for an undoubtedly unique lodging experience, check out Breitenbush's renovated dairy truck lodging, affectionately dubbed "Milky Way."

The Milky Way lodging is insulated and heated (perfect for winter getaways), and is equipped with a porch entrance that overlook the Breitenbush River. 

Must Do

Embrace the off-the-grid ethos with a meditative walk around the Breitenbush labyrinth. Take part in one of many well-being classes focused on meditation, breathing exercises, yoga, and more. Sweat off the bad vibes with a trip to the Steam Sauna, a cedar cabin above a capped geyser.