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Originally published May 19, 2012 at 7:02 PM | Page modified May 19, 2012 at 7:05 PM

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New players help you plan a Washington vacation

With Washington state out of the tourism-promotion business due to budget cuts, local entrepreneurs are stepping in to provide travel planning resources.

Seattle Times travel writer

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With Washington state out of the tourism business, new players are pitching in to help with summer travel planning around the Northwest.

Seattle's Destination Media, publisher of City Arts magazine, launched Scenic Washington State ( in April along with a free 98-page printed guide, edited by Anne Erikson, producer of KING5's Northwest Backroads series; an email newsletter, Twitter feed, free app for the iPhone and Android; and a travel information line (800-544-1800).

The company had a contract with the state to publish the annual "Experience Washington Travel Planner" until the tourism office closed last July because of budget cuts.

Replacing that publication is another magazine, the 135-page "Official Washington State Visitors' Guide," published in print and online at by the Washington Tourism Alliance (WTA), a trade group of hotels, restaurants and local convention and visitors bureaus that was formed after the state tourism office closed. Co-publishers are the Washington Lodging Association and Portland's Sagacity Media, publisher of Portland Monthly and Seattle Met magazine.

The WTA is revamping, the former state tourism website which it was given the authority to operate after state funding ended. It also maintains a Twitter feed and staffs a tourist information line (866-964-8913), open Monday-Friday, but closed weekends and holidays.

Printed versions of both tourism guides are free at AAA offices, ferries, hotels and visitor information centers. The WTA guide is also available at Barnes & Noble, QFC and Whole Foods checkout counters; and it's available online for a $2.50 shipping fee.

Also worth a look is a smaller, more personal trip-planning site called Northwest TripFinder ( published by Lauren Braden, on staff of the Washington Trails Association. It focuses on family-friendly, low-impact, sustainable travel ideas. Suggestions range from visiting the fossil beds of Oregon to kayaking in British Columbia.

The site hosts three blogs — Northwest Cheapsleeps (budget lodging); Tasting Cascadia (food, wine, foraging); and Mossy Boots (outdoor recreation).

All useful and fun, especially the list of "100 things we love about Seattle" and its insider picks such as the egg-free ice cream from West Seattle's Husky Deli. Sign up on the website for a monthly email newsletter.

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