Catch the wind or watch the high-fliers at these kite-happy spots in California, Oregon, Montana, Nevada, and Washington.
Magic happens at the end of a string. Launch your kite into the breeze and its line quivers and tugs at your fingers. Then it lifts straight up, and your heart leaps with it. There's a kite for every kid, young or old: delta wings that duck and dodge, miniatures the size of butterflies, and giant art models with 50-foot tails. Here are some exceptional places to fly a kite and shops where you can buy one.
AMEND PARK Billings, Mont. Join fellow fliers here for the Visions of Lewis and Clark Kite Fly, July 22 and 23 (www.skywindworld.org). Don't overlook the city's salute to flight inside Logan Airport: 26 art kites, each with a Lewis and Clark theme. Buy yours at Explorations of Montana, (406) 245-5774.
CESAR CHAVEZ PARK Berkeley, Calif. Every weekend colorful kites sail near the city's marina. This year's Berkeley Kite Festival and West Coast Kite Championships will be held July 29 and 30. Buy yours at the Kite Store on Wheels, www.highlinekites.com.
CRISSY FIELD San Francisco. Kites soar here above a sail-dotted bay in front of the Golden Gate Bridge (www.parksconservancy.org/our-work/crissy/). Buy yours at Chinatown Kite Shop, (415) 989-5182, www.chinatownkite.com.
DESERT BREEZE PARK Las Vegas. Try night flying when the park lights up for evening games. Buy yours at WindPower Sports, www.windpowersports.com.
DRIVER WAYSIDE Lincoln City, Ore. Widely known as the U.S. "kite capital," coastside Lincoln City celebrates fun in the wind with three annual kite festivals (800-452-2151, www.oregoncoast.org); this year's summer festival is on June 24 and 25. Buy yours at Catch the Wind, (541) 994-9500, www.catchthewind.com; or Flying Things, (541) 996-6313.
LINCOLN CITY, ORE. Known as the "kite capital," this coastside town has three annual kite festivals (800-452-2151, (www.oregoncoast.org). This year's summer festival at D River Wayside runs June 24 and 25. Buy yours at Catch the Wind, (800) 227-7878, www.catchthewind.com; or Flying Things, (541) 996-6313.
LONG BEACH, WASH. It's a kite flier's paradise: a vast beach locals call the world's longest (www.funbeach.com), plus the World Kite Museum (360-642-4020, www.worldkitemuseum.com). Stop by June 24 and 25 for the Northwest Stunt Kite Championships. Buy yours at Above It All Kites, (360) 642-3541, www.aboveitallkites.com.
RYAN PARK Helena, Mont. The state capital's annual free kite festival—an easygoing family-oriented affair—will be held on May 7 at this park near Lewis and Clark County Fairgrounds. Take a hayride in a horse-drawn wagon, listen to live music, get your face painted, and fly your own kite. (406) 443-4608.
SEASIDE AND CANNON BEACH, ORE. Blazes of bold color dance in the breeze above the boardwalk in Seaside (www.seasideor.com) and over tall Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach (www.cannonbeach.org). Buy yours at Ocean Kites, (800) 234-1033; Once Upon a Breeze, (503) 436-1112; or Wind Dancer, (888) 359-4386.
Photography by Larry Geddis
This article was first published in March 2006. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.