Best bets for summer 2012, from Seattle Times jazz critic Paul de Barros.

Paul de Barros | Seattle Times jazz critic

For me, summer starts in Vancouver, B.C. As I crest the hill on Knight Street and the snowcapped wall of mountains above the gleaming city comes into view, my heart always races. I know I’ve got 10 days of concerts ahead — not to mention bike rides along False Creek, Italian dinners and espresso on Commercial Drive, seafood shopping on Granville Island and great days and nights ahead with old friends.

That’s followed by several samplings throughout the season of the concerts at Woodinville’s Chateau Ste. Michelle, where cold white wine, cooling evening air and the rising moon seem to make the music sound sweeter (www.ste-michelle.com/events/concerts).

In July, there is nothing finer than sitting in the balloon hangar at Fort Worden on Saturday afternoon, looking out at the evergreens as I listen to the acts booked at Jazz Port Townsend (www.centrum.org/jazz/).

In August, once the sun toasts the dampness of spring out of the ground and the lake water warms, I love to ride my bike to Mercer Island’s little-known Groveland Beach (www.mercergov.org/page.asp?navid=497), take a swim in Lake Washington, bask under the trees and look up from my book from time to time at Seward Park.

This is also the month to fry up some chicken and make potato salad in the morning, then take a dinner picnic to the Magnolia bluffs, in Discovery Park. There’s usually a kite dancing in the wind, or some engineer and his son trying to coax a model airplane into doing a flip.

Paul de Barros: 206-464-3247 or pdebarros@seattletimes.com