Wildlife

Lions and tigers and bears, oh my – well, maybe not the tigers. And the lions are the mountain kind. But if you’re looking for wild critters, there’s plenty of them here in the Northwest. Gray whales, seals and orcas frolic in the ocean, while Roosevelt elks, pronghorn antelopes and black bears scamper over land. And raptors, such as bald eagles, often soar overhead, along with sandhill cranes, downy woodpeckers and many corvid family species.

San Juan Islands Ground zero for spotting orcas; several pods live here year-round.

Oregon Coast In winter and spring, gray whales migrate from Mexico to Alaska – and back.

Hart Mountain National Antelope Refuge Pronghorn central, but keep a sharp eye out – they’re the world's second-fastest land mammals.

Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge You’re nearly guaranteed a bald-eagle sighting; up to a thousand gather here in winter.

Hiking

In the Pacific Northwest, it’s hard to throw a rock without hitting a hiking trail. Stomp around the volcanic cones, including Mt Rainier, Mt St Helens or Mt Hood; explore the far reaches of the Wallowas, the Columbia River Gorge or Olympic National Park; and go crazy figuring out which of BC’s trails are the most gorgeous.

Wonderland Trail Circumnavigate lofty Mt Rainier – it’s 93 miles of spectacular nature.

West Coast Trail BC’s famous 47-mile ribbon of adventure is for those truly serious about their outdoors.

Oregon’s Coast Neahkahnie Mountain, Cape Lookout, Saddle Mountain – whether you’re after wildflower meadows or stunning views of the Pacific Ocean, you won’t be disappointed.

Columbia River Gorge Tread up the easy Eagle Creek Trail for a waterfall wonderland, or sweat up Dog Mountain for unbeatable vistas.

Beaches

What says ‘vacation’ more than a day at the beach? Head to Oregon’s coast for 360 miles of fun, while Washington has a beautiful shoreline within a national park. The Pacific Northwest has plenty of beaches to check out, whether you want to party at a resort or just be alone.

La Push Come here for beauty and adventure – the beaches offer kayaking, surfing, hiking and sublime scenery.

Long Beach Miles and miles of beachcombing, awesome breakers and even an old-growth forest to explore.

Cannon Beach With photogenic Haystack Rock looming just offshore, Cannon Beach is about as scenic as it gets.

Oregon Dunes Explore this National Recreation Area on foot or in a dune buggy; the sandy mountains tower up to 500ft and spread 3 miles inland.

Microbrews

If you appreciate the rich, complex flavors of a lovingly microbrewed beer, then you’ll find nirvana here. And while the Pacific Northwest didn’t actually invent the stuff, it certainly raised the fermentation of hops to a fine art.

Fish Tale Brew Pub Olympia’s oldest brewpub pours 14 handcrafted brews, including organic beer and fruit ciders.

Green Dragon A huge variety of microbrews, with over 60 eclectic beers on tap from all around the country.

Belmont Station Both a bar and large beer store, this spot boasts more than 1200 local and international brews.

Alibi Room This tavern pours 50 diverse taps, with a rotation of local selections; try the beer flights.

Wine

Pinot Noir lovers, unite! It’s Oregon’s most famous grape, finicky as a superstar and the foundation for some very exceptional wine. But Washington produces more wine than nearly any other state, and it’s of a very high quality too. Just head to the Walla Walla Valley for a taste of Cabernet or Syrah, and you’ll be tipping your glass in agreement.

Walla Walla Washington’s hot wine-growing region, with its namesake town as a very pretty centerpiece.

Yakima Valley More than 50 wineries, most of them family-run, highlight this backbone of Washington’s wine industry.

McMinnville The heart of Oregon’s grape land; base yourself here and your Pinot Noir glass will never run dry.

Cowichan Valley If you can’t make it to BC’s prime Okanagan Valley, Vancouver Island’s boutique vineyards are a worthwhile alternative.

Shopping

Love to shop? How does zero sales tax sound? That’s Oregon for you. But there’s plenty of fabulous shopping in Washington and BC as well, from funky bohemian shops to fancy boutiques to farmers markets galore.

Pike Place Market Seattle’s famous market boasts fruit, vegetable and seafood stalls above, while everything else lies in the maze below.

Portland’s 23rd Avenue Also called ‘trendy-third’ for its hip boutiques and upscale chains such as Urban Outfitters, Lucky, MAC and Restoration Hardware.

Vancouver's Main Street, south of 18th Avenue The heart of the city's indie shopping scene, with cool record shops, bookstores and lots of local-designed fashion boutiques.

Granville Island Public Market More than just a covered farmers market, this Vancouver destination also hosts gourmet food shops and arts and crafts stalls.

Great Food

From Portland's farm-to-table movement to Seattle's award-winning restaurants to Vancouver’s international-class Chinese food, this region boasts enough eating options to make your stomach spin – but in a good way.

Granville Island Public Market BC's Granville Island has a tasty bite for everyone, from luscious pastry treats to a top international food court.

Pike Place Market Seattle’s grand old market sells ripe fruit, fresh vegetables and gleaming fish – among many other things.

Portland’s Food Carts Trendy, diverse and oh-so delicious, Portland has turned the lowly food mobile to a cutting-edge movable feast.

FareStart Restaurant Seattle restaurant with great food, good value and an even better cause; definitely one of a kind.

Jaw-Dropping Landscapes

This region is pretty much made up of amazing landscapes, from scenic shorelines to snow-dusted volcanic mountain ranges to desolate but beautiful desert panoramas. Lofty Cascade peaks can even be seen from the big cities of Seattle, Portland and Vancouver, making great natural backdrops to the urban bustle.

North Cascades National Park Stark Washington landscapes highlighted by formidable mountaintops, all in a national park known for its isolation.

John Day Fossil Beds An almost unbelievable palette of colors layer the sedimentary hills of Oregon's geological wonder.

Three Sisters Wilderness A string of Oregon peaks with striking character, from Broken Top’s jagged edges to South Sister’s dimpled dome.

Cape Scott Provincial Park This part of British Columbia has some of the most rugged and wild coastline you’ll ever see or experience.

Live Music

Portland, Seattle and Vancouver claim some of the hottest new bands on the indie circuit, though small towns such as Olympia have their own talent. Venues run from intimate rooms to quirky spaces with floating floors to large, loud clubs.

Doug Fir Lounge A hip haven with an impressive sound system, attracting cutting-edge talent for near-nightly shows.

Mississippi Studios A recording studio turned 300-seat venue with great atmosphere and up-and-coming bands.

Crocodile Seattle’s historic music venue, which first saw grunge emerge from the shadows. Everyone from Cheap Trick to Yoko Ono has rocked here.

Commodore Ballroom Vancouver institution with art-deco atmosphere, unique dance floor and famous (or soon-to-be famous) local bands.

Skiing

Step into those skis – there are some great downhill slopes here. With plenty of precipitation, the snow pack can really add up to create some exceptionally deep powder. And, for some, the cross-country skiing is even better; there are endless scenic trails winding through lovely hills and forests.

Whistler The mother of all ski resorts, or close to it; a huge area with plenty of powder.

Mt Hood Availability is this mountain’s appeal – you can ski here every month of the year.

Crystal Mountain Located on the flanks of Mt Rainier, this is Washington’s largest ski resort, with over 50 named runs.

Methow Valley A cross-country skier’s paradise, boasting more than 120 miles of groomed trails.

Hot Springs

If you’re looking for a therapeutic mineral soak, there’s lots to choose from in this volcanic region: lonely desert water holes, rustic, unpretentious springs and luxury resorts. Nudity is – unsurprisingly – de rigueur at the more remote and free locations.

Sol Duc Well-established springs with good services and family-friendly appeal.

Breitenbush Near the forest, with vegetarian food, yoga and accommodations.

Bagby Low-cost but surprisingly developed, with hollowed-out tubs and even private 'rooms.'

Umpqua Free springs with an unbeatable location on a cliff above the Umpqua River.

Famous Drives

With all the fantastic scenery in the Pacific Northwest, sometimes you need a great drive to take it all in. After all, there’s a lot of ground to cover – snowy mountains to skirt around, lush forests to whiz past and rocky shorelines to cruise by. So fill up the tank, strap on your seatbelt and let the road trip begin.

  • North Cascades Highway Strikingly diverse and scenic highway that passes North Cascades National Park into the Methow Valley.
  • Historic Columbia River Highway Forget busy Hwy 84 and take the long way around – a winding and beautiful byway also known as Hwy 30.
  • Three Capes Scenic Drive Visit three dramatic headlands on this 40-mile side road along the gorgeous Oregon coast.
  • Sea to Sky Highway Connecting Vancouver with Whistler, Hwy 99 offers breathtaking vistas, from the Pacific Ocean to lofty mountain peaks.