The Pacific Northwest


Area partners in Oregon, Washington and British Columbia share their favorite scenery, sites, events and activities.

The legendary landmarks and landscapes of the area encompassing Oregon, Washington and British Columbia are worthy of inclusion on any traveler’s must-see list.

I am in awe of the exaggerated scenery: the snowcapped mountains that plummet into the ocean, the turquoise lakes and moss-covered forests so pristine and unimaginably pure,” gushes Amy Ballard, the director of sales and marketing at the OPUS hotel in downtown Vancouver, when asked to describe what makes the Pacific Northwest such an ideal destination. “I wish everyone could under­stand what a jewel we have here. It’s a very special place.” Laura Morehouse, assistant lodge manager at the King Pacific Lodge in North Vancouver, couldn’t agree more: “I don’t really know how anyone couldn’t fall in love with this place once they visited.”

Spreading from the Pacific Ocean across Oregon, Washington and parts of British Columbia, the Pacific Northwest is a loosely defined area melding cosmopolitan cities like Portland, Seattle and Vancouver with some of the most diverse and picturesque terrain in all of North America. To hone in on its most itinerary-worthy attributes, we polled Ballard and Morehouse, along with Lindsey Graff, the tour and leisure sales manager at Seattle’s Fairmont Olympic Hotel, and even Andrew Harper himself, for their expert opinions. Here are their top picks, in no particular order.

10 Perfect Places to Soak Up the Scenery

1. Kitsilano Beach, Vancouver

The view here stretches from the North Shore Mountains to Stanley Park. Bonus tip: Lunch on organic cuisine at Aphrodite’s; take a dip in Canada’s longest saltwater swimming pool and then spread out on the sand and watch the sun go down.

2. The Space Needle, Seattle

What can’t you see from 500 feet up?

Observation deck atop Astoria Column, Astoria, Oregon

This 125-foot-high historical marker was built on the highest point in the city, overlooking the Columbia River some 600 feet below.

4. Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

This pretty park, just 10 minutes from downtown, features beautifully landscaped gardens and a 360-degree view of the city.

5. Wells Gray Park, near Clearwater, British Columbia

“It’s never busy, and the waterfalls, lakes and views are indescribable,” says Ballard.

6. Kerry Park on Queen Anne Hill, Seattle

The panorama here is often called the “Frasier” view, referring to the TV sitcom starring Kelsey Grammer.

7. Cypress Mountain, Vancouver

“We take everyone here,” says Ballard, “and on a clear day you can see Mount Baker in Washington State!”

8. Snoqualmie Falls, 30 minutes from downtown Seattle

More than 1.5 million people head to the falls each year, an area where scenes from the TV show “Twin Peaks” were filmed.

9. Cape Perpetua, Yachats, Oregon

“Perhaps the best view on the coast,” says Mr. Harper.

10. Stawamus Chief, Squamish, British Columbia

This giant granite dome is a mecca for rock climbers, but those who make the hike to the top will also be well rewarded.

3 Exemplary Events

1. Celebration of Light, Vancouver

Each summer, pyrotechnics light up the night sky over English Bay during this weekend-long fireworks competition.

2. International Pinot Noir Celebration, McMinnville, Oregon

Some of the world’s premier wine producers descend on McMinnville each July for tastings, seminars, dinners and more.

3. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Skagit Valley, Washington

Driving tours deliver you to farms overflowing with the millions of brightly colored tulips that pop up here each spring.

5 Family-Friendly Excursions

1. Peruse Powell’s Books, Portland

The collection of new, used and out-of-print books at this legendary bookshop takes up a whole city block and includes a nice children’s section complete with pintsized seating.

2. Picnic by a waterfall, Seattle

Grab some goodies to go at the famous Pike Place Market or a nearby eatery and stroll over to Pioneer Square, where you’ll find a secluded little spot called Waterfall Garden. Graff calls it a “hidden treasure.”

3. Pick your own produce at various farms along Interstate 5, Oregon

Stands selling fresh fruits and vegetables are scattered along Oregon’s main north-south highway, but at various spots, like Bonny Slope Blueberries in Portland and Dave Heikes Farms Inc. near Hillsboro, consumers can grab a basket and pick their own.

4. Go whale-watching, Steveston Village, British Columbia

This quaint fishing village, nicknamed Gateway to the Orcas, is the launching point for boat tours from which one might spy everything from sea lions to killer whales.

5. Trek the Lynn Canyon Park suspension bridge, North Vancouver

“Everyone writes about the Capilano suspension bridge, but it’s $30 and full of tourists,” says Ballard. “Just up the river, you’ll find the Lynn Canyon Park suspension bridge. It’s free, and the walk on the other side is something out of a fairytale: enormous ferns, old-growth forest, a flowing river and a swimming hole.”

10 One-of-a-Kind Outdoor Activities

1. Searching for bald eagles, Brackendale, British Columbia

This small community an hour outside of Vancouver is known as the bald eagle capital of the world.

2. Kayaking on Lake Union, Seattle

“Kayaking on Lake Union will give you an outdoor experience in the center of the city,” says Graff.

3. Sailing the waterways of the Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia

Maple Leaf Adventures pilots a 92-foot schooner along the coast of this huge government-protected plot, searching for wolves, grizzlies and the rare spirit bear, and further exploring what Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. referred to as “the last stand of the great North American rainforest.”

4. Hiking the Cascade Mountains foothills, Washington

Trails traversing the base of the range allow for everything from short, easy strolls to hilly, multiple-mile treks. For the ultimate workout, attempt the famous Wonderland Trail, a 93-mile route encircling Mount Rainier, the highest mountain in the state.

5. Skiing Revelstoke Mountain Resort, British Columbia

Once accessible only by helicopter, Revelstoke’s half-million acres of snow-covered slopes are now available to hardcore skiers via a gondola and high-speed lift.

6. Cycling the bike path at Green Lake, Seattle

A 2.8-mile trail encircles this pretty, freshwater lake. It’s especially enticing come spring, when the pink and white cherry trees are in bloom.

7. Windsurfing and kiteboarding in Hood River, Oregon

Ideal conditions created by the winds from the Columbia River Gorge have made Hood River an absolute mecca for these extreme watersports.

8. Salmon fishing on Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Aspiring anglers will want to pack their fishing poles for a trip to the Campbell River, on the east coast of the island, which is known for its teeming waters and record catches.

9. Golfing at Bandon Dunes, Bandon, Oregon

The four courses here evoke “the very best of Old-World golf,” says Mr. Harper, referring to the ocean-side links designed by the likes of Ben Crenshaw and Tom Doak.

10. Taking to the waters at Sol Duc Hot Springs, Washington

After a long day of sightseeing, soak sore muscles in these natural mineral water hot springs, which fluctuate between 99 and 104 degrees F. The park even has resident massage therapists to further work out any kinks.

3 Things You Didn’t Know About the Pacific Northwest

  1. Seattle is home to the flagship stores of Nordstrom and REI. It also boasts the first-ever Starbucks.

  2. Oregon is the only state to have a double-sided flag. On the reverse side is a picture of a beaver, the state animal.

  3. In summer, Vancouver gets a surprising 16 hours of sunlight a day.

By Hideaway Report Staff