Where to Go in the Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest is one of the most desirable places on the planet for travelers who love spectacular scenery and fascinating cities and is a place I frequently travel too. Snow-capped mountain peaks, rainforests, and a remote coastline with rocky shores attract hikers and campers or those simply looking for a scenic drive. Cities like Portland and Seattle have great sight-seeing opportunities, shopping, nightlife, and wineries and breweries to tour. The following list highlights some of the best places to go in the Pacific Northwest.

Seattle has lots to offer travelers from attractions like the Space Needle and Pike Place Market to hidden surprises. You’ll have picturesque views from every part of town, especially Kerry Park and the waterfront’s Seattle Great Wheel. The hip hotels in Seattle make getting accommodations here especially fun. Be sure to take a cruise across Puget Sound and visit one of the Washington wineries in Woodinville. The Museum of Flight and the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum are other must-sees in Seattle.

Olympic Peninsula
Wild ocean beaches, majestic mountain peaks, glaciers, rainforests, deep lakes, and waterfalls characterize the Olympic Peninsula paradise. You’ll find incredible views at Hurricane Ridge of distant Mount Olympus with glaciers reflecting the sunlight. It’s a popular place for hiking and mountain biking. The road is open in winter for sledding and skiing. Great camping is available at Heart of the Hills Campground.

Kalaloch and Ruby Beach are popular areas of Olympic National Park. They are located on the southwest coast of the Olympic Peninsula directly off of Highway 101. The beaches are pristine here and the wildlife is plentiful. The Kalaloch area has good facilities, trails, and camping. The Hoh River is a natural boundary north of Ruby Beach.

Mt. St. Helens
A long and scenic day trip from either Portland or Seattle will take you to beautiful Mt. St. Helens. Start at Castle Rock for the fifty-mile stretch of Highway 504 that goes into the Mount St. Helens National Monument area. Castle Rock is off of Highway I5 which connects Seattle and Portland. The main visitor center is located on Hwy 504.
Silver Lake Visitor Center features presentations on the history and culture of the area and a list of events leading to the eruption as well as some interactive exhibits.

Travel on to the Hoffstadt Bluffs Visitor Center located at mile marker 27. It’s more commercialized and charges no entrance fee. This center has a large restaurant. You can also take a helicopter tour here. The last visitor’s center is the Johnston Ridge Observatory located five miles from the summit of the mountain. Be sure to see the film they show on the eruption.

Mt. Rainer
Mt. Rainer is located 59 miles southeast of Seattle. It’s the highest mountain in the Cascade range. Most travelers experience Mt. Rainer by vehicle or by hiking, but biking is an enjoyable option since most of Westside Road is open to biking and hiking but closed to cars. You’ll go through spectacular old-growth forest and pass over quaint stonework bridges. Take the Eastside Trail and follow the snow-fed river with its lovely waterfalls. Mt. Rainer has five developed areas that feature lodging from simple campgrounds to hotels and restaurants.

Southern Oregon Coast
Rugged cliffs, remote beaches, the deep blue Pacific, and quaint seaside towns characterize this part of the Oregon coast. Go whale watching at Coos Bay. Bike or hike along the coastline. Visit the antique shops in old town Bandon. Play a round of golf at the famous Bandon Dunes golf course. Anglers will want to cast for salmon at Gold Beach. Visit the Sea Lion Caves near Florence then head to Newport to see the state’s second-tallest lighthouse. In the scenic town of Astoria, you’ll get to explore the western edge of the Lewis and Clark trail.

Portland, Oregon is the PNW’s second most populated city. You’ll enjoy the locals here. They don’t mind if you think they are a weird bunch. It’s similar to Seattle, yet different. The area is gorgeous with Mt. Hood and the Columbia Gorge River nearby. Stop by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry for fascinating hands-on displays. Spend an afternoon in Washington Park and see the zoo, Japanese Gardens, and arboretum. There are 15 miles of trails that connect with Forest Park, Pittock Mansion, and Council Crest.

There’s much more to see and do in the PNW. The beauty of the area and all it has to offer will have you wanting to return again and again.