The scenic US states of Washington and Oregon are well known for their dramatic coastline, small towns and national parks – 13 in Washington and a further 5 in Oregon. Whether you want breezy walks and beachcombing along sandy beaches or glorious mountain escapes with plenty of waterfalls, this corner of the USA has something for everyone.
The city of Seattle is a great base for exploring this wonderful area. It has an international airport and good road links to everywhere including Vancouver, Mount Rainier, the Olympic National Park and the North Cascades. It is the birthplace of Starbucks coffee, and the original store is still buzzing on Pike’s Place, right opposite the vibrant fish and produce market. Visit historic downtown, ride to the top of the Space Needle for stunning views from the observation deck or go whale watching around the islands in Puget Sound.
Within easy reach from Seattle, Mount St Helens is an amazing place to visit once the road is clear of snow, about mid-May. This volcano famously blew its top, literally, in 1980 leaving forests like matchwood scattered across a vast area and a thick layer of ash smothering everything. Another landmark is Mount Rainier, its snowcapped peak visible for miles around as it stands 4,392m (14,411 feet) high. It has two volcanic craters and 26 glaciers and is popular for hiking, climbing, kayaking, mountain biking, skiing and spotting wildlife.
In midsummer the “Rose City” of Portland in Oregon is a wonderful place to appreciate the arts and crafts of the area with many displays in Waterfront Park. Take a trip on one of the historic streetcars and drop by the Portland Rose Garden – a truly stunning sight for garden lovers. Scenic drives out from this lovely city can explore the Columbia River Gorge and Hood River or take in the wineries of the Willamette Valley.
As previously mentioned, it is very easy to hop over the border into Canada from Seattle and spend a day or more in Vancouver. The drive through the foothills of the Cascades is truly breathtaking and the waterfront city of Vancouver has excellent shopping, dining and boating opportunities.
Vancouver Island is also easy to reach by ferry from Seattle waterfront or from Port Angeles. Spend the day in the charming Victorian city of Victoria, take afternoon tea in the Empress Hotel on the waterfront or catch the bus to the world-famous Butchart Gardens for a stunning floral display. The choice is yours!