What Is the Best Part About the Pacific Northwest?
As anyone who has traveled the Pacific Northwest can tell you, it is extremely difficult to pick the “best” part of such a trip. Nature, history, the food – where do you start? It is nearly impossible to name them all, but here are just a few great reasons that you should consider visiting the Pacific Northwest.
The Beauty of Nature
Maybe you need a vacation, or maybe you are considering a lifestyle change, with a new job and a new city (maybe you are even considering a career in court reporting Seattle). Whatever the reason for your visit to the Pacific Northwest, you’ll be astounded at the natural beauty all around you. When in and around Seattle, Mount Rainier always looms large and always seems to be in the background. If you want a closer look, you can hike, ski, snowboard, or simply take a casual walk among the wildflowers. If you want the full experience, you can also camp overnight. If mountains aren’t for you but the water is, you are in luck. Check out Puget Sound and the many channels and inlets. Grab some of that famous Seattle coffee, find a nice spot, and spend all day watching the ships as they go by. Or, try kayaking or book a cruise so you can get a good look at the water (and all the creatures in the water) for yourself.
Big Cities and Little Islands
Another great thing about traveling in the Pacific Northwest is that there is a place for everyone, whether you like the big city or the small, quaint places. Of course you should visit the big cities of Seattle and Portland, but the islands off the coastline may just become your favorite part of your trip. Take a ferry or tour boat to Bainbridge, Blake, or Camano Island (just to mention a few). These islands are full of sandy beaches and amazing views – plus the shopping, restaurants, wineries, and breweries that will help to complement your nature treks.
If you’ve toured the islands, hiked up Mount Rainier (even if it wasn’t a very long hike, that still counts!), and looked around the big cities, you’ve probably got quite a bit to tell the folks back home. However, there are even more adventures to be had, and even more stories in the making! Take a tour of Portland’s Shanghai tunnels, a reminder of Portland’s gritty past. These tunnels are beneath what used to be the downtown area of the city, and they were said to be the home to brothels and opium dens. They may also have been used to “shanghai” unsuspecting men – kidnapping them and selling them as slaves to work on ships, although the true history of all of this is debatable.
For an evening that includes a bit of history and a few stories sure to give you goosebumps, try a haunted tour of the tunnels. They are said to be one of the most haunted places on Earth, and although you may have your doubts about ghosts, you won’t be able to deny how creepy the tunnels are. You may have heard about the Portland Tunnels, but did you know that Seattle has an underground, too? Storefronts, sidewalks, and other remnants of a long-gone era survive, the original Seattle that was destroyed by fire in 1889. Today’s Seattle was rebuilt on top of the original one, but much of the old city remains, although the majority of people probably don’t realize they are walking on it every day. Try the “adults-only” and paranormal versions of the underground Seattle tour as well.
If you love history plus good food and drink, plan your visit to the Pacific Northwest around McMenamins locations. This is not your typical chain. Many of their 62 locations are historical properties that have been renovated to be used as restaurants, pubs, or hotels, but the original historic charm of these places remains.
Visit McMenamin’s Edgefield in Troutdale, Oregon, which used to be a county “poor farm” but is now a hotel with over 100 rooms. The grounds are full of old buildings turned into bars and restaurants, event spaces, a winery, a brewery, spaces for live music, a soaking pool, and even a golf course. Once you’ve explored the place, settle in by the fire with a warm drink and just soak up the atmosphere. Or, stop in for a drink or a bite to eat at the Old St. Francis School in Bend, Oregon. Back in the 1930s it was a Catholic school and the décor and furniture honors this history.
There is so much to explore in the Pacific Northwest it is hard to name all of the possibilities – and it will be hard to pick the “best” parts of your journey there. You are sure to find something amazing around every corner – enjoy!