Itching to get away for a few days? Pack up a weekend bag and explore the stunning wilderness and colorful cities of the Pacific Northwest with these easy getaways.
Seattle and Vancouver
Hit the region’s two biggest cities in a short road trip. Start in Seattle and spend two days exploring the downtown sights: begin your day at the OG Starbucks and explore Pike Place Market with your java in hand. For a taste of the city’s art and culture, check out the Seattle Art Museum, the Pacific Science Center, the Museum of Pop Culture, or the tide pools and historic lighthouse of Discovery Park. Head up to the observation deck of the Space Needle for killer views. For dinner, check out either the Belltown or Ballard neighborhoods: Belltown’s El Gaucho is known for steak, while Six Seven earns acclaim for both seafood and its waterfront location. In Ballard, indulge in French fare at Bastille Café or wait for the city’s best oyster bar at The Walrus and the Carpenter.
From Seattle, head north on I-5—the 141-mile drive to Vancouver takes about 3 hours, but consider stopping for a while in Anacortes or the tiny towns of Bow and Edison. Once you’re there, spend a day or two exploring Vancouver. Grab breakfast or a cup of Stumptown coffee at Revolver or Tim Hortons, wander through the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and explore the Museum of Vancouver or the Vancouver Maritime Museum. Hop on the ferry to sample beers at the Granville Island Brewery. Dig into the food scene at Vij’s or Bao Bei, grab drinks at Prohibition, and head to the top of the Vancouver Lookout for sparkling skyline views.
If you have a little extra time: Drive north of the city to walk across the Capilano Suspension Bridge and ride the tram up Grouse Mountain. Include a day trip to Whistler for epic skiing in the winter and beautiful hiking or mountain biking in the summer.
Portland and the Oregon Coast
An easy loop from Portland includes the best of both city and nature. Spend two days discovering Portland’s neighborhood gems. Start the day downtown with a bite at Kenny and Zuke’s Delicatessen, where omelets come with pastrami or lox and sour cream, or brave the line at Voodoo Doughnut. Rent a bike and ride along the Eastbank Esplanade. Admire sculptures at the Portland Art Museum, hit up the food carts near Alder Street, and browse the endless aisles at Powell’s City of Books. For dinner (or lunch!) enjoy the Peruvian tapas at Andina, Bangkok street food at Pok Pok, tacos and margs at Por Que No?, or pizza and brews at Lucky Labrador Brewing Company. In the evening, take in a show at the Crystal Ballroom or catch a local indie band at the Doug Fir Lounge.
From there, take I-5 north into Washington and drive 44 miles to Longview. At Longview, jog west on Highway 432 to U.S. 30 and continue 45 miles to Astoria on the coast. Spend a day or two following U.S. 101 south along the coast: follow the footsteps of Lewis and Clark at Fort Clatsop, explore the tide pools at Haystack Rock, nibble bites of cheese at the Tillamook Cheese Factory, check out lighthouses, and discover local marine life at the Oregon Coast Aquarium.
With a Little More Time: Seattle, Portland, and the Coastal Northwest
To experience both Seattle and Portland, as well as their respective states’ dramatic coastlines, start in Seattle and head west to the Olympic Peninsula: You can take a ferry or loop down and back up through Tacoma. Washington’s “green thumb” is a promontory of land rich in natural features. Spend a couple of days making your way counterclockwise on the peninsula via U.S. 101 and exploring Olympic National Park—home to Hurricane Ridge, with its sweeping ridgetop vistas, and the verdant mists of the Hoh Rain Forest. The peninsula’s beaches and bays stretch from the town of Port Angeles to Neah Bay and continue down the coast. Continue south on U.S. 101 to the Oregon Coast, budgeting 2-3 days to follow the rugged coastline. At Florence, head east on Highway 26 to meet up with I-5 in Eugene and loop back up north through Portland.
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