7 Awesome things to do in the Pacific Northwest
It has been more than a year ago already since I traveled since the US for the last time. It was a very special trip as I went on a two week road trip in Washington State and Oregon, also known as the American Pacific Northwest. I drove from one national park to the next and was very surprised about all the beautiful things that could be found along the way. Not just very special nature parks, but also a bunch of really amazing cities very well worth spending some time. In this blog I’m sharing my favorite things to do in the Pacific Northwest with you.
1. Crater Lake National Park
My one reason to travel to Oregon was that I really wanted to see Crater Lake National Park. This national park is located in the southern part of Oregon and is made of a gigantic crater. When traveling in the US for the first time in 2014, a friend of mine showed me his pictures of Crater Lake National Park and then I instantly knew I really wanted to visit. When I arrived, I almost had to cry as it was as beautiful as I expected it to be. I’m often being asked whether Crater Lake National Park is worth the journey as it’s not exactly close to the other main attractions in Oregon. However, I can honestly say that it would be an absolute shame if you were somewhat close and would not visit. You will definitely regret it if you won’t go to Crater Lake National Park.
Also read: my full guide to the best things to do in Crater Lake National Park (and where to hike, stay etc.)
2.Drink a cocktail on the Timberline Lodge terrace
The Timberline Lodge is located on the slopes of Mount Hood, the stratovolcano that can be seen from downton Portland. This lodge was used as a decor for the filming of the horror movie The Shining. After hiking a bit on the Pacific Crest Trail from here I decided to sit down on their outdoor terrace to enjoy the sunshine and the amazing views of the summit of the volcano. It was in fact one of the few outdoor terraces I found on my trip, they are a lot less common than in Europe it seems.
Below you will find a 1.5 minute video about my visit to Mount Hood, check it out if you want!
3. Spend a day in Portland
It seems like the city of Portland is trending and that’s with good reason. I found the atmosphere in this city extremely relaxed and in general, it’s much more affordable than other cities on the American west coast. I spent one day in Portland with a bunch of American and Canadian friends. We visited Pine Street Market, went to find street art and walked through Rose Garden, from where we had an amazing view of Mount Hood in the distance. I also went shopping in some of their outdoor stores and went to see the ‘Keep Portland Weird’ mural. Unfortunately, I visited on a Sunday so many of the food stalls which the city is famous for were closed, something to keep in mind when visiting on a Sunday.
Also read: Unique things to do in Portland
4. Road trip along the Oregon Coast
My first idea was to skip the Oregon Coast and just stay inland (because: so many other things to see and do) but my Canadian friends recommended me going to the coast anyway. One of the places I visited was Cape Meares, a viewpoint with a lighthouse which gives you awesome views over the coastline. I also made various short walks along the coast and was truly surprised about the beauty of the area. Tip: do book your accommodation well ahead as I did not and everything was fully booked. I ended up spending my night in the car on a parking lot. Not a whole lot of fun to be honest!
5. Hike the Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park
One of the best hikes I did in the Pacific Northwest, was the Skyline Trail in Mount Rainier National Park. This mountain is a giant volcano in Washington State reaching more than 14.410 feet above sealevvel. It is covered by numerous glaciers and I got lucky as it was a sunny day so I got some amazing views of the mountain and various other peaks in the distance. It was quite busy on this hike, but OMG, it was truly stunning! You walk up on the slopes of Mount Rainier, eventually reaching a viewpoint on the glacier. You are surrounded by ice and during my visit (early August) the majority of the hike was in fact still covered by snow.
6. Go up on the Space Needle
I’m usually not a big fan of tourist attractions, however I couldn’t resist going up th Seattle Space Needle. It’s Seattle’s main feature after all. Unfortunately the views were quite limited, as some forest fires had started burning the days before and so it was quite hazy. However, I still thought it was quite worth going up, just to get the aerial view of the city and its surroundings!
7. The first Starbucks in the world
My last item on the list of best things to do in the Pacific Northwest is another one in Seattle: the first Starbucks in the world. This one is located in Seattle as well and even though I had to queue for a little while, I didn’t mind. I loved seeing what everything looked like back in the day. I also bought a mug for tea that I still use every day, as well as a vanilla latte that I drank on Seattle’s waterfront, since there is no seating in the first Starbucks in the world.
For the best accommodations on the Pacific Northwest, please check Booking.com for a large variety of options. I also recommend you buying the Lonely Planet Washington & Oregon guidebook here to start planning your Pacific Northwest road trip with the best resources. If you use any of the above links I will earn a small commission at no extra fee to you. This will help me keeping my site up in the air so it would be much appreciated!
Hopefully you enjoyed my list of best things to do in the Pacific Northwest. If you have any questions, feel free to ask!
Want to read more? You may also enjoy these posts:
– The perfect 14 day Pacific Northwest road trip itinerary
– My Pacific Northwest road trip: first impressions
– How to plan for Yellowstone National Park
New here and curious who I am? Check my bio to learn more! For a daily dose of outdoor & adventure inspiration, follow me on Instagram and Facebook!
Thanks for sharing!