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Whether you’re ready to embark on an exhilarating outdoor adventure in pristine, lush forests, or you’re keen to sit back and sip a frothy microbrew in a quirky bar, the Pacific North-West is the place to go. The stunning scenery will wow you, the offbeat charm will keep you mesmerised and the endless green pockets and picturesque coastline will give you plenty of time to get back in touch with nature.
If you’re starting your Pacific Northwest journey in Seattle, then you’ve chosen wisely. Seattle is Washington State’s largest city, but with all the green parkland and forests surrounding it, it sure doesn’t feel like a cramped metropolis.
Set your alarm early and head on down to the Pike Place Market, a bustling street market where vendors sell fresh produce, artisan wares, crafts, art and beyond. Here, Seattle’s exciting urban character is on show. Grab a freshly baked donut from one of the many bakeries, a delicious cup of coffee from the original Starbuck’s store, and take the time to wander around this nine-acre pocket of the city.
A trip to Seattle is incomplete without visiting the iconic Space Needle, the towering spire that dominates the Seattle skyline. Built in 1962 for the World’s Fair, the Space Needle stands at 605 feet tall. Hop in the elevator and zoom up 43 storeys to the observation desk, where you can enjoy the incredible views of the city, Elliott Bay, and the Cascade Mountains in the distance.
While you’re in the area, head to the nearby Chihuly Garden and Glass. The Northwest region has attracted some of the United States’ most impressive, artists, including world-renowned glassblower Dale Chihuly. Here, you can view his spectacular glass sculptures in splashes of warm reds, oranges and yellows across eight galleries.
Head north from Seattle to the North Cascades National Park, a place of exquisite, rugged beauty that will take your breath away. For an invigorating, heart-pumping and awe-inspiring trip to remember, the Cascades are overflowing with trails to walk, streams to canoe in and rocks to climb. Boasting some of North America’s most beautiful scenery, you’ll be tempted to take out your camera at every bend in the trail. The Hidden Lake lookout trail is an excellent choice; this trail gives you a taste for the many environments of the Cascades. First, you’ll hike through green forests and across streams, then you’ll wander through wildflower-laden meadows before ascending to the rocky slopes at the trail’s peak. Pack your backpack with lots of snacks and essentials, because this eight-mile round trip will get your heart pumping!
Portland has well and truly secured its legendary reputation as a green, eco-friendly, quirky, exciting city that is an absolute delight to visit. Portland is known to the locals by many names, from Stumptown, City of Roses, PDX, Portlandia and Bridge City. Situated on the banks of the Willamette River (which features lots of bridges!), Portland is a warm, welcoming city, full of offbeat experiences, shops, and attractions. Like most Pacific Northwest towns and cities, it is surrounded by beautiful green parklands and spaces.
For your morning cup of joe you’ll be spoilt for choice; Portland has earned a name for exquisite locally roasted coffee. Here, latte art is serious business. After breakfast, get your bearings of the city and drive – or walk the Wildwood Trail starting at Washington Park – up to Pittock Mansion. The freely accessible grounds offer fantastic views of the city below you and beyond to Mount Hood.
The nearby Washington Park and Forest Park are amazing natural environments on the very edge of the city perfect for hiking, biking and bird-watching. In Washington Park, check out the Rose Garden, the arboretum, or simply wander the interweaving trails. There’s even a shuttle bus that regularly patrols the park for when your legs get a little tired! For a bigger adventure, grab your hiking buddy and take the Wildwood Trail into Forest Park, which will lead you through towering woods, streams and meadows.
If you’re exhausted from all that walking, and you’re an admirer of bookstores, spend a few hours leisurely wandering through Powell’s Books, the largest independent new and used bookstore in the world. Grab a map, though; you could easily get lost in here!
Once the sun goes down, there’s plenty of live music, gigs, theatre and various performances to keep you entertained in Portland. Sip a local brew at one of the many bars, or if you’re feeling like something a little different, try out one of Portland’s many themed bars, including a Doctor Who-themed bar and an 80s and 90s arcade game bar.
From Portland, head west to experience the mighty Oregon coastline, boasting spectacular beaches, rugged cliffs, national parks and charming coastal towns that are the perfect place to enjoy some downtime. Cannon Beach is a must-visit along this stretch of coast, oozing with charm and set against the backdrop of long beaches and lulling ocean waves. Haystock Rock – a 235-foot tall monolith just off the beach – is perhaps the most iconic landmark in the Cannon Beach area. You’ll be delighted by the array of starfish, anemone and crabs that call the rock home, and from early spring to mid-summer, you might be lucky enough to spot puffins perching on the rock.
There are plenty of other places to explore in the Cannon Beach area, including Hug Point, less than a ten-minute drive away. Here, you can stand on flat sand dunes, framed by misty headland forests, with a waterfall running off the land straight onto the dunes. This unique spot is best seen at low tide when the tidal pools are exposed. It’s also a perfect place to watch the sun set over the Pacific.
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