Lake Crescent at Olympic National Park, Washington, USA, Top 10 Places to visit in The Pacific Northwest

The best places to visit in The Pacific Northwest

Take a Pacific Northwest road trip and explore arguably the most scenic area of North America. You’ll witness amazing natural beauty, abundant wildlife and hip cities.

Rainforests, Rugged Beaches, Volcanoes and Vampires: We absolutely love the Pacific Northwest! The Pacific Northwest is most certainly an adventure.

In this post, we have listed our Top 10 Places to visit in The Pacific Northwest to inspire your road trip.

1. Olympic National Park, Washington

Olympic National Park is in the Northeast corner of Washington State and protects 922,651 acres of wildlife and breathtaking scenery. This national park is home to three entirely different ecosystems: temperate rainforests, the rugged coast and the glacier-topped mountains. Where else can you pay a visit to all three? 

Where to buy an Olympic National Park Pass? You can get your Olympic National Parks pass as you arrive at the entrance to the National Park. This will cost $30 and will be valid for seven days, admitting one vehicle into the park.

How many days do you spend in Olympic National Park? On your road trip through the Pacific Northwest, you may be spending a couple of days in Olympic, in which you will be able to see a great deal of the park. Four days on the Olympic Peninsula is an excellent amount of time and will enable you to relax amongst adventure. 

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Olympic National Park…

Cape flattery of Olympic National Park, Washington, USA

Cape Flattery in Olympic National Park, Washington

2. The Oregon Coastline

The Oregon Coast is famous for its jaw-dropping sea stacks, coastal adventures and its incredible beaches. There are 363 miles of dramatic coastline to explore. Before heading to the coast, you may want to explore the city and enjoy Portland’s distinctive hipster scene. With alternative dining spots all over the city, you’ll be spoilt for choice. 

Where to visit on the Oregon Coast? Cannon Beach is a stunning destination full of diverse landscapes and climates to match. 

You can drive to each of the beaches and walk out across the sandy shoreline. Astoria, Ecola State Park, Florence, the Oregon Dunes and Cannon Beach are some not to be missed, each offering something unique. 

What to do along the Oregon Coastline? There are loads of places to stop along your coastal tour. Ecola State Park is a great place to explore. Mountain hikes offer phenomenal views, and beach hikes show off the mighty sea stacks. Check out the tidepools and diverse birdlife at Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, one of the most iconic sights along the Oregon Coastline, or explore an otherworldly landscape of shifting sands in the dunes near Florence. Additionally, for a calmer pace, visit Shore Acres State Park, where the waves put on quite the show as they crash against the rocks.

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore The Oregon Coastline…

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach along The Oregon Coastline

Haystack Rock, Cannon Beach along The Oregon Coastline

3. Seattle, Washington

The iconic skyline, the Worlds Fair and an exciting and delicious coffee culture are just some of the many reasons to visit Seattle.

What to see on your visit to Seattle? For spectacular city views, visit the observation deck at the Seattle Space Needle. Hopefully, the weather will be on your side as a clear day gives you views over the whole city and Mount Rainier. Chihuly Garden and Glass can be found just next door and you can get a combination ticket for both attractions. 

Take the Washington State ferry to Bainbridge Island for around $10 per person, another great way to view the city. 

Pike Place Market is full of vibrance and buzz, visiting first thing can be magical as the city awakens, or a little later in the afternoon will avoid the hustle and bustle and give you a great chance to explore. For on-trend restaurants, stylish indie, vintage shops and craft breweries, visit Ballard, a quirky little neighbourhood along the waterfront!

What is the weather like in Seattle? ‘Generally rainy’ is something we are well acquainted with, so Seattle may not be so surprising for you. Of course, it’s not always raining here, just… most of the time. But a bit of rain never hurt anybody, right? You will find that people in Seattle LOVE the outdoors. With such beautiful parks and landscaped surrounding Seattle, sometimes a rainy day hike isn’t all that bad. 

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Seattle…

Pikes Place Market, Seattle waterfront, Washington, Northwest Explorer USA

Pikes Place Market, Seattle waterfront, Washington

4. Portland, Oregon

Portland is Oregon’s largest city, brimming with a cool coffee culture and a refined taste for a craft brew! Natural beauty is abundant in Portland, with leafy parks dotted all over and snow-capped Mount Hood watching over the city.

Where is Portland, Oregon? Portland, Oregon, is in the Pacific Northwest of the US, in the Willamette Valley region. Portland is 3.5 hours drive from Seattle, Washington, 3 hours drive from Olympic National Park, just under 4 hours from Coos Bay, and 3 hours from Mount Rainier National Park.

What to do in Portland, Oregon? A food tour is the best way to experience any city, especially one with such variance as Portland. An insider perspective on the foodie culture can’t be beaten.

Portland is known for being a green city, and getting around by bike is a popular way to see the city. Portland offers a bike share programme where you can rent a bike using Biketown to explore at your own pace, or there are guided tours available too.

Just 25 miles east of Portland, you will discover the Columbia River Gorge. The famous Multnomah Falls can be found here. You can swim in the pools of Horsetail Falls, Oneonta Gorge and Latourell Falls. Each is located on an awesome hiking trail in the Columbia River Valley.

In Portland, you can visit the International Rose Test Gardens – Who knew there were so many kinds of roses?! It is free admission and you can stroll the grounds and sniff the scents! Similarly, The Japanese gardens are another great escape inside Portland, open year-round with an admission price of around $22.

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Portland…

Portland, Oregon, USA - Skyline

Portland Skyline, Oregon

5. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

One of the most stunning scenes on earth. The giant cliffs reach over 600 metres high, surrounding the brilliant blue Lake, which reaches depths of nearly 600 metres, in other words this Lake is huge! The mesmerising crater was created by a collapsed volcano that erupted more than 7,700 years ago. There are no inflow or outflow streams; instead the freshwater comes only from the snow or rainfall.

Where is Crater Lake? You will find Crater Lake in the southwestern part of Oregon, specifically in the Cascade Mountains.  Crater Lake is a 4-hour drive from Sacramento and 6.5 hours from San Francisco.

What to do at Crater Lake? Skiers flock here to test their skills on the three-day loop around the Lake’s rim, but the slopes aren’t just fit for the pros. Take a ranger-led snowshoe trek beneath the sunny snow, or wrap up before a roaring fire with hot chocolate in the park lodge. As the ski season ends and the park warms up, it will reveal the clearest Lake in the world. With clear water and even clearer skies, you may be in for a night under the starry skies as you road trip through Oregon!

When to visit Crater Lake? To see the Lake in its glistening glory and to ensure the park roads are open, we would recommend visiting during the warmer months of July – September. On the other hand, if skiing is what you’re looking to do, then Crater Lake is dreamy in winter.

Did you know… Crater Lake is currently the 10th deepest Lake in the world and is the deepest in the USA!

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Crater Lake…

Crater Lake, Oregon, Pacific Northwest USA

Crater Lake, Oregon

6. Multnomah Falls

The highest waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge, Multnomah Falls, is an excellent stop along your road trip. This is a short pitstop along the route and certainly makes a perfect photo opportunity.

How to get there… You can access the parking lot from Interstate 84, Exit 31.

Once you have taken your photographs here and paid a visit to the gift shop, head to the Bonneville Lock & Dam, where you can witness the fish climbing the fish ladder (best seen August–November for the migration season). 

Multnomah Falls, Washington

Multnomah Falls, Washington

7. Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier is a giant icon amid the Washington Landscape. Standing at 4,410 metres above sea level, Mount Rainier is an active volcano topped with glaciers which feed into five major rivers.

Where is Mount Rainier National Park? You will find Mount Rainier in Washington State, southeast of Seattle. Mount Rainier National Park is 369 square miles of pure paradise. Wildflower meadows, hiking trailheads and glistening lakes make up the National Park and are all home to an abundance of wildlife. Black Bears, Elk, Deer, Mountain Goats and Marmots are among the mammals inhabiting the National Park.

Click here to view our Road Trip Itineraries that explore Mount Rainier…

Mount Rainier, Washington, Pacific Northwest, USA

Mount Rainier, Washington

8. Forks, Olympic National Park

Take note of the ‘Vampire count’ signs and the small mythical nods as you drive to this small US town, hopefully on a grey and drizzly day. Forks is well known for being the setting of Stephenie Meyer’s ‘Twilight’ Series.

Whilst this isn’t a tourist town with tonnes of attractions, if you are indeed a die-hard fan of Twilight, it’s undoubtedly worth the slight detour. Popular locations here include the Hall of Mosses Trail, First Beach (referred to as La Push in the books) and Forks High School.

Olympic National Park, Washington, Pacific Northwest USA - Beach

Olympic National Park, Washington

9. Leavenworth, Washington

It feels like waking up in Frozen’s ‘Arendelle’. This picturesque Bavarian town has been voted one of Conde Nast Travellers ’28 Most Beautiful Towns in America‘, and it’s clear to see why. A super popular Christmas destination, this town is excellent all year round, hosting its own Oktoberfest. 

Where is Leavenworth? Deep in the North Cascade Mountains, this small town is just off the Cascades Loop. 

What to do in Leavenworth? You won’t have to travel far for incredible Bratwursts or beer, with dining spots dotted around the town.

There is an Alpine roller-coaster which will offer epic mountain views, a Nutcracker factory and a touch of Christmas around every corner. 

Another activity is a visit to the Icicle Brewery and Taproom for tastings and tours. 

Finally, don’t leave without a visit to the Gingerbread Factory and get some delicious cookies for the road! 

10. Winthrop, Washington

As you drive along the Cascades loop, a 440-mile scenic byway (pictured), you’ll reach the Methow Valley, you will find Winthrop. This tiny, western themed town is well worth a visit.

You’ll get an authentic cowboy feel as you walk along the antique boardwalks. Browse the fabulous boutiques in addition to the many restaurants along the way.

Lastly, visit Blue Star Coffee Roasters, who some argue have the best doughnuts in the Northwest, beating Voodoo Doughnuts. You’ll have to test for yourself! Finally, don’t leave without a visit to Three Fingered Jacks Saloon for more authentic western fun.

State Route 20 at Martha Creek near the Washington Pass Observation Site in Okanogan County, Washington

State Route 20 at Martha Creek near the Washington Pass Observation Site in Okanogan County, Washington

In summary, the Pacific Northwest has loads to offer! Will you visit? Click here to talk to one of our road trip experts today, we can talk through your ideas and get the engines started for your Road Trip!

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