A Guide to Northwest Travel Classics

We broke down the region’s most popular destinations into a quick-reference guide—where to go, where to stay, and when to pack your bags.

By Allison Williams September 19, 2012 Published in the October 2012 issue of Seattle Met

Seattle, WA
August. If the sun is going to shine, it’ll be in late summer.
EVERYONE GOES TO: Pike Place Market, where the buskers are actually a better bet than the airborne seafood.
BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: Ballard, where an oyster bar is worth a two-hour wait at the Walrus and the Carpenter.
STAY CHEAP: Shared-bath rooms at the hip Ace Hotel are as low as $109, but they don’t skimp on mod furnishings.
STAY SPLURGE: The Seattle World’s Fair was dreamt up in the gilded halls of the Fairmont Olympic.
GET OUTDOORS: When renting a kayak outside Agua Verde Cafe on Lake Union, remember that  postpaddle margaritas are your reward.
GET FED: In the open kitchen of Sitka and Spruce, you can see every Northwest ingredient get its due; shop before dinner at its artisanal Melrose Market home.

Portland, OR
Fall, when average highs still hover around 70 degrees and festivals like Feast Portland bring outdoorsy Oregonians back to the city.

EVERYONE GOES TO: The endless line outside VooDoo Doughnuts.

BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: The industrial-but-evolving neighborhood served by the new Portland Streetcar Central Loop line that debuted this fall.

STAY CHEAP: The Kuza Garden Cottage has birch floors, a private setting, and a Japanese garden, plus easy access to the Yakuza Lounge sushi joint.

STAY SPLURGE: The swank factor is high at the Nines, where everyone at its buzzy eateries is dressed to the, well, you know.

GET OUTDOORS: This year the Timberline Lodge celebrated its 75th year; these days you can ride to the 7,000-foot level of Mount Hood without breaking a sweat.

GET FED: When you tire of Oregon’s world-class wine and craft beer, sample the liquor at SakeOne’s tasting room in Forest Grove.

Vancouver, BC
Winter, when you can ski the slopes of Grouse Mountain directly above the city.

EVERYONE GOES TO: Stanley Park, an urban common with puzzlingly dense forests.  

BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: The Gastown district, where a quaint steam clock belies the chic boutique-and-bar scene.

STAY CHEAP: A deal since it’s located just out of downtown, the Granville Island Hotel sits between False Creek on one side and a walkable neighborhood on the other.  

STAY SPLURGE: The shiny downtown pillar of Fairmont Pacific Rim boasts in-room iPads.  

GET OUTDOORS: Snowshoe trails circle Mount Seymour just north of the city, and they even offer infant-friendly snowshoe tours.

GET FED: The cuisine at Vij’s is world renowned for a reason. Jaw-dropping Indian fusion, that’s the reason.


San Juan Islands
Summer, even though the ferry lines are lengthy.

EVERYONE GOES TO: Whale watching trips, like those run by the same company that pilots the Victoria Clipper.

BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: Friday Harbor’s modest bowling alley, Paradise Lanes; it’s a relief to anyone overwhelmed by too much fresh marine air and small-town charm.

STAY CHEAP: Camping sites at Lakedale resort combine concierge treatment with roughing-it prices.

STAY SPLURGE: The historic white facade of Orcas Island’s Rosario Resort has long represented the epitome of a genteel island retreat.

GET OUTDOORS: Two retired lighthouse guardsmen occasionally give commentary on the Five Lights by Sea tour, run by Orcas Island Eclipse Charters.

GET FED: At the Bluff Restaurant at Friday Harbor House, the locally sourced greenery almost distracts from the perfect view.


Oregon Coast
Winter, when storms battering the empty beaches are all the entertainment you need.

EVERYONE GOES TO: Cannon Beach’s Haystack Rock, familiar to anyone who’s seen The Goonies.

BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: The Flavel houses of Astoria—one’s a local history museum, but the other’s an empty mansion and likely haunted.

STAY CHEAP: The Historic Anchor Inn in Lincoln City may be aging, but it adds charm with every piece of fishing-tackle decor.

STAY SPLURGE: At Heceta Head Lighthouse, a B&B next to a lonely lighthouse, the breakfasts are as expansive as the views.

GET OUTDOORS: The Treasure Map Tours run by Kayak Tillamook appeal to the gold lust—or the secret Goonie—in all of us.

GET FED: When you tire of stealing curd samples from the Tillamook Cheese factory tour, dine at Fishes, the new sushi spot in Cannon Beach.,


Washington Wine Country
Spring, when tasting rooms are emptier and temperatures are mild.

EVERYONE GOES TO: Walla Walla, where tasting rooms are walking distance apart.

BUT EVERYONE SHOULD GO TO: The strange geology of Red Mountain near Benton City produces potent grapes.  

STAY CHEAP:  In 2013, Prosser’s Alexandria Nicole Cellars plans to reopen a glamping canvas tent for visitors in the vineyards above the Columbia River.

STAY SPLURGE: Under the curved roof of Cave B Inn is what Washington’s vineyards lacked—high-end hotel suites, yurts, cavern rooms, and a spa.

GET OUTDOORS: The Walla Walla’s Wine Valley Golf Club links are totally treeless.

GET FED: The new JBistro at Bookwalter piles on market-fresh ingredients, anchoring Richland’s Tulip Lane wineries.

Show Comments