Visiting Portland, Seattle and Vancouver. Advice?

Reader question: I’ve always wanted to make a trip to the Pacific Northwest and finally decided to do it. Any advice you all can give would be greatly appreciated, whether you are natives to the cities or past visitors.


Portland and Seattle both have excellent public transportation systems, and I believe both are free in the central business districts. Both also have a LOT of coffee shops.

If you have a car in Portland and want to get outside the city, take a drive east along the Columbia River. There’s about 10 different waterfalls to stop and view. There’s also a fish ladder at the damn where you can view the salmon swimming upstream. Return to the city taking a southern route back and you can drive to the top of Mt. Hood. there’s a nice lodge there.

Drive west and you can get to the ocean at Astoria. If you’re a history buff, stop and see the Lewis & Clark settlement a little before Astoria. Drive along the coast, you can tour the Tillamook cheese factory.

In Portland, the zoo is OK. I’ve been to better ones. Mother’s Bistro is a nice place for breakfast. Parks are also very nice.

If you have a car in Seattle, you can drive a little north to the Boeing factory. Drive east to see Snoqualmie Falls – it’s a nice hike (about 1 mile) to the bottom. From there, you can go to the Chateau St. Michelle winery or the Red Hook brewery (or both – they’re about a half mile from each other.

In Seattle, you’ll have to go the the Space Needle. There’s also a Jimmy Hendrix museum in the same building. Go see Pike Place Market – it will look familiar from many movies. You can see the workers throwing fis there. Also plenty of places to eat. Right across the street is the original Starbucks.

See what’s going on at the 5th Street theatre. We were able to see the previews for Shrek a few years ago just before it opened on Broadway. Across the street from the theatre is a nice wine bar called Purple. Another good place is The Tap Room, which has about 100 beer taps sticking out of the wall.

Take a boat ride on the harbour or on Lake Washington (you’ll go past University of Washington and also Bill Gates’s house). I was able to take tours of both Qwest Field and Safeco Stadium. Both are really nice – and the’re right next to each other.

The underground tour of Seattle is interesting. You see what it was like before they raised the city a whole level. Also, try the salmon – it’s excellent. If you like seafood (especially oysters) try Elliott’s Oyster House. the aquarium is nice too.

There’s lots of great hiking near Portland. This is the Columbian Gorge.


I moved to Portland about three months ago from Long Island. I absolutely love it out here, the weather is beautiful (even the rain), the air is fresh, and the food is the best I’ve ever had in my life. There’s a great local music scene out here and a ton of awesome bars to hang out. It’s also one of the largest areas in the country with micro-breweries if you’re a beer drinker.

Pretty much every night of the week you can find a good local band playing, and I’d suggest hitting up as many food carts as you can, there’s so many of them and they’re all fresh, organic ingredients and absolutely delicious and cheap. Then there’s the esplanade that you can walk along the river that splits the East and West sides, and Mount Tabor Park, and many other parks all over the city. Less than hour away is the Columbian Gorge which is gorgeous with tons of hiking trails that take you to the top of the mountains. And from Larch Mountain you can see Mount Saint Helen, Mount Hood, and the third mountain that the name is escaping me at the moment.

And a little bit further how you can go to the coast and go to Cannon Beach which has the Haystack Rock, or Ecola Park where The Goonies was filmed.

The best part out here is the people. There’s so many great, wonderful people out here that are genuinely friendly and love helping out-of-towners and new people, since 75% of the population here are transplants from all over the country. It’s all about loving life out here. If you ever do make it out, give me a shout and maybe my friend’s will be playing a live show you can check out or we could show you around.


Take the ferry from Seattle to Victoria Island. Its a beautiful ride. I believe the ferry also goes to Vancouver. Its a chance to see the Puget Sound and some different views of Seattle and Vancouver.

Filed Under: Ask travel questions

About the Author

Comments (2)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. dee says:

    Vancouver is quite possibly my favorite city in the world. Spend as much time as possible in Stanley Park. It’s magnificent. The views from the top of Grouse Mountain are spectacular. You DON’T need pay to cross the Capilano Suspension Bridge–there’s a free one in the Lynn Canyon Nature Preserve nearby. Hiking in the preserve is also a lovely day. I second the recommendation to take the ferry to Victoria, though I’ve done it from Vancouver. Perhaps use it to travel from Seattle to Vancouver, with a stop over in Victoria? You won’t regret it.

  2. Kurt Wenzing says:

    Victoria is also a lovely city to visit, as are other parts of Vancouver Island.

Leave a Reply

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a Gravatar.