When most people think of “bucket list” destinations, they dream of far-away places full of warm weather, beaches, historical landmarks, great food, or gorgeous landscapes. But when you live in a bucket list destination, you kind of want to shout it from the rooftops how lucky you are to live in such a place. And some of us even start a blog about it.
Of course, outside my area of the world, I do have my own bucket list places to go. Mongolia, Patagonia…other places that end in “ia.” And definitely Venice, before it decides to sink into oblivion.
The Pacific Northwest of North America consists of the U.S. States of Oregon and Washington, and the Canadian province of British Columbia. Within this hallowed ground is all manner of scenic natural beauty. Rugged coastlines, small seaside towns, big cities brimming with great food and culture. Mountains and deserts, it’s ALL here.
Here are five big reasons why you cannot leave this Earthly plane until you come to visit at least once.
The People are Friendly (The Vast Majority of Them)
Here in Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, we have the big city culture and are so eager to share it with visitors, we tend to be more friendly and welcoming than other large cities. We do not take our position in the world for granted, and there is a huge following of eco-friendly sustainability. We want to take care of our home, and encourage our guests to do the same.
Everyone from the local seafood market worker to the rancher out in the middle of nowhere to the high-powered urban executive are a friendly lot. And more than happy to answer the questions of any wide-eyed visitor.
You Can Visit a Rainforest and the Desert in One State
In Washington State, there is Olympic National Park. Nestled neatly on a peninsula in the Pacific Ocean, this is the largest temperate rainforest in America. The entire park is protected from commercial development; planes cannot even fly over it as the airspace is also protected. Because of this, much of the land remains in the same pristine state as it was thousands of years ago. Be sure to visit the Hoh Rainforest and visit the many beaches. The inland areas are so remote that roads have not been built and only the heartiest of backpackers ever see it.
Then drive a few hours east past the Cascade Mountain Range and you hit the high desert. Carved out of the last ice age, among the rolling tumbleweeds, there is immense beauty. Dramatic cliffs give way to fields of fragrant sagebrush. Rushing rivers with great whitewater rafting give way to apple and pear orchards. Fields of hops from which the finest beer is crafted.
The Most Dramatic Coastline You’ll Ever See
Most of the beaches here are a bit cold, and cannot be considered sunbathing material. But they are beautiful. Jagged coastlines with unique rock formations can be seen from southern Oregon stretching all the way up into Canada and Alaska. Once you reach Vancouver Island, the archipelago of islands, most of which are uninhabitable, would take more than a lifetime to fully explore. Attractions such as Devil’s Punchbowl, Cape Disappointment, and Puget Sound will set the imagination on fire with their mysterious beauty.
Take a Culinary Tour Like No Other
Foodies of the world, come on down! With our dedication to sustainability, the number of farm-to-table restaurants in the Pacific Northwest boggles the mind. In Portland, you can take a food cart tour one day, then dine at a Michelin star restaurant the next. There is a great concentration of world-renowned chefs that make their home here, and Seattle and Vancouver both offer their own special brand of a gastronomic wonderland. In such proximity to the bounty of the Pacific Ocean, you can bet the farm that there is an inherent seafood theme weaving its way throughout.
The fertile Willamette and Yakima Valleys both contain award-winning vineyards, rivalling the grape fields of Italy and Napa Valley. And the coffee! Yes, Starbucks originated here in Seattle, but once you get here you will quickly realize that they have been outshined by all of the independently-owned coffee roasters who have surpassed the quality of the coffee conglomerate hand over fist. In fact, I implore you NOT to visit a Starbucks while you’re here. There’s just too much else to choose from.
The Pacific Northwest Promotes a Healthy Lifestyle
We have our urban green spaces, our bicycle culture, and our vegan restaurants, just like any other big city, but we do it hardcore. I grew up in the middle of America, where everything is deep-fried and heavy on the red meat. When I arrived in the Pacific Northwest, all of that changed, and I’m convinced I’m at a healthy weight simply by living here.
We promote outdoor exercise and eating good food in moderation. Hiking is almost a daily requirement, because there is so much beauty to explore on foot. Yoga and Pilates are a thing and guess what? It’s fun! Especially when you’re doing it with an ocean view. How much better can it get than that?
There is so much to see and do in the Pacific Northwest that it almost makes me never want to leave. But the world is a big place and I’m no fool. I will leave eventually, once the world opens back up. But rest assured I will always come back to the Pacific Northwest.
Susan Stephens is a scientist-turned travel writer who makes it her business to bring the beauty of the Pacific Northwest to the world. Visit https://www.explorersue.com for all of her adventures.