Seeing the Pacific Northwest in Three Days

The Pacific Northwest is a must-see destination for any outdoor traveler worth their salt. Encompassing the geographic region in western North America, and the regions of British Columbia in Canada, and the states of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington in the United States, the Pacific Northwest is a lush and vibrant territory full of adventure and natural beauty.

But the question isn’t whether or not to visit the Pacific Northwest – it’s what to see and do first. Here’s our recommendation on how to see the best of the Pacific Northwest in just three days.

Day 1 – Oregon

For this particular itinerary, we’re going to start in the southern region of the PNW. To begin your three-day trip, fly into the Portland airport, rent a versatile and practical vehicle, and take a day adventure trip of your choice.

We recommend one of two different options. The first is to head west to the coastal town of Manzanita, Oregon. This small town is just about a 90-minute drive from Portland and offers beautiful campsites (check out Nehalem Bay State Park), unique beaches and even surfing if you’re not too afraid to brave the brisk Pacific Ocean temperatures.

If you’d rather head inland, option two is to head east to Mt. Hood, which is the second most climbed mountain in the world. You can complete any number of day hikes around the base, or if you’d rather rest your feet, opt to drive the Mt. Hood Scenic Loop to take in the breath-taking views.

After a day outside, head back to Portland to get your city fix. Shower up and head to downtown Portland for no shortage of restaurants, bars (Portland is notorious for its craft beer scene) and sight-seeing.

Day 2 – Washington

Grab a donut for the road and head north into Washington.

If you didn’t take the hiking option in Portland, Washington is a great stop to try to do a day or section hike of the Pacific Coast Trail. The PCT is 2,650 miles long and spans from the United States-Mexico border through California, Oregon, and Washington up to the United States-Canada border in Manning Park, British Columbia.

Another great day trip option in the state of Washington is to head to Mount Rainier, which boasts an active volcano and truly breathtaking views.

After the day’s activities, head into the metropolitan area of downtown Seattle. There are many typical tourist attractions to check out, including Pike Place Market (tip: plan to arrive outside of peak hours, before the crowds take over), the city’s numerous bookstores, and Pioneer Square, which is Seattle’s oldest neighborhood.

Pioneer Square hosts some of the historic and iconic imagery we’ve come to associate with Seattle’s roots, such as a totem that mark’s the site of city’s first permanent settlement. It’s a great spot to relax, pop in and out of shops and art galleries, and take in the beauty of the city.

Day 3 – British Columbia

 The best place to finish your three-day excursion in the Pacific Northwest is against the beautiful backdrop of Canada, specifically the city of Vancouver.

A must-see in Vancouver is Stanley Park, which is perhaps the city’s most famous attraction. Composed of a thousand acres of greenery, Stanley Park offers a unique aesthetic with its stone seawall edges and numerous walking and biking paths.

From Vancouver, we recommend driving up the Sea to Sky highway toward another esteemed park: Garibaldi Provincial Park. This park is known for being home to many of Canada’s native animals, such as bears, goats, deer, birds of prey and more. Bring your binoculars and plan to spend a while outside, taking in the beautiful sights and sounds of this wilderness park. Garibaldi Lake is a sight to see as well, which its vibrant turquoise waters.

To close out the trip, and your evening in Canada, head back to Vancouver which offers a number of restaurants and nightlife spots to fit whatever you’re in the mood for.

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