Take it easy on a beautiful winding road trip across the Pacific Northwest and travel north towards British Columbia.
The US and Canadian borders are open to vaccinated travelers. Now is a great time to start planning the trip of a lifetime through this amazing region, filled with serene nature. The Pacific Northwest is an uncrowded region of Outstanding Natural Beauty. An ideal getaway and away from the crowds. Spring is the perfect time to see the wildlife awakening and in summer the weather is always nice. Take your time and embark on an amazing road trip, starting in Oregon and continuing all the way to Vancouver Island before heading to the Canadian Rockies. Stay in the most luxurious accommodations along the way and come home completely refreshed.
There are many fun activities to do on the way, from museums telling the story of First Nations peoples to wine tastings at amazing wineries. The entire area is perfect for hiking, kayaking, and exploring the great outdoors. Spend a day fishing or whale watching in the Pacific Ocean and then get to the next hotel by seaplane. You need at least a few weeks to travel in style and visit a few national parks at your own pace. Travel slowly and allow yourself to relax and truly enjoy the stunning landscapes of this region. Stay in some of the most charming and unexpected accommodations you can imagine.
On a trip like this, your accommodation should be more than just a place to sleep, it should be an experience in itself. Plan to stay in high quality, compact accommodation. The local hosts pay great attention to cleanliness and there will be no crowded hotel buffets or long queues. Where you stay overnight is going to be a really unique aspect of this road trip, so it’s important that you get this right and make your stay an enjoyable part of your vacation.
Portland, a unique and friendly city
Let’s start our journey in Portland, the largest city in Oregon. Portland is the vibrant hub of the Pacific Northwest with a friendly atmosphere and plenty of cozy cafés and interesting boutiques. There is a strong focus on sustainability here, and the city has many beautiful city parks, including the huge Washington Park.
Portland lies on the banks of the Columbia River and Willamette River, where the snow-capped peaks of Mount Hood usually appear. The city is also home to over 75 microbreweries where happy hour is held twice a day. Portland has many unusual and high-quality hotels with a variety of award-winning cocktail bars where you can also enjoy live music from local artists and bands every weekend.
Just northeast of Portland, the Columbia River Gorge is a stunning green Grand Canyon that runs along the Columbia River on the Washington-Oregon border. This stunning valley is lined with forests, orchids and basalt cliffs. You can explore this area on a day trip from the city and take hiking tours through the gorges to the waterfalls.
Driving north of Portland, you can spend time visiting the Long Beach Peninsula, located in the state of Washington. This narrow peninsula features a 45-kilometer beach. In the cities of Long Beach, Seaview, and Willapa Bay, you’ll find fun family attractions and interesting museums. Olympic National Park is located in the northwest corner of Washington State. This is a mosaic of mountainous regions, temperate rainforests, and forests that stretch all the way to the rugged coast.
Seattle, Emerald City
Seattle is a vibrant, cultural city located in the northwest of Washington. It is famous for being the home of Starbucks and the headquarters of many of the major technology industry companies. Nature is not far outside the city and on clear days Mount Rainier is visible in the distance. Olympic National Park is located in the northwest corner of Washington state and this area of stunning natural beauty is just a two-hour drive east of Seattle. This is a mosaic of mountainous regions, temperate rainforests, and forests that stretch all the way to the rugged coast. Here you can stay in a comfortable cabin with exquisite details and hike to the natural hot springs of Sol Duc all day.
Take the ferry to the beautiful San Juan Islands
In the San Juan Islands, off the coast of Washington, time seems to have stopped for a while. The islands can only be reached by ferry. There are very few perks prevailing here, just great views and an authentic atmosphere.
Orcas Island is the largest of the San Juan Islands and here you can stay in luxurious individual bungalows on the water’s edge and watch the sunset across the bay. These exceptional properties are located on the sunny western side of Orcas Island, so this is the perfect place to relax and watch the wildlife. From your terrace, you will have the opportunity to spot orcas and Steller sea lions. You’ll even be lucky to see humpback and gray whales migrate south. You can also enjoy a barbecue on a sunny evening. Spot eagles and deer and watch the unforgettable sunrise over the sound of the East. The area is popular for hiking trails where there are endless forests, lakes, and waterfalls to explore.
Driving North to Washington State
From Seattle, start driving north, heading to Washington State, be sure to visit Cascades National Park along the way. Take time to stop in some of the truly charming cabins with their private deck and outdoor hot tub. These luxury cabins are located directly on the banks of the Hood River. Swing back and forth on your porch swing and take in views of the Pacific Northwest. You can spend time walking in the beautiful gardens or chatting with other guests around the fire pit. There are many hiking trails nearby so you can start exploring the area.
Local activities range from exploring the vast caves of Washington state to hiking through peaceful meadows filled with wildflowers. Explore new bike paths and discover refreshing waterfalls. After an active day, you can relax outside on your balcony with a glass of wine. On cool evenings, you can enjoy a bubble bath and open fire in your cabin.
Crossing into British Columbia
Vancouver is nestled between the coast, mountains, and temperate rainforests of British Columbia. It is a bustling cosmopolitan city and yet nature is never far away. It is one of the few cities in the world where you can ski, surf and see orcas while hiking on the same day.
Be sure to visit the trendy Gastown neighborhood where great cocktails are served in style; These are so large and ornate that they are really something to remember. Vancouver’s Chinatown is one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, founded by Chinese immigrants in the 1880s. He was always lively and buzzing. Try some delicious dim sum or buy some jars of ginseng. Granville Island is another interesting part of the city to visit; It used to be an industrial district but is now an open air arts and lifestyle market, popular with locals and tourists alike.
Victoria is a city of parks and historic buildings
Located on the south side of Vancouver Island, Victoria is the capital of British Columbia. You won’t regret spending a day in the Inner Harbor, one of the most beautiful ports in the world and home to the Houses of Parliament. There are also many wonderful parks and historic castles to visit, as well as cafés and restaurants with stunning views of the water. Make time to visit the Royal British Columbia Museum to gain insight into the region’s history.
Once you’ve explored downtown, spend time at the famous Butchart Gardens, stroll through Goldstream Provincial Park, or take a ferry ride to nearby Sooke and watch whales. Don’t forget to leave plenty of time for Cowichan Valley, where dozens of small vineyards offer tours and tastings.
Get out in nature on Vancouver Island
Quadra Island, off the east coast of Vancouver Island is the perfect place to relax. Here you can treat yourself to a stay in a charming farmhouse surrounded by tall trees and get away from it all for a few days. Get up in the morning and take a walk outside with a cup of coffee in hand to collect chicken eggs and feed the goats. There are plenty of interesting activities here on the island, such as exploring the hiking trails around the island or kayaking for dinner to sample delicious fresh local lobster.
This is the perfect starting point for your outdoor expeditions through the mountains or kayaking trips around Quadra Island. Your host can arrange for a local guide to show you the hidden hiking trails on Quadra Island and they can even arrange goat cheese making workshops.
Explore the Rocky Mountains from the air
The west coast of British Columbia is always a beautiful place to visit but seeing it from the air is a truly unforgettable experience. Many remote areas of Canada’s sprawling coast can only be reached by boat or plane. Take a seaplane ride along the historic Postal Route to the islands and enjoy takeoffs and landings on the water. You will fly over mountaintops, glaciers and ancient temperate rainforests and this will bring you a new perspective on the vast expanse of this country.
After sampling Vancouver’s masterpieces and world cuisine, head inland and follow the path up the Rocky Mountains. Stop to visit the charming towns of Kamloops and Revelstoke, then continue down the road to Canmore, past pristine mountain meadows of wildflowers. Upon arrival in Canmore, it is highly recommended to book an amazing helicopter tour in the heart of the Canadian Rockies.
Enjoy the stunning views of The Three Sisters and soar over Mount Assiniboine, also known as the Matterhorn of the Rockies, due to its distinctive shape. Flying over Moraine Lake and descending back into a pure mountain meadow is sure to be a once-in-a-lifetime experience and a great conclusion to your journey across the Pacific Northwest.
Andrew Morton is the founder of Little America. Little America creates personalized, customized tours to the United States and Canada.
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