If the Pacific Northwest isn’t on your travel list, you are missing out. This area is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, technological dynamos or families with children of all ages. Sure, it can get a little damp at times but that only adds to the lush environment you find when visiting on a home exchange. Let’s dive in and “unlock” the Pacific Northwest.
Within the United States, the Pacific Northwest is a label traditionally given to the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. It can also, based merely on vicinity, include the coastal areas of Canada’s territory of British Columbia especially those places surrounding Vancouver and Victoria.
One of the big questions these days is – what isn’t it known for. Seattle is the technological center of Amazon and Microsoft. The wine industry in the Yakima and Willamette valleys continue to garner acclaim. Nike and Columbia Sportswear harness the power of the athletically inclined. We would also be remiss if we didn’t mention the supplier of so many individual’s caffeine fixes: Starbucks.
When you get down to it, the Pacific Northwest is a cultural hub like few others. It welcomes nature-lovers (environmental activist agency Greenpeace was founded in Vancouver), is considered the home of the early ’90s grunge music movement and has one of the most robust collections of microbrewers and artisanal distilleries in the nation.
If you’re a person who thrives in the fresh air, what are you waiting for? Where else can you hit some epic ski slopes, kayak with orca whales and still have time for a delicious meal made with farm-to-table methods all within a 48-hour period.
Prefer a something a little calmer? Here’s a favorite itinerary: walk down to Pike Place Market from your Exchange Partner’s home. There you can grab a freshly baked pastry and enjoy a coffee from the original Starbucks while on your way to catch the mellow 30-minute ferry ride over to Bainbridge Island. Take a stroll around the village of Bainbridge and explore the many local shops, galleries, and restaurants. You won’t want miss the hidden gem of MORA Iced Creamery. No matter the season it is more than worth indulging.
Families, we haven’t forgotten about you. Frolic and climb around Gas Works Park while overlooking Lake Union. Adventure into the world of popular culture at MoPOP. Hop over to Woodland Park Zoo and discover why it has been a hub of the community for over 100 years. Wander back in time along the Oregon Trail at Oregon’s Museum of Cultural and Natural History. Or, head to Oregon’s beautiful rocky coast and splash in the refreshing Pacific Ocean.
The Space Needle: It is iconic for a reason. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, it has become a lasting landmark for the city.
Olympic National Park: One of the wettest areas of the country, the rich forests feature waterfalls, hot springs and more to be enjoyed.
Hit the slopes of Whistler Blackcomb: Whether sliding down the bunny slopes or looking for more of a challenge, Whistler is a beautiful destination in any season. And with over 110 listings in the area, you have a good chance of turning your mountain dreams into a reality.
Bumbershoot: For music lovers, this September festival is one of the places to see your favorite artists while also discovering talent you have yet to add to your audio library.
Seafair Weekend: For almost 70 years, locals and visitors come out to play and enjoy the peak weather during this weekend culmination of a month of featuring an airshow, races and more.
Oregon Shakespeare Festival: To be or not to be entertained, that is the question. For those looking for a little culture, this is one of the premier destinations for all things related to the Bard.
Vancouver Fringe Festival: With over 700 performances, this is both an offbeat and entertaining way to experience “theatre for everyone!”
Skagit Valley Tulip Festival: No, you aren’t in the Netherlands, but with millions of tulips blooming you will feel like you have been transported to another vibrantly colored world.
We know we have just tapped the surface of the area, but hope that you can help us round out some of your any favorite Pacific Northwest destinations.