Seattle is a buzzing city that places innovation at its core. Not just the birthplace of global brands including Microsoft, and Starbucks, Seattle is forever reinventing old favourites. Everything from nano-breweries and craft ciders, to homemade ice-cream and specialist pie-makers are found at the restaurants and stalls of Pike Place Market. And it’s all just a stone’s throw away from your home for the night, the Inn at the Market.
A soothing ferry ride across the waters of the Puget Sound from Seattle, you’ll discover the wild Olympic Peninsula. Once there, you can explore charming Port Townsend. With its quirky architecture and two National Historic Landmark Districts, Port Townsend is one of only three Victorian Seaports in the United States. Enjoy the town’s artistic vibe before bedding down for the night at the restful Lake Crescent Lodge.
This vast wilderness is home to glaciers, ancient forests, and rugged ocean coastlines. Your base at Alderbrook Lodge is enviably located overlooking a fjord. From here you can hike into the national park, explore the waters of the South Puget Sound by kayak, or simply indulge in a relaxing spa session. If you’re feeling more adventurous you could head into the lush Hoh Rainforest or take a drive along the windswept Olympic Coast.
Head out today to take in the snow-capped splendour of Mt Rainier. Standing over 4,000 metres high, this massive volcano towers over Washington state. At the aptly named Paradise Visitor Centre you’ll discover matchless views across the spectacular mountain vistas. You’ll also be able to hike among the glorious wildflowers and take in raging waterfalls. An evocative ride on the Mt Rainier Gondola is also not to be missed.
Whilst Mt Rainier is the highest of the Cascade Mountains it’s Mt St Helens that lives largest in the popular consciousness. Its eruption in 1980 is often cited as the most disastrous volcanic eruption in US history. Head to the Johnston Ridge Observatory to learn about this cataclysmic event. Then on to Portland, super-cool city of alternative culture, microbreweries, farmers' markets and a two-night stay at the sleek Nines boutique hotel.
Portland is famous for its diverse neighbourhoods and laidback vibe. If you’re looking for ‘the’ place to kick back with a cool ale to the sound of live music, then the hipster vibe of Downtown is where it’s at. For upmarket (tax free!) shopping, inspiring galleries, and classy restaurants you should head to the classy Pearl District. You’ll also want to check out the relaxing calm of the Japanese Garden.
Out of town then to the Columbia River Gorge, one of the Pacific Northwest’s most spectacular landscapes. As you head into the wilds, you may see elk and beaver in their natural habitat. You’ll also discover the secluded Multnomah Falls, the highest falls in the state. At the end of the day, head to your retreat at Skamania Lodge, where views of verdant forest or the gorge grace every room.
En route over the Cascades into central Oregon, you’ll discover the deep river canyons of Smith Rock State Park. The high plains city of Bend also nestles between these snowy peaks. Arriving at Brasada Ranch, your home for two nights, you’ll be in time for a glorious sunset and a drink by the campfire. From here you can venture out for a Mt Bachelor chairlift ride, paddle-board on the Deschutes River or enjoy a sparkling sunrise at Crater Lake.
The road to Eugene takes you back over the Cascade Mountains west along the picturesque McKenzie River Byway. You’ll want to stop at the observatory for the vast view out over the peaks. En route there are plenty of short trail walks to cascading waterfalls that you can explore to break up the drive. Once at artsy Eugene, you can rest up at the boutique Inn at the Fifth.
Westwards next towards the ocean and the Pacific Coast Highway. Stop for a leisurely stroll through the old mill town of Florence, and race a buggy across the dunes at Sea Lion Caves. Once you pull into Newport, you’ll want to enjoy the historic Nye Beach. All topped off with a refreshing stay at the romantic Whale Cove Inn overlooking the ocean.
Another day on the Oregon Coast takes you north. Here you’ll discover a number of secluded beaches on the Three Capes Loop, any one of which is perfect for a stroll and a picnic. Upon reaching Depoe Bay, you’ll find the world’s smallest navigable harbour. This charming waterfront is the perfect place to hop aboard a boat and head out to spot orca and grey whale in the ocean waters.
There’s no better way to round off your Pacific Northwest itinerary than with wine-tasting at some of the region’s many award-winning vineyards. Take a tour of four wineries where you can discover the artistry of the area’s renowned viticulture. Then, after a delicious lunch overlooking the vines, back to Portland for one last evening to enjoy the city’s lively bars.
Your trip comes to an end today. Time to say goodbye to the Pacific Northwest, drop your hire car back to the airport and head for your flight home.