The United States has no shortage of naturally attractive regions, from the dreamy desert landscapes of the Southwest to the quaint, tiny villages of New England. However, few places can rival the Pacific Northwest in terms of natural diversity—we’re talking foggy beaches, wooded mountains, wildlife-filled islands, endless fields of flowers, and some of the best stargazing spots in the whole country.
The Pacific Northwest, which includes Washington, Oregon, and Idaho in the contiguous United States, is ideal for epic road journeys or visits to national parks, as well as extended weekends in some of the country’s coolest big towns (which also have plenty of green space).
Best Places to Visit Pacific Northwest
So, whether you want to visit Olympic National Park or enjoy coffee with a view in Portland, this list of the most gorgeous sites in the Pacific Northwest is guaranteed to inspire you.
1. Washington Olympic National Park
When visiting the Pacific Northwest, Olympic National Park (ONP) is a must-see. It is one of the most gorgeous national parks in the United States to visit in the summer.
The park highlights the most beautiful elements of the area, including alpine mountains and lakes, lush rainforest, and dramatic coastline. Visitors should spend two days in ONP to explore the range of scenery.
2. Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park
Mount Rainier National Park is one of the top places to visit in Washington (and the Pacific Northwest).
There are waterfalls, rivers, old grove trees, mountains, lakes, and much more in this park. It’s an adventurer’s dream come true!
3. Washington State, Leavenworth
No trip to the Pacific Northwest is complete without a visit to the picturesque Bavarian town of Leavenworth! This charming, tiny village will steal your heart right away, nestled at the base of the Cascade Range of mountains.
Leavenworth will not disappoint, whether you are here to appreciate the amazing landscape, to celebrate a holiday, or to do some food and wine sampling.
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Another advantage of Leavenworth’s charm and beauty is its accessibility. It’s so simple to get here from any place in the Pacific Northwest!
4. Washington’s North Cascades National Park
North Cascades National Park, located in Washington State, is best reached by car from Seattle, a three-hour drive that will take you to breathtaking alpine beauty.
The North Cascades Highway allows you to drive across and stop at several spots to take in the scenery.
The park is divided into two portions and borders two other natural areas: Ross Lake National Recreation Area and Lake Chelan National Recreation Area, adding lake views to the already breathtaking scenery.
5. Washington State Park, Deception Pass
You might think of the famous bridge when you hear “Deception Pass,” but did you realize it’s also a state park?
It is the most popular park in Washington State and is located on Whidbey Island, roughly two hours from Seattle. Walking across the bridge is an event in and of itself if you’re visiting the neighborhood, but there’s so much more to do.
6. Washington, Seattle
Seattle, Washington, is one of the Pacific Northwest’s most famous cities, nestled between the Olympic and Cascade Mountain Ranges and perched along the Puget Sound.
Seattle, one of the best cities to visit along the Washington coast, features several must-see attractions. Pike Place Market is a bustling market consisting of sellers offering anything from flowers to artwork, as well as distinctive coffee cafes with breathtaking views of Eliot Bay.
The Space Needle, the spaceship-like structure that made Seattle’s skyline famous, is another favorite stop. It boasts an open-air observation deck with panoramic views of the city and mountains.
7. Washington’s Artist Point, Mount Baker Wilderness
Many lovely places are difficult to reach. Fortunately, this is not the case at Artist Point in the Mount Baker Wilderness in Washington.
Those who venture deeper, though, will find enough to explore. The Artist Ridge Trail is a wheelchair-accessible 1.2-mile loop through alpine meadows.
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The 6.5-mile Chain Lakes Trail goes to a succession of crystalline lakes for a more difficult task. Sledding is a popular family activity because snow fields are usually available all year.
8. Washington’s Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument
The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is a must-see on any vacation to the Pacific Northwest. The 1980 eruption was the most catastrophic volcanic event in American history.
No amount of preparation can prepare you for the overpowering magnificence and power that await you when you arrive.
9. Washington’s Bainbridge Island
Bainbridge Island may be the Pacific Northwest’s best-kept secret. It is only accessible by boat or by Washington State Route 305 on the north end.
If you’re seeking a relaxing getaway, this island has it all: arts, beaches, culture, nature, and more. The Bainbridge Museum of Art is stunning. There are numerous galleries, boutiques, and restaurants to visit, but don’t forget to stop by the port.
10. Washington’s Lake Chelan
Lake Chelan, Washington, is one of the nicest spots to visit in the Pacific Northwest. It’s located about 3.5 hours east of Seattle and has 300 days of sunshine per year.
It was named after the Chelan tribe, who termed it “Millan,” which means “deep waters.” This is an apt moniker given that it is the third deepest lake in the United States.
The best places to visit in the Pacific Northwest are diverse: there are beautiful national and state parks, beaches, and other natural regions here, as well as an eclectic mix of lovely small towns and dynamic metropolises with much to do on a trip.
Outdoor enthusiasts hail the Pacific Northwest as a utopia. Landscape photographers rave about the region, which consists primarily of the US states of Washington and Oregon. There are numerous museums and historic sites for history aficionados to visit.