North America

The Pacific Northwest: Where have you been all our lives?

Dazzled by the surfers, starlets and sunshine of California, travellers are often guilty of coming to a screeching standstill at the Cali/Oregon border on their West Coast roadtrips. And for that, we sincerely apologise.
Our name is STA Travel, and we were wrong.
Home to wild beaches and world-class ski fields; off-the-wall cities and humorous locals; and no situation that isn’t improved by the addition of either a) coffee, b) craft beer, or c) a bike trip into the mountains, the Pacific Northwest is like nowhere else in the USA.
(FYI, for all those B+ and below geographers out there, the Pacific Northwest consists of Oregon, Washington and British Columbia).

1. The people

It could be the remoteness, or the rain, or perhaps just the impressive quantities of beer consumed. Whatever the reason, people in the Pacific Northwest are just a little… leftfield. Basically, they just don’t take themselves too seriously, and for that, we love them.
Take these people for example, casually racing their outhouses on skis down Main St in Conconully, WA.

Image courtesy of Mandi Crocker

2. The rain

Mention the Pacific Northwest to any American, and they’re likely to respond with a disparaging comment about the rain. Yes, it does rain a lot, to the point where Portland is affectionately known as ‘Puddletown’. However, the misty cloud cover was the reason why the Cullen family could live in Forks without being outed as blood-sucking vampires. And why scenery like this happens…

3. The beaches

Craggy, untamed and peppered with monolithic rock formations and amazing seafood, this coastline is one of the most underrated in America. Don’t miss the windswept peninsulas and costal campgrounds of Olympic National Park in Washington; and the golden shorelines and towering pinnacles of Oregon’s Cannon Beach and Cape Kiwanda.

4. The coffee

Seattle is considered to be the birthplace of coffee. Well, it gave us Starbucks, so practically. And when Pacific Northwesterners aren’t drinking beer or riding around in high performance Gore-Tex, they’re sheltering from the rain – or their hangovers – in coffee shops.
For our favourite roasteries, try Seattle Coffee Works (107 Pike St, Seattle); or Portland’s Courier Coffee (923 SW Oak St, Portland) for both baristas and bike repairs.

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5. The craft beer

And before coffee (about 8 hours before), was its favourite bedfellow, beer.
Hosting more breweries than any city on Earth, and just down the road from the birthplace of grunge in Seattle, Portland justly deserves the title ‘Beervana’. Pioneers of the micro-brewery, Portland’s boozers heave with cult craft ales and beer-based puns.
Aim for annual festivals like the Oregon Brewers Festival, Portland International Beer Festival and Portland Beer Week; or the rest of the time, try Hopworks Bike Bar (3947 N Williams Ave, Portland) and the Lucky Labrador Brew Pub (915 SE Hawthorne Blvd, Portland). Woof.

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6. The landscapes

Skiing, hiking, mountain biking, climbing, kitesurfing, rafting… the Pacific Northwest is a landscape ripped for adventure. With too many places to namedrop, we decided on a quick photo montage instead.

Getting the picture? Good.

7. The music

The Pacific Northwest has some of the coolest and most offbeat cities in the world, and with it, some of the greatest bands. Rocking a distinctive grunge and indie vibe, Seattle alone has produced greats such as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, Foo Fighters, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Fleet Foxes, Band of Horses and Alice in Chains.
Essentially, bring your 90s band t-shirt and prep for a moshpit.

8. And finally… Canada

This is a blog about the USA, but we can’t hide it any longer… British Colombia (WHICH IS IN CANADA) is part of the Pacific Northwest.
And for that, we’re also thankful for all of the following: poutine, gifs of bears catching salmon, maple syrup and bacon as acceptable brunch friends, Ryan Gosling, Ryan Reynolds, all the Ryanses and Whistler.
But not this.