Wedged between the Pacific Ocean to the west and the mighty Cascade Mountains to the east, the Pacific Northwest is packed to the brim with the kind of landscapes that make outdoor enthusiasts giddy.
The region’s cities, as unique and quirky as they are, are equally demanding of serious attention.
In Seattle, a city surrounded by natural beauty which is equally matched by its cosmopolitan vibes and welcoming, unpretentious locals, you’ll find an established coffee scene, an exciting culinary landscape and some excellent local wine; all contributing to attracting domestic and international visitors alike; all year-round. It is a city for all seasons, after all.
And in Portland, a city famous for its contributions to the global hipster movement, visitors have the chance to rub shoulders with the creative locals in the city’s eclectic neighbourhoods.
The city is filled with cafes and breweries serving amazing coffee and craft beer, independent boutiques stocking vintage clothing and locally-made jewellery, and quirky bars, where the local performers entertain crowds nightly on a diet of indie rock, hip hop and everything in between.
Let’s delve deeper into these two splendid cities and see what makes them special…
The urban culture is off the charts…
Come here for the art and craft beers, and stay for the live music, museums and quirky shopping. The Pacific Northwest is urban culture, period.
In Seattle put on your vintage vans and check out the glass art exhibition at Chihuly Garden and Glass, stop for coffee at Coffee Culture, admire the work at the Seattle Art Museum and Olympic Sculpture Park, and visit one of the largest air and space collections in the US at The Museum of Flight.
In Portland, head to the Portland Saturday Market (open on Sundays too) and browse its stalls selling quirky items and one-of-a-kind gifts.
This city is a hub for artists and entrepreneurs – “art-repreneurs?” – and you’ll find many community studios, warehouses and maker spaces that not only let you see artists in the midst of their creations but also allow you to express your own DIY nature around town.
Once you’ve exhausted your creative juices, go and sample a local brew at one of the breweries in town before hitting up a local bar for some live music.
The food is sublime…
Fresh and organic, produce in the Pacific Northwest is grown with love – or at least with little-to-no pesticides.
To sample (and gather) the best produce in Seattle, visit Pike Place Market and talk to the local farmers who grow the stuff and ask the fishmonger about the local tradition of fish throwing.
Stop by Beecher’s Handmade Cheese for the best artisanal cheese in town, too. Then have a bowl of Pike Place Chowder before finishing with a coffee at the original Starbucks, which is inside the market grounds.
Named as one of the “best places to eat” in North America by Food & Wine, and “America’s new food Eden” by Time, sitting down (or standing up) to excellent culinary experiences in Portland isn’t hard.
America’s best food city offers farm-to-table dining, innovative food carts, acclaimed craft beer, urban wineries, stellar coffee and so much more. Must-dines include the Israeli and Moroccan inspired Tusk, HK Cafe serving up delectable dim sum, Portland Mercado and the spark behind the Russian food revolution in Portland; Kachka.
The wine and beer are top-shelf…
No one goes thirsty in the Pacific Northwest, like ever, and certainly not in Seattle or Portland. Seattle is the second-largest wine producer in the US, after all, and there are nearly 1,000 wineries in Washington State alone. And Portland has enough microbreweries to sink a cargo ship! Both cities are boastful of their beverage options, and it isn’t hard to find a good glass of vino or an IPA to satisfy even the most demanding palate.
But for awesome recommendations in Seattle, don’t look past visiting Woodinville Wine Country (a beautiful valley known for its local wineries, microbreweries, cideries and restaurants), as well as the Ballard Brewery District, Pike Brewing Company and SODO Urbanworks for food, drinks and good times all round.
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In Portland, innovative craft brews that are leading the way on the global beer market are everywhere. From IPAs, Double IPAs, Triple IPAs and even coffee-infused beer, you can find it here!
The natural wonders are simply glorious…
Show me another part of the US that offers so much natural beauty and I’ll show you the door. Because no other region in the country can compete – seriously. In Seattle, you can explore the city from the water with a harbour cruise, take a day trip to Mount Rainier, check out the Olympic Peninsula and Snoqualmie Falls, or go whale watching (yes!) in the San Juan Islands.
In Portland, getting outdoors is equally impressive. Only a stone’s throw from the natural wonders of Columbia River Gorge and Mount Hood, this city literally sits on the edge of some of the most beautiful natural scenery on the planet.
We’re talking 288 public parks and 166 miles (267 km) of trails to walk. Don’t leave without visiting the International Rose Test Garden, the Japanese Gardens and the World’s Smallest Park!
The music is sensational…
Giving the world such musical acts as Nirvana and Pearl Jam, the Pacific Northwest has literally changed the sound of modern music. For context and history on Seattle’s local music scene and its development, pay a visit to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPOP) and check out the Nirvana and Pearl Jam exhibits.
Then visit one of the city’s prime live music venues – such as Neumos, The Showbox, The Pink Door and The Crocodile – for the best local up-and-coming musical acts. You’ll find something you can tap your feet to, whatever your style.
The musical spread is just as varied over in Portland, a city known for its “push the boundaries” approach to making music. The city boasts tons of vinyl record stores and live music venues that you’re never beyond ear-shot of some pumping tunes!
Time your visit right and you can also attend one of the city’s lively music festivals featuring both local and international talent, such as Pickathon.
Unique experiences to be found…
By this point, it shouldn’t come as any surprise to learn that both Seattle and Portland are home to a range of unique experiences that you don’t want to miss.
In Portland, pay a visit to Powell’s Book Store (the world’s largest new and used independent bookstore) before tucking into something sweet at the original Voodoo Donuts – yum!
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This photo makes us so happy! Not only is it a spectacular shot of the @spaceneedle, but it also is celebrating #edgarmartinez Hall of Fame weekend. The wind wasn’t cooperating, but there’s an 11 on that flag! Thanks 📷:@siglivetoeat for the fantastic photo. #spaceneedle #edgarmartinez #pnwlife #seattle #visitseattle
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In Seattle, you can experience the Boeing Factory Tour before checking out the iconic Space Needle that features the world’s only rotating glass floor.
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