Towering mountains, ancient forests shrouded in mist and draped in moss, cascading waterfalls. You don’t have to journey to Middle-earth or some other mythical land to see them. In fact, you don’t even need your passport. You can find all these and more in the Pacific Northwest. In the summer and fall, the weather is nice enough to spend all day outdoors, whether it’s on top of a mountain or sitting on a patio enjoying a local IPA or wine after a day of activity.
Seattle, the Emerald City, is a great place to begin your journey. On Puget Sound, it’s a gateway to the San Juan Islands, the Olympic Peninsula and Mt. Rainier, as well as a fabulous city in its own right. The San Juans are a playground for whales and porpoises, seals and sea lions, bald eagles and birds of many other feathers. Olympic National Park is a 1,500-square-mile UNESCO World Heritage site and biosphere reserve with altitudes and ecosystems ranging from coastal to alpine. Rainier tops out at 14,441 feet above sea level, making it the highest mountain in the Cascades. Closer to the Oregon border, the fearsome beauty of Mt. St. Helens is testament to the world-changing power of the volcanoes along the Ring of Fire.
Cross the Columbia River, which is more than 2,500 feet wide near its mouth on the Pacific Ocean, into Oregon and you find yourself in a land of gorgeous beaches, tall trees, taller waterfalls and some pretty good wines. The famed Cannon Beach is one of the most picturesque you’ll ever see, with rock formations standing as sentinels over the Pacific. The wines of the Willamette Valley, particularly the Pinot noirs, have gotten good enough to challenge their more famous California neighbors in Napa and Sonoma.
Heading inland, Portland is just about 90 minutes from the coast through more evergreen forest and deciduous trees that come in brilliant oranges and purples in the fall. The city of about 650,000 is a big small town, easily navigable and full of galleries, breweries and restaurants along the Columbia. It’s also within easy distance of the 620-foot Multnomah Falls and Mount Hood. Head south and you’ll run into the outdoor playground that is Bend, with activities for any season and interest. Bend also, refreshingly enough, claims to be the craft beer capital of the West. Keep heading south and you’ll discover the brilliant blue waters of the deepest lake in the U.S., Crater Lake, another symbol of the volcanology that shaped this part of the world.
As with anywhere else in the Pacific Northwest, you can’t help but run into epic scenery in any direction. And isn’t that the best way to start a journey?
Where to stay
In 2017, the hotel completed a multimillion-dollar transformation, emerging as the newly imagined Hotel 1000, Seattle. It is conveniently located just steps from the waterfront along Elliott Bay, Pike Place Market, Seattle Art Museum, the business district, and historic Pioneer Square. The 120 lush guest rooms feature sleek design and deep soaking tubs. Amenities include a full-service spa, fitness center, wine cellar, and golf simulator. The new All Water Seafood & Oyster Bar highlights Seattle’s character and flavors with the freshest seafood. For a nightcap, try the new Bell Lounge for craft cocktails and chic ambience.
The Allison Inn & Spa
Nestled amidst the lush natural beauty of Oregon’s Willamette Valley, The Allison Inn & Spa offers visitors an unmatched resort experience. Situated in a quaint 35-acre setting, surrounded by sweeping views of wine country and farmland, this elegant retreat is a true escape from the business of everyday life.
The Nines, Portland
As you take the elevator to the eighth floor of the historic Meier & Frank Building, you realize – you’ve arrived! Historic in nature, yet contemporary in all else, The Nines is a LEED Silver certified luxury hotel, steps from Pioneer Square and the Central Business District, with rooftop views, artwork in every room, two restaurants with organic ingredients, and spaces for weddings, meetings, and events. Browse nearby boutiques, dine in the trendy Pearl District, or use the eco-friendly MAX Light Rail to explore the lively city of Portland. To explore more, visit Multnomah Falls, Oregon wine country, or the picturesque coastline.