Ultimate PNW Bucket List – Things to Do in the Pacific Northwest

Ultimate PNW Bucket List – Things to Do in the Pacific Northwest

During our RV adventure across the US, we really fell in love with the Pacific Northwest, so we decided to move to Portland for the year. We toyed with the idea of moving to Portland last year, but San Diego won out (Sorry, we hear there’s mad hate for Cali folk in PDX, but it’s so hard to say no to 70 degrees year round).

This year? Portland, here we come! We didn’t mean for you to be second choice, but we were really intimidated by your rainy weather (good thing our friend recommended we take vitamin D so we won’t go into depression).

PNW Bucket List - Ultimate List of Things to Do in the Pacific Northwest // localadventurer.com

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Last Updated: June 26, 2020

Ultimate PNW Bucket List - Best Things to do in the Pacific Northwest

We already put together a bucket list of 101 things to do in Portland, and while Portland may be a fun city to explore, we’re even more excited to see all 200+ waterfalls in the state as well as explore the parks in Washington, Montana, Idaho and BC. We’re going to keep adding as we go, but here’s our current bucket list for the PNW (some are new and some are places we hope to revisit).

Oregon

  1. Abiqua Falls 

You need a 4 wheel drive with high clearance.

  1. Bandon

Check out Face Rock State Scenic Viewpoint and the Coquille Lighthouse.

  1. Bend

Great spot to base yourself for outdoor adventures. Be sure to check out the breweries and Smith Rock!

  1. Cannon Beach

(+ Ecola State Park) Check out the iconic Haystack Rock.

  1. Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

See the second Haystack Rock here. Looks similar to Cannon Beach but much less busy.

  1. Cascade Head Hike

Hike through forests and meadows right near the ocean.

So many good hikes close to Portland.

  1. Cougar Hot Springs

And the Terwilliger Hot Springs. Both are in the Willamette National Forest.

Crater Lake National Park Hiking // localadventurer.com
Crater Lake Spring Still Deep in Snow
  1. Devils Punchbowl State Park

A naturally carved large bowl on the Oregon shores.

  1. Downing Creek Falls (upper)

A good hike for kids.

  1. Eagle Creek Trail

(26.5 mi) to Metlako Falls↠ Punch Bowl Falls↠ Loowit Falls↠ Tunnel Falls↠ Twister Falls

  1. Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

Located at the mouth of the Columbia River.

  1. Lost Lake

This lake fills in the winter then slowly disappears. 

Super popular hike with fun scrambling and wading.

(All 363 miles) One of our favorite trips. Check out our guide.

  1. Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve

Don’t miss the marble cave.

  1. Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

Try sand boarding on do a guided tour of the dunes.

Eat, drink, and go on hikes.

Portland Oregon is the City of Roses - The International Rose Test Garden is one of the best places to see the roses and is one of the most popular attractions in PDX // Local Adventurer #portland #roses
Find out where to find the best view of Portland // localadventurer.com
  1. Mt Hood

Timberline Trail or Summit.

  1. Multnomah Falls

Super touristy but worth checking out at least once.

Lots of scrambling but amazing views at the top.

Tons of trails to explore with really dramatic coastlines.

Super popular for rock climbing but amazing hikes and views too!

  1. South Sister Hike

11.8 miles out and back near Bend.

  1. Tamolitch Blue Pool

Brilliantly blue waters.

One of the coolest things we’ve photographed. Here’s our guide.

  1. Toketee Falls

Popular amongst photographers!

  1. Trillium Lake

Picnic or kayak in the summer or snowshoe in the winter.

  1. Wallowa Lake / the Wallowas

Tons of backcountry hiking. Get this book before going.

  1. Willamette Valley Wineries

Wine lovers paradise.

  1. White River Falls

Canyon park with a 90-foot waterfall.

Beautiful tulips, open March to April.

Everything You Need to Know About Visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm in Woodburn Oregon // Local Adventurer
Your Ultimate Guide to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival Oregon - What You Need to Know Before You Go - More Amazing Tulip Festivals in the US You Must See // Local Adventurer

Washington

Most northwesterly tip of the lower 48 states.

  1. Deception Pass State Park

Beautiful PNW hikes with a pair of picturesque bridges.

Amazing hike in the spring.

  1. Doe Bay

Soak in the tubs at the resort & restreat.

  1. Dungeness Spit + National Wildlife Refuge

Great place for wildlife viewing. See bald eagles, harbor seals, and more.

  1. Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

Hike the bluff trail.

  1. Enchantments in Leavenworth

A 23.6 mile hike for the serious adventurers.

  1. Franklin Falls

In the winter it’s iced over.

  1. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Also in Oregon.

  1. Gold Bar

Popular spot for climbing.

  1. Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

One of the country’s deepest lakes with beautiful Cascade Mountains as a backdrop.

  1. Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area

Great spot for boating, fishing, swimming and camping.

  1. Langley at Whidbey Island

Charming small town. Check out the distillery, whale center, and earth sanctuary.

  1. Leavenworth

Cute touristy town but also great for bouldering.

  1. Mount Rainier National Park

Will you be lucky enough to see the peak?

  1. Mount St Helens

Learn about one of the most notorious major eruptions in US history.

One of the hardest National Parks to access but you can drive nearby and hike in.

Northern Cascades National Park Washington USA // localadventurer.com

Beautiful lakes and hikes.

  1. San Juan Islands

Check out the San Juan Island National Historical Park.

in La Conner every spring, usually in April.

  1. Snoqualmie Falls

An amazing 268-foot waterfall.

Hike through the essence of PNW.

  1. Palouse Falls

Such a cool waterfall. If you have time, you can hike down into the canyon.

  1. Port Townsend

Check out the Fort Woden State Park and Point Wilson Lighthouse.

  1. Whitman Mission National Historic Site

Learn about this tragic event.

  1. Yakima Valley

Tons of hops come from the Yakima Valley. It’s also the brithdplace of Washington’s wine industry.

Hall of Mosses in Olympic National Park

Everyone agrees that Washington and Oregon are part of the PNW. Some folks loosely consider Idaho, Montana, and British Columbia to be part of it too. All I know is we’re going to try to explore as much as possible while we live in the upper left coast.

Idaho

  1. City of Rocks National Reserve

Also known as the Silent City of Rocks.

  1. Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

Looks like a different planet.

  1. Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument

Contains the largest concentration of Hagerman horse fossils in North America.

  1. Minidoka National Historic Site

Commemorates the 9,000+ Japanese Americans who imprisoned at the Winidoka War Relocation Center.

  1. Nez Perce National Historical Park

Spread out over 38 sites throughout the state.

  1. Palouse

Rolling hills, also in Washington.

  1. Sawtooth Mountains

Great for hiking and backpacking.

  1. Shoshone Falls

Considered the Niagara of the West.

  1. Thousand Springs State Park

Multiple units. Don’t miss the Malad Gorge.

  1. Yellowstone Bear World

Drive-thru wildlife park.

Mostly in WY but edges are still in ID.

Yellowstone Things to Do

Montana

  1. Big Hole National Battlefield

See this preserved war battlefield.

  1. Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

Has a beautiful bending river.

  1. Flathead Lake

Largest natural freshwater lake by surface area west of the Missouri river.

  1. Giant Springs State Park

The world’s largest freshwater spring.

  1. Grant-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

Commemorates the Western cattle industry.

  1. Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

Learn more about these magnificent creatures.

  1. Kerr Dam

Also known as the Seli’š Ksanka Qlispe’ Dam.

  1. Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

Checkout the limestone caves.

  1. Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

Preserves the site of the battle from June 25-27, 1876.

  1. Missouri River

The longest river in North America.

Top Glacier National Park Hikes + 9 Incredible Things to do in Glacier National Park

British Columbia / Alberta

  1. Banff National Park

Don’t miss Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

Loved exploring the area – check out our guide.

  1. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Has three different regions: Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail.

Don’t miss the amazing food in Richmond.

  1. Whistler

Amazing hiking in the summer and skiining in the winter.

  1. Yoho National Park

Emerald Lake, Takakkaw Falls, and Lake O’Hara.

The Canadian Rockies are stunning in winter and summer, but when is the best time visit Jasper National Park? Check out this article to find out what season the locals love, that their favorite Jasper activities are, and what you can't miss! It's truly one of the most beautiful places in Canada // Local Adventurer #jasper #alberta #canada

After 2 months of visiting with friends and family in Atlanta, TODAY we’re starting our first leg of our 38-hour drive to Portland with our cats (they are going to hate us). We keep going back and forth about whether we should make a couple stops along the way or do it straight (not so easy road tripping with cats). Wish us luck!

Map of the PNW Bucket List

Anything else we need to add? If you could live in any city in the world, where would it be?

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Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. I would add that if you’re in Deception Pass State Park, you should go tree climbing. It gets you at the top of those beautiful pines—a view of the bridge and the bay that few (other than the flying bald eagles) get to see. Worth the splurge.

    While at Deception Pass, head over to Mt Erie in Anacortes (15 min drive). You can climb it, or just drive to the top for magnificent vistas. And, of course, stop into Gere-A-Deli in Anacortes for lunch on your way to the islands!

    1. That sounds awesome, Carly! I’ve been wanting to try tree climbing.. at least once while in the PNW haha Thanks for all the tips!

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