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

Spending time exploring the Pacific Northwest? Don’t miss these amazing spots in the PNW.

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: May 14, 2024

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 WashingtonMontana, 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).

See More: The Ultimate Portland Bucket List

Oregon

  1. 1.
    Abiqua Falls

You need a 4 wheel drive with high clearance.

    1. 3.
      Bandon

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

    1. 4.
      Bend

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

      1. 5.
        Cannon Beach

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

      1. 6.
        Cape Kiwanda State Natural Area

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

        1. 7.
          Cascade Head Hike

        Hike through forests and meadows right near the ocean.

          1. 8.

          So many good hikes close to Portland.

            1. 9.
              Cougar Hot Springs

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

            See More: The Ultimate Oregon Coast Road Trip

            1. 11.
              Devil’s Punchbowl State Park

            A naturally carved large bowl on the Oregon shores.

            1. 12.
              Downing Creek Falls (Upper)

            A good hike for kids.

            1. 13.
              Eagle Creek Trail

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

            1. 15.
              Lewis and Clark National Historical Park

            Located at the mouth of the Columbia River.

              1. 16.
                Lost Lake

              This lake fills in the winter then slowly disappears. 

              1. 17.

              Super popular hike with fun scrambling and wading.

              1. 18.

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

              1. 19.
                Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve

              Don’t miss the marble cave.

              1. 20.
                Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area

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

              1. 21.

              Eat, drink, and go on hikes.

              See More: Ultimate Portland Bucket List

              1. 22.
                Mt Hood

              Timberline Trail or Summit.

                1. 23.
                  Multnomah Falls

                Super touristy but worth checking out at least once.

                1. 24.

                Lots of scrambling but amazing views at the top.

                1. 25.

                Tons of trails to explore with really dramatic coastlines.

                1. 27.

                Tons of trails to explore with really dramatic coastlines.

                1. 28.
                  South Sister Hike

                Brilliantly blue waters.

                  1. 29.
                    Tamolitch Blue Pool

                  Brilliantly blue waters.

                  1. 30.

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

                  1. 31.
                    Toketee Falls

                  Popular amongst photographers!

                    1. 32.
                      Trillium Lake

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

                    1. 33.
                      Wallowa Lake / The Wallows

                    Tons of backcountry hiking. Get this book before going.

                      1. 34.
                        Willamette Valley Wineries

                      Wine lovers paradise.

                      1. 35.
                        White River Falls

                      Canyon park with a 90-foot waterfall.

                      1. 36.

                      Beautiful tulips, open March to April.

                      See More: Essential Tips for Visiting the Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival

                      Washington

                      1. 1.

                      Most northwesterly tip of the lower 48 states.

                        1. 2.
                          Deception Pass State Park

                        Beautiful PNW hikes with a pair of picturesque bridges.

                          1. 3.

                          Amazing hike in the spring.

                          1. 4.
                            Doe Bay

                          Soak in the tubs at the resort & retreat.

                          1. 5.
                            Dungeness Spit + National Wildlife Refuge

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

                          1. 6.
                            Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

                          Hike the bluff trail.

                            1. 7.
                              Enchantments in Leavenworth

                            A 23.6 mile hike for the serious adventurers.

                              1. 8.
                                Franklin Falls

                              In the winter it’s iced over.

                                1. 9.
                                  Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

                                Also in Oregon.

                                1. 10.
                                  Gold Bar

                                Popular spot for climbing.

                                1. 11.
                                  Lake Chelan National Recreation Area

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

                                1. 12.
                                  Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area

                                Great spot for boating, fishing, swimming and camping.

                                1. 13.
                                  Langley at Whidbey Island

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

                                1. 14.
                                  Leavenworth

                                Cute touristy town but also great for bouldering.

                                1. 15.
                                  Mount Rainier National Park

                                Will you be lucky enough to see the peak?

                                1. 16.
                                  Mount St Helens

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

                                1. 17.

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

                                See More: 7 Best Things to Do in North Cascades National Park

                                1. 18.

                                Beautiful lakes and hikes.

                                1. 20.
                                  San Juan Islands

                                Check out the San Juan Island National Historical Park.

                                1. 21.

                                In La Conner every spring, usually in April.

                                1. 22.
                                  Snoqualmie Falls

                                An amazing 268-foot waterfall.

                                  1. 23.

                                  Hike through the essence of PNW.

                                  1. 24.
                                    Palouse Falls

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

                                  1. 25.
                                    Port Townsend

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

                                  1. 26.
                                    Whitman Mission National Historic Site

                                  Learn about this tragic event.

                                  1. 27.
                                    Yakima Valley

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

                                  See More: Ultimate Seattle Bucket List

                                  Idaho

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

                                  1. 1.
                                    City of Rocks National Reserve

                                  Also known as the Silent City of Rocks.

                                    1. 2.
                                      Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve

                                    Looks like a different planet.

                                      1. 3.
                                        Hagerman Fossil Beds National Monument

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

                                      1. 4.
                                        Minidoka National Historic Site

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

                                      1. 5.
                                        Nez Perce National Historical Park

                                      Spread out over 38 sites throughout the state.

                                      1. 6.
                                        Palouse

                                      Rolling hills, also in Washington.

                                        1. 7.
                                          Sawtooth Mountains

                                        Great for hiking and backpacking.

                                          1. 8.
                                            Shoshone Falls

                                          Considered the Niagara of the West.

                                            1. 9.
                                              Thousand Springs State Park

                                            Multiple units. Don’t miss the Malad Gorge.

                                            1. 10.
                                              Yellowstone Bear World

                                            Drive-thru wildlife park.

                                            1. 11.

                                            Mostly in WY but edges are still in ID.

                                            See More: Best Things to do in Yellowstone National Park

                                            Montana

                                            1. 1.
                                              Big Hole National Battlefield

                                            See this preserved war battlefield.

                                              1. 2.
                                                Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area

                                              Has a beautiful bending river.

                                                1. 3.
                                                  Flathead Lake

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

                                                1. 4.
                                                  Giant Springs State Park

                                                The world’s largest freshwater spring.

                                                1. 6.
                                                  Grand-Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site

                                                Commemorates the Western cattle industry.

                                                  1. 7.
                                                    Grizzly and Wolf Discovery Center

                                                  Learn more about these magnificent creatures.

                                                    1. 8.
                                                      Kerr Dam

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

                                                      1. 9.
                                                        Lewis and Clark Caverns State Park

                                                      Checkout the limestone caves.

                                                      1. 10.
                                                        Little Bighorn Battlefield National Monument

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

                                                      1. 11.
                                                        Missouri River

                                                      The longest river in North America.

                                                      See More: Best Things to do in Glacier National Park

                                                      British Columbia / Alberta

                                                      1. 1.
                                                        Banff National Park

                                                      Don’t miss Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

                                                        1. 2.

                                                        Loved exploring the area – check out our guide.

                                                          1. 3.
                                                            Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

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

                                                          1. 4.

                                                          Don’t miss the amazing food in Richmond.

                                                          1. 6.
                                                            Whistler

                                                          Amazing hiking in the summer and skiining in the winter.

                                                            1. 7.
                                                              Yoho National Park

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

                                                              See More: 15 Unforgettable Things to do in Jasper National Park

                                                              Map of the PNW Bucket List

                                                              Planning Checklist

                                                              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 and JacobPin

                                                              Esther + Jacob

                                                              Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found 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. Carly

                                                                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. Esther JuLee

                                                                  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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