Proximity. It may be the greatest thing Vancouver, Washington, has going for it.
The city of about 160,000 has some of the Northwest’s most distinctive features within shouting distance — the Columbia River gorge, Mount St. Helens, the Pacific Coast and odd but trendy Portland, Ore. That’s not to say Vancouver itself doesn’t have plenty to offer visitors. Local attractions include historic sites, parks and a plethora of wineries, breweries and night spots.
Take Interstate 5 south from Bellingham for about 250 miles. Take exit 1D to Vancouver.
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WHERE TO STAY
Heathman Lodge: Channeling the spirit of the Northwest, Heathman Lodge has a retreat-like atmosphere, enhanced with touches of Native American culture.
7801 N.E. Greenwood Drive
Briar Rose Inn: The hearty breakfasts at this B&B are legendary. The Briar Rose is in the historic downtown area, within walking distance of a farmers’ market and convention center.
314 W. 11th St.
Inn at Salmon Creek: Budget-conscious travelers will appreciate the down-to-earth accommodations at the family-friendly motel, which is close to many attractions and several restaurants.
11901 NE Highway 99
WHERE TO EAT
Pacific Northwest Best Fish Co.: Fresh local seafood is the specialty here. Several fishing vessels bring their daily catches directly to the restaurant’s dock.
24415 N.E. 10th Ave., Ridgefield
Willem’s on Main: This neighborhood eatery combines European flair with a heart for locally sourced cuisine and seasonal ingredients.
907 Main St.
Frontier Public House: Frontier offers made-from-scratch pub food, with crafty cocktails and an extensive selection of wine and beer.
4909 N.E. Hazel Dell Ave.
WHERE TO DRINK
Brewed 360: Come for micro-lot coffee, craft beers and boutique wines ... all under one roof.
603 Main St.
Niche Wine Bar: With 140 wines, live music and poetry, the wine bar exudes the rustic feel of historic Vancouver.
1013 Main St.
Fortside Brewing Company: Check out the brewery’s fort-like tasting room, and get a taste of the burgeoning southwest Washington beer scene.
2200 NE Andresen Road
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
Esther Short Park: The 5-acre park was bequeathed to the city in 1853, making it the oldest public square in the state. The 69-foot Salmon Run Bell Tower anchors the southeast corner of the park.
301 W. 8th St.
Fort Vancouver National Historic Site: The National Park Service-run site curates more than 2 million objects relating to the fur trade, American Indians, and U.S. Army occupation of the site.
1501 E. Evergreen Blvd.
Kiggins Theatre: The preserved historical theater’s art deco design complements its eclectic selection of films. It gained a place on the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.
1011 Main St.
Cedar Creek Grist Mill: The mill, built in 1876 and still within its original structure, uses water power to grind grain with stones. The working museum and adjacent covered bridge draw visitors from throughout the world.
43907 N.E. Grist Mill Road, Woodland