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Overview

Lewis & Clark called this area "the most desirable situation for settlement on the West side of the Rocky mountains," and although it's eclipsed by Portland across the river, Vancouver is a surprising gem. The relaxed downtown and surrounding countryside offer plenty to see and do. Start a walking tour at the Salmon Run Bell Tower & Glockenspiel at Esther Short Park, then pause at a downtown bistro or dine at the former officers' quarters. Restaurants along the waterfront have outstanding views of Mt. Hood. The history of European settlement in the Pacific Northwest is told at the log-constructed Fort Vancouver, the region's first military ...

Lewis & Clark called this area "the most desirable situation for settlement on the West side of the Rocky mountains," and although it's eclipsed by Portland across the river, Vancouver is a surprising gem. The relaxed downtown and surrounding countryside offer plenty to see and do. Start a walking tour at the Salmon Run Bell Tower & Glockenspiel at Esther Short Park, then pause at a downtown bistro or dine at the former officers' quarters. Restaurants along the waterfront have outstanding views of Mt. Hood. The history of European settlement in the Pacific Northwest is told at the log-constructed Fort Vancouver, the region's first military post. The fort helped new arrivals on the Oregon Trail get settled and spurred agriculture in the area. Grapevines planted here in 1825 were a harbinger of the local wineries, many of which offer tours and tastings. If you're driving, it's easy to spend a day at Mount St. Helens or explore the lesser traveled north side of the Columbia River Gorge. Other scenic drives lead to waterfalls, lakes, fish hatcheries, a wildlife refuge, and even a replica of a Chinookan cedar plankhouse. Visitors arriving on one of the five daily trains should ask at the ticket counter about a free taxi to downtown.

Myra Ingmanson
About the Expert

Myra Ingmanson and Daniel C. Schechter worked together on various titles for Lonely Planet, particularly the Pacific Northwest and Mexico books. Together they coauthored chapters for Lonely Planet's Eastern Caribbean.

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Myra Ingmanson for Triporati

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