Oregon and Washington are two of the most beautiful states in America. The extensive rainfall of the Pacific Northwest provides the flora and fauna with ideal conditions to thrive, making the landscape and wildlife of the region some of the best in the USA. The varied terrain and geography offers something for all types of nature enthusiasts, from plentiful coastlines to breathtaking mountains, with everything in between. Consider these destinations for your next trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Salem, Oregon

The beauty of Salem is that even though it is the capital of Oregon, it doesn't feel that way. It has the subdued appearance and vibe of a quiet little town nestled among the trees. During the warm summer months the city comes alive with weekly farmers markets and other social events. While the city might not be as hip as Portland, there are still plenty of amazing sights and activities both in and around town. Definitely visit one of many vineyards scattered outside of town, and be sure to catch the Oregon State Fair if you are visiting at the end of August or early September.

Old railway bridge in Salem, Oregon
Old railway bridge in Salem. Photo by Max Rae via Flickr.

Bend, Oregon

The mountain town of Bend, Oregon is arguably the most beautiful part of the state. Multiple rivers snake through town and snow-capped mountain peaks dot the horizon. Several nearby lakes lay just a short drive outside of town and are great for a day-trip or camping trip. The pristine beauty of Bend makes it a favorite among both amateur and professional photographers.

Mirror Pond in Bend, Oregon
Mirror Pond in Bend. Photo by Gordon via Flickr.

Spokane, Washington

Spokane is another one of these American cities that has undergone a revitalization this last decade or two and become a hotbed of live music, craft beer and hip events. Add to that the natural beauty of the surrounding area and all the amazing outdoor activities year-round and it's evident why Spokane is so well-loved by adventure travelers. It is an incredible winter wonderland for those craving snow but also a fantastic summer destination as well.

Historic Howard Street truss bridge over the Spokane River Middle Channel in Spokane, Washington
Howard Street Middle Channel Bridge in Spokane. Photo by cmh2315fl via Flickr.

SeaTac, Washington

Planning to fly to Seattle or Tacoma, Washington? Then you'll be landing at the small city of SeaTac, home of the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. While tourism is not too big here, business is, especially given the city's strategic location between an airport and a seaport. As such there is no shortage of hotels, with most stretching along Pacific Highway 5 or located within a minute or two of it. If looking for a luxury stay, it doesn't get much better than Cedarbrook Lodge. Or if budget is the name of the game, there are several options below $50/night from the discount chains.

Blue skies over the SeaTac/Airport station in Washington
Blue skies over the SeaTac/Airport station. Photo by atomictaco via Flickr.

Kent, Washington

Next door to SeaTac is the city of Kent, also part of the Seattle Metropolitan Area but a world of difference. The small city has nearly 75 parks, some of them over 100 acres in size. Much like its neighbor city, Kent is also home of some prominent businesses including REI and Boeing. However the peaceful surroundings and how easy it is to enjoy the countryside beyond make this an ideal choice for anyone seeking relaxation.

Green crops-a-growin' in Kent, Washington
Green crops-a-growin' in Kent. Photo by nicenecktie via Flickr.

  Featured photo by Sheila Sund via Flickr

Published in United States

Good coffee. Stylish street art. Grunge music. The Space Needle. Seattle street-fashion. These are all things you find in Seattle that might not surprise you. But the city is also friendly, eclectic, and sometimes even a bit eccentric — which means that it is a veritable hotbed of offbeat sights and activities. The next time you find yourself in Seattle, rather than sticking to the boring and predictable tourist route, head on over and check out these unique and offbeat destinations:

The Official Bad Art Museum of Art

OBAMA: The Official Bad Art Museum of Art, a one-of-a-kind offbeat destination in Seattle, Washington

Also known as OBAMA, I was lured in the by promise of good food, good music and bad art. What a winning combination! The "museum" isn't as big as I'd imagined, but it was way more entertaining! Located inside of Cafe Racer, come eager for a bite to eat or to down a beer or cocktail as your peruse their collection of tasteless artwork. It's perfect for killing a half an hour or to use as a meeting place.

The Haunted Vending Machine

Sitting alone on one Seattle street corner and looking decidedly out of place is a beat-up, old vending machine that appears to have been there since the 1950s. Although it has in fact only been here for a few years, no one knows where it comes from or who keeps it stocked.

I thirstily approached it only to find that the buttons reveal no clue as to the contents of the machine. After inserting my 75 cents, I hit the fourth button and was rewarded with an Orange Fanta. Wow, I didn't even know that came in cans. To play the soda lottery yourself and see what the spirits give you, head on over to John & Broadway.

The Pinball Museum

The Pinball Museum in Seattle, Washington, just one of the city's many offbeat sights

Always a fan of crazy and kooky museums, it didn't take any convincing to get me inside the Seattle Pinball Museum. Turns out this place is so much fun that it has no right being called a "museum"— it is in fact an arcade. But, it's one that is complete with vintage games from the 1960s to the 2010s. Apparently they continually rotate through their inventory too, so you never know exactly what goodies from your childhood are waiting inside.

Greenwood Space Travel Supply

Full of knick-knacks, souvenirs, apparel and obvious scientific necessities such as a can of Chaos, a bottled quart of "Uncertainty" and the obligatory Black Hole Starter Kit, I was blown away by Greenwood Space Travel Supply. Not only is it cool and quirky, but by shopping here customers are supporting The Greater Seattle Bureau of Fearless Ideas (formerly 826 Seattle,) a charity working for over a decade to actively improving the writing abilities of children.

The Fremont Troll

The Fremont Troll, just one of Seattle's many offbeat sights

Undeniably Seattle's most well-known offbeat attraction, the Fremont Troll has been lurking underneath the George Washington Memorial Bridge towards north Seattle since 1990. Apparently, it won an art competition and has since become an attraction for out-of-town visitors. It was definitely worthy of the five-minute stop and photo, as well as a mandatory climb up.

Now that you know what to see and do, find a cheap hotel in Seattle and get your trip started!

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Published in United States

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