The wilderness around Seattle makes it one of the best bases for getting back to nature. So after you’ve toured Pike’s Place and listened to some grunge, it’s time to head outside.
Vancouver Island: Driving to Vancouver itself from Seattle will take up to three hours, but if you just want to cross the border, hop on a ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island. The ride takes two hours and 45 minutes but the views of the Olympic peninsula and the American and Canadian shorelines are unbeatable.
Forks: It’s a long three hour drive over the Olympic peninsula to Forks, but Twilight fans won’t care about that – this is where the books were set (even if the movies were filmed elsewhere). And although it’s just a small lumber town, the powers that be have done everything possible to accommodate Twihards, with replicas of Bella’s truck, maps to properties mentioned in the books and photo ops galore. In fact, it’s worth a visit just for the awe-inspiring gift shops.
North Cascades: One of the most stunning National Parks around, the North Cascades contain glaciers, walking trails, and animals as exotic as lynx. Much of it is a wilderness, and it’s a place for full-on hikers – although the most popular trail, Cascade Pass, is just four miles long.
Mount Rainier and Mount St Helen’s: The fifth highest mountain in America (at 14,410 feet), Mount Rainier has a varied landscape of glaciers and craters, wildflower meadows and forests, and is populated by black bears, elk, deer and the like. South of it lies Mount St Helen’s. It’s easily accessible from the main road – just five miles from the Seattle-Portland highway. You’ll see Silver Lake, one of many lakes created through past volcanic eruptions, and get a perfect view of the puffs of smoke that it still exhales.
Portland: Oregon’s capital town is a long haul at three hours away, but it’s worth every minute. It’s a haven for independent shoppers – whether you’re after vintage clothes, music, books or beer. And make sure you come on an empty stomach – the food scene is up there with the best in America, with locally sourced ingredients populating most menus and hundreds of food carts selling dishes from all over the world at bargain prices.