When I plan a trip, I have a tendency to pack a lot in. I want to do everything, which makes me a prime victim for ‘travel burnout’. The thing is, there are just so many exciting adventures to have around the world. This isn’t any less true when exploring along the North American west coast. In my recent road trip from the absolutely wonderful Vancouver, Canada to San Francisco, California, I was overwhelmed by the variety of activities waiting for me.
The places that surprised me the most along this trip were Canada in general and the state of Oregon. So much, that I have become one of those overly enthusiastic people you find rabbiting on about the Pacific Northwest. Focusing on this area, here are just a few things to do and see to cement the age-old philosophy that west coast is indeed definitely the best coast.
1. Ziplining in Vancouver
The city is amazing, partly because of its mountain and sea views. I’m a sucker for a city with mountains and beaches – they boggle my London born-and-bred mind. One of these mountains is Grouse Mountain, which is free – I kid you not, free – to get to by bus from central Vancouver, by the waterfront. If a simple stroll taking in the scenery is all you want, then that’s available to you at no cost.
My boyfriend and I decided that Grouse Mountain would be perfect for ziplining. On the five-line course, we zoomed over water, past fir trees only an arm-stretch away (so close you could smell them) and from one mountain to another.
Canada has always conjured mountain imagery in my mind, and this was a fun, adrenaline-filled way to experience that.
2. Cycling in Stanley Park, Vancouver
I’ll be honest, riding a bike is not one of my strengths, nor is it my favourite activity. But cycling along Vancouver’s Sea Wall and in Stanley Park is a joy, however enamoured (or not) with bikes you are.
You’ll cycle by the water and through Stanley Park, with different routes to choose from. My highlight was stopping by the Totem Poles (one of British Columbia’s most visited tourist attractions), a collection that started from the 1920s.
3. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon
The Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area is a sight for sore eyes. It’s a wide expanse of 292,500 acres, with little nooks and crannies to get your hiking shoes into. My personal favourite was Oneonta Falls, which is not so much a hike but a bit of a scramble to get over fallen logs and wade through cold water. It’s really worth it though, as the waterfall at the end looks beautiful with the sun pouring in and creating a reflection of the water on the mossy sides of the gorge.
4. The Oregon Coast
Just enjoying the views while driving along this stretch is enough: make sure you visit Cannon Beach (made famous by The Goonies) and make use of the stopover points on the way. Watch out for the mist when driving. After getting over how annoying it is to be covering up the views, you begin to embrace it for its atmosphere.
5. Sandboarding in Florence, Oregon
One of the last things I expected to find in Oregon – or generally the USA – was sand dunes, and the ability to sandboard on them. So, I jumped at the chance to try this at Sand Master Park in Florence – the place where no other than the likes of Cameron Diaz and Tony Hawk have sandboarded.
I was told it’s like snowboarding or surfing. My verdict is that it’s equally enjoyable, but also frustrating if you’re not a natural, and climbing those dunes alone is enough to take care of those oversized American portions.
6. Umpqua Hot Springs
I think it’s fair to say that after all this activity, we deserved some rest and relaxation. And what better place could there be for this than some hot springs?
Before we go any further, I’ll have to say that Umpqua Hot Springs is not your usual hot springs spa. They are all natural and can only be reached after a bit of a trek through the woods. Because they are so tucked away, many people bathe naked.
If that’s not your thing, that’s cool as well. But let me tell you, you’re so secluded with views of only pine trees for miles and the sound of a trickling stream below you. If there’s any time to throw caution to the wind and strip for a hot dip, this is it. Liberating, you might say.
7. Crater Lake, Oregon
Hands down one of the most impressive things I’ve seen in my life is Crater Lake. It’s located in a crater shaped by a collapsed volcano. Rainfall has filled it up over years and turned it into one of the deepest lakes in the world. It’s also one of the clearest, which makes it fascinating to see its deep, peacock-blue shade from the distance and then completely transparent water once you’re close up.
Stretching 8km wide, almost 2000 ft high and the deepest lake in the US (9th in the world), Crater Lake is worth visiting.
British Columbia and Oregon won my heart in a second – are you surprised? The options along the Pacific Northwest coast are endless, and a road trip in the area should definitely be on your bucket list! Do you have any other highlights and activities to add?Tweet