Washington has a lot to offer, from Microsoft to farmlands to mountains, rivers, coastline, and rainforest. Seattle has a wide variety of urban sights, including the first Starbucks location next to lively Pike Place market. You can catch ferries across Puget Sound to Bainbridge and other islands from nearby. The Fremont neighborhood has fun in the form of local bars and the huge novelty store Archie McPhee. See the ultra-modern Rem Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library and its reading room with a 40-foot-high angled glass ceiling, or the Olympic Sculpture Park on Elliott Bay, which contains works by Alexander Calder and Claes Oldenburg.
In Vancouver on the banks of the great Columbia River, take a tour of the reconstructed Fort Vancouver Historic Site for an enlightening history lesson about the Northwest fur trade and surprisingly attractive scenery. In central Washington, you can learn all about regional geography, agriculture, and history at the Yakima Valley Museum. Native American roots are an important part of those stories. Moran State Park in the Orcas Islands, between Bellingham and Victoria, BC, offers hiking among majestic fir trees and beautiful views. For some excellent bird-watching, keep an eye out for bald eagles snacking on salmon carcasses in the wintertime in the Skagit River Valley near the North Cascades. Guided walks meet at a Bald Eagle Interpretive Center.
Local foods include salmon and oysters; mushrooms and truffles; apples and pears; cherries and huckleberries; and wine and beer. Chefs in Washington don’t just pay lip service to using the local bounty. Have some truffled scallops, ling cod, crab cakes, rabbit pat├®, oysters, steak, or rich stinging-nettle risotto, all sourced locally, and wash it down with local wine. East of Seattle in Wenatchee, you can experience a cafe that morphs from coffee service by day to highlighting regional wines at night, accompanied by an excellent selection of cheeses. Find interesting twists on Mexican cooking, such as Northwest-style in Bellingham or Oaxaca crossed with Cuban and Peruvian influences in Leavenworth.
There is Puerto Rican in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood, vegetarian pho in the International District, Portuguese-inspired food by Pioneer Square, and the Russian dumplings known as piroshky in multiple locations. Have some vegan sausage with cider kraut in Leavenworth if that floats your boat, or spaetzle-stuffed pumpkin back in Seattle. Washington has a surprising amount of high-quality German food, and we know that goes well with beer. Seattle in particular is blessed with brewpubs. Try the Elysian Brewing Company in the central Pike/Pine neighborhood for a meal or just beer. It’s a taste of paradise that you’ll seldom get out of state.