It’s officially summer! And while each season certainly has its allure, there is nothing quite like summer in the Pacific Northwest. Summers here are marked by pleasant warm temperatures, clear skies, longer days, and plenty of colorful trees and flowers.
Maximize the season with these quintessential PNW summertime activities, designed to take your summer to new heights, whether you prefer hiking to the summit or reclining on a patio with a glass of wine in hand. No matter where you live in the area, there is plenty to see, taste and experience this summer!
Take a Road Trip to Cannon Beach
While the charming seaside town of Cannon Beach is idyllic all year long, it is especially popular during the summer. The quaint downtown comes to life with activity, especially during one of the many annual community events happening throughout the summer. Grab a bite to eat, fly a kite on the beach, walk to Haystack Rock, treat yourself to ice cream, and peruse art galleries — enjoying the charm of this small town all the while. If you love your visit enough, consider making your stay a bit more permanent by buying a home in Cannon Beach!
The Pacific Northwest is dotted with dozens of spectacular waterfalls, from the soaring Multnomah Falls attracting over two million visitors a year to lesser-known waterfalls tucked back in a lush forest. Take a hike or a drive to some of the region’s most spectacular waterfalls, from Tumalo Falls in Central Oregon to Falls Creek Falls in Southwest Washington.
Hiking in the Pacific Northwest is one of the most jaw-dropping recreational experiences — especially during the summer. The contrast of lush green forest against the blue sky, plus brilliant hues of rock formations and colorful flowers, makes hiking in the PNW so dreamy for experienced and beginner hikers alike. If you’re looking for an easier hike to conquer this summer, check out some of the best hikes under 5 miles in Oregon and Southwest Washington. Take advantage of the unparalleled natural beauty of the region with a manageable yet rewarding hike.
Our proximity to the vast Pacific Ocean makes eating seafood an inevitable summertime activity for PNW residents. Pretty much no matter where you are in the region, you can access some top-notch fresh seafood. Consider heading to Seattle for the iconic fish toss at Pike Place Market or slurp on oysters in Portland — all of which pairs well with a glass of white wine, a refreshing drink of choice during the summer.
Take a River Cruise or Ferry Ride
Photo Courtesy of Aaron Greene via Portland Spirit
Taking a ferry ride is a rite of passage for Seattle residents and a cruise along the river is a popular activity for those living in Portland and Vancouver. The PNW is teeming with various bodies of water, including rivers, streams, lakes, inlets and of course — the vast Pacific Ocean. It’s only right to travel by boat this summer! Consider taking the ferry from downtown Seattle to Bainbridge, hopping on the Portland Spirit for a cruise from downtown Portland along the Willamette — or the Columbia River in the Gorge. Or take your boating adventure to the next level with a whale watching cruise along the coast with Marine Discovery Tours!
Adventure by Van
Photo Courtesy of Roamerica
Van travel is all the rage these days and several companies in the Pacific Northwest make it easier than ever to explore the region in your very own glamping-mobile. Consider renting a van from PacWesty to explore the Olympic Peninsula and Roamerica or GoCamp in Portland for just about every PNW adventure in between.
The Pacific Northwest produces some of the world’s best wines — especially in the Willamette Valley, home to over 500 wineries, encompassing over two-thirds of the state’s wineries. Take a look at a handful of must-visit wineries in the region, including wineries in Southwest Washington, Central Oregon — and of course, near Portland in the Willamette Valley. We can’t think of a more quintessential PNW activity during the summer than sitting on a sunny outdoor patio and sipping on a crisp pinot noir.
Cheer on Your Favorite Team
Take advantage of longer days and warmer temperatures by cheering on your favorite local sports team this summer, whether it’s the Seattle Mariners, the Seattle Sounders, the Portland Timbers or the Portland Thorns. Cheer on your team (or adopt a nearby team as your own) at a game or two this summer!
Attend a Summer Festival or Event
Photo Courtesy of Erin Riddle via Pickathon
Celebrate craft beer, live music, local artists, and all other summery things at a summer festival in the region! Portland has plenty of summer festivals on the calendar (like Pickathon!) if you’re looking for a place to start the celebration. Other noteworthy summer festivals in the region include Seafair in Seattle, the Celebration of Light in Vancouver, B.C., the Cannon Beach Sandcastle Contest, and many more.
Central Oregon is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts as it boasts exceptional weather, gorgeous views and terrain, and renowned lakes, rivers and mountains within reach. Take a trip to Bend (or stay put if you’re lucky enough to live there!) to explore the many opportunities for outdoor recreation, including rafting, mountain biking, paddleboarding, fishing, hiking, golfing, and much more. Use our outdoor guide to take your outdoor adventures to the next level! And if you’re traveling from the Portland area, be sure to make some time for these must-visit stops along the way.
Nothing says summertime quite like eating freshly picked berries on the porch. And summertime is the ideal time to enjoy these fruits while they’re in season! Pick your own berries at a nearby you-pick farm or urban garden. If you’re in the Portland area, head to Bella Organic, Kruger’s Farm, Columbia Farms, Smith Berry Barn or South Barlow Berries for endless berry-picking fun.
Experience the beauty of the outdoors while maintaining the comforts of home with a glamping trip! There are so many unique glamping destinations in the Pacific Northwest, including furnished canvas tents, yurts, treehouses, cabins, vintage trailers and much more. Consider The Vintages Trailer Resort in Dayton, Oregon, Panacea at the Canyon just outside of Bend, or Sou’wester Historic Lodge and Vintage Travel Trailer Resort near the coast in Washington.
The Pacific Northwest is dotted with a number of majestic mountain peaks, each providing endless opportunities for outdoor recreation, especially during the winter and early spring. However, they make excellent hiking destinations (or backdrops!) during the spring, summer and fall. Take a look at some iconic mountains in the Pacific Northwest, extending from Mount Baker near the Washington-Canada border, all the way to Mount Thielsen in Southern Oregon.
The extensive network of waterways in the Pacific Northwest make the region ideal for kayakers. Some of the most popular rivers for kayaking near Portland include the Columbia Slough Watershed, Lower Hood River, the Tualatin River, the Willamette River, and more. And a few popular Washington rivers include Skykomish River, the Wenatchee River, White Salmon River, and more.
If you live in the Hood River area, you are lucky enough to have year-round access to the many attractions throughout the Gorge, a massive 4,000-foot-deep canyon filled with adventure and beautiful scenery. Head to the Columbia River Gorge this summer to experience the best of this region, including the Hood River Fruit Loop, the Hood River Lavender Farm, the Vista House, and plenty of wineries and breweries. Plus, Hood River is a haven for outdoors enthusiasts; in fact, the city is nicknamed the “Windsurfing Capital of the World” due to the popularity of the sport in Hood River.
The Pacific Northwest is filled with a number of notable landmarks, both natural and man-made, that tell the stories of our region’s rich history. Check a few landmarks off your bucket list this summer! Consider Snoqualmie Falls, the Astoria Column, Crater Lake, The Grotto, the Oregon Caves, or the state capitol buildings in Washington and Oregon.
Photo Courtesy of SoakOregon.com
While many think winter is the best season to soak in a hot spring, there really isn’t a bad time to experience these mysterious phenomena merging science with relaxation. Take a soak in one of the many hot springs in the Pacific Northwest, ranging from tiny hand-dug pools to massive hot spring destinations with entire structures created around them.
What activities do you enjoy each summer? Let us know in the comments below!