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The Ultimate 2020 PNW Bucket List | 20 Things to Do in the Pacific Northwest

  |  Cannon Beach, Central Oregon, Hood River, Neighborhood Insight, Portland, Southwest Washington

We’ve entered a new year — and a brand new decade! ‘Tis the season for setting goals, changing habits and creating bucket lists. To help you fill out your bucket list, we created a 2020 Pacific Northwest Bucket List, filled with a variety of ways to help you maximize your year in this amazing region.

Featuring a mix of laid-back activities like oyster eating to some more impressive feats like adventurous hikes, this bucket list is sure to take your 2020 to new heights!


See Crater Lake

Crater Lake Oregon

If you haven’t visited Crater Lake National Park to see Crater Lake in person, just know — pictures don’t do this blue beauty justice. With a depth of 1,943 feet, the jaw-dropping Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and the intense blue color reflects the lake’s purity and depth. Consider camping at one of the two developed campgrounds surrounding the lake to extend your trip to this iconic national park!


Visit Multnomah Falls

Considered the largest waterfall in the state, Multnomah Falls measures 620 feet in height, spanning two tiers. Attracting more than two million visitors a year, this year-round waterfall in the Columbia River Gorge is the most-visited natural recreation site in the Pacific Northwest — and for good reason! For more information about Multnomah Falls and other must-visit waterfalls to add to your bucket list, click here.


Take a Picture at Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock Cannon Beach, OR

If you haven’t taken a selfie or a group photo in front of Haystack Rock, are you even a PNWer? Make a trip to Cannon Beach to encounter this 235-foot basalt rock that is easily one of the most recognizable landmarks in the state of Oregon and the Pacific Northwest as a whole. Haystack Rock is most accessible at low tide, when you can explore tidepools and various colorful marine animals.


Travel Along the Hood River Fruit Loop

Situated just south of Hood River and the Columbia River Gorge, the Hood River Fruit Loop is a scenic 35-mile drive through the valley featuring 29 member stands offering a variety of wines, fruits, vegetables, flowers, ciders, food and more. To learn more about each stop along the Hood River Fruit Loop (plus a helpful interactive map!), click here.


See Mount St. Helens

Mt. St. Helens

Photo Courtesy of Visit Mt. St. Helens

Join the masses headed to Mount St. Helens, an active stratovolcano most known for its destructive eruption on May 18, 1980. While there may be a large number of visitors on site, it is worth traveling to the Mt. St. Helens Visitor Center to get the full story of this fascinating volcano. The Johnston Ridge Observatory offers some of the clearest views of the volcano with several viewpoints along the way.


Taste Wines at a Willamette Valley Winery

Wine connoisseurs all over the world recognize Oregon’s Willamette Valley as one of the world’s most respected wine regions. It is home to over 500 wineries, encompassing over two-thirds of the state’s wineries. Overwhelmed? Check out a few of the best wineries in the valley to plan your next tasting adventure! No matter where you go be sure to order a pinot noir, as the Willamette Valley is known as one of the best producers of pinot noir in the world.


Shop at Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market Seattle, WA

Overlooking the Elliott Bay Waterfront in Seattle, the historic Pike Place Market is a must if you haven’t been already! See the iconic fish toss at the fish market, stroll through a variety of vendors, see the “Gum Wall”, get some cheese from Beecher’s, and wait in the long line at the very first Starbucks. Sure, you’ll fit right in with the tourists, but Pike Place Market is a worthwhile experience.


Soak in a Hot Spring

Hot springs mysteriously merge science with relaxation in a unique and unexplainable way. The Pacific Northwest is filled with hot springs, ranging from tiny hand-dug pools to massive hot springs with entire structures created around them. Learn more about the many hot springs sprinkled throughout Oregon and Southwest Washington and get ready for a combination of relaxation and adventure.


Drink a Beer in Bend

If you are lucky enough to live in Bend, you already know how much this Central Oregon town loves its craft beer. In fact, the city has the highest microbrewery per capita in Oregon and has even been called Beer City USA. Make your way to many of the incredible breweries in Bend to sample their latest creations.


Eat Local Oysters

Pacific Northwest Oysters

It’s no secret — the Pacific Northwest is one of the best places to get oysters in the country. Many varieties of shellfish thrive in our chilly, nutrient-dense waters, and the oysters found here are typically more plump and more flavorful than anywhere else in the world. Sample some locally harvested bivalves at one of these oyster bars and restaurants in Portland!


Hike to the Witches Castle in Forest Park

It’s likely you’ve heard the legends of murder and mystery about “the Witches Castle” tucked in Forest Park. See this eery, moss-laden structure yourself by making the slightly difficult half-mile hike to see it, starting at the Upper Macleay Parking Lot near the Portland Audubon Society. And while you’re at it, take an afternoon to explore the rest of this massive park! The park covers more than 5,000 acres and contains 70 miles of recreational trails, including the Wildwood Trail segment of the city’s 40 Mile Loop system. Whether you enjoy walking, running, biking or hiking, there are endless paths to explore at Forest Park.


Take a Ferry in Seattle

Due to its location along the Puget Sound, some of Seattle’s neighboring towns are most accessible via ferry. During the summer, take a day trip (and get an exceptional city view while you’re at it!) to Bainbridge Island, Vashon Island, San Juan Islands or even Victoria, B.C.!


Hike at Smith Rock State Park

Smith Rock State Park Central Oregon

Photo Courtesy of Smith Rock State Park

Situated just outside of Bend, Smith Rock State Park is an absolutely spectacular sight to see — and one of our favorite hiking destinations in the area. There is so much to explore within this 641-acre state park, whether you like to hike, mountain climb, camp, bike, run, or simply admire nature and wildlife. The park is open from dawn to dusk year-round and the day use fee is $5 per vehicle.


Visit the Tillamook Creamery

You may have tasted the iconic Tillamook cheese or ice cream around town, but have you seen where the magic happens? The newly reimagined Tillamook Creamery offers self-guided tours of the factory, complete with cheese samples, interactive kiosks, a cafe, and of course, lots of ice cream. But no matter where you live throughout the region, you’re likely to encounter this famous cheese at grocery stores and restaurants!


Eat a Washington Apple Straight From the Source

Washington’s varied climate gives it an advantage for agricultural production. Specifically, the state is known for its impressive apple production, as Washington produces about 58 percent of all apples grown in the country. East of the Cascades in the central areas of the state, you’ll find an endless number of apple orchards growing Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Fuji, Gala, Granny Smith, Braeburn, Pink Lady and more varieties. It’s estimated that about 168,500 acres of land in Washington bears apples. And there’s a reason Washington supplies so much of the country’s apples — once you taste a sweet, flavorful Washington apple, you’ll never go back. Visit a Washington apple farm to pick your own apples and taste one straight from the source!


Tour Pittock Mansion

Pittock Mansion Portland, OR

Photo Courtesy of Pittock Mansion

Built in 1914, the Pittock Mansion museum tells the story of Portland’s transformation from pioneertown to a more modern and industrialized city. Saved from demolition by dedicated citizens in 1964, the mansion and the surrounding estate were then purchased by the city and opened to the public as a historic house museum. Discover the history and legacy of the Pittock family, one of the city’s most influential families as you explore this historic house museum with either a self-guided or guided tour!


See the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm

This spring, take a trip south to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Farm for their Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival, one of the most beloved annual traditions for Oregon residents. Extending from late March through the month of April, the event showcases an impressive display of more than 40 acres of tulips and daffodils of all colors. Plus, enjoy food, wine, pony rides and more activities to kick off the spring season!


Visit The Waterfront in Vancouver

Vancouver Waterfront

Photo Courtesy of The Waterfront

2020 is the year to visit this relatively new addition in Vancouver! Situated along the Columbia River just south of downtown, this state-of-the-art mixed-use development features various parks, apartments and condos, offices, a boutique hotel, restaurants, shops and more. You could spend an entire afternoon exploring all that The Waterfront has to offer — plus, you can take in some incredible river views all the while.


Ski Mount Hood or Mount Bachelor

Take advantage of the last couple months of snowfall by organizing a ski trip! There is certainly no shortage of ski resorts in the Pacific Northwest. Two of our favorite mountains for skiing and snowboarding are Mount Hood near Hood River and Mount Bachelor in Central Oregon. Check out our complete guides to visiting both Mount Hood and Mount Bachelor to enhance your experience, including where to stay, things to do, and places to eat.


Go Kiteboarding in Hood River

Kiteboarding in Hood River, OR

Known as the “Windsurfing Capital of the World,” Hood River is an oasis for all wind-related sports, including kiteboarding. On a hot summer day in the Gorge, you’ll see dozens of colorful kites dotting the sky above the Columbia River. Join these adventure-seeking kiteboarders by trying your hand at the sport using our Kiteboarder’s Guide to Hood River!


Happy 2020!

Let us know what’s on your bucket list this year!

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About the Author

Melissa Peterson, Director of Agent Services and Technology

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