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Subject: My wife & I are vacationing in Washington / Oregon rss

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Matt Robertson
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Hello Northwesters:

My wife (Kathy) and I have decided that we need to explore the Pacific Northwest and would like some advice on must see / must do items in the area.

Some of the things we enjoy are:
(1) Hiking
(2) Waterfalls
(3) Sea Kayaking
(4) Quality Dark Beer
(5) Board Games
(6) Natural Splendour and Wonders

We will be in the area the end of September, first of October.

I appreciate very much in advance any suggestions you might have. We tend to make our vacations up as we go along and look to set a loose itinerary in place beforehand.

Thanks,
Matt
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Les Marshall
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Matt,

Washington and Oregon are BIG places. How long will you be in the states? Are you driving from Canada or flying? If flying, which airport?

1) not heavily into hiking myself but, the Hoh Rainforest on the Olympic Peninsula is supposed to be nice.

2) the Columbia river is well known for a series of waterfalls east of Portland.

3) Given how rough the sea is off the Washington and Oregon coasts, I'm not sure I'd go there. However, in Puget Sound the going can be fairly nice and the area around the San Juan Islands is particularly nice. Also a scenic highway south of Bellingham called Chuckanut.

4) Portland just got ranked as one of the 5 best beer cities in the world with tons of microbreweries. Seattle has a few as well.

5) Seattle is replete with board games stores and venues. Portland is weaker in that regard.

6) August is the best month for us. By late September, the rainy blahs will be setting in. Salmon will be running and there are a number of places to see them. The valleys around Bellingham have a variety of broad leaf trees that put on quite a fall show of colors (you might be early). There is a fairly nice arboretum and Japanese garden in Seattle. The hills above Portland have a very nice parkland with well known rose gardens. Do you like zoos?

Fill in the blanks about time frame and travel method and maybe I can be a little more specific and helpful.
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Matt Robertson
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Thank you so much for the info. It is VERY helpful.

We are flying in and out of Seattle and will be vactioning for about 3 weeks. Sept 21st - Oct 9th
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MSV Burns
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Agreed, we need more info regarding your rough itinerary to be able to give the most meaningful advice.

If you are going to be in Portland, have access to a car and want to take a nature-oriented day trip, the Columbia Gorge (noted above) is a sure thing. Not only is it one of the beautiful, special places in North America, it's low-elevation so clouds won't wreck the view and if you drive east 90 minutes, you will get a good sense of the transition and contrast between he wet and dry sides of the region.

The different ecologies (and cultures) on the east and west sides of the Cascades go a long way to define the sort of dual-nature character of the two states.

Also, there are many, many hiking trails in the Gorge, on both the Washington and Oregon sides of the river. If you are hikers, I can pretty much guarantee you will will be blown away by the Eagle Creek trail east of Portland.

Edit to add: Ah, I see -- nearly three weeks. Nice! Well, the Gorge still merits a look if you are going to spend any time outside the Seattle area. On your way down, get off the freeway at exit 108 and check out my FLGS. It's a big, fun store with *tons* 'o nerd stuff.
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Max Maloney
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Rulesjd wrote:
6) August is the best month for us. By late September, the rainy blahs will be setting in.
Down in Portland, September is usually every bit as nice as August. In fact, the summer weather lasts into the second week of October usually.

That being said, the weather is really awful this year so it may not matter what my lifetime of experience in this city tells me.
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Joshua Hammack
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There are many places to hike as day trips from Seattle. Tiger Mountain to name one. You can also kayak in several of the lakes/sound in Seattle. We have Green Lake Games, Gamma Ray Games, and Blue Highway Games in Seattle. Most of them have gaming nights, and they have been so kind to mostly not overlap. As for beer we have several microbreweries, and where you are staying will effect which one you should go to. I'd suggest Elysian in general which has three locations in Seattle. Have fun.
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Ted Groth
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OK, I'm in England, but I lived in Olympia Washington for 12 years.

1) Hiking - You need to see Mt. Rainier! The alpine meadows at Paradise are spectacularly beautiful, with hiking trails that are everything from a 30 minute stroll, up to a full day. (This is also the starting point for most climbs to mountain summit) Past the best of the wildflowers by the end of September, the but fall color is also dramatic. If you are lucky and get a clear day, the views are unbeatable. If it is cloudy instead, that means fog when in the mountains, but it will be less crowded and there will be more wildlife about (if you can see them) Also see the north Cascades. I don't know that area, but I do know there are some excellent hiking areas.

2) Numerous waterfalls at Mt Rainer as well, with several easily seen from the road. Columbia Gorge waterfalls are spectacular and easy to get to as mentioned above. There is a truly remarkable waterfall near the highway east-southeast of Eugene. I don't recall the name of the falls, or the highway number, but it is dramatically high! Olympic Peninsula also has numerous falls.

3) Sea Kayaking among the San Juan Islands is spectacular, according to my buddy from Port Townsend. The outer Pacific Coast is pretty exposed, mostly heavy surf, with little access, so not great for kayaking. Some interesting sea stacks along the remote northern stretches of the Washington coast though. The Oregon coast is also rough for kayaking, but the coastline is spectacular for most of the way, and gets more so as you head south, near Bandon. I don't know whether people actually kayak around there, but it beautiful from the shore!

4) Fishtale Brewery in Olympia - Great beer, and good food. I forget the name of the street it is on, but it is one block east of Cherry Sreet, along Legion St. in Olympia. They will have the best beer selection in town, including seasonal varieties. 'Blind Pig' or 'Wild Salmon Ale' are recommended, but I'm not a beer guy. Other restaruants in town will also likely have beers from Fishtail available though, and some have waterfront views as well. You will probably find yourself driving through Olympia if you head south from Seattle. If you are there between 10a-3pm on Thur - Sunday, take a look at the farmers market, at the north end of Capitol Blvd. Excellent fresh food and prepared foods, near the waterfront, usually live music from 11a-2pm. I like it better than the Pike place market in Seattle, as it is more accessible. (no beer, but since I was talking about Olympia..)

5) Olympia Cards and Comics has a very good board game selection (despite the name) but the prices are usually MSRP no discount. If you are headed far south in Oregon, Funagain is in Ashland if I remember right.

6) Already mentioned several above. Also see Crater Lake in Oregon, and Port Townsend in Washington. You might see the Kinetik Skulpture Kontest, which is a crazy race of people powered creations on land, water and through mud, in a weekend in early October there, and anyway an interesting little old port town with a strong arts community today.
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Hawaka Winada
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Besides the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls already mentioned, two other concentrations of beautiful waterfalls are in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon and in the Enchanted Valley along the Quinalt River in Olympic National Park in Washington. Further downstream along the Quinalt River near Lake Quinalt are nice hikes to the "champion" trees of several conifer species and through the largest remaining stand of old growth douglas firs. And what is left of Mount St Helens and the devastation it caused is worth seeing as a side trip off I-5 between Seattle and Portland.
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Brian Brokaw
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D-Rider wrote:
Besides the Columbia River Gorge waterfalls already mentioned, two other concentrations of beautiful waterfalls are in Silver Falls State Park in Oregon and in the Enchanted Valley along the Quinalt River in Olympic National Park in Washington.
Over 10 waterfalls along a 3 mile trail in Silver Falls State Park. This is a beautiful hike.

Also, my family recently completed a 5 mile trail in Ecola State Park. The trail runs right along the cliff face of the Oregon coast near Cannon Beach. (which has plenty to see and do as well.)

Oh, and for board game meetups, check out:
http://www.meetup.com/pdxgames/

My favorite local game store is:
http://www.rainy-day-games.com
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Max Maloney
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brokasaphasia wrote:
Oh, and for board game meetups, check out:
http://www.meetup.com/pdxgames/

My favorite local game store is:
http://www.rainy-day-games.com
Rainy Day Games is a cool store, but I wouldn't steer a vacationing traveler to Aloha, which is a generic strip mall-dominated suburban wasteland (imo). Guardian Games is in central Portland and would be a little more "Portlandy."

But really there is so much better stuff to see while you're here, that I'm not sure I'd place game stores highly. The meetup site is a better choice.

Oh, has no one yet mentioned Powell's? At one time, this was the largest bookstore in the world and is still a top destination for visitors to Portland.
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Captain Ameritrash
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Bixby wrote:

(1) Hiking
(2) Waterfalls
(3) Sea Kayaking
(4) Quality Dark Beer
(5) Board Games
(6) Natural Splendour and Wonders

A lot of good suggestions thus far. Here's my $0.02 as a 14-year resident of Portland:

1) Silver Falls State Park and/or Multnomah Falls. Multnomah Falls is a shorter drive from Portland, and is more central to other Gorge-related attractions. Silver Falls is lovely, though.
2) See #1
3) Not sure, but if you drive to Seaside, OR there's probably a rental place. There's also a really cool tiny aquarium with a very personable octopus in a open tank and some very playful seals. Don't miss the tide pools around Haystack Rock while you're in the area. Fantastic sunsets to be had there.
4) Widmer brewpub and McMenamin's Kennedy School brewpub. Go to both. Then try some of the other McMenamin's locations.
5) Guardian Games - SE 3rd Avenue, Portland
6) See #1 and #3. Also consider a side trip to Stonehenge in Maryhill, WA. It's not a "natural" attraction, but it's way cool.

Good luck!
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aug_aug
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Here's my $ 0.05 some of the things we enjoy about WA are:

(1) Hiking - Depends on where you're going, see below.

(2) Waterfalls - Not sure - refer to prior posts.

(3) Sea Kayaking - I second the San Juans, ferry rides are cool and those islands are absolutely beautiful. We take everyone from out of town here.

(4) Quality Dark Beer - You can't miss seriously, stop in any of our breweries/pubs, http://blog.seattlepi.com/whatsontap/

(5) Board Games - Not much of a storefront, but cheapest games ever www.cardhaus.com just 5 min. north of Seattle in Lynnwood - it's like a 2 for 1 sale.

(6) Natural Splendour and Wonders - Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Rainier, Olympic National Park & Rain Forest (Hall of Mosses is my favorite), Olympic Coast
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Matt Robertson
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I want to offer a very sincere thank you to all of the posts and suggestions. This is great information and a much higher response rate than I was anticipating. You are all ambassadors to your area and I humbly thank you!
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jim b
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If you drive through the Fremont/Ballard area in Seattle, watch for the Bridge Troll-
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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If you make it down to Portland, gimme a ring. The beers tend toward IPAs, but hiking is great! Plus, I'm here!
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Xander Fulton
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brokasaphasia wrote:
Also, my family recently completed a 5 mile trail in Ecola State Park. The trail runs right along the cliff face of the Oregon coast near Cannon Beach. (which has plenty to see and do as well.)

Cannon Beach is definitely very cool - one of my favorite places on the coast, but the wife HATES it. It's very 'posh' touristy. Definitely more for city dwellers who want to visit the coast in a civilized fashion. Which is me.

The wife prefers things like the rest of the state - more 'down to earth'. We are both pretty big fans of Astoria, but it's a working fishing village (you've seen the movie 'The Goonies'? It's set there.), so YMMV. One of my English co-workers thinks it's nothing special - rather disappointing, in fact - but mostly he attributes that to being pretty much just like all the fishing villages on the English coasts, only with US-style strip malls here and there, so really kinda lame to him. For the wife and I, not having anything like that at any point prior in our lives, it's AWESOME.

If you are any kind of hippies, Eugene is a must-see, but pretty far south into the state.

I second (?third? ?fourth?) the recommendation for the Columbia River Gorge. AMAZING. Be sure to see it along the scenic Historical Columbia River Highway, rather than sticking entirely to the newer interstate freeway. It's a bit longer to take time-wise, but some AMAZING views and AMAZING waterfalls.
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Peter Mumford
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Bixby wrote:

(4) Quality Dark Beer
two of the best local dark beers are:
Sodo Brown Aleby Two Beers, and Georgetown Brewing, which makes a very smooth porter.
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Claudio
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derk wrote:
If you make it down to Portland, gimme a ring. The beers tend toward IPAs, but hiking is great! Plus, I'm here!

The hiking is great, the IPAs are extraordinary, and the boardgaming is pretty excellent. I can't compare to Seattle cuz I've never gamed there, but I know that there are 30-40 gamers that show up at the Lucky Lab brewpub on Hawthorne every Thursday evening.

Another 30 or so that show up at Rainy Day and Guardian (game stores) on alternating Sundays. And a couple of other weekly and biweekly venues that have sprung up.

But for killing two birds with one stone, there is nothing like the Lucky Lab. Maybe I'll see you there!
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A Derk appears from the mists...
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What Claudio said. The Lab's pretty darned kewl that way. Altho I'm not a beer snob and someone who is last week was sayin' the selection is weak... But the gamin' (which I know quite well) is rather tasty as is the three-cheese meltdown!
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Brian Franzman
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I live in Tacoma, and haven't been here all that long, but here's a few ideas if you're looking for things to see or visit:

http://www.hplfilmfestival.com/ October 1-3, if you're into that kind of thing!
http://www.powells.com/ About the most books you can find in one place in the NW.
http://www.thegamematrix.com/ A great (and great big) game store.
http://www.exit133.com/2657/doyles-and-the-parkway-best-in-a... Did you say beer?
http://www.metroparkstacoma.org/page.php?id=24 My back yard...
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Claudio
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derk wrote:
What Claudio said. The Lab's pretty darned kewl that way. Altho I'm not a beer snob and someone who is last week was sayin' the selection is weak... But the gamin' (which I know quite well) is rather tasty as is the three-cheese meltdown!

I'm a reformed beer everyman. Portland has made me a snob. True. The Lab's beer is not the best. But the Super Dog does the job quite nicely. And I'm a big fan of the tuna melt myself. There is also a great array of food carts a few blocks away. For those unfamiliar, Portland has amazing food carts, completely unrelated to the roach coaches of most cities. They deserve culinary tourism in their own right.
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Claudio
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claudio212 wrote:
For those unfamiliar, Portland has amazing food carts, completely unrelated to the roach coaches of most cities. They deserve culinary tourism in their own right.

To wit: http://www.foodcartsportland.com/
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John Rogers
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So many wise Northwesterners here.

Allow me to re-emphaize seeing Mt. Rainer; check out Paradise, WA. and visit one of Mt. Rainer's 26 glaciers. For hiking I'd suggest Tipsoo Lake, it's breathtaking and a wonderful way to spend an afternoon. Just in case nobody posted this yet http://www.visitrainier.com/pg/topTen/Top-Ten-Things-To-Do-a...

Brews, wines, and games are easy to come by throughout the PNW. If Bavarian culture is your thing check out Leavenworth, WA. http://www.leavenworth.org/modules/pages/index.php?pageid=1.

Overall it's beautiful here in the PNW. Have a great time!
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Xander Fulton
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claudio212 wrote:
derk wrote:
What Claudio said. The Lab's pretty darned kewl that way. Altho I'm not a beer snob and someone who is last week was sayin' the selection is weak... But the gamin' (which I know quite well) is rather tasty as is the three-cheese meltdown!

I'm a reformed beer everyman. Portland has made me a snob. True. The Lab's beer is not the best. But the Super Dog does the job quite nicely. And I'm a big fan of the tuna melt myself. There is also a great array of food carts a few blocks away. For those unfamiliar, Portland has amazing food carts, completely unrelated to the roach coaches of most cities. They deserve culinary tourism in their own right.

This is true. Just did the carts today, actually. PDX has mind blowing food.

An AMAZING selection of vegan and vegetarian foods at them, too. MMmmmmm....Bro Dogs with their veggie dog + onion + cheese....MMMMMMM. I understand the city is something like the #2 in the country for vegetarian food choices, so if you swing that way, LOTS OF GOOD DINING.

derk wrote:
What Claudio said. The Lab's pretty darned kewl that way. Altho I'm not a beer snob and someone who is last week was sayin' the selection is weak... But the gamin' (which I know quite well) is rather tasty as is the three-cheese meltdown!

You know, I've somehow never gotten over there. I had no idea you were in PDX, though - famous person alert! May have to try to get over there some time and see what's what.

In any case, if you ARE a beer snob, there is a pretty cool hole-in-the-wall by Broadway and Burnside in downtown. It's right by Mary's, which is a total dive of a strip club, but also a rather famous landmark as it was one of the first on this coast (or something like that - not sure of the details, but it IS both divey and also famous...or infamous. Whichever.)

ANYWAY - Bailey's Taproom. They have 20 rotating taps of local (Oregon and Washington, generally, but sometimes northern California) microbrews. Both a blessing and a curse - if you are regular, and find something you like...odds are it won't be there next time. On the other hand, ALWAYS a big selection to try.

Only downside is that there is no food there - have to run across the street to hit up the Mexican joint (which isn't bad, and they have a pretty good arrangement with Bailey's...let them know you are having drinks across the way, and they'll bring your food over for you).
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Jason Wiebe
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We went to Oregon in 2007 - beautiful state - avoid Portland - really.
(I'm sorry Portlanders - I didn't enjoy driving through it!)
There are a series of waterfalls east of Portland - beautiful.
Also on the drive up to Crater Lake (fantastic!) there are several more waterfalls along the way. Don't know if the road is still open though. Plan a good chunk of the day for that one.
Also anywhere along the coast is very nice as always.
Good Luck!
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