Vancouver (Washington) Travel Guide

Discover the best places to visit, top things to do, where to stay, and more in Vancouver, Washington with our comprehensive travel guide.

Introduction to Vancouver (Washington)

Vancouver is a charming city in Southwest Washington, situated in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States of America. Vancouver offers a unique blend of urban sophistication and natural beauty. The city is a perfect destination for travelers looking to explore the outdoors, visit culturally important attractions, and try delicious local cuisine.

List of Places to Visit in Vancouver (Washington)

Vancouver is home to several amazing attractions that cater to different interests and preferences. You can visit the following places:

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

  • Fort Vancouver National Historic Site: Fort Vancouver was once a significant trading post for the Hudson Bay Company. It has now been turned into an interesting historic site with living history performances, exhibits, and ranger-led tours.
  • Clark County Historical Museum: The museum tells the story of Clark County and the people who made it what it is today. The exhibits on the Lewis and Clark Expedition and Native American history are particularly fascinating.
  • Pearson Air Museum: This museum features vintage airplanes and other aviation artifacts.

Natural Attractions of Vancouver (Washington): Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

  • Waterfront Renaissance Trail: This urban trail runs along the Columbia River, offering panoramic views of the river and Mount Hood. You can walk, jog, or bike along the path.
  • Vancouver Lake: Vancouver Lake is a great place for swimming, kayaking, and fishing. The lake is surrounded by parks and walking trails.
  • Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area: The gorge is a beautiful natural wonder that is home to several waterfalls and hiking trails.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Vancouver (Washington)

Vancouver has numerous hiking and biking trails that provide opportunities for outdoor recreation. Some of the best routes include:

  • Burnt Bridge Creek Trail: This trail runs for 8 miles along an urban waterway. It offers stunning views of the surrounding wetlands and forests.
  • Salmon Creek Greenway Trail: The trail follows the Salmon Creek for about 4 miles and is perfect for cycling, jogging, and walking. The route offers scenic views of the creek, wetlands, and wildlife.
  • Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge: The refuge has more than 7,000 acres of wetlands and is home to over 200 species of birds. Several hiking trails go through the refuge and offer opportunities for bird watching and wildlife viewing.

Best Things to Do in Vancouver (Washington): Activities and Tours

Vancouver offers plenty of fun activities and tours for visitors. Some of the best things to do include:

  • Visit the Esther Short Park Farmer’s Market: The market is open from May to October and offers fresh produce, crafts, and entertainment.
  • Take a tour of the award-winning wineries: Vancouver is known for its fantastic wineries. You can take a tour of the local wineries and taste some excellent wines.
  • Explore the Fort Vancouver Artillery Barracks & Museum: The barracks were once occupied by the US Army, and the museum features historic weapons, uniforms, and other artifacts.

Week-Long Itinerary for Vancouver (Washington)

If you’re planning to spend a week in Vancouver, you can follow this itinerary:

Day Activity
Day 1 Visit Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
Day 2 Explore the Clark County Historical Museum and Pearson Air Museum
Day 3 Walk or bike along the Waterfront Renaissance Trail and visit Vancouver Lake
Day 4 Take a wine tour of local wineries
Day 5 Enjoy a day of shopping and dining at the Vancouver Mall
Day 6 Go bird watching and hiking at the Ridgefield National Wldlife Refuge
Day 7 Relax and enjoy some local cuisine at one of Vancouver’s many restaurants

Food and Drink Scene of Vancouver (Washington)

Vancouver has a thriving food and drink scene that offers a blend of local and international cuisine. Here are some must-try dishes and local beverages:

Must-Try Dishes

  • Salmon: As Vancouver is located on the Columbia River, it’s no surprise that salmon is abundant. You can enjoy it grilled, smoked, or poached.
  • Hazelnuts: Hazelnut farms are dotted all around Vancouver, so you should try hazelnut-based dishes like hazelnut butter and hazelnut coffee.
  • Hamburgers: Vancouver has many different styles of hamburgers, ranging from classic American-style burgers to more creative takes like Korean-style burgers.

Local Beverages

  • Beer: Vancouver has several popular breweries, including the Fortside Brewing Company and Heathen Brewing Feral Public House.
  • Wine: Washington State is known for its award-winning wines, and Vancouver has many great wineries to explore.
  • Coffee: For a caffeine fix, you can try local coffee roasters like Compass Coffee Roasting, Kafiex Coffee, and Paper Tiger Coffee Roasters.

Where to Stay in Vancouver (Washington): Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Vancouver has a wide range of lodging options to suit any budget or preference. Here are some recommendations:

  • The Heathman Lodge: This upscale lodge is situated in downtown Vancouver and features amenities like a heated indoor pool, fitness center, and free WiFi.
  • Staybridge Suites Vancouver: This all-suite hotel offers a full kitchen, free breakfast, and free WiFi.
  • Rodeway Inn: This budget-friendly hotel provides free breakfast, free WiFi, and is conveniently located near several attractions.

What to Buy in Vancouver (Washington): Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

If you’re looking for souvenirs or local products to bring home, Vancouver offers many options. Some of the best items to buy are:

  • Wine: Vancouver’s wineries produce some of the best wine in the country, and you can choose from a wide variety of reds, whites, and rosés.
  • Craft Beer: Vancouver has a thriving craft beer scene, with many microbreweries producing unique and delicious brews.
  • Chocolates: There are several chocolatiers in Vancouver that make some of the most delicious chocolates you’ll ever taste.

Local Culture and Customs of Vancouver (Washington)

Vancouver has a friendly, laid-back culture. People are generally welcoming and polite. Some of the unique customs of Vancouver are:

  • Frequent use of the word “eh”: Canadians are known for their use of “eh,” and Vancouver is no exception. You’ll hear it used in many contexts, from a simple greeting to a form of agreement.
  • Respect for nature: Vancouverites have a deep appreciation for nature, and you’ll see that reflected in the city’s parks, beaches, and hiking trails.
  • Preference for local and sustainable products: Vancouverites take pride in supporting local businesses and use of sustainable products.

Best Time to Visit Vancouver (Washington)

The best time to visit Vancouver is during the summer, from June to August, when the weather is warm and dry, and there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy. The fall is also an excellent time to visit because of the beautiful colors of the changing leaves. Winter can be rainy and cold, but it’s still worth a visit for indoor activities like wine tasting and museum visits.

Do’s and Don’ts of Vancouver (Washington)


  • Take a Columbia River Gorge cruise: A cruise along the Columbia River is a wonderful way to take in the natural beauty of the area.
  • Try local seafood: The abundance of fresh seafood in Vancouver means you have access to some of the best seafood dishes you’ll ever taste.
  • Respect nature: Vancouver is home to several natural wonders, and visitors should be respectful of the environment and avoid littering or damaging the ecosystems.


  • Litter: Vancouver is a clean and pristine city, and visitors should do their part to keep it that way by not littering in public places.
  • Jaywalk: Jaywalking is considered a serious offense in Vancouver, and visitors should take care to use crosswalks and obey traffic signals.
  • Underestimate the weather: Vancouver’s weather can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to pack for both warm and cool temperatures.

Safety and Health

Safety in Vancouver (Washington)

Vancouver is a safe city, and visitors are not likely to encounter any significant safety issues. However, as with any city, it’s always a good idea to be aware of your surroundings and keep your belongings secure.

Health in Vancouver (Washington)

Vancouver has excellent medical facilities, including hospitals and clinics. Visitors needing medical attention can go to one of several urgent-care centers, such as the Vancouver Clinic.

Getting to Vancouver (Washington): Transportation Options and Logistics

Vancouver is easily accessible by several transportation modes:

Airports Near Vancouver (Washington)

The closest airport to Vancouver is the Portland International Airport (PDX), located about 10 miles away. The airport offers several transportation options, including shuttles, taxis, and car rentals.

Bus Stations Near Vancouver (Washington)

Greyhound has several bus stations in and around Vancouver, making it easy to get to the city from different locations.

Other Options

Vancouver is easily accessible by car, with several major highways running through or around the city. Amtrak also has several train stations in Washington, making it an excellent option for visitors coming from other parts of the state or country.

How to Get Around in Vancouver (Washington)

Vancouver is a compact city and is easy to navigate. Visitors can use the following modes of transportation:

  • Bus: The C-Tran bus system provides comprehensive coverage of Vancouver and its surrounding areas.
  • Bike: Vancouver has several bike lanes, making it easy and safe to explore the city on two wheels.
  • Car: Visitors can choose to rent a car to navigate the city and explore the surrounding areas.

Where to Go Next from Vancouver (Washington): Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Vancouver is located in the heart of the Pacific Northwest, making it an excellent base for exploring nearby destinations and excursions. Some of the best places to visit from Vancouver are:

  • Portland: Portland is only a short drive away and offers visitors a vibrant culture, excellent dining scene, and beautiful parks.
  • Mt. Hood: Mt. Hood is a beautiful mountain range that offers several outdoor activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and hiking.
  • Seattle: Seattle is a bustling city with a rich history, picturesque views, and an array of tourist attractions.


A trip to Vancouver (Washington) is a great way to explore the natural beauty and cultural richness of the Pacific Northwest. From outdoor adventures to delicious local cuisine, Vancouver offers something for everyone. Use this comprehensive guide to plan your itinerary, and enjoy all that Vancouver has to offer!