Top 10 Summer Cities In The Pacific Northwest

The Pacific Northwest will tell you that they have the best summers anywhere, and I'm pretty sure they're right. If you plan on taking a vacation you might not have time to see everything that they have to offer. Here are our choices for the very best places to visit during the summer in the Pacific Northwest. Be prepared to start making plans, the Pacific Northwest is an amazing place.

#10 Kelowna, BC 

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Cradled within a glorious range of mountains; a sanctuary blessed with pristine lakes, pine forests, abundant gardens, orchards vineyards and sandy beaches. Summers are hot and sunny in Kelowna with temperatures usually over ninety degrees. To cool off head over to Okanagan Lake. Just watch out for the local lake monster, Ogopogo, a serpent like creature that resembles the Loch Ness monster but has been around much longer and has been sighted much more often. 

#9 Corvallis, OR

Corvallis has gorgeous options outdoors – Mary's Peak, Alsea Falls, the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge – a beautiful and historic downtown and lovely Riverfront Commemorative Park, from covered bridges to the Heart of Willamette Wineries, the Seven Wonders of Corvallis have a lot to offer.

The seven wonders of Corvallis feature shopping, eating, drinking, hiking, walking, biking, and best of all are enjoyable! 

#8 Olympia, WA

The South Sound Wine Trail includes six award winning wineries where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery of the South Sound and Capitol Lake. Not a bad way to start your vacation. The next day head over to a waterfront park. Percival Landing Park is very popular with locals and tourists and is a hub for public celebrations. The mile long boardwalk is on the eastern shore. 

Olympia also has an extraordinary farmers market. An active part of Olympia’s downtown community for the past 38 years. Olympia’s residents and visitors can come and enjoy locally grown produce, fresh fruits and meet up with friends to watch the entertainment on the Market stage.

Olympia has a wolf conservation center that's mission is to "conserve and protect wolves and their habitat". Head over to Wolf Haven International for guided walking tours of wolf sanctuary, educational group tours, photo tours or A Midsummer's Night (summer overnight camping).

Last but not least head over to Tumwater Falls Park. The Deschutes River ends its journey from the shoulders of the Cascade range to tumble a final 82 feet into Capitol Lake, once the final reach of Puget Sound. Here, bordering the banks of the river is Tumwater Falls Park, providing 15 acres filled with natural, picturesque beauty and year round atmosphere of enjoyment for those of all ages. One-half mile of walking trails are highlighted by cascading waterfalls, still, reflective pools and massive rocks. Spanning the river at both ends of the gorge and connecting the network of trails are foot bridges. At the upper reaches and entrance to the Park, visitors will find, wide expanses of beautifully maintained lawns, picnic facilities, a sand-filled area for children featuring uniquely designed play items, immaculate restrooms and ample parking.

#7 Spokane, WA

Spokane is on the eastern border of Washington and has a different feel to it than most of the Pacific Northwest. Spokane is close to dozens of lakes and rivers for swimming, boating, rafting, and fishing, as well as mountains for hiking, biking and sightseeing. Glacier National Park is a four hour drive away. The Spokane area offers an abundance of outdoor activities including over 87 parks totaling 4,100 acres with six neighborhood aquatic centers. 

The last weekend in June of every summer Spokane has the world's largest 3 on 3 basketball tournament. Spokane Hoopfest has over 7,000 teams that take over downtown Spokane with 456 courts spanning 42 downtown city blocks. Beyond basketball, though, Hoopfest is an outdoor festival chock full of shopping, food, interactive entertainment, and every year has something new

One of Spokane's most popular annual events is Pig Out in the Park. Every Labor Day Weekend 100,000 hungry people attend free concerts featuring local and national recording artists. Attendees can choose from over 47 food booths and over 225 menu items.

#6 Bellingham, WA

The scenic splendor of Bellingham has mild and pleasant summers with daily highs rarely exceeding 90. Whatcom Falls Park is a 241-acre large public park encompassing the Whatcom Creek gorge, running directly through the heart of the city. It has four sets of waterfalls and several miles of walking trails, and is a hub of outdoor activity connecting and defining several different neighborhoods of Bellingham. Popular activities during warmer weather include swimming, fishing, and strolling along the numerous walking trails.

South of Bellingham there are many places enjoyed by vacationers and enthusiasts of outdoor recreation, including: Larrabee State Park (popular for hiking), and Lake Padden (popular for swimming, fishing and golfing). To the east you can visit Galbraith Mountain, which is renowned for its many fine mountain bike trails.

Located halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, Bellingham attracts premier music talent. Some of the best places to catch a show are the Mount Baker Theater and Wild Buffalo House of Music along with pubs and breweries including Kulshan Brewing Co. & The Green Frog.

#5 Eugene, OR

Home to the University of Oregon Eugene is noted for its natural beauty and recreational opportunities (especially kayaking, bicycling, running and rafting). Eugene's slogan is "A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors" and it's especially true in the summer when they have a dry and warm climate. 

On the second weekend of every July the 3 day Oregon Country Fair begins 15 miles west of Eugene in Veneta, Oregon. The 45th Annual Oregon Country Fair this year July 11th-13th has hundreds of world class entertainers and performers, hand craft artisans and gourmet food creators lining up to provide, once again, an experience unequaled in the festival world. Absorb other-worldly path ambiance, parades and surprises around every bend. Dress up and come ready to participate in a time-of-your-life cultural immersion. The Oregon Country Fair creates a world unlike any other in a magical wooded setting embracing the meandering banks of the Long Tom River.

Near the end of every summer the Eugene Celebration is another annual 3 day summer celebration. Held in downtown Eugene the festival features bands from throughout the Pacific Northwest. The festivities include the people's parade, Kid Zone, local food and craft vendors, a classic car show, a pet parade, and areas like Health and Wellness, the Sustainability Village, and Community Causeway as well as a space for nonprofit, charitable and advocacy organizations to promote their services. 

Best Places to Visit in Eugene - 

Ninkasi Brewing Company 

The brewery features a 50 barrel brewing system, and uses it to produce beer that is distributed throughout Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and San Francisco. The Ninkasi Tasting Room is located in the brewery building and is a great place to taste the current seasonal beers as well as the flagship Ninkasi lines. 

Prince Puckler's Gourmet Ice Cream

Prince Puckler's has been making rich, creamy ice cream for over 38 years in Eugene. They use quality ingredients that you can taste with every lick or spoonful.  The sundaes are a treat that bring customers back year after year, generation after generation, smile after smile. 

Noli Italian Cafe

An authentic Italian eatery owned and operated by Davide Mulone who is originally from Genoa, Italy and has worked in the kitchens of Germany, Italy, Las Vegas and Portland with his wife Maggie McDonald who is originally from Eugene. They are dedicated to supporting local farmers providing organically grown produce, all natural beef, pork and hormone free poultry whenever possible. The menu includes heavenly pastas and classic Italian desserts.

Autzen Stadium

The home of the beloved Oregon Duck football team.  If you arrive in Eugene late in the summer during September this is truly a great place to experience a football game.  The opening festivities are awesome and so is the tailgating.

Skinner Butte Park 

Nestled between the Fifth Street Public Market and the Whitaker District lies Skinner’s Butte Park, one of the gems of Eugene.  Steeped in history and blessed by abundant natural beauty, it’s a unique place and worth experiencing. The park consists of over 100 acres, popular with residents and tourists alike, for a myriad of uses, ranging from:

  • A pretty place to enjoy a picnic
  • A workout while rock climbing or hiking
  • A fun playground for the kids
  • A place to soak in the vistas of Eugene
  • Where to see the birth spot of Eugene
  • Trails to bike or walk by the Willamette River

#4 Victoria BC

Victoria is a unique blend of old world charm and new world experiences. As an island destination, Victoria offers visitors an escape from the hurried world and beams with ambience. Boasting the mildest climate in Canada. In Victoria, heritage architecture, colorful gardens and traditions like afternoon tea mix with a plethora of outdoor adventure, world-class culinary experiences and a vibrant arts and culture scene. This combined with the wild beauty of the Pacific Ocean set against a backdrop of the Olympic Mountains makes Victoria the perfect getaway.

Victoria has cool summers and is the driest city in Canada during the summer months. Victoria is the sunniest city in British Columbia and gets more sunshine than most other cities in Canada. The area is also home to some of the country's most exhilarating scenery: there's an ocean or mountain vista around every corner, and the city's flower gardens are famous the world over. Whether your taste runs to golfing, hiking, biking and fishing, or you're more the shopping, dining and theater type, Victoria has you covered.

#3 Vancouver, BC

The mild climate of the city and proximity to ocean, mountains, rivers and lakes makes Vancouver one of the best destinations in the world for outdoor summer fun. Vancouver has over 3,200 acres of parks including the 1,000 acre Stanley Park. The city has several large beaches, many adjacent to one another, extending from the shoreline of Stanley Park around False Creek to the south side of English Bay, from Kitsilano to the University Endowment Lands. Vancouver has 11 miles of beaches and a freshwater beach at Trout Lake. The coastline provides for many types of water sports, and the city is a popular destination for boating.

Within a 30 minute drive from downtown Vancouver are the North Shore Mountains. Mountain bikers have created world-renowned trails across the North Shore. The Capilano River, Lynn Creek and Seymour River, also on the North Shore, provide opportunities for whitewater enthusiasts, and the canyons of those rivers are great for hiking and swimming.

Nestled between the mountains and the ocean, with an active, outdoorsy population, Vancouver is full of activities for those who want to enjoy life to its fullest. If you love the outdoors you'll have amazing opportunities to fish, hike and camp, enjoy the watersports along with bike and running trails, don't forget to go whale-watch and visit the suspension bridges.

#2 Portland, Oregon

Summers in Portland are warm, dry and sunny with low humidity. The four months of June, July, August and September account for only 4 inches of total rain combined – a small fraction of the 36 inches (915 mm) of rain that falls throughout the year.

Considered to be the epicenter of the American craft brewing resurgence, Portland is home to more breweries than any other city in America. Portland is home to 53 breweries and counting — more than any other city on earth. Along with bustling brewpubs and a calendar overflowing with beer-themed events, their innovative, tasty brews help the city to continually earn its “Beervana” nickname.

Portland has tons of options for outdoors adventures. 

Portland has more than 10,000 acres of parks including one of the largest parks in the United States, Forest Park. Forest Park is in the mountains west of the downtown area, the park has more than 5,100 acres of forest with about 70 miles of trails.

Another hike you can also consider is on a stately dormant volcano about 20 minutes away that overlooks the city at Mount Tabo.

With plenty of rivers in Oregon and the Pacific Ocean, there’s a wealth of watery ways to spend a hot summer day. A 75-minute drive east of Portland, Hood River has world-class windsurfing. This small town has a surf-village vibe, and is a great place to learn a new hobby. Hood River Water Play teaches everyone from beginners to experts how to hook the wind, whether with a kite board, on a stand-up paddle board or while windsurfing.

Larger groups can paddle in unison on a trip with Blue Sky Rafting. Located 30 miles outside Portland on the Clackamas River, this outfitter expertly pilots many of the local streams that fluctuate in difficulty as the winter’s snow melts off the mountain, forming some fun rapids. Or, if you want to ditch the oars but hold onto the excitement, a good jet boat ride might be just the thing. Willamette Jetboat Excursions rip down the city’s central waterway, showing off the skyline, bridges and riverfront in rapid fire. Narrated with local facts and stories, it’s a great way to get a splash of local insight.

North Clackamas Aquatic Park, located just outside Portland, packs in six swimming pools, three water slides, a 29-foot rock climbing wall, wave pools, hot tubs and a kiddie pool — so everyone can make a splash here. The same goes for Wings & Waves Waterpark, 45 minutes west of Portland in McMinnville. With 10 slides and a children’s museum that focuses on the power of water, it’s a great place for kids to soak in a little summer learning on the sly. Read more at Travel Portland

Portland is also one of the top coffee cities in the world. Four Portland cafes landed on a recent national list of America's top 50 coffee shops. The list, picked by a handful of coffee industry experts, includes cafes "from Portland to Florida" evaluated on their coffee, baristas and "coffee culture." The list included #35 Coava Coffee, #28 Stumptown, #24 Barista and #14 Heart all in Portland.

No rain, an abundance of outdoor options, some of the world's best coffee and the top beer city in the world. What more do you want in a summer vacation? 

#1 Seattle

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The Emerald City has a plethora of fun options year round but you can avoid the cold wet winters and enjoy their beautiful city when it's nice and sunny during the summer. Seattle ranks near the top of all cities for the least amount of rain June - September. No thunderstorms, no humidity, no bugs, just beautiful weather and an amazing city with a thousand fun things to do. 

Every year in mid-May Summer starts early with one of the top film festivals in North America. The three week Seattle International Film Festival, the largest film festival in the U.S., with more than 400 features, documentaries and short films attracts over 150,000 filmgoers each year. The festival began in 1976 for Seattle movie lovers renowned for their strong support for independent cinema and their sophisticated tastes. Those long rainy winters give Seattle plenty of indoor time and create a unique and sophisticated palate for cinema. 

For outdoor fun, Seafair  is an eight week long, 65 year old summer festival that includes a wide variety of events leading up to the Seafair weekend in early August. The Seafair weekend features vintage hydroplane racing, the Blue Angels, live music, world-class wake boarders and tons more of fun summer events.

Every year in July a 200 mile bicycle ride from Seattle to Portland takes place with 10,000+ participants. The Seattle to Portland Bicycle Classic takes you through farmlands, forests and scenic valleys. The event can be completed in one day for the hard core (about 10% of the cyclists) or in 2 days with overnight rest stops. High energy food stops are provided throughout the course that also offer water, portable toilets, mechanical assistance and first aid. It's not a race which can help you relax and enjoy yourself.  Last years event had cyclists from 45 states and 6 countries and the oldest rider was 90.

Seattle has amazing parks that you will love during the summer. Kerry Park has an unsurpassed view of Elliott Bay and Central City, with an occasional backdrop of Mount Rainier. At night it becomes almost a fantasy scene, with brightly lit ferries gliding across the water and the Space Needle shining from its 500-foot pedestal. Green Lake Park is one of Seattle’s most beloved parks. Its expanse of water and green space in the center of a dense urban neighborhood draws thousands of people daily from all over the city. The 2.8-mile path around the lake provides a perfect recreational spot for runners, bikers, skaters and walkers. Many others use the athletic fields or visit the park for boating, picnics and swimming.  Discovery Park is the largest city park in Seattle, 534 acres. Discovery Park is one of breathtaking majesty. Situated on Magnolia Bluff overlooking Puget Sound, Discovery Park offers spectacular view of both the Cascade and the Olympic Mountain ranges. The secluded site includes two miles of protected tidal beaches as well as open meadow lands, dramatic sea cliffs, forest groves, active sand dunes, thickets and streams. Golden Gardens Park Located in Ballard on Puget Sound has extraordinary views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains. Golden Gardens offers strolls along a rugged coastline, hikes through forest trails, sunbathing on sandy beaches, fishing from a pier and a boat launch. Last but not least of Seattle's best parks, Alki Beach Park. Alki Beach Park is perfect for the summer with a long beach strip that runs from Alki Point to Duwamish Head on Elliott Bay. It's a great spot for a 2.5 mile walk and in the summer draws joggers, rollerbladers, volleyball players, beachcombers, sunbathers, bicyclists and strollers out to enjoy the sun.

You shouldn't visit Seattle without going to the Pike Place Market. Established in 1907 to connect citizens and farmers, the Market continues its “meet the producer” tradition with a year-round farmers market, crafts, owner-operated bakeries, fish markets, butcher shops, produce stands and specialty food stores. Pike Place Market is the city’s center for fresh, local produce, crafts, specialty foods, independent businesses and restaurants. 

The best cafe in Seattle is not Starbucks but Moore Coffee. A small family owned & operated shop in the heart of downtown in Belltown that is the perfect little spot to start your morning. For brunch head over to The Crumpet Shop, downtown on 1st avenue where they have been making fresh, delicious crumpets everyday for 36 years. The top low key food place in Seattle is Paseo in Fremont, a Caribbean spot that always has lines out the door but you will not regret the wait. For drinks the best and one of the most popular bars in Seattle is Zig Zag Cafe, downtown on Western avenue next to the Pike Place Market. It's fancy without being pretentious, small without being cramped, stocked with hard to find alcohols, a menu with excellent burgers among other items and an outdoor patio for those beautiful summer nights. 

Book your trip and have fun in the beautiful Pacific Northwest!