Things to Do in Vancouver Washington – My Favorite Spots

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Nestled in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, Vancouver, Washington offers a unique blend of history, culture, and outdoor activities for visitors and locals alike. This vibrant city boasts scenic landscapes, historic attractions, and a variety of recreational options that cater to all interests and age groups.

As I explore this charming city, I am continuously amazed by the array of activities available to suit every traveler’s taste. From outdoor adventures, such as hiking and biking, to sampling the local wineries and immersing myself in the flourishing art scene, Vancouver truly has something for everyone. One can also delve into the city’s past by visiting historic sites or attending cultural events that make Vancouver a destination worth discovering. So, let’s dive into some of Vancouver’s most enticing attractions and activities that make it a must-visit destination in the Pacific Northwest.

Exploring Downtown Vancouver

I spent my day roaming downtown Vancouver, Washington, where I was immersed in the charm and beauty of the Pacific Northwest. As I explored the area, I noticed a variety of shopping options and vibrant restaurants that catered to different tastes and preferences.

As a food enthusiast, I appreciated the wide range of restaurants offering everything from farm-to-fork cuisine to local flavors. I even came across the vibrant farmers markets where fresh produce and locally-sourced goods were in abundance – a delightful experience indeed!

Apart from the food scene, downtown Vancouver also boasts a thriving art and culture vibe. I saw various galleries showcasing the creativity of local artists, and the public art installations added a unique charm to the streets.

Being a fan of microbreweries, I was thrilled to discover numerous local breweries producing a variety of craft beers. Sampling these unique brews was an unforgettable experience that I’d highly recommend to beer lovers.

I also decided to visit the Vancouver Mall, which was a great spot for shopping and entertainment. This large shopping mall in the area offered a mix of popular retail stores, dining options, and fun activities like the indoor playground for kids.

For some outdoor adventure, I headed out to the Wintler Community Park, which is the only city park providing public access to the waters of the Columbia River. Walking along the beach and taking in the beautiful scenery was a perfect way to wrap up my day in downtown Vancouver.

Historical Landmarks

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

I discovered that Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is an essential historical landmark in Vancouver, Washington. The site is full of history and educational resources, making it a must-see for visitors. While exploring the fort, I learned about the fur trade, its importance in shaping the region’s economy, and how it attracted various cultures to the area. The fort’s restoration has been carefully executed to maintain its historical accuracy.

Pearson Air Museum

Another fascinating place I visited is Pearson Air Museum, located adjacent to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. This museum focuses on aviation history and showcases vintage military aircraft. It’s fascinating to see how aviation has evolved throughout the years, and the informative exhibits gave me a deeper understanding of the significant role aviation played in Vancouver and the surrounding region.

Clark County Historical Museum

The Clark County Historical Museum offers an insight into the area’s rich history. Housed in a building listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the museum features exhibits that chronicle the development of Clark County, from its Native American beginnings to the present day. Among the exhibits, I found the life of General George C. Marshall particularly interesting, as he played a significant role in shaping Vancouver’s history.

Ulysses S. Grant House

Lastly, the Ulysses S. Grant House is a notable historical landmark in Vancouver, Washington. As the oldest building on Officers Row and former residence of President Ulysses S. Grant, it holds significant historical value. It’s fascinating to explore the beautifully restored interior and imagine life during the time Grant lived there. The house also provides valuable insights into the region’s military history.

Overall, these historical landmarks offer a wealth of knowledge about Vancouver, Washington’s history. They provide an enjoyable and educational experience for visitors interested in the past and how it has shaped the present.

Parks and Natural Beauty

Waterfront Walkway

One of my favorite outdoor activities in Vancouver, Washington is strolling along the Waterfront Walkway. This beautifully designed path stretches along the Columbia River and offers stunning views, cozy benches, and picturesque spots for picnicking. A great way to experience the beauty of the waterfront is by taking a leisurely bike ride or paddling a kayak along the river.

Vancouver Lake Park

Another must-visit spot is Vancouver Lake Park, a vast and serene area where I love to spend my weekends. This park offers a variety of recreational activities like hiking, picnicking, and bird watching. The park also has a dedicated swimming area where I can take a dip on a hot summer day. The Burnt Bridge Creek Trail is an excellent path for walking, jogging, or bike riding through the beautiful natural landscape.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

For an intimate encounter with nature, I highly recommend visiting the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge. This sanctuary offers an abundance of opportunities for outdoor recreation, including hiking and wildlife observation. I love exploring the lush habitats and catching glimpses of various bird species and other wildlife that call the refuge home. There are several trails that lead hikers through diverse landscapes, like wetlands, forests, and grasslands.

Not far from the refuge is the Columbia Springs Environmental Education Center. Here, I often take part in guided hikes and workshops to learn more about the area’s natural history and ecology. My weekends often include visits to Wintler Community Park, a waterfront park that provides a lovely view of the Columbia River and is perfect for family picnics, watching the sunset, or simply relaxing in the sun.

Cultural and Social Highlights

Vancouver Farmers Market

As someone who enjoys immersing myself in local culture, I can’t help but love the Vancouver Farmers Market. This bustling community gathering spot showcases the best that Vancouver has to offer, from fresh produce to handmade goods. I appreciate the focus on farm-to-table products and the rich art scene represented by various talented local artists.

Esther Short Park

My personal experience at Esther Short Park has been nothing short of delightful. Established in 1853, this park is the oldest public square in Washington. The scenic oasis in the heart of downtown Vancouver offers the perfect space for outdoor concerts, cultural events, and family picnics. The Salmon Run Bell Tower, a 69-foot structure housing 35 cast bronze bells, adds a touch of charm and elegance to this historic park.

Kiggins Theatre

For someone like me with a penchant for the arts, the Kiggins Theatre is a must-visit destination. This beautiful, single-screen movie theater is a historic gem that has been entertaining Vancouver since 1936. Showcasing independent films and hosting special events, Kiggins Theatre truly celebrates the art of cinema. In the heart of downtown Vancouver, this cultural icon continues to captivate visitors and locals alike.

Second Saturday at the Water Center

My interest in environmental and artistic experiences led me to Second Saturday at the Water Center—a fantastic event that combines public art and environmental education. Taking place on the second Saturday of every month, this community gathering offers workshops, hands-on activities, and fascinating exhibits. The partnership between the Vancouver Water Resources Center and the Clark County Mural Society creates a unique opportunity for visitors to engage with both art and nature.

Events and Festivals

I discovered that Vancouver, Washington offers a variety of events and festivals throughout the year, suitable for any visitor or local resident. Whether you’re interested in music, culture, or joining in on annual celebrations, there’s always something happening in this vibrant community.

One notable event I found is the 4 Days of Aloha festival. Taking place from July 20-23, 2023, this festival delivers an authentic Hawaiian experience through a burst of color, culture, and spirit. From traditional dance performances to scrumptious food, the 4 Days of Aloha festival is an opportunity to enjoy and learn about Hawaiian traditions without leaving the city.

In addition, the Old Apple Tree Festival is another celebration unique to Vancouver, aimed at appreciating the community and its rich heritage. The event takes place on October 7, 2023, and offers family fun, food, music, and a chance to learn more about Vancouver’s historic Old Apple Tree.

For nature enthusiasts, the Vancouver Lake Community Paddle Trip, scheduled for October 7, 2023, has reached its participation limit. However, it exemplifies the kind of active and outdoorsy events that Vancouver offers to its community members.

Additionally, the Salmon Run Bell Tower plays a role in the city’s events lineup, serving as a symbolic representation of Vancouver’s respect for the natural salmon run that exists in the Columbia River, which flows through the city. While it may not be directly tied to a specific event or festival, it is a meaningful landmark that residents are proud of, and it contributes to the heart of the city’s celebrations.

Finally, if you’re looking for a taste of the local harvest, the Camas Farmer’s Market is a fantastic opportunity to sample fresh produce, enjoy live music, and participate in a cookbook and garden book exchange. The Harvest Festival is a culminating event to celebrate the end of the market season and will be held on September 28 between 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Culinary Scene

In Vancouver, Washington, I discovered a diverse culinary scene that anyone with an appreciation for good food would enjoy. From local eateries to world-class restaurants, breweries, and wineries, there are plenty of delicious options to explore.

I had the pleasure of dining at some amazing restaurants, showcasing various international cuisines and local ingredients. I recommend trying out a few popular spots to experience the flavors of Vancouver. The Hungry Sasquatch offers a great dining experience and an arcade for minors to enjoy until 10 p.m.

Heading deeper into the city, I was delighted to find a thriving brewery and winery scene. Numerous craft breweries offer tours and tastings, giving me the opportunity to sample their unique creations. The local wineries in the area caught my attention with their array of fine wines, providing tastings and tours that showcase their exceptional vintages.

Not only did I enjoy the beverages made by these talented artisans, but many of the breweries and wineries also offered delicious food pairings. I found that they often source their ingredients from nearby farms and producers, ensuring the highest quality and freshest flavors possible.

What struck me the most about the culinary scene in Vancouver, Washington, was the perfect balance of urban charm and natural beauty, with eateries nestled along the picturesque Columbia River. While indulging in the various tastes of the city, I also got to enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscape.

In conclusion, the culinary scene in Vancouver, Washington, left me impressed with its array of fantastic dining options, breweries, and wineries. Anyone with an interest in food and drink should consider visiting this thriving city to explore all that it has to offer.


I have explored various activities and attractions in Vancouver, Washington, and it is evident that this charming city offers something for everyone. From shopping at the local farmers market to visiting the Pearson Air Museum, there are many fun experiences for both residents and visitors to enjoy.

While taking a walk or bike ride along the Waterfront Renaissance Trail, I can appreciate the city’s scenic beauty and connection to the Columbia River. The path meanders from Esther Short Park to Wintler Community Park, spanning five miles and linking some of the most picturesque spots in the city.

In addition, there are numerous options for outdoor enthusiasts, whether one wishes to paddle the Columbia, explore Mount St. Helens, or traverse the Columbia River Gorge. The city’s parks, such as Esther Short Park, also host free outdoor movies, concerts, festivals, and other family-friendly events throughout the year. This makes it a great destination for all ages.

Furthermore, the proximity of Vancouver to major cities like Seattle and Portland makes it a convenient base for extended trips in the Pacific Northwest. On that note, farm-to-fork cuisine lovers can enjoy the local restaurants and farmers markets while being inspired by the city’s rich culinary culture.

In summary, my exploration of Vancouver, Washington, has revealed an array of activities and attractions to suit various tastes and interests, making it an excellent travel destination.