Though similar to Portland in many ways, Vancouver, Wash., a large suburb located just across the Columbia River to the north, can also feel like it’s a world away.
Connected to Oregon by a rugged, steel, vertical-lift bridge that alludes to the city’s blue collar values, Vancouver is a throwback, with a quaint Main Street loaded with ice cream shops, pubs and antique galleries. Home to the largest Independence Day fireworks display west of the Mississippi, the city’s biggest tourist attraction, Fort Vancouver, is a family-friendly National Historic Site, consisting of a rebuilt 1800s fur-trading camp, a mid-1900s airstrip and a stretch of restored 19th-century homes. Dating back to 1853, the city’s Esther Short Park is Washington’s oldest public square. Featuring a Glockenspiel-clad tower that announces the time throughout the day, the five-acre park is a bustling all-ages playground on sunny days. Kiggins Theater, a renovated single-screen treasure located downtown, shows family-friendly fare, art house films and hosts live events such as stand-up comedy and Science on Tap.
The Portland area's only national historic site is centered around a complete replica of Fort Vancouver, a fur-trading camp founded in 1825.
Gresham, an east Portland suburb, offers a bevy of bike-friendly businesses and stellar views of Mount Hood.
Located just south of the Oregon-Washington border, the Jantzen Beach Center rewards shoppers looking for big brands with no sales tax.