Though similar to Portland in many ways, Vancouver, Wash., is a large suburb located just across the Columbia River to the north. And while this Pacific Northwest city is nearby, it 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 beginnings, Vancouver USA is a throwback, with a quaint Main Street loaded with ice cream shops, pubs and antique galleries. Southwest Washington 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 state’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 and art house films and hosts live events such as stand-up comedy and Science on Tap.
Tips for Visiting Vancouver, Wash.
How far is Vancouver from Portland?
With more than 191 area parks in Vancouver, tourists have plenty of outdoor spaces to explore. Vancouver’s historic waterfront, however, is a great place to start. The waterfront has undergone some major changes in recent years, including the addition of the seven-acre Vancouver Waterfront Park in 2018. Previously a mill site where the Boise Cascade paper mill stood until 2006, Columbia Waterfront, LLC purchased the property two years later. The company worked with Gramor Development and the City and Port of Vancouver to create a master plan that is still being completed. Construction on the Waterfront Development Project began in 2015, and the first buildings opened in 2018. When finished, a full 32 acres of south-facing Columbia River waterfront real estate will include residential units, office space, a boutique hotel, restaurants and retail, and state-of-the-art green spaces that include walking and biking trails.
Those looking for a bite to eat have plenty of delicious options in Vancouver. Visitors interested in dining on the Columbia should check out Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar, which serves elevated American fare. Another popular option is Beaches, a restaurant and bar that offers scenic away from the hustle and bustle of the new waterfront. In the Esther Short neighborhood, Be Well Juice Bar combines fresh, local and organic ingredients into juices, smoothies, smoothie bowls and wellness shots. Nearby, ice cream shop Treat scoops specialty flavors, vegan alternatives and old standbys. Elements combine global flavors with local ingredients for dishes that range from seared sea scallops to mole vegan cavatelli. Further inland, The Mighty Bowl operates a sustainability-focused brick-and-mortar shop and food cart that focuses on bowls, smoothies, juices and toasts.
Vancouver may not be the Craft brewery capital of the world, but it has been hailed as “the next beer town.” There are plenty of hot spots where travelers can enjoy a cold one. Ghost Runners Brewery is a local favorite with a solid lineup of handcrafted ales and seasonal exclusives and a tasting room on site. Close to the Columbia River, Loowit Brewing Company is an ales-focused microbrewery with a small arcade of pinball machines and throwback video games. For more information on all that “Brewcouver“ has to offer, visit the Brewcouver website for an official list of breweries and a downloadable passport that can be used to unlock fabulous prizes.
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