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The diverse culture and geography of the Pacific Northwest

 

The Pacific Northwest region is one dominated by stunning natural beauty which attracts outdoor enthusiasts from all over the world. While spectacular mountains, lakes and coastline may be the most well-known features of the Pacific Northwest region, there are also several vital urban centers with cultural and culinary charms which rival much larger cities around the world.

The geography of the region is defined by four mountain ranges (Cascade Range, Coast Range, Olympic Range, and Rocky Mountains) and one major river, the Columbia River, which is the second largest river in the continental United States. Generally, the climate in the Pacific Northwest is cool and wet, although the climate is much drier as you travel east. The heavy rainfall for most of the year has led to extensive old growth forests where some of the largest trees in the world grow. Hiking, mountain biking, kayaking, skiing and snowboarding are popular across the region, as locals and visitors alike seek to take advantage of this spectacular and varied landscape.

For those less inclined to the rugged outdoor life, the main urban centers of Seattle and Portland offer world class museums, shopping and restaurants.

Seattle is the region’s largest city, with a population of approximately 2.7 million in the larger metro area. You can take in breathtaking views of the water and mountains which surround the city from the observation deck of the iconic Space Needle, browse the wares of local artists at the famous Pike Place Market, or enjoy any of the numerous museums throughout town. Seattle is also a great launching point for shorter excursions to the mountains, and is a starting point for the many cruises which head up to Alaska in the summertime.

Portland is the largest city in Oregon, with about 2 million people living in the larger metro area. Also known as the City of Roses, Portland has multiple public gardens which bloom year-round, including the International Rose Test Garden and the Lan Su Chinese Garden, which are a delight to visitors. Portland is also home to the nation’s largest outdoor open-air arts and crafts market, the Portland Saturday Market, which is not to be missed. However, more than gardens and markets, Portland has become known as a city for food lovers. There is a vibrant restaurant and food cart culture in the city, where spectacular food can be found to suit any taste at any price.