There are few things I love more in this world than the Pacific Northwest, affectionately known as PNWonderland. I first traveled to the PNW in the summer of 2015 in order to visit my friend Sarah who had settled in Vancouver, Washington after we graduated from college. Vancouver, WA (not to be confused with Vancouver, BC, which is several hours up the road) is situated right across the river from Portland, OR, about an hour and a half away from the coast, and about 3 hours south from Seattle, WA, making it the perfect location for an extensive look at all that the Pacific Northwest has to offer.
During my 11 day stay in the PNW, I walked through lush gardens and breathtaking parks, hiked up to the bridge at Multnomah Falls, gazed up at Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, visited Astoria (the town of The Goonies fame), explored Pike Place Market in Seattle, drank more delicious coffee and cocktails than I knew what to do with, and constantly got swept away by the awe-inspiring views of mountains, pines, and rivers everywhere I turned. It was absolutely impossible not to fall in love with such a place.
In particular, I really love Portland. I love how small it feels for a large city, and how many areas of downtown feel like quiet, quaint neighborhoods. I love the Rose Test Garden, and the Japanese Garden, and Powell’s City of Books. I love the “biker” bars, brunch spots, coffee shops, and the aesthetics of the city. I love McMenamin’s, a series of unusual pubs and bars often housed in converted buildings, like an elementary school (McMenamin’s Kennedy School) and a farm (McMenamin’s Edgefield). I love McMenamin’s delicious food, odd decor, delightful atmosphere, and how it never fails to feel like home.
I have never experienced any other place like the Pacific Northwest. I have never seen anywhere so uniquely beautiful, nor have I ever felt such a strong sense of belonging in a place that was entirely new to me. I have been back to the Pacific Northwest once since my initial trip, but it was only for a few days and situated entirely in Seattle, so it did not entirely satisfy the yearnings of my heart to be back in PNWonderland. So, whenever I encounter a quiet moment, I find my mind drifting to a place of crisp mountain air, dark pines, glistening rivers, and the best damn coffee I’ve ever had.