Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Clark County, WA

  • Published 2023/05/28

With a huge array of outdoor activities, scenic and relaxing parks, and historic attractions, Clark County, Washington never runs out of things to do.

As of the 2020 census, it has a total population of 503,311 and has continued to grow because of its buzzing life and vibrant communities.

Founded as Vancouver District in 1845, the county was later renamed for William Clark in 1849; an American explorer of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

Its county seat is the City of Vancouver, which is also the largest in the county and an oasis of entertainment, shopping, dining, and outdoor excursions.

The county is located across the Columbia River and is part of the Portland-Vancouver-Hillsboro area.

Whether you’re seated at a coffee shop sipping hot coffee, or wandering around its historic attractions, the county offers endless possibilities of fun and exciting activities for everyone.

I’ve been here a few times, and I can say it’s one of my favorite places in the U.S.

So, I’ve rounded up a list of the best things to do in Clark County, Washington to help you out with your travels.

Drop by the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site in Vancouver

The grounds of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Zack Frank /

The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site was established in 1824 as a fur trading post and the headquarters

It’s the namesake of Captain George Vancouver; a British Royal Navy officer and explorer.

The fort used to be the headquarters of the Columbia Department of the Hudson’s Bay Company and was located along the north bank of the Columbia River.

Here, you’ll see lots of artifacts and unique objects dating from the 1800s.

A cabin at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Zack Frank /

I enjoyed walking around checking out the historical site and its rich history of fur trading, as well as the significance of the indigenous tribe in the area.

But before you roam around, I recommend dropping by the site’s visitor center where you can watch a short clip about the fort’s history.

There are exhibits showcasing the story of the fort.

Fort Vancouver National Historic Siten entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1966.

Interior of a cabin at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Emily Marie Wilson /

Get Closer to the Wildlife at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge in Ridgefield

The waters of Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Yanqiang Dai /

In the 5,300 acres of protected land at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, you’ll see a variety of bird species, as well as small and large mammals taking refuge in the preserve.

I’ve seen them in the marshes, grasslands, and woodlands, which are all protected at the refuge.

There are also guided hikes and tours available here, and this will get you closer to many wildlife and learn more about them.

A bird at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

BrittanyO /

Look out for songbirds, bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, black-tailed deer, cougars, porcupines, coyotes, red foxes, muskrats, beavers, minks, and many more.

Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is both a relaxation and learning for every visitor.

Turtles at Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge

Peter K. Ziminski /

Have a Family Day at Alderbrook Park in Brush Prairie

If you’re a traveling family, the first thing that comes to your mind is to find a place where you can have a great time together and Clark County doesn’t disappoint!

At Alderbrook Park, your family will enjoy all the fun activities to do.

When I got here, there were plenty of families with little kids enjoying the paddle boats, bounce houses, a pool, a petting zoo, and a wooded playground with a pirate-ship structure.

But what I did at Alderbrook Park was the Friday Night Cruise, which lets you see classic cars with live music, food, and a whole lot of fun.

There’s also a lemonade fountain, which I find cool, especially when you’re visiting in the summer.

Buy Fresh Produce at Vancouver Farmers Market in Vancouver

A person buying flowers at Vancouver Farmers Market

Emily Marie Wilson /

One of the things I love doing when I travel is to check out farmers’ markets so I could get a taste of locally grown fruits and vegetables, as well as local crafts.

In Clark County, Vancouver Farmers Market is the best spot to do this, where you can buy fresh produce and artisan products made by local crafters.

I was in Vancouver sometime in May, and I loved its selection of fresh fruits and vegetables that I get to bring home.

Fresh produce at Vancouver Farmers Market

Emily Marie Wilson /

There are also delicious baked goods from different vendors, flowers, plants, home decor, handmade accessories, and a lot more.

If you’re here between March and October, take a trip to Vancouver Farmers Market at Esther Short Park and Playground.

Banner of Vancouver Farmers Market

Jacquie Klose /

Cool Down at Sandy Swimming Hole in Washougal

On a hot summer day, take a plunge at Sandy Swimming Hole, which is a popular destination among locals and tourists.

There are several jump-off rocks if you want to dive, as well as spots for swimming for kids and adults.

The water was cool in the summer, which I loved, especially when the weather becomes a little hot.

By the way, it’s a rocky area for the most part, and I suggest using aqua shoes to protect your feet.

But it’s a great place to cool down with a relaxing atmosphere.

It’s also shallow enough, which is great if you only want to cool down and bask in the sun in the summertime.

See How Grist Mill Works at the Historic Cedar Creek Grist Mill in Woodland

Exterior of Cedar Creek Grist Mill

Checubus /

History buffs can take time to check out an old grist mill in Woodland, which is now a working museum to show people how it worked in the late 1800s.

The historic Cedar Creek Grist Mill was constructed in 1876 by George W. Woodham A.C. Reid.

The mill was water-powered by a dam nearby although the latter’s remains were removed in the 1950s.

Interior of Cedar Creek Grist Mill

Yanqiang Dai /

I was impressed by the live demonstrations at the museum as to how grain-grinding works and the staff were informative and answered all my questions.

Also, don’t miss out on the covered bridge at the site and enjoy the relaxing atmosphere around; thanks to the beautiful trees and lots of green spaces.

The Cedar Creek Grist Mill entered the National Register of Historic Places in 1975.

Grain equipment in Cedar Creek Grist Mill

Emily Marie Wilson /

Watch Movies at Kiggins Theatre in Vancouver

Exterior of Kiggins Theatre

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

With nostalgic feels, Kiggins Theatre is a landmark in the community, which got its name from John P. Kiggins; former Vancouver mayor.

Opened in 1936, the single-screen theater is an Art Deco architectural style but has seen several renovations since its establishment.

The theater shows a wide variety of programs, including comedy, noir series, and silent films, which are all amazing.

Ticket booth of Kiggins Theatre

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Despite the few facelifts that the theater had to go through, I was impressed by how it maintains its classic vibe, which makes it a staple in Vancouver.

I also loved its fresh popcorn and real butter, as well as other snacks at the concessions.

Due to its historic significance, Kiggins Theatre was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2012.

Grab a Bite at Northwood Public House and Brewery in Battle Ground

If you’re enjoying a road trip in the Battle Ground area, hop off Northwood Public House and Brewery to enjoy its housemade beers and delicious eats.

This charming brewpub is popular for its mouthwatering burgers, meatloaf, prime rib, fish and chips, deep-fried portobello, perogies, and jambalaya.

As soon as I stepped in, the aroma of the food filled my nostrils, which made me excited to sit down and enjoy my food and drinks.

It’s a German-themed brewpub and I automatically assumed that the beers here are amazing.

Don’t miss out on its craft beers on tap to maximize your time at Northwood Public House and Brewery.

Read a Book at Vancouver Community Library in Vancouver

Exterior of Vancouver Community Library

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There’s something about reading that makes a day brighter, and if you feel me, the best spot to go in Clark County to enjoy a good read is Vancouver Community Library.

Its collection of printed materials, including the genres that I love reading was impressive, and its reading nooks were comfortable and relaxing.

Also, its floor-to-ceiling windows make a great day for reading, research, or study.

Resources include audiobooks, e-books, magazines, and newspapers, as well as music, and movies & TV.

Established in 2011, Vancouver Community Library also ghosts programs and events for the community.

Interior of Vancouver Community Library

Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Buy Unique Gifts at Not Too Shabby in Vancouver

Of course, gifts are important for your loved ones back home, especially when you’re traveling, which is why Not Too Shabby in Vancouver exists.

I love how I found locally made and beautiful, handmade jewelry here that I bought for my mom and cousins as a gift.

Also, don’t miss out on its customized gift basket, which you can personalize with the stuff that you pick out and let them curate it for you.

There are plenty of lovely gifts to choose from, including candles, scarves, home decor, baby stuff, fashion clothing, as well as greeting cards that will make you giggle.

Drop by Not Too Shabby and don’t head back home empty-handed!

Hike the Scenic Trails at Lacamas Park in Camas

The waters of Lacamas Park

Thye-Wee Gn /

About 290 acres of dense woods, lush meadows, and gorgeous waterfalls await you at Lacamas Park in Camas, which offers amazing outdoor activities for everyone.

The park features 12 miles of trails, including the Red Tape; a 0.6-mile trail for bikers, and other different trails for scenic hikes.

The waterfalls are also gorgeous at Lacamas Park, but it can be confusing to find them although you can always check the map to ensure you’re going the right way.

It was pretty at the time when I hiked here, and I even saw plenty of wildflowers and lots of birds.

I also saw people kayaking on the lake, which I wish I did, but I had a great time hiking and checking out the park’s beautiful natural areas.

Waterfall at Lacamas Park

marcsanchez /

Ride a Train at Chelatchie Prairie Railroad in Yacolt

Depot of Chelatchie Prairie Railroad

Callworth360, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

If you love trains like me, take a trip to Yacolt to ride a train at Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, which is an out-and-back ride that takes two hours to see some scenic spots.

The volunteers here are impressive in what they do and are also knowledgeable about the history of the rail line.

You’ll pass through a cool tunnel at Chelatchie Prairie Railroad, as well as a quick stop at the waterfall.

I rode both the outdoor car and the indoor car back and forth for a more fun experience.

It’s a smooth and slow ride, which is perfect for little kids.

Indulge in Sweet Treats and Great Coffee at Sweet Touch Cafe & Svitoch in Vancouver

Here’s another gem in the hood, which became my go-to place for a great cup of my favorite latte and delicious handcrafted macaroons.

At Sweet Touch Cafe & Svitoch, you get to enjoy its famous decadent handcrafted macaroons and European-style cakes, as well as its delicious crepes, tiramisu, baklava, and many more.

And don’t start with me with its delicious latte and mocha.

Sweet Touch Cafe & Svitoch has Ukrainian roots and has been serving the community for almost two decades.

I found this sweet, charming bakery at Vancouver Village when I was wandering around browsing some nice dining spots.

Step Back in Time at Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver

Exterior of Clark County Historical Museum

Underawesternsky /

History buffs can take time and enjoy learning more about the county at Clark County Historical Museum in Vancouver.

I enjoyed browsing through its exhibits, which tell the story of the county back in time with Native American crafts, as well as a collection of artifacts.

Both local and regional rotating exhibits are great and it was nice to learn more about this beautiful county.

Entrance door of Clark County Historical Museum

Underawesternsky /

Clark County Historical Museum is nestled in a Carnegie Library, which was built in 1909.

In 1982, the museum entered the National Register of Historic Places.

Interior of Clark County Historical Museum

Joe Mabel, CC BY 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Try Your Luck at The Last Frontier Casino in La Center

If you want to sit back one night and play poker and other table games, head to The Last Frontier Casino.

For poker lovers, this spot is your choice, especially since it features lots of options, including Texas Hold ‘Em, tournaments, Omaha, and other poker-based games.

The Last Frontier Casino also offers table-side food if you need to grab a bite, which I did when I tried playing poker here.

The food was great, especially the Frontier Chicken Wings and the Chef Salad.

It was a quick trip, but it was a fun round of poker.

Final Thoughts

Clark County is filled with magical attractions that will turn heads.

It’s a tempting place to visit and I can’t wait to make a trip to the county again.

Enjoy your visit to Clark County, Washington, and don’t forget to take photos!

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