Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Cowlitz County, WA

  • Published 2022/11/07

Make Cowlitz County, Washington, your next destination if you want to spend time in nature while still having urban conveniences within reach.

The county isn’t just rich in natural beauty and history, making it an exceptional destination for all travelers.

It is also known as the location of the historic 1852 Monticello Convention that helped create the Washington Territory.

When you stay in Cowlitz County, you’ll have a variety of destinations, just an hour away from Mount St. Helens, the Pacific Coast, and even Portland!

Check this list of the best things to do in Cowlitz County, Washington.

Visit the Johnston Ridge Observatory

Exterior view of  Johnston Ridge Observatory

Francisco Blanco /

Located at the end of State Highway 504 in Toutle, John Ridge Observatory is in the heart of the blast zone of Mount St. Helens.

Visit the observatory, and you’ll see interpretive displays telling the story of Mount St. Helens from a biological, geological, and human perspective.

You’ll have a breathtaking view of the volcano and crater from the observatory, but you may also hike in the blast zone.

Visitors enjoying the view from  Johnston Ridge Observatory

Daniel W. Slocum /

There are available ranger talks or guided hikes during summer, so feel free to inquire about the schedule at the information desk.

You won’t just have the opportunity to see the landscape in person but also learn from the theater presentation, interpretive exhibits, and books at John Ridge Observatory.

Trail along the  Johnston Ridge Observatory

Roman Khomlyak /

Stay at Brookhollow RV Park

When you stay at Brookhollow RV Park, you’ll have the perks of the country atmosphere without straying from convenient areas for shopping and dining.

The park is an RV community in Kelso near the Coweeman River.

It has all the amenities you need, including a fitness room, showers, laundry facilities, internet access, and a meeting room!

You’ll also have easy access to the Coweeman River trail, which is perfect if you enjoy hiking.

Staying at Brookhollow RV Park will give you the whole Cowlitz experience.

Discover Local History at Cowlitz County Historical Museum

Get in touch with local history when you visit the Cowlitz County Historical Museum in Kelso.

You’ll learn about the county’s story when you check out the museum’s collections of preserved artifacts that tell its story.

It houses exhibits, archival facilities for research, and educational programs.

If you’re an art enthusiast, you might even be interested in seeing the works of locals, old and new, displayed in the museum!

Thanks to the Cowlitz County Historical Society, the museum has become a local hub brimming with history.

Add the Cowlitz County Historical Museum to your bucket list when you travel to Washington!

Appreciate Local Art at the Broadway Gallery

Art lovers shouldn’t pass up on this gem in downtown Longview City.

The Broadway Gallery is an essential establishment in the city’s art scene with its wide range of art, including mixed media, watercolor, photographs, pottery, sculpture, and wearable art.

Since it opened in 1982 through the efforts of 17 local artists, the gallery has featured unique talents from Cowlitz County.

Today, member artists run the gallery as a cooperative.

The Broadway Gallery doesn’t just display and sell art but also offers various classes for different age levels.

Develop an appreciation for different art forms and the community they represent when you visit this gallery!

Play Golf at Mint Valley Golf Course

Book your tee time at the Mint Valley Golf Course if you want to spend time outdoors and play a game of golf.

Located in the city of Longview, the place boasts beautiful courses at an affordable price.

It has greens in perfect condition, water hazards, and tall trees that will test golfers of all skill levels.

A par 71 championship course is available for more competitive players, while a par three course is friendly to beginners.

The place offers lessons and services for all your golf-related needs, so don’t hesitate to inquire with them if you need anything.

Mint Valley also has its own restaurant, Moe’s Grill, which should provide a satisfying dining experience after a long day of playing!

Bring Your Family and Kids to Children’s Discovery Museum

Visit the Children’s Discovery Museum in Longview if you’re traveling with kids.

The museum is Cowlitz County’s child-focused space that provides creative learning opportunities to children up to 17 years of age.

It houses different exhibits that teach arts and sciences in imaginative ways!

You and your kids will have a great time bonding over learning when you visit the museum.

You may also volunteer at the Children’s Discovery Museum!

After all, it is built and run through the community’s efforts.

Catch Live Shows at Westin Amphitheater

Visit the Westin Amphitheater in the city of Kalama if you want to catch live music while having stunning outdoor views of the river.

The open entertainment venue, constructed in 2019, was named after Milford Westin, the Port of Kalama’s longest-serving commissioner.

Westin Amphitheater stages weekly concerts and movies, so check their schedule ahead of time if you’re planning on going.

You should also reserve seats in advance to get the perfect spot!

The amphitheater is also open for booking if you’re looking for a venue for your big outdoor gathering.

Learn Archery with Lewis & Clark Bowmen

Ifyou’ve always wanted to try archery but have never gotten around to it, this is your chance to shoot a bow and arrow!

All ages are welcome to learn the fun sport, which Lewis & Clark Bowmen, a local club of archers and bow hunters, has advocated for since the 1950s.

Based in Castle Rock, the club offers lessons to groups and individuals.

You may sign up for training sessions by contacting the group through their website or socials.

Lewis & Clark Bowmen also adheres to the standards of organizations like the National Field Archery Association, Washington State Archery Association, and the Oregon Bow Hunters.

Rest assured that you will receive training from an expert group.

Tour the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center

Hiking trail at Mount St. Helens Visitor Center

Yanqiang Dai /

Another facility that offers volcano exhibits is the Mount St. Helens Visitor Center, located in Castle Rock.

The place offers a unique experience with its high ceilings and massive windows, a marvelous example of architecture that fuses the outdoors with the building.

Boardwalk at Mount St. Helens Visitor Center

Yanqiang Dai /

The center has interactive exhibits, including a volcano model and theater programs detailing the area’s historical significance.

If you want more adventure, you may also hike the mile-long trail of marshy plains around Silver Lake, where you can see local wildlife and a beautiful mountain view.

You won’t just learn history at Mount St. Helens Visitor Center but also get the chance to be closer to nature.

Landscape of Mount St. Helens Visitor Center

Yanqiang Dai /

Go Camping at Camp Kalama RV Park

Stay at Camp Kalama RV Park if you want to experience life away from the bustling city.

While it’s still close to town, the campsites here are surrounded by trees and other greenery and are a walking distance from the river.

You’ll feel like you’re camping in the middle of the woods.

The park, located in the city of Kalama, has a boat launch for fishing, a boat ramp, a barbeque area, a playground, and a bar and restaurant.

The variety of amenities makes it an excellent place for families to spend time!

There’s already so much to do in Camp Kalama RV Park.

Still, if you’re looking to explore other areas, it’s also near other famous places like the McMenamins Kalama Harbor Lodge and the Three Rivers Golf Course.

Watch Off-Road Racing at Woodland Motocross Park

If you want something to pump your adrenaline, go to Woodland Motocross Park.

On this motocross track, you can catch off-road motorcycle racing events and practices that excite you for adventure.

Founded in 1975, the park is in the city of Woodland.

You may bring friends and families to Woodland Motocross Park to watch races or even ride together!

Check the park’s schedule for updates on upcoming motocross events.

Discover Local Ale at Antidote Tap House

Explore Cowlitz County’s very own ale at Antidote Tap House, with locations in Longview and Woodland.

Antidote serves a variety of craft beers from local and national breweries.

Dining and drinking in this place will always be fun and exciting.

It doesn’t just have regularly updated taps but also a wide selection of wine and cocktails and an evolving menu!

This local spot has grown since 2017 because of its excellent service, relaxing ambiance, and exceptional drinks.

Antidote Tap House also hosts live music and events like trivia nights, so feel free to join and have fun with the locals.

See a Movie and Dine at Kelso Theater Pub

If you love movies and food, hang out at Kelso Theater Pub!

While you can watch movies almost everywhere now, local theaters always have a charm that makes the experience much better.

You may check the theater schedule and buy tickets in advance to secure seats.

You should also try some of their famous food and drinks while watching a movie!

Kelso Theater Pub is in the heart of downtown Kelso.

Catch Local Theater at Love Street Playhouse

Support local theater and catch a show at Love Street Playhouse in Woodland.

The community theater was started in 2007 through the efforts and support of the Woodland community.

Today, Love Street Playhouse produces five main stage shows per year and has continued to draw patrons and actors who want to join the community.

Visit their website to check the schedule for upcoming shows or buy tickets.

You may also get involved by signing up for theater classes or auditioning for a role.

With a community theater like Love Street Playhouse, culture and arts will always be alive and well in Cowlitz County.

Explore Natural History at the Mount Saint Helens Forest Learning Center

When you plan a visit to Cowlitz County, don’t forget to add the Mount Saint Helens Forest Learning Center to your list.

Located in the community of Toutle, it is a beautiful and immersive area where you can learn about volcanoes and forestry, specifically Mount St. Helens.

You’ll see the impact of Mount St. Helens’ eruption and the recovery of forests, fish, and wildlife that came after.

When you walk through the forest, you’ll even hear the sounds of the birds and animals on the mountain.

The center exhibits photographs and models of loggers working in the blast zone.

You can also enter the “eruption chamber,” where you can see and hear the eruption and its aftermath.

Learn about the critical event that shook the county in 1980 when you visited the Forest Learning Center.

Final Thoughts

Cowlitz County offers an unforgettable experience to visitors.

It has everything you can imagine, from museums and local theaters to daring motocross adventures and historic sites.

The place will give you a country atmosphere that can take you away from the bustling city while still providing you with modern conveniences.

Don’t forget to go back to this list and try the best things to do in Cowlitz County, Washington!

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