32 Best Things to Do in Vancouver, WA

Vancouver, WA
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Nestled between the breathtakingly majestic Mount St. Helens and the rolling Columbia River, Vancouver boasts a unique charm that instills a sense of instant connection. .

Let me take you on a journey, painting a picture of this remarkable city and sharing with you the best things to do in Vancouver, Washington.

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the following individuals for their invaluable contributions to this article: Clarence Fischer, Richard Barnett, Jean Grill, Roger Bussiere, Bernard Crawford, Ricardo Gray and David Armstrong.

Discover Rich History at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Daytime view of Fort Vancouver Historic Site
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There's something special about stepping foot on the same grounds that have been trodden by history.

The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is not just any park, it's a visual and interactive history book.

When I visit, I always find myself marveling at the expansive grounds that beg to be explored.

Walking along the perimeter, you get a sense of the fort as it once was, a bustling trading post in the 19th century.

The gardens are a sight to behold - lush, thriving, and meticulously maintained.

Wondering about the fort's numerous buildings, you'll be delighted to find workers dressed in period attire, offering a glimpse into the past.

They are always more than happy to share tales of what went on within the walls of their respective buildings.

Canons on Fort Vancouver National Historic Site grounds
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The visitor's center is a treasure trove of information, filled with countless artifacts that tell the story of the fort and its significance in military history.

I often find myself spending hours just in the center, soaking in as much knowledge as I can.

In the main Fort, you'll find even more artifacts, each one highlighting the fort's rich past.

Don't miss out on the military officers' housing and the barracks. Both are a sight to see, offering another layer to the fort's history.

Afterward, take a stroll to Fort Vancouver National Historic Site's vegetable garden. You'd be surprised by the history these gardens hold and how much you can learn from them.

Archway of Fort Vancouver National Historic Site's garden
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Solve Mysteries at ParadigmQ

There's nothing quite like a good escape room to challenge your mind and ignite your sense of adventure, and I found just that at ParadigmQ.

Tucked away in the heart of Vancouver, this place is a hidden gem that promises a thrilling experience filled with puzzles, mystery, and a whole lot of fun!

My friends and I decided to take on 'The Search For Sasquatch' room, and boy, did that get our adrenaline pumping!

The room design was clever, and challenging, yet entirely solvable, making the whole experience a delightful blend of suspense and excitement.

Each game at ParadigmQ gets assigned a game master, and we were lucky to have Garrett.

He was just fantastic.

He offered us a tiny hint toward the end, but the rest of the time, we were on our own, putting our heads together to crack the clues.

And guess what? We managed to solve it ourselves!

It was undoubtedly an intense yet rewarding experience.

Our adventures didn't stop there.

We also tried another room, 'Out of the Past,' with another fantastic game master, Spencer.

And just like before, we were able to escape with a good 15 minutes to spare!

The props and features were top-notch, some of which I had never seen in any other escape room before.

The smooth, well-structured flow of the games, coupled with the friendly and supportive staff, makes ParadigmQ a must-visit destination for all escape room enthusiasts.

Whether it's your first time or you're an escape room veteran, this place never fails to impress.

I can't wait to return and delve into more of their ingenious rooms.

Feast Your Eyes to the Plants of Fort Vancouver Garden

Entrance to Fort Vancouver Garden
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Just when I think I've seen all there is to see in my city, I discover a new jewel, the Fort Vancouver Garden.

I went for a walk there in the peak of summer, and what an experience it was!

The abundance of flowers and vegetables was a sight to behold, with everything in full bloom.

I could see Pearson Air Field and the historic Fort Vancouver fort set against the horizon, adding to the picturesque scenery.

It's not just a sight for the eyes but a treat for the senses.

I could hear the playful chirping of hummingbirds, swallows, and white-crowned sparrows and even caught sight of a few bunnies hopping happily around.

The benches scattered around the garden are the perfect spot to sit back and soak in the beauty of it all.

The garden also boasts a historical attraction - the first-ever military store, located within a leisurely walking distance.

And for those looking for a bit of adventure, there's a children's playground uphill from the garden.

After all, who can resist the charm of romantic archways laden with well-established grapevine and heirloom roses?

The best part about Fort Vancouver Garden, aside from the breathtaking views of Mt. hood, is the sense of community it fosters.

Volunteers work tirelessly to tend to the flower and vegetable heritage garden.

On my visit, I saw bees happily buzzing around, especially loving the poppies.

Catch Sunset from Grant Street Pier

Daytime view of Grant Street Pier
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It's an everyday ritual of mine to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and retreat to my personal haven, the Grant Street Pier.

A bustling waterfront, it's the heart of city activity with a generous offering of eateries, bars, and quaint little cafes.

Afternoons are usually spent people-watching from one of the numerous benches while indulging in a cup of coffee from the nearby cafe.

The wide, paved walking paths are perfect for leisurely strolls, and the benches and walls are a godsend on days when I'm not in the mood to be on my feet for too long.

Grant Street Pier also has an educational side to it, with signs offering insights into our local history.

It's always a delight to see the kids play in the splash area or acquaint themselves with the uniquely crafted sculptures.

Evenings are my favorite part of the day here. The view of the setting sun painting the river hues of orange and pink is truly mesmerizing.

Water views from Grant Street Pier
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The waterfront walkway, brilliantly lit up, offers spectacular views that never fail to take my breath away.

On the practical side, I've found it best to use public transit or carpool, as street parking is a bit limited.

I've heard whispers about plans for public parking in the garages of the new buildings being erected, so fingers crossed.

Every now and then, I get the chance to play host to visiting friends, and the pier is always on my itinerary.

The growing number of restaurants around the pier offer a variety of dining options, making it a popular spot for date nights or casual chilling.

People along Grant Street Pier
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Test Your Strength and Endu at Source Climbing Center

Ever have one of those hang-out spots in your city that you can't get enough of?

For me, that's Source Climbing Center.

Whether you're an experienced climber or it's your first time here, the challenges presented are intriguing and entertaining - trust me, I know.

My first time at Source Climbing Center was also my first experience with rock climbing, and it was intense.

But you learn to go at your own pace, and it becomes addictive.

The gym has a range of difficulty levels for indoor rock climbing, so there's always a new challenge to conquer.

There's even a kid's gym upstairs, making it a fun place for the whole family.

Yes, it can get crowded at times, but the climbing community is always respectful of personal space.

But there's more to Source Climbing Center than just climbing.

Its convenience is unmatched.

Nestled in a vibrant part of downtown Vancouver, it's right around the corner from my favorite bars, shops, and restaurants.

Sure, the gym is small compared to others I've visited, which can feel a bit overwhelming when it's packed, but that's part of its charm.

What's most impressive, though, is their customer service.

The staff are friendly, knowledgeable, and thorough in answering any questions.

They genuinely care about the safety of their customers, which is comforting to know.

The prices are pretty affordable, too, and they offer some great deals on memberships and guest passes.

It's an excellent place to spend the day, whether you're climbing or just hanging out.

I can't wait to get back there for my next climb!

Stroll through History at Vancouver Barracks

Exterior of Vancouver Barracks
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Every morning, before the hustle of the city kicks in, I lace up my walking shoes and head over to the Vancouver Barracks.

It's a serene, historical breath of fresh air in our modern world.

The Vancouver Barracks is part of my everyday walking loop that extends to the neighboring Fort Vancouver National Historic site.

After recent renovations, the barracks now stand in a beautifully preserved condition, appearing as they might have a century ago.

It's a quiet testament to our past, the sturdy brick buildings standing tall under the watchful shade of grand old oak trees.

As a history enthusiast, every walk feels like a trip back in time.

The former hospital, rehab facility, and officer quarters are all on the barracks area's west side.

It's like stepping into a different era, with each brick and pane whispering stories of the past.

One of my favorite spots in the whole area is a charming war memorial.

Tucked under a grove of oaks, it's a humble yet powerful tribute to those who served.

It's a reminder of the sacrifices made and a place to find quiet moments of reflection.

The Vancouver Barracks is also a popular spot among cyclists.

With ample free parking and handicap access, it's a hidden gem in the city, attracting visitors from all walks of life.

For those interested in military history, there's a well-stocked Base Exchange nestled in the southern part of the old barracks area.

While not quite a museum, Vancouver Barracks is a fascinating place to delve into the past.

It offers a unique perspective on the evolution of military and civilian life over the years.

Explore the Products of Vibrant Vancouver Farmers Market

Fruits at Vancouver farmer's market
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There's nothing quite like starting off my weekend at the Vancouver Farmers Market.

As usual, it was brimming with life on a sunny Saturday morning.

I always look forward to this time of the week, when I can leisurely stroll amidst the lively stalls, chock-full of colorful plants and flowers, quality fruits and vegetables, and mouth-watering foods.

One of my favorite aspects of this market is the abundance of handmade goods - the craftsmanship and creativity on display are genuinely astounding.

It's always a pleasure exploring the various crafts and artworks on offer.

Of course, the food stalls never disappoint. Tacos, donut holes, and many more tantalizing treats always add an extra layer of delight to my visits.

The live music performances are the cherry on top. There's something magical about enjoying a delicious meal to the tune of some soulful performances.

A person buying flowers at Vancouver Farmers Market
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On rainy days, when finding a dry getaway to enjoy the treats can be challenging.

But as an eternal optimist, I see it as an opportunity to indulge in a sort of picnic, eating while standing or finding a quaint spot on the grass.

Despite the price being a tad on the higher side, I believe the quality of the products and the overall experience make it worthwhile.

I keep going back, eager to discover whatever new goodies await me.

The Vancouver Farmers Market is more than just a place for me - it's a tradition, a community, and a delightful way to kick off my weekends.

Tents along Vancouver Farmers Market
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Gaze at Devilish Delights at the Devil-ish Little Things Museum

I have to say, I thought I knew my city inside out, but stumbling upon the Devil-ish Little Things Museum has been a revelation.

Who knew such a unique, devilishly delightful place could exist just around the corner?

This is no ordinary museum.

It's a treasure trove of devilish figurines and mementos, each with its own intriguing story.

They took me on a journey into the past, sharing the detailed origins of their devilish antiques with such a passion that it was impossible not to be captivated.

I was also amazed by their ceramic devilish wares, each piece so meticulously crafted and unique.

On top of all this, Devil-ish Little Things Museum also hosts an absinthe-tasting party, and let me tell you, it's an experience like no other.

It's more than just a tasting, it's an event steeped in history and tradition, which Marion presents with her unique flair.

One of the things that I love most about the Devil-ish Little Things Museum is that it's by appointment only.

This means it's never crowded, and you get the personal attention that makes each visit a special experience.

This hidden gem in the Pacific Northwest is definitely worth exploring, and it's no surprise that it's become my new favorite place in the city.

Stroll down the Enchanting Waterfront Renaissance Trail

Waterfront Renaissance Trail
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I've called Vancouver, Washington, home for the better part of twenty years.

Let me tell you, there's no place quite like it, especially when you find yourself on the Waterfront Renaissance Trail.

Its 5-mile pathway, designed for both pedestrians and cyclists, is nothing short of picturesque.

The trail boasts stunning views of the river, intriguing shops to browse around, and a plethora of eateries to satiate any craving.

What I love most about the trail is the sense of tranquility it provides.

Imagine this: It's a Sunday morning, the sun is shining, and you're strolling along the river, the cool breeze gently caressing your face.

You pass by a fixer-upper boat moored near the sandy beach - it's just one of the charming sights that adds to the overall character of the place.

In the distance, you can spot the heart of Downtown Vancouver, just a short distance away.

The convenience of having the city center so close, yet feeling miles away from the hustle and bustle, is a luxury I never take for granted.

Oh, and I mustn't forget, there's also a local McMenamins along Waterfront Renaissance Trail, perfect for grabbing a bite to eat and quenching your thirst with their locally brewed ale.

I often find myself wishing that our neighbors in Portland would create more of these public-friendly areas along their own waterfront.

It's such a delight to bring my dog along for a leisurely walk, and the trail's pet-friendly nature is a big bonus for me.

And should you decide to visit, here's a friendly tip from me to you: don't forget your sunscreen!

Even on cloudier days, the sun can be unexpectedly strong.

Discover Local Talent at Magenta Theater

I'm not usually one for the theatre, but there's something about the Magenta Theater that caught my eye.

It's a small, intimate theater nestled right in the heart of Vancouver, and boy, does it pack a punch!

The place is filled with talent, both on and off the stage.

I had the chance to see a beautiful story called Amélie performed there.

The lead actress was indeed remarkable, and the gnome... Oh, the gnome was something else, and the props were exceptional.

One thing to note, though, is that for the more generously proportioned among us, the seats are a bit on the narrow side.

But don't let that deter you.

The caliber of performances that take place at this venue is well worth a little squeeze.

Aside from the shows, there's something else that sets this theater apart.

It's a non-profit run entirely by volunteers.

This means that every dollar you spend here supports the local arts scene.

And they're not just about performing, either.

They're incredibly engaged with the community.

I remember them doing some fantastic outreach during the Vancouver Pride in the Park Event.

Plus, they're constantly on the lookout for local partnerships and volunteers.

While I've not had the opportunity to work there, a friend of mine did a video shoot at the theater and commended the well-kept and well-equipped space.

They even mentioned that the lighting grid was impressive, especially for a theater of its size.

Seems like the Magenta Theater is a fantastic place for creators, performers, and viewers alike.

Hope to see you there soon!

Have a Family Time at the Vancouver Waterfront

Daytime view of the Vancouver Waterfront
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Every day feels like an adventure when I step onto the bustling Vancouver Waterfront.

The whole area is practically sizzling with energy.

Waves of new construction are constantly cropping up, shaping the landscape with enticing new buildings that I can't wait to explore.

The waterfront is not just about the buildings, though. Oh no, it's also about the stunning views that greet me every time I visit.

I'm talking about the panoramic sights of the river that look absolutely breathtaking, especially during sunrise and sunset.

I often find myself losing track of time just sitting by the river, soaking in the beauty of it all.

What I particularly love about the waterfront is its family-friendly environment.

The area is always teeming with kids running around, their laughter echoing throughout the place, making it seem even more lively.

People at the Vancouver Waterfront
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Vancouver Waterfront is a great spot to unwind and let the little ones loose for an afternoon of fun.

The dining scene, too, is something that can't be overlooked. A multitude of restaurants line the waterfront, each one offering a unique culinary experience.

One of my personal favorites is the tap house. Their dinner options are just something else - a perfect blend of flavors that make every meal memorable.

But the best part? After a delicious meal, you can head over to the splash pad for a bit of post-dinner fun.

And just when you thought it couldn't get any better, there's a to-go window serving soft serve ice cream right next door!

It's the cherry on top of an already amazing day.

A person riding a bike along Vancouver Waterfront
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Have a Toast at Airfield Estates Winery Vancouver Tasting Room

Every neighborhood has its hidden gem, and the Airfield Estates Winery Vancouver Tasting Room is ours.

Tucked away in the vibrant heart of the city, this is the kind of place that makes you feel like an insider - it's a little bit of a secret and a lot of good wine.

A visit here is a break from the everyday hustle.

You'll find me here on a random Tuesday evening, savoring their wine tasting.

Each sip is a journey of flavors, complex and yet so simple.

You may think that the wine speaks for itself, but the experience is more than just the drink.

It's the ambiance, the presentation, and the knowledgeable staff that truly make it worthwhile.

The Airfield Estates Winery Tasting Room is more than just a tasting room - it's an experience.

From the delicious wines to the satisfyingly abundant charcuterie, it's a place that never fails to impress.

Spend an Afternoon with a Good Read at the Vancouver Community Library

Exterior of Vancouver Community Library
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

"Immerse yourself in knowledge" - this phrase comes to life when I step inside the Vancouver Community Library.

A visit to this library reveals how it's more than just a place to borrow books.

Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, its modern architecture is a sight to behold.

Not only is it a feast for the eyes, but it's also a hub for knowledge seekers.

As I browse through the vast collection of books, I can't help but feel in awe of the touchscreen catalogs placed conveniently at the ends of the bookshelves, making it even more fun to search for titles.

The spacious seating area is perfect for settling down with my laptop to catch up on some work or just to lose myself in a captivating novel.

But what makes this library truly unique is the extraordinary view from the patio on the top floor.

Sitting there with a book in one hand and a cup of coffee from the main level's cafe in the other, the magnificent view of the cityscape leaves me speechless every time.

People reading in Vancouver Community Library
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Vancouver Community Library also hosts a mini used bookstore on-site, which often has some interesting collections you wouldn't find elsewhere.

And for those who rely on digital reading, the library also provides e-reader access.

One of my favorite parts is the rotating local art exhibits in the lobby. It's a great place to appreciate local talent and always leaves me inspired.

The library isn't just for adults either - the kids' section on the upper floor is simply mesmerizing! With so much to explore and do, it's a haven for young minds.

Parking is a breeze - there's plenty of it, including handicap spaces.

The staff is always helpful and courteous. You can even reserve your books online if you prefer to plan ahead.

Wall art of Vancouver Community Library
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Sip a Cup at Relevant Coffee

Who doesn't need a cozy haven in this bustling world?

Well, I found mine at Relevant Coffee.

It's a place where I can sip the finest brews, catch up with friends, or just be by myself, engrossed in a book.

The ambiance here screams comfort, with plush chairs and a blue velvet sofa that makes you feel right at home.

I am in love with their natural wooden tables, they have this soothing effect that just triggers my creativity.

More than once, I've found myself scribbling away in my notebook while enjoying a refreshing matcha tonic served over ice - it's simply delightful.

Now, I can't claim to be a coffee connoisseur, but my friends who are are all fans of the coffee here.

They rave about the espresso and the array of freshly roasted beans the place offers.

And the best part? The beans are roasted right on-site!

Relevant Coffee isn't just about the drinks, though.

They have a daily selection of pastries and goodies that are hard to resist.

I have a soft spot for the vegan options they source from Portland's Shoofly Bakery.

And let me tell you, this place does a lot more than just serve coffee and baked treats.

It fosters a sense of community, which I absolutely adore.

Plus, they are LGBTQ+ friendly, a fact that makes me love them even more.

Catch Performances at Kiggins Theatre

Exterior of the Historic Kiggins Theatre
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Stepping into the Kiggins Theatre is like taking a journey back in time, a treasure right in the heart of downtown Vancouver.

The first time I visited this beautifully restored 1936 theater, I was taken aback by its charming old-world aura.

The art-deco touches and the intimate drinks lounge add to its appeal, making it feel like a home away from home.

Every visit to this wonderful gem is a new experience.

Over the years, I've seen a multitude of curated old and new films, each one adding a unique color to my cinematic palette.

The variety of the films they screen is impressive, to say the least.

One of my favorite memories is going to see Red Yarn play a morning set.

Ticket booth of the Historic Kiggins Theatre
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There's something magical about starting your day with a dose of entertainment at an iconic venue.

Kiggins Theatre is not just a theater, it's a hub of the community, a place where art meets heart and where every show feels personal.

The staff here is absolutely lovely, always warm and welcoming.

Pair that with super comfy seats and a delightful ambiance, and you've got an unforgettable evening of entertainment.

Kiggins Theatre truly is a slice of cinematic heaven, and I couldn't recommend it more. Whether it's your first visit or your fiftieth, this place never loses its charm.

If you're ever in the neighborhood and want to enjoy a peaceful evening of movie magic, make sure to drop by the Kiggins Theatre.

Have a Picnic at Columbia Springs

Have you ever stumbled upon a place so enchanting that you're lost for words?

That's what happened when I decided to explore Columbia Springs.

Now, I can't resist the urge to share this hidden treasure with others.

On a sunny Saturday in June, I ventured into the park expecting a typical walk.

Little did I know I was about to embark on a journey through nature that would leave a lasting impression.

With a sprinkle of cars in the parking lot, the place seemed pleasantly deserted, offering the solitude I craved.

The well-maintained parking lot and streets led me to believe I was about to experience something beautiful.

The first trail that attracted my attention was the Heron trail.

Although there was some construction taking place, the detour offered was no less captivating.

While the trail wasn't as challenging as some of the other hikes around the Portland area, it did provide a rewarding workout with its inclines.

What truly stole my heart, however, was the fish hatchery.

At first glance, the tanks appeared to be filled with empty water.

It was only when I leaned in that I found myself staring at an astounding number of tiny fish.

The sight was pure magic!

The pond where you can feed the trout brought a wave of childlike excitement, reminding me of the simple joys of life.

In addition to the breathtaking beauty, the place proves to be an educational hub.

The signage throughout the trails and walkways, labeling plants and explaining different processes in nature, broadened my understanding of our ecosystem.

It was fascinating to learn about the work done by the Fish and Wildlife Department.

Columbia Springs, although small, houses prehistoric fossils and a couple of picnic tables, making it an ideal spot for family outings.

You can even bring your furry friends along for a walk.

What it lacks in size, it makes up for in quality.

Enjoy Learning at Columbia Tech Center Park

Duck on a pond at Columbia Tech Center Park
Jodi Cushner / Shutterstock.com

I still remember my first visit to the Columbia Tech Center Park.

You can practically see the excitement on the children's faces as they explore the playground filled with slides, nets, and wooden bridges - it's a real natural adventure land.

My youngest, just like any other kid, never seems to get enough of it.

She would play all day if she could, often protesting when it was time to go home.

The park is also equipped with public restrooms and sanitation facilities, so you don't have to worry about kids' needs while they're enjoying themselves.

It’s a small but significant attention to detail that makes all the difference to family visits.

What's more, you don't have to be a kid to appreciate the park.

Even if I'm just stopping by for a bit, I find myself captivated by its serene beauty.

I love the calm atmosphere and the way the park is relatively less crowded.

I occasionally take advantage of the unused basketball court for a quick game.

One thing you should note is that parking can be a bit tricky.

Columbia Tech Center Park does not have a private parking lot, but you can conveniently use the nearby school lot during non-school hours.

Exercise at Frenchman's Bar Regional Park

Oh, how I cherish those languid afternoons spent at Frenchman's Bar Regional Park!

Lounging by the mighty Columbia River, feeling the soft sand underneath me and the smell of fresh air – there's truly no place like it.

The park is no less than a haven for fitness enthusiasts, families, and nature lovers alike.

It's always a thrill taking a walk or a jog along the well-maintained trails that offer unimpeded views of the great River.

And the beach volleyball courts!

Oh, the adrenaline rush I get from those friendly matches under the sun on one of those eight sand courts is something else.

What I love most is that there's always something for everyone – kids frolicking on the playgrounds, friends and families gathered around picnic tables or event areas brimming with celebrations.

And the dedicated park personnel ensure the park is always in pristine condition.

Do remember, though, that there's a $3 toll to enter the park.

The line might seem intimidating on a nice day, but trust me, it's worth every minute.

Parking is never a hassle once you get through.

Oh, and do keep your sunscreen handy, the park's pathways are mostly open areas.

When you're done with your activities, don't miss the chance to relax by the river.

You might even catch sight of some locals fishing from the shore.

There's a certain tranquility to it all that makes the Frenchman's Bar Regional Park such a special place for me.

Check out the Aircraft Exhibits at Pearson Air Museum

Display at Pearson Air Museum
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There's always been something magical about the Pearson Air Museum.

It's one of those places nestled in my hometown that keeps drawing me back time and time again, offering a unique blend of history, aviation, and family-friendly fun.

Just last weekend, I brought my five-year-old niece to the museum for her first visit.

She's a curious little one, and I knew the museum's collection of World War I-era planes would captivate her.

We spent a couple of hours exploring the large hanger, her eyes wide with wonderment as we moved from one plane to another.

Her favorite exhibit? The one on the first transpolar flight.

The sheer delight in her eyes as she learned about this significant event in aviation history was genuinely heartwarming.

The museum staff always make our visits memorable. They're friendly, welcoming, and ever-ready to make the experience interactive and fun for the kids.

Exterior of Pearson Air Museum
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Not to mention, it's free to visit the Pearson Air Museum, making it a fantastic option for a budget-friendly day out.

There's also a dedicated space for children in the lobby. My niece loved this area, spending a good chunk of time engrossed in coloring and reading.

The highlight of her visit was the surprise badge she received from a veteran volunteer. It was such a sweet, inclusive gesture that truly made her day.

One last thing, the museum is a part of Fort Vancouver, an area steeped in military history.

The model planes and old military tents on display are a testament to this. It's genuinely impressive to see and learn about these remnants of the past.

So, whether you're an aviation enthusiast, a history buff, or someone looking for a fun, educational day out with the kids, Pearson Air Museum ticks all the right boxes.

Take it from me; it's a small-town gem that's well worth a visit.

An aircraft inside the Pearson Air Museum
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Bond with Your Fido at Ike Memorial Park


I've been living in Vancouver for about a decade now, and I've got to say, there's no place like Ike Memorial Park when it comes to giving your four-legged friends the time of their lives.

Situated just a stone's throw away from the intersection of I-5 and HWY 500, this park has become my and my husky, Saber's, favorite getaway.

The great thing about this park is its easy accessibility for people on the move as it's so close to I-5.

The space is divided thoughtfully into a section for large breeds and another for the small ones.

The small breed section is just as you would find in any other park around the Portland/Vancouver area, but the large breed section is where the magic truly happens.

This colossal space offers two entrance points: one at the southwest corner near the main parking lot and another up north with limited parking.

I often find myself and Saber strolling through the southern part of the park, which is a vast open field.

As we move northwards, the gradient increases, leading us up a steep hill and into a shaded, wooded area where we can rest, and Saber can catch his breath while we admire the view of the field we've just crossed.

Further north, the park narrows and then opens up again as if you've just entered a brand-new park.

This section has benches and steep hills for the dogs to play around in, and the geographical diversity here is just delightful for the pups.

This is also where the northern gate entrance is located.

Saber and I have made some great friends here, both canine and human.

The people are amicable, and we've even formed a little group that meets around the same time every day.

There's also a drink station, a fully fenced small dog area, large trash cans, and ample parking across the street.

The park is clean and well-maintained, and I'd highly recommend it to all dog owners out there.

If you've got a furry friend and you're in Vancouver, do yourself a favor and visit Ike Memorial Park.

Trust me, your pooch will thank you for it!

Stroll through History at Clark County Historical Museum

Exterior of Clark County Historical Museum
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I've always been a history enthusiast, so it's no surprise that the Clark County Historical Museum is one of my all-time favorite spots.

This is not your average museum; it's housed in the former Carnegie Library, a building that's a piece of history itself.

The architecture alone is worth a visit, let alone the incredible exhibits it houses.

One of my favorite aspects of the museum is the focus on local and regional history.

There are many Native American items on display, providing a rich and in-depth portrayal of the past.

The exhibits go beyond mere dates and events; they delve into the lives and experiences of people of color, offering a more complete and comprehensive narrative.

The museum also features a research library on the lower level. It's a treasure trove of reference materials and historic documents.

Here, you can lose yourself for hours, delving into the fascinating past of Vancouver and Clark County.

And don't get me started on the gift shop. It's small but packed full of Vancouver postcards, books, and other items that make perfect souvenirs or gifts.

Entrance doors of Clark County Historical Museum
Underawesternsky / Shutterstock.com

But what sets the Clark County Historical Museum apart is the array of events it hosts – from fun and educational activities on-site to county-wide happenings.

These events are a great excuse to venture out of the house and immerse oneself in Clark County's rich history.

I must confess, the museum is smaller than most, but it's definitely not lacking in quality.

There's a certain charm in being able to take in everything in a single visit.

Plus, there's a neat interactive exhibit that's a crowd favorite and a geocache that adds an extra layer of excitement to the visit.

The only downside is the admission fee, which I initially balked at, given the museum's size.

But after experiencing all that it offers – from the cool exhibits to the unique events – I can assure you it's worth every penny.

After all, where else can you take a walk through history, right in the heart of Vancouver?

Roll in the Grass at Vancouver Lake Regional Park

I remember my first trip to Vancouver Lake Regional Park as if it were yesterday.

The sun was shining, the air was fresh, and the allure of fishing in a serene lake surrounded by lush greenery was too good to pass by.

As I cast my line in the tranquil waters, the small sandy beach was a stone's throw away, lined with soft, velvety green grass and picture-perfect trees.

I was pleasantly surprised to find a comfortable wooden picnic table nearby, perfectly placed for a relaxing afternoon.

There was also a barbecue grill ready for anyone wanting to cook up their catch of the day.

Taking a break from fishing, I decided to explore Vancouver Lake Regional Park a little more.

A stroll along the Frenchman Bar Trail loop was delightful.

The quiet murmur of the lake, the sweet chirping of the birds, and the rustling of leaves underfoot made it one of the most peaceful walks I've ever had.

On another visit, I found the trails to be well-kept and clean, some paved and some not, providing a variety of terrains to explore.

The park staff was always friendly and approachable.

There were swings for children, and the water, though a tad murky at times, did little to dampen the overall charm of the place.

Walk across the Vancouver Land Bridge

Daytime view of the Vancouver Land Bridge
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There's nothing quite like a morning stroll across the Vancouver Land Bridge.

Nestled amidst the urban surroundings, this 40-foot-wide pedestrian bridge is a hidden gem in our city and a perfect getaway from the city's bustle.

My favorite part about the bridge is the two overlooks. They are strategically placed to provide a panoramic view of the surrounding landscapes.

On a clear day, you can catch sight of the majestic mountains, with Mount Hood and St. Helen's gracing the horizon.

And I must say, there's something incredibly soothing about watching the world go by below – the freeway, train trails, small airplanes, and a constant stream of cars.

The native plants flanking the bridge add a touch of nature to the experience, and the interpretive panels offer a wealth of information about the bridge's historical significance.

Prairie overlook at Vancouver Land Bridge
Van Rossen / Shutterstock.com

These spots are perfect for sitting, catching your breath, or just soaking in the scenery.

Even on rainy days, armed with my trusty rain jacket, I find myself drawn to these peaceful interludes.

Vancouver Land Bridge is also a popular spot among joggers in the city.

I often join them, pounding the earth-covered path beneath my feet, feeling the breeze in my hair, and losing myself in the serenity that this bridge offers.

On sunny days, this place feels like a meditation paradise.

Whether you're a history buff, a nature lover, or just someone looking for a peaceful walk, the Vancouver Land Bridge has something to offer.

The blend of history, nature, and cityscape creates a unique experience that's hard to match anywhere else in the city.

The trail of Vancouver Land Bridge
Van Rossen / Shutterstock.com

Soak Up the Sun at Surprise Beach

I have a personal slice of paradise right in my backyard, a place we locals call Surprise Beach.

It's a family-friendly waterfront spot where sand castles rule and the water is clear and inviting.

On most days, you'll find me sprawled on a beach towel, soaking in the sun and reveling in the sense of being at the beach, right in the heart of the city.

This place is truly a treasure for kids.

I often see them splashing around, giggling, and going wild in the water, which is clean, rock-free, and just perfect for their little adventures.

And if you're lucky, you might even see a plane swooping overhead every now and then, thanks to the nearby airport.

The sight of these airborne giants never fails to amuse the young ones.

One thing you should know, though, is that Surprise Beach is not for the faint-hearted.

The river can get deep fast and has a few drop-offs, so I wouldn't recommend it for those who aren't confident swimmers.

Also, getting to the beach can be a bit of a challenge.

The path is literally a downward-slanted pile of rocks, so you need good balance, or you'll have to hold onto the concrete wall for support while carrying your beach gear.

Despite all this, I find the journey down quite thrilling.

It adds a sense of adventure to the whole beach experience.

Discover Life in the Old Times at Marshall House

Exterior of George C. Marshall House
Van Rossen / Shutterstock.com

I've spent countless sunny afternoons strolling past the majestic Marshall House, wondering about its rich history and the tales hidden behind its restored Queen Anne-style facade.

Named in honor of Gen. George Marshall, this gem is a proud part of our local heritage.

As soon as the Historic Trust announced a call for a chimney inspection, I was thrilled to lend my craftsmanship and attention to detail to this labor of love.

Every brick and beam of the Marshall House tells a story.

Stepping inside feels like a journey back in time - it's an experience that's open to everyone, with no entry charges.

Take a free guided tour, and you'll get a first-hand glimpse into the past, with the house filled with period furniture and household items.

Marker of the George C. Marshall House
jejim / Shutterstock.com

One of the unique features of the Marshall House is its location.

Nestling in the shade of towering trees, this iconic house stands as a cornerstone along the picturesque Officer's Row.

It's adjacent to the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, making it part of a stunning panorama that breathes history.

And if you have a special event coming up, consider renting the Marshall House. It's not every day that you get to host a party in a piece of living history.

Parking won't be an issue either, as there's plenty available right across the street, including spaces for the differently-abled.

Stroll through Columbia Land Trust

It all started on an ordinary day in Downtown Vancouver.

Suddenly, I found myself on a street that seemed to have been lifted out of a 50s or 60s family TV show.

Every building I initially mistook for houses was a spitting image of the one before - all part of the Columbia Land Trust.

The yards were pristine, each corner manicured to perfection.

Tall trees providing the perfect canopy over the sidewalks were perfectly spaced.

Every building had charming little signs matching the color scheme, advertising the type of business conducted within.

Though I didn't have any dealings with these business places, the exterior view alone left an impression.

I promise to share my experience if I get a chance to engage with any of them in the future.

Columbia Land Trust, it turns out, is an incredible non-profit land conservation organization doing vital conservation work in Oregon and Washington.

They work hand in hand with local communities and landowners to protect and restore land.

One initiative that caught my eye was their project to remove an old road from the Klickitat River floodplain.

This was done to allow the land to revert back to its natural state - a laudable effort, indeed.

For over two decades, the dedicated leadership and staff of CLT have been striving to make the Pacific Northwest a more sustainable place, both socially and ecologically.

It's safe to say they've succeeded in their mission to a great extent.

Burn Off Some Energy at Esther Short Park

The clock tower at Esther short Park
Harold Stiver / Shutterstock.com

I can't help but marvel at the vibrancy and charm of Esther Short Park every time I visit.

At the heart of downtown Vancouver, it's a city square brought to life by the pulse of the community.

You're bound to find something that captivates you, whether it's the playground bustling with energetic children, the rose garden that offers a peaceful retreat, or the local farmers market where you can find a variety of fresh produce and homemade goods.

The playground, revamped recently, is a sight to behold.

It's like witnessing a swarm of ants on a sugar cube - the children are all over it, sliding, climbing, and laughing.

It's heartwarming to see such pure joy and energy.

The public art installations scattered across the park add an artistic touch to the place, making it even more appealing.

A gazebo at Esther Short Park
Visitor7, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

But Esther Short Park is more than a playground and a garden. It's a place where the community comes together to celebrate and enjoy.

I remember the 2023 '4 Days of Aloha' festival - the park was humming with the rhythm of music, the swaying of dancers, and the aroma of food.

While the food lines were long and the sun was beating down, the spirit and the energy of the festival were electric.

However, I'd suggest a bit more shade for the food lines and additional seating for eating.

But that said, it's these little imperfections that make the experience even more unique and memorable.

The grounds of Esther Short Park
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Spot the Wildlife at Wintler Community Park

Picture this.

Your feet sink into the soft sand, sitting on a picnic blanket and listening to the gentle lull of the Columbia River.

This is what a typical afternoon looks like at Wintler Community Park, a hidden gem in our city.

As soon as I step into the park, the hustle and bustle of everyday life seem to drift away.

The park, despite its close proximity to the city, offers an invaluable sense of serenity.

It's my go-to spot when I need some quiet time, a place where I can unwind and appreciate the beauty of nature.

One can easily lose track of time here, especially if you're like me and have a soft spot for birdwatching.

Wintler Community Park is home to an array of bird species that never fail to fascinate.

And if you're lucky, you might even spot some interesting water-based wildlife.

But it's not just the wildlife.

The beach area is a treasure trove, too, filled with pretty rocks and driftwood that my kids love to collect.

And nothing beats watching the sunset over the river.

It's one of those simple pleasures in life that you can't put a price tag on.

The park is also wheelchair-accessible, making it easier for everyone in the community to enjoy what it has to offer.

And kudos to the people who maintain the park, it's always clean and well-kept.

If you're in the mood for a leisurely walk, there's a trail that's perfect for stretching your legs.

I often bring my dog along, and she enjoys the freedom to run around just as much as I enjoy the exercise and fresh air.

Have a Splash at Salmon Creek Regional Park/Klineline Pond

The waters of Salmon Creek
thecolorpixels.com / Shutterstock.com

Whenever I need to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, there's nothing like packing a picnic and heading off to Salmon Creek Regional Park/Klineline Pond.

It's a charming spot in our neighborhood, a large green oasis where you can breathe in the fresh air and soak in the tranquility.

The park has a playground and a splash pad, conveniently located next to one another, making it a fantastic spot for the kids to let loose.

The pond is a refreshing place for a swim, and the best part is they provide life jackets for those in need.

It's just about as safe as it can get.

Their parking is just $3 for a day pass, and that's pretty much all you'd need to spend.

Affordable and fun, isn't that the best combination?

One thing that I love about Salmon Creek Regional Park/Klineline Pond is the well-maintained trail.

It can get a bit busy, but it just adds to the lively ambiance.

You'd get to see the beautiful river and pond, and if you're lucky, you'd spot the eagle family that resides by the river.

It's a sight to behold, trust me.

There are activity fields for multiple sports, restrooms, and ample parking, and the best part is that most of the park is accessible.

Hike through Burnt Bridge Creek Trail

Scenic view of Burnt Bridge Creek Trail
Williampfeifer, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

I’ve always found something magical about Burnt Bridge Creek Trail.

Just the other day, I found myself wandering through the thick tree coverage, the sound of raindrops hitting the leaves above creating a soothing melody.

Even though it had been raining, the forest canopy was so dense that most of the rain was kept at bay, allowing me to enjoy my hike dry.

The trail is a web of different paths to explore, a labyrinth of natural beauty that never fails to captivate me.

One of my favorite offshoots is the Gnome Trail, a quaint little path dotted with gnome decorations.

It's a testament to the community spirit in the area, a charming community project that puts a smile on my face every time I pass by.

There's a unique spot along the trail known as the 'Cedar Cathedral', home to a special prayer box.

You can slip a prayer into a slot on this locked box, a simple act that somehow makes the entire trail feel even more peaceful and serene.

What I love about Burnt Bridge Creek Trail is that it's a haven for wildlife.

The mature trees are teeming with birds of all varieties, creating a symphony of bird songs that echo throughout the forest.

It's a fantastic place for nature watching and an absolute paradise for bird enthusiasts like myself.

The trail stretches on and on, passing through open grasslands and dense forest.

It's a popular spot, and the path can be busy at times, but that's part of its charm.

There's a sense of camaraderie among fellow hikers and bikers, a shared appreciation for the beauty of the trail.

Let Your Kids Explore the Wonders of Dizzy Castle

Dizzy Castle

When you're raising a family, finding a place where your kids can burn off some energy while you relax with a cup of coffee is a godsend.

That's exactly what I found at Dizzy Castle.

This indoor play space, complete with a castle, pirate ship structures, slides, and even a music play area, became our most frequented hangout spot.

Don't even get me started on the castle!

It's a child's dream come true, with its towering slides and intricate structures.

The pirate ship is also a hit, especially with the boys.

As for the playground, it features monkey bars, ropes, boxing bags, and not one but seven slides.

My kids can't get enough of this place.

We usually hang out there from 9 in the morning until late afternoon.

The best part is they offer a stamp on your hand to return within the day.

I love the flexibility it gives me, especially with a day full of errands.

Dizzy Castle isn't just for kids.

They've got a cafe that serves a range of snacks and beverages.

The staff is super friendly, and the place is always kept clean.

The pizza isn't gourmet, but it's good enough to keep the kids happy.

And let's be real: free refills on soda are a parent's best friend.

Have a Retail Therapy at Vancouver Mall

Exterior of Vancouver Mall
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There's nothing quite like spending a Saturday at the Vancouver Mall.

Right off the bat, you're welcomed by the vast parking lot, so you never have to worry about finding a spot.

As soon as you walk in, you are greeted by an array of well-known retailers, eateries, and even a multiplex.

But what sets this mall apart is the little unexpected delights that you stumble upon.

For someone like me, who thrives on the nerd culture, the dozen little niche nerd boutiques are a treasure trove.

You actually get the feeling of being in a comic con, squeezing and pleasing your nerdalicious heart.

You can find everything from rare comic books to the latest superhero merchandise.

One of the other things I absolutely love about the mall is the variety of food options. You can find everything from quick bites to sit-down restaurants.

AMC movie theater in Vancouver Mall
Steven Baltakatei Sandoval, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

There is also a massage shop to help you relax after a long day of shopping.

Vancouver Mall even has an H&M store, one of my favorite places to shop for trendy clothing.

For the little ones, there's an indoor play area and a laser tag arena, which my kids absolutely adore.

They can spend hours in there, giving adults some peaceful shopping time.

All this is within a meticulously clean environment, except for the men's room sometimes.

Honestly, you could spend an entire day at this mall and still not run out of things to do. And the best part? It's right here in our neighborhood.

Parking lot of Vancouver Mall
Another Believer, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Final Thoughts

Vancouver, Washington, has a charm that is truly its own.

Whether you're a history buff, an outdoor enthusiast, a foodie, or a theater lover, this city has something for you.

It's a city full of surprises, and each day spent here reveals a new facet of its charm.

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