Boasting a rich history that dates back to the early 1800s, Vancouver is one of the oldest cities in Washington, and it offers a plethora of things to see and do, including great beaches.
History buffs will delight in the city’s interesting past by exploring excellent sites and museums such as Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, the Pearson Air Museum, and the oldest operating airfield in the West. Here are the best things to do in Vancouver, Washington.
1. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
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Located on the north bank of the Columbia River in the heart of the Portland-Vancouver Metropolitan Area, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is a national park and urban oasis with a rich cultural past. Established in 1948 to preserve the site of the original Hudson's Bay stockade, the park features four unique sites that highlight the rich cultural history of the Pacific Northwest.
These sites include a reconstructed British fur trade fort, where visitors can experience the life of a fur trapper, historic buildings from the US Army's Vancouver Barracks, and the history and magic of flight at the Pearson Air Museum. The park also boasts a network of walking trails that visitors can use to explore the landscape and enjoy beautiful views of the snow-capped peaks in the distance. A modern visitors center presents a variety of informative exhibits, displays and hands-on activities, and information about the park’s four sites, as well as a short film about the history of the area, a bookstore, and a display of artwork by local American Indian artists.
1001 E 5th St, Vancouver, WA 98661, 360-816-6232
2. Esther Short Park, Vancouver, WA
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Established in 1853 and one of the oldest public parks in the region, Esther Short Park is a five-acre gem in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Anchored at its southeast corner by the Salmon Run Bell Tower, where a Glockenspiel diorama depicts a story of the Chinook Indians, the park is a beautiful green urban space that offers the community an open area in which to enjoy the outdoors.
The park features a large bronze statue of "The Pioneer Mother" at the northern entrance, a large fountain system with various water features, a children’s playground, a beautifully manicured rose garden, and the historic Slocum House. The park hosts a popular farmer’s market every weekend, as well as several outdoor events and concerts throughout the year.
415 W 6th Street, Vancouver, WA 98660, 360-487-8311
3. Officers' Row, Vancouver, WA
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Situated just north of the Vancouver Barracks Parade Grounds, Officers Row is a beautiful urban setting made up of 22 fully restored 19th-century homes. Built in the mid-to-late 1800s to house U.S. Army officers stationed at Vancouver Barracks, the exquisitely restored homes, which are listed on the National Historic Register, are now offices and residences, and some are open to the public to explore.
The oldest house in the row is the Ulysses S. Grant House, which was built in 1850, and the Marshall House offers guided tours and special exhibits on its most famous resident, General George C. Marshall. The Fort Vancouver National Site is located within the stately Grant House and is home to an excellent restaurant where visitors can relax over a pleasant meal.
1301 Officers Row, Vancouver, WA 98661
4. Vancouver Farmers Market, Vancouver, WA
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The Vancouver Farmers Market is a community market that hosts over 250 vendors selling a variety of organic and fresh produce, from delicious foodstuffs and fresh fruit and vegetables to baked goods, flowers and plants, homemade clothing, and accessories and items for the home and garden.
Located in the corner of the Esther Short Park, the pet-friendly market welcomes shoppers every Saturday and Sunday from March to October, and it has grown to become the second largest in the State of Washington. The market is a hive of activity where visitors can stroll around and enjoy the atmosphere, shop for items, sample fantastic food, listen to great music, and relax in the nearby park.
605 Esther Street, Vancouver, WA 98660
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5. Things to Do in Vancouver, WA: Clark County Historical Museum
© Clark County Historical Museum
Established in 1917 and operated by the Clark County Historical Society, the Clark County Historical Museum is dedicated to collecting, preserving, and interpreting the culture and history of Clark County. Located in a 1909 Carnegie Library, the museum features a variety of exhibits that showcase the heritage and development of the county, as well as local interests such as a semi-permanent Native American craft exhibition.
The museum also sponsors several community-based educational programs, exhibits, and events throughout the year that focus on highlighting Clarke County’s rich past and the people who played a role in it. Community events include Harvest Fun Day, Holiday Open House and First Thursday Museum after Hours, where guest lecturers speak on a variety of topics.
1511 Main Street, Vancouver, WA 98660, 360-993-5679
6. Waterfront Renaissance Trail, Vancouver, WA
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The Waterfront Renaissance Trail is a five-mile paved pathway that connects Esther Short Park in downtown Vancouver with Wintler Park, and it provides a scenic riverfront trail where visitors can walk, jog, run, bike, or rollerblade. Paved pathways and interpretive trails offer beautiful natural scenery and myriad attractions along the way, including shops, restaurants, and historical attractions of the Columbia River waterfront.
Encompassing the smaller Discovery Historic Loop Trail, stops en route include the Ilchee Statue and Plaza, the World War II-era Kaiser Viewing Tower and Shipyard, and the stainless steel Wendy Rose sculpture, as well as spectacular views of the Maya Lin-designed Vancouver Land Bridge. Trailheads can be found at Wintler Community Park, Marine Park, and Waterfront Park in downtown Vancouver.
North Bank of Columbia River, Vancouver, WA 98660
7. Vancouver Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA
© Vancouver Land Bridge
The Vancouver Land Bridge, also known as the Confluence Project, is a 40-foot-wide, earth-covered pedestrian bridge that connects the historic Fort Vancouver with the Columbia River waterfront. The bridge is lined with indigenous plants and Native basket weavings in celebration of the European and Native American cultures that once converged on this site. The site is renowned as the place where the Hudson's Bay Company stood as the first European trading post in the Pacific Northwest, as well as the spot where Lewis and Clark camped, which would later become Fort Vancouver.
The southern end of the bridge has a Welcome Gate designed by Native American artist Lillian Pitt, consisting of two cedar canoe panels adorned with cast-glass sculptures that signify the point as a historic tribal crossroads and contact between two cultures.
8. Vancouver Lake Park, Vancouver, WA
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Stretching along the western shore of Vancouver Lake, Vancouver Lake Park is a 190-acre regional park that offers outdoor space for the community to enjoy a variety of activities. Spanning 2.5 miles along the shoreline of the lake, the park and lake are ideal for windsurfing, kayaking, canoeing, picnicking, and volleyball.
The park features a space with play equipment for children and barbecue areas with picnic tables for outdoor dining, and visitors can enjoy spectacular views of Mt. Hood, Mt. Adams, and Mt. St. Helens on bright, cloudless days. The park is also home to a variety of diverse wildlife and migratory waterfowl, which wildlife enthusiasts will delight in watching.
9. Water Resources Education Center
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The Water Resources Education Center is a community-based educational center that was established to teach visitors about the importance of water, its resources, and the vital role it plays in life. The center is home to an array of water-focused interactive exhibits and hands-on activities, beautiful natural gardens, and wildlife wetlands teeming with a diverse range of birds and wildlife.
Visitors can admire live sturgeon in a 350-gallon aquarium, enjoy environmental artworks and spectacular panoramic views of the Columbia River while learning all about the future of a safe and healthy water supply. The Water Center hosts community events throughout the year, as well as Second Saturdays. It is open Mondays through Saturdays with free admission.
4600 SE Columbia Way, Vancouver, WA 98661, 360-487-7111
10. Things to Do in Vancouver, WA: Burnt Bridge Cellars
© Burnt Bridge Cellars
Based in a converted 1930s-era auto garage in downtown Vancouver, Burnt Bridge Cellars is dedicated to crafting premiere class Rhône and Bordeaux varietals in small lots from the best vineyards in and around Washington State. Burnt Bridge Cellars’ wines are made from handpicked grapes, fermented in hand-selected oak barrels and hand-filled, hand-corked, and hand-labeled, making each and every bottle a labor of love.
Popular labels include Coyote Canyon Vineyard Syrah, Couve Cuveé, Pont Brûlé, and a variety of Burnt Bridge Cabernet Sauvignons, Merlots, and Syrahs. Burnt Bridge Cellars’ tasting room is open for wine tasting Friday through Sunday. The first Friday of each month is free for the Vancouver First Friday Downtown celebration with live music, art, and small plates from Class Cooking.
1500 Broadway, Vancouver, WA 98660, 360-695-3363
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11. Salmon Creek Park, Vancouver, WA
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Salmon Creek Regional Park is a green urban park that features acres of both developed parkland and undeveloped green space presenting an array of activities for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is home to Klineline Pond, which features a historic bathhouse, roped swimming areas, children’s play areas, and on-duty lifeguards, as well as picnic areas with barbecue grills and tables, play equipment for children, and a lovely sandy beach.
Salmon Creek Park borders the Salmon Creek Greenway and a three-mile trail, which runs along the Salmon Creek between Lake River, and the park teems with a variety of diverse wildlife and migratory waterfowl. More day trips from Seattle
12. Pearson Field and Pearson Air Museum
© Pearson Field and Pearson Air Museum
Established when a Baldwin airship landed on the polo grounds of the Vancouver Barracks, Pearson Field was primarily used for general aviation and stands today as one of the oldest continuously operating airfields in the country.
The Pearson Air Museum is an aviation museum located on Pearson Field that celebrates the history of aviation, Pearson Field, and the Vancouver Barracks. The museum is home to a range of objects and artifacts that take visitors on an aviation journey back in time.
1115 E 5th Street, Vancouver, WA 98661, 360-816-6232
13. Things to Do in Vancouver, WA: Cathlapotle Plankhouse
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Located at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge at Cathlapotle, one of the largest Chinookan villages in the area, the Cathlapotle Plankhouse is a full-scale replica of a Chinookan-style cedar plank house. The plank house is based at the Lewis & Clark historical site where the Corp of Discovery camped during the early 1800s, and it serves as a tangible link to those who lived here in the past.
Visitors to the plank house are presented with the opportunity to gain a deeper insight into the natural and cultural heritage of this area’s original inhabitants, the Chinook Indians. Today, the plank house serves as an outdoor classroom for interpreting the rich diversity of the culture preserved on Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, and the Chinook Indian Nation uses it for various cultural events throughout the year.
28908 Northwest Main Avenue, Ridgefield, WA 98642, 360-887-9495
14. Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach
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Situated in the scenic region of Washougal, the Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach is a public park that commemorates the historical site where the Corps of Discovery camped for six days in 1806. Located on the Washington side of the Columbia River at River Mile on Cottonwood Beach, the 85-acre park features a network of walking and hiking trails with informational signs and maps, restrooms, covered cooking areas, and picnic spots.
Interpretive elements are scattered throughout the park, allowing visitors to gain a deeper appreciation of the history of the park where Meriwether Lewis and William Clark established a camp more than 200 years ago. A recognition plaza showcases the history of the park with replicas of Lewis and Clark's dugout canoes and Chinookan canoes. A two-mile long trail runs above the beach and offers a scenic stretch for hiking, jogging, biking, and horseback riding.
3333 Index St, Washougal, WA 98671, 360-397-2285
15. The Source Climbing Center
© The Source Climbing Center
The Source Climbing Center is an indoor rock climbing gym for climbers of all levels. It offers a range of classes and series for beginner, intermediate and advanced climbers, as well as improvement technique classes and private lessons for those who want individual attention. Professional climbing instructors with years of experience run the classes and series, and all safety instruction and equipment is provided.
The Source also hosts regular monthly clinics that cover special skills related to climbing, such as lead climbing with anchors and rappelling, training for climbing, mental fitness, and CPR courses. They also offer special women’s climbing courses that focus on strategy, intent, and enjoyment.
1118 Main St, Vancouver, WA 98660, 360-694-9096
16. Beaches Restaurant and Bar
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Enjoy spectacular dining right on the beach and care of Vancouver’s Beaches Restaurant and Bar. Not only does Beaches offer a spectacular view of the Columbia River, but the restaurant also serves up gorgeous plates of food that will fill and make any tummy happy. Dine on classic Northwest seafood offerings, feast on succulent top-quality steaks, or share an Asian-inspired with the rest of your companions. Whatever you choose to try, this tiki-themed restaurant and bar are bound to deliver flavor and spectacular service to boot. If you’re looking for a great deal, be sure to drop by during happy hour!
1919 SE Columbia River Drive, Vancouver, Washington 98661; Phone: 360-699-1592
17. NW Escape Experience
© NW Escape Experience
Featuring award-winning escape rooms, NW Escape Experience offers four different themed rooms, each capable of accommodating parties as small as two or as large as ten. Intriguing storylines will transport you into another world where you and your team will have to cooperate and play to each other’s strengths to find clues, solve puzzles, and find the way out of your room before time runs out. Play thriller rooms like Ronnie’s House, solve mysteries in rooms like Polybius Lives and Operation: DB Cooper, or play adventure rooms like Jurassic Tours: Escape Extinction. No matter which room you choose, the NW Escape Experience promises challenges and excitement in just one sixty-minute experience.
1503 NE 78th Street, State 7, Vancouver, Washington 98665; Phone: 360-949-7921
18. Things to Do in Vancouver, WA: Big Al’s Bowling
© Big Al’s Bowling
At Big Al’s Bowling, it’s all about great friends, great activities, and a ton of great drinks and food. This huge family entertainment destination has several locations across the upper west-coast and even a few in Canada. Each location is deeply intertwined into the fabric of their respective local community with spaces that range between 45,000 up to 70,000 square feet of activity space. Plan on in huge bowling alleys, watch sports from the largest HD projection screens in the industry, play a game of pool, or beat every game you can at the arcade. No matter what your choice of activity is, two things are sure: you’ll have a fantastic time and there’ll be great food and drinks waiting for you after.
16615 SE 18th Street, Vancouver, Washington 98683; Phone: 360-944-6118
19. Things to Do Near Me Today: Columbia Springs
© Columbia Springs
Develop a greater appreciation and awareness of Mother Nature and inspire a sense of stewardship over the natural world when you visit Columbia Springs. This unique natural escape is home to some of the most gorgeous forests on the west coast, but also offers great and unique educational experiences for all ages. Columbia Springs has 100 acres of urban natural space and over 20 years in the industry. One of the main draws at Columbia Springs is their old Vancouver Trout Hatchery. First built in 1938, the hatchery remains operational to this day, supplying some of the nation’s waterways with natural recreational fishing opportunities. When you’re done learning all that Columbia Springs’ programs and workshops can teach you, enjoy walking around the area’s trails to enjoy peace, quiet, and gloriously fresh air.
12208 SE Evergreen Highway, Vancouver, Washington 98683; Phone: 360-882-0936
20. Brothers Cascadia Brewing
© Brothers Cascadia Brewing
At Brothers Cascadia Brewing, the goal is simple: make better beer. It’s this singular goal that has transformed Brothers Cascadia Brewing into the local institution that it is today. Each craft produced by Brothers Cascadia showcases its unique personality and exceptional skill as all its offerings are brewed on-site. Meanwhile, they provide incredible food through local food carts that match the beers perfectly to create a remarkable and unparalleled Cascadian experience. For first-timers, the best-sellers are typically the best way to go! Go-to-year-round offerings at Brothers Cascadia Brewing include the Helles Lager, Clay’s Brown Ale, and Absence of Color Stout.
9811 Northeast 15th Avenue, Vancouver, Washington 98665; Phone: 360-718-8927
21. English Estate Winery
© English Estate Winery
What could be better than spending a lazy afternoon out in fresh air, sampling a variety of wines straight from the barrel? At the English Estate Winery, this is exactly what guests can look forward to as their Loafing Shed Tasting Room welcomes guests year-round to sample their fantastic bottles of wine. The winery’s humble beginnings can be traced back to 1903 when Carl S. English settled on the farm that would eventually become the English Estate Winery. Though the farm started with crops like grain, prunes, and potatoes, wine grapes would eventually be planted in 1980. The rest, as they say, is history. With many of their wines being recipients of Seattle Wine Awards, you’re bound to find one that will suit your fancy at the English Estate Winery.
17806 SE 1st Street, Vancouver, Washington; Phone: 360-772-5141
22. Magenta Theater
Nestled at the heart of Vancouver’s downtown arts district, the Magenta Theater brings quality performances to the stage for all of the community to enjoy. This non-profit theater frequently hosts performances of several genres including musicals, comedies, dramas, and mysteries. It also frequently hosts staged readings, care of the Black Chair Projects, encourages the growth of creativity in performers with their home-grown improv team, MIT, and regularly holds educational workshops and classes. For guests who want to enjoy professional shows, the Main Stage Shows have got many performances to enjoy. Each ticket is a contribution to the mission and vision of the Magenta Theater – to give back to the local community through the arts.
1108 Main Street, Vancouver, Washington 98660; Phone: 360-949-3098
The top attractions to visit in Vancouver, WA near me today according to local experts:
- 1. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
- 2. Esther Short Park, Vancouver, WA
- 3. Officers' Row, Vancouver, WA
- 4. Vancouver Farmers Market, Vancouver, WA
- 5. Things to Do in Vancouver, WA: Clark County Historical Museum
- 6. Waterfront Renaissance Trail, Vancouver, WA
- 7. Vancouver Land Bridge, Vancouver, WA
- 8. Vancouver Lake Park, Vancouver, WA
- 9. Water Resources Education Center
- 10. Things to Do in Vancouver, WA: Burnt Bridge Cellars
- 11. Salmon Creek Park, Vancouver, WA
- 12. Pearson Field and Pearson Air Museum
- 13. Things to Do in Vancouver, WA: Cathlapotle Plankhouse
- 14. Captain William Clark Park at Cottonwood Beach
- 15. The Source Climbing Center
- 16. Beaches Restaurant and Bar
- 17. NW Escape Experience
- 18. Things to Do in Vancouver, WA: Big Al’s Bowling
- 19. Things to Do Near Me Today: Columbia Springs
- 20. Brothers Cascadia Brewing
- 21. English Estate Winery
- 22. Magenta Theater