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A Solo Traveler’s Guide to the US Pacific Northwest

A Solo Travelers Guide to the US Pacific Northwest featured

Are you a solo traveler looking for adventure and exploration? The US Pacific Northwest region offers a perfect destination rich in both nature and culture. With a plethora of awe-inspiring landscapes, vibrant cities, and diverse culture, the Pacific Northwest has something for every solo traveler. Here are ten sub-topics and activities to consider when exploring the region.

1. Exploring Seattle’s Coffee Scene

Seattle coffee shops

Seattle’s coffee culture is world-renowned, and solo travelers can easily spend a day hopping from one café to the next. The city is home to several coffee roasters, including Starbucks, the pioneer of specialty coffee. Solo travelers exploring Seattle’s coffee culture should visit the original Starbucks store in Pike Place Market, where it all began. Hipster-friendly cafes like Espresso Vivace are also worth a visit, while Victrola Coffee Roasters offer cozy and welcoming spaces to enjoy a cup of coffee.

For the ultimate coffee experience, solo travelers should consider attending events like the Seattle Coffee Crawl or the Coffee Roaster’s Awards. These events offer a chance to learn coffee-making techniques, taste various coffee blends, and socialize with other coffee enthusiasts.

2. Taking in the Scenery at Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park hiking

Olympic National Park is a must-visit destination in the Pacific Northwest. It’s a nature lover’s paradise with over 70 miles of coastline, mountain meadows, and rainforests. The park offers abundant hiking trails through different ecosystems, including the Hoh rainforest, the high alpine Olympic Mountains, and the Pacific coastline. Solo travelers can explore the park at their own pace, camp in one of the park’s campsites or take in the stunning views of Mount Olympus and the pacific.

In addition to hiking, national park tours are available for solo travelers who prefer to have a guide. The tours provide more insight into the park’s history, geology, and flora and fauna. It’s important to note that Olympic National Park experiences heavy rainfall, and solo travelers should carry appropriate rain gear and be ready to face slippery hiking trails.

3. Checking out the Foodie Scene in Portland

Portland food trucks

Portland has a thriving food scene, and solo travelers should not miss the chance to explore it. The city boasts a diverse culinary scene, from street food to high-end restaurants. Solo travelers can get lost in the city’s vibrant food scene without worrying about dietary restrictions or conflicting schedules.

Solo travelers can join food tours or cooking classes for an immersive and educational experience. Must-visit places in Portland include the iconic Voodoo Doughnut, food truck gatherings like the Portland Mercado, and the refined tasting menus of restaurants like Le Pigeon.

4. Relaxing in the Hot Springs of Bagby

Bagby Hot Springs

For solo travelers looking for a secluded and natural place to unwind, the Bagby Hot Springs is a must-visit destination. The hot springs are only accessible by a 1.5-mile hike through the forest, making them a quiet and relaxing retreat. The experience is worth it for the natural beauty and serenity that the Hot Springs provide.

It’s essential to note that the Bagby Hot Springs do not allow alcohol and clothing is optional. The Hot Springs are also typically busy during summers and can have longer waiting times, so solo travelers should plan accordingly.

5. Learning about the History of the Lewis and Clark Trail

Lewis and Clark Trail monuments

The Lewis and Clark trail is a fascinating look at the early years of westward expansion. It follows the two explorers’ journey from St. Louis to the Pacific Ocean and showcases the natural and cultural richness of the Pacific Northwest. Solo travelers can visit many sites along the trail, including forts, museums, and historical markers.

For a richer and more immersive experience, solo travelers can join guided tours or take a self-guided tour. Some highlights along the trail include Fort Clatsop, the Columbia River Gorge, and beautiful coastal towns such as Astoria and Cape Disappointment.

6. Exploring the Waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge

Columbia River Gorge waterfalls

The Columbia River Gorge is a beautiful natural wonder that boasts stunning waterfalls. It is home to several world-renowned falls such as Multnomah Falls, Horsetail Falls, and Wahkeena falls, offering solo travelers plenty of options to explore. The area has several hiking trails that lead to the waterfalls, offering solo travelers an opportunity to experience the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest fully.

For those who prefer not to hike, a scenic drive through the Columbia River Gorge offers stunning views of the waterfalls and the surrounding landscapes. Along the way, plenty of lookout points are available to take in and take photos of the beautiful scenery.

7. Biking the Burke-Gilman Trail in Seattle

Burke-Gilman Trail biking

The Burke-Gilman Trail is a paved recreational trail that runs from Seattle to the suburbs. It’s a great way for solo travelers to explore the city while getting exercise. Solo travelers can rent bikes at one of the many bike shops in the city and explore the trail at their own pace. Along the way, there are several parks, lakes, and restaurants to stop and rest.

The trail is an active transportation corridor, commuted by both cyclists and pedestrians, so solo travelers should plan to follow the designated path and be considerate of others. The trail can also be crowded during weekends and summer months, so solo travelers should be prepared for slow-moving traffic.

8. Visiting the San Juan Islands

San Juan Islands ferry

The San Juan Islands are a tranquil archipelago accessible only by ferry or plane. They offer a fantastic opportunity for solo travelers to explore at their own pace, take in stunning scenery, and experience the Salish Sea’s natural beauty.

The islands have plenty of activities to keep solo travelers busy, including hiking, kayaking, whale watching, and scenic flights. For those who prefer to relax, the islands have several beaches, spas, and quaint coffee shops to enjoy a good book.

9. Taking a Walking Tour of Portland’s Street Art Scene

Portland murals

Portland’s street art scene is a colorful and vibrant reflection of the city’s creative spirit. Solo travelers can take a walking tour of the many murals and graffiti around the city, including work by well-known artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey.

The walking tours provide an opportunity for solo travelers to learn about the city’s history, culture, and the vibrant art scene from a local’s perspective. Some popular walking tours include the Portland Mural Tour and the street art bike tour.

10. Sipping Wine in the Willamette Valley

Willamette Valley wineries

The Willamette Valley is home to more than 500 wineries, making it a must-visit destination for wine lovers. Solo travelers can explore the scenic countryside, meet local winemakers, and sample some of the best Pinot Noir in the world.

The valley has several wine routes, which solo travelers can explore at their own pace. Common routes include the South Willamette Wine Trial and the Ribbon Ridge Wine Trail. Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities to taste wine, eat local cuisine, and take in stunning scenery.

Author: Caroline Hunter

Author: Caroline Hunter

Caroline Hunter is the ultimate travel chameleon - she can switch from a rugged backpacker to a glamorous hotel-goer in the blink of an eye. With a decade of solo traveling experience, she's collected tips and tricks from every corner of the globe. And now, she's generously sharing her secrets with us mere mortals who still struggle to pack a suitcase without forgetting something crucial. So, whether you're a fan of roughing it or prefer to indulge in luxury, Caroline's got you covered.

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