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Fun things to do in Vancouver, Washington

Fun things to do in Vancouver, Washington

Did you there’s a Vancouver in the United States? Found in Washington State, it’s just across the bridge from Portland, Oregon and is poised to see similar rapid growth. 

Vancouver, Washington is located along the Columbia River and has all the elements I look for in a U.S. city — art, innovative cuisine, nature, and history.

Here are some fun things to do in Vancouver, Washington.

Go on a downtown art walk

Lucky to be Living in Vancouver brown and yellow mural

Every year, Vancouver hosts the Great River Arts Festival to update the murals of downtown. Some alleyways have a dozen or more murals in them, making this a fun place to walk around and take pictures.

You can use a map provided by the tourism board to see the names of the artists and titles of the pieces. Click here to access the interactive art trail map.

In addition to murals, you can see kinetic and static sculptures, and even a glockenspiel bell tower! It’s meant to have a diorama that comes out but is under repair at the moment.

Visit Fort Vancouver

Blacksmith working to get fire going

Fort Vancouver is the only National Park Site in the area and is a really interesting place to visit for history lovers.

It was actually built by a private company for the purpose of making products, like beaver hats. It was the center of the Hudson’s Bay Company’s fur trade.

Today, it is a place for period demonstrations. They’ve preserved the area and made it look like it would have in the 1800’s.

There are several cabins throughout, and each is dedicated to a particular purpose, like baking, carpentry, or blacksmithing.

This is a popular site for school tours so go first thing in the morning or during the weekend to avoid the larger groups. It costs $10 to get in. There’s also a free garden right outside the entrance that is a lovely place to visit in the summer.

Visit the Pearson Air Museum

Green biplane on display with design on wings

Located right next to Fort Vancouver, and technically part of the same complex, the Pearson Air Museum is free to visit and well worth a stop.

It’s technically two floors, although it’s the main floor that showcases WWII planes, and early planes from the 1900’s in general.

A highlight here is Leah Hing’s plane, easily identifiable by its bright orange color. Leah Hing was the first Chinese American woman to get her pilot’s license and regularly flew scenic tours in the PNW.

Go wine tasting

Wine flight and menu

Fort Vancouver also has a row of historic houses called Officers Row. They are 21 homes built for the officers of the Hudson’s Bay Company and impeccably maintained.

Inside the Grant House, you’ll find Willful Wine, owned by Pam Walden. Pam is a winemaker and her urban winery currently produced 7,000 bottles a year, and rapidly growing.

I had a wine flight that she selected and prepared for me, as well as a charcuterie board that was just as beautiful as it was scrumptious.

I also had a wine flight at Evoke Winery. This is another locally owned establishment, and I recommend it for those on a date night or girls night.

I went at night and it was reminiscent of a lounge, only you could hear each other talk. Win!

There were cozy couches upstairs and gorgeous views of the waterfront. It is family and pet friendly generally, though I imagine that’s more the crowd during the day.

I tried a wine flight here as well. PNW wines are widely regarded as among the best in the country so you’ll find several tasting rooms in Vancouver.

Stroll the Vancouver waterfront

Waterfront area with tree in the foreground and buildings in background

The waterfront area along the Columbia River is all new, with a beautiful walking path, benches and lounge chairs made of wood so you can slow down and watch the boats pass by.

It’s called the Waterfront Renaissance Trail and spans for 5 miles.

From my spot on the trail at the Hotel Indigo, there were tons of people walking their dogs, jogging, some biking. You’ll pass several stores and restaurants so you can stop for a bite.

There’s also informational placards, stops on the downtown art trail, and a Columbia River water feature marked by a 12-foot tall stone and bronze sculpture called Headwater.

Shop local

Store with assorted items and pink dress in the foreground

Downtown Vancouver has so many cute shops!

Eras Vancouver is newly opened and is like a thrift store of sorts where different vendors set up different corners in the space. It’s neat because you can se the differences in each store, and never know what you’ll get when you turn a corner.

The juxtaposition of 80’s workout tapes and gear with Asian masks and kimonos was exciting for those who like to hunt for a find.

Eryngium Papeterie is owned by a woman named Cricket, who you might recognize from her green glasses and sunny disposition.

She has curated a beautiful collection of stationery, labels, greeting cards, pens, and more. Those with a fondness for writing, reading, or receiving cute mail will enjoy this shop.

Kindred Homestead Supply was unfortunately closed when I went (they’re closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays) but I’d heard from many people this was their favorite shop and just from the plants in the window I could see why.

It was giving earthy vibes and like the perfect place to find something for your home.

Eat your way around the city

Fluffy waffle chicken breakfast sandwich

Vancouver is for foodies! Eat your way around The Couve, as locals call it.

If you’re looking for fine dining, you can’t go wrong with El Gaucho Steakhouse. It was my first time ever getting my potato fluffed! They specialize in table side presentations and my flaming sword brochette had a filet that was tender and expertly seasoned.

Craving ice cream? I enjoyed Salt & Straw, with unique flavor combinations like pistachio, saffron, and rosewater. I appreciated that they used real tasting spoons to reduce plastic waste.

If you’re never heard of a liege waffle, Syrup Trap will blow your mind. It has chunks of Belgian pearl sugar caramelized in the dough so you don’t need maple syrup.

These are just a sampling of the many fun things there are to do in Vancouver.

Till next time, safe travels!

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This post was sponsored by Visit Vancouver, Washington. All opinions are my own.