No car, no problem. In the eco-friendly Pacific Northwest, there are plenty of other options, no matter how you landed here to begin with. Whether you travel by train, bike, ferry—or by putting someone else behind the wheel—we have plenty of ideas to savor the region in all its glory, sans car.
- Test Your Sea Legs: In Portland, Spirit River Cruises and Willamette Jetboat Excursions send passengers down the Columbia. In Seattle, Argosy Cruises weaves through the many scenic waterways surrounding the city. Fun fact: Washington State Ferries operates the country’s largest ferry system, and several routes give visitors a taste of island life. Take the ferry from Pier 52 to Bainbridge Island, which sits just 35 minutes across the Sound from downtown Seattle.
Bainbridge’s historic downtown is accessible by foot from the ferry terminal and has charming art galleries, tasting rooms, coffeehouses and cafes. Grab a hearty breakfast at Streamliner Diner, or lunch by the water at Harbour Public House. Ever dreamed of covering two countries in one day? Totally doable in Washington. Take a round-trip cruise to Victoria’s Inner Harbor with Clipper Vacations, or hop a seaplane, which counts Victoria among its many dazzling island destinations.
- Get Your Bike On: Portland has about 315 miles of bikeways and the country’s highest percentage of bike commuters (7%), meaning trails and bike-friendly venues abound. Popular Portland routes include the Willamette Greenway Trail and Springwater Corridor, a 21-mile, paved, multi-use path built along a former railway line on the east side of the Willamette River. (Visit the Portland Bureau of Transportation site for free bike maps, and make pit stops to refuel at Velo Cult, a full-service bike shop-venue-bar in the Hollywood District, or Hopworks Bikebar.) Among Seattle’s popular routes, cyclists love the Elliott Bay and Burke-Gilman waterfront trails, north of Lake Union; hardcore enthusiasts might consider riding the Burke 30 miles from Golden Gardens Beach (in Seattle) all the way east to Woodinville, where a burger-and-beer reward awaits at Redhook Brewery.
- Ride the Rails: On weekdays, take the Sounder train from Seattle’s King Street Station south to Tacoma, where you can then catch the free Tacoma Link light rail into downtown. Highlights of this under-the-radar city range from the exquisite Tacoma Art Museum and Museum of Glass (with its spectacular, 500-foot-long Bridge of Glass), not to mention stunning views of Mount Rainier. Visitors can take a bike on an Amtrak train and ride nine miles into downtown to explore the state capital of Olympia. As of this summer, the Olympia Visitor Bureau will launch a new map to help visitors navigate the region’s farms, creameries, wineries and distilleries along the Thurston Bountiful Byway.
- Escape with Evergreen: In Seattle and Portland, book tours with eco-conscious, luxury adventure company Evergreen Escapes, where knowledgeable and friendly guides whisk you away on group tours or private excursions.Popular day tours from Seattle include trips to Mount St. Helens National Monument, Olympic National Park and Woodinville wine country. From Portland, enjoy the Columbia Gorge’s countless waterfalls (followed by vino) and the Willamette Valley’s Pinot noir-focused wine zone, or join private trips to top sight-seeing spots like Mt. Hood and the Oregon Coast (“Goonies,” anyone?).