Most people associate the Pacific Northwest with a lush region that receives large amounts of rain during the winter months, with wonderful summer days. But the Northwest has a variety of climate regions, from the Pacific Coast to the valley and, once over the mountains, a desert region -- all within a few hours drive of each other. There is enough to keep the outdoor enthusiast busy. The Pacific Northwest is known for its airplane and computer product facilities. Some of the largest and most well-known corporations call the Northwest home, these include: Costco, Eddie Bauer, Expedia, Amazon.com, Starbucks, Tully's Coffee, Lionsgate Studios, Boeing, Microsoft, Intel, and Nike just to name a few. There are many exciting areas to see.
English is the main language spoken in the Pacific Northwest and almost everyone living there speaks it. Some theorize that there is a distinct Pacific Northwest variation on language but most of the time people in the Pacific Northwest speak close to standard English with a few minor differences. Knowledge of other languages generally won't assist in this area.
The most convenient "gateways" to the Pacific Northwest are Seattle and Portland. Both of these cities are well-connected to the rest of the world by plane, car and train, and are good starting points for trips to other areas of the Pacific Northwest.
The main airports in the Pacific Northwest are Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and Portland International Airport. Both airports offer flights to most cities in the USA and some flights to Asia and Europe. Other smaller airports are sprinkled around the Northwest, but most have few commercial flights except to other places in the Pacific Northwest.
I-5 runs north-south from the Canadian border through Seattle and Portland to California. From the east, there are two main options: I90, from Seattle east to Chicago and Boston, and I84 which starts in Portland and goes southeast to Salt Lake City.
Outside the main cities of Portland and Seattle, public transportation is scarce and is not of much use for extensive sightseeing, so renting a car is a good idea. Although distances can be long, most roads are paved and well-maintained.
The Pacfic Northwest is a very diverse region and has a lot of beautiful scenery, including rugged coastlines, sparkling streams, picturesque islands and jagged mountains. Some of the destinations are listed in the Other Destinations section: here are some more sights.
Columbia Gorge Scenic drive and its waterfalls. Offer beautiful hikes and is just a short trip from Portland.edit
Oregon Coast. A beautiful stretch of coastlineedit
Whitewater rafting is extremely popular on the many rivers, particularly the Snake River.
Gray whale watching is good along the coast in spring and fall during their migration.
Killer whale watching is excellent in the San Juan Islands from spring through fall.
Sea kayaking as a sport began in the Pacific Northwest and there are thousands of miles of convoluted shoreline to explore, especially in the San Juan Islands and Puget Sound of Washington.
Hiking and Backpacking are very popular throughout this region, especially in the Cascade mountains. The Pacific Crest Trail is a very long trail that starts in British Columbia, heads south through the Cascade mountains to California; other opportunities for hiking/backpacking can be found nearly everywhere.
Bug repellent is a necessity, especially for warding off insects carrying diseases.
When hiking wear sturdy hiking boots with good ankle support.
Carry or bring water everywhere you travel.
If going on an excursion of any type (camping for a weekend or just an afternoon hike) bring a small first aid kit.
If possible bring a cell phone, however, cell phone coverage is spotty in rural areas away from interstate highways.
Don't forget batteries - assuming that you are carrying something that uses batteries. A flashlight, maybe?
Tap water in Western Washington and Oregon is some of the safest in the world!
Be aware that the weather can change extremely quickly, so be prepared.
Crime in most Northwest cities is pretty low. Perhaps the highest crime rate of any city in the Northwest is in Tacoma (mainly in East Tacoma, Hilltop and South Tacoma) while the most dangerous neighborhood in the Northwest is the Rainier Valley neighborhood in Seattle. Other areas visitors should use caution in include Northeast Portland (especially the King neighborhood), Seattle's Central District and Lake City neighborhoods, and White Center.
Drive with extreme caution at all times. Drivers in the Pacific Northwest demonstrate an alarming disregard for other drivers and the rules of the road. Roads, particularly in the state of Washington, are especially poorly maintained. Many of the rules that apply to driving in much of Latin America also will apply here for those with the experience of doing so. Be advised that many drivers in the region do not have insurance (it is not required by law).