With the Cascades Range forming its mountainous spine, America’s rugged northwest corner is an outdoorsman’s paradise. Sweeping forests are punctuated only by towering mountains while a wild coastline is the weather-beaten face of it all.
Taken as a whole, it’s unsurprising that this rich, agricultural environment has become something of a hotbed for culinary invention. Leading the way is trendy Seattle where gourmet food trucks serve up mouthwatering morsels – think fragrant tiffin bites and hearty burritos – while hoppy pales and smooth bitters are the hallmarks of its burgeoning microbrewery scene. And, as the birthplace of Starbucks, you won’t struggle for good coffee. The city’s not short of headline-grabbing sites either with the Olympic Sculpture Park, Pike Place Market and the iconic Space Needle all vying for your attention.
However, even Seattle has to cede to Mt. Rainier, which not only dominates its skyline but Washington State license plates as well. Its craggy peaks make for some challenging climbs while, in the north, the low-elevation meadows of the mountain’s Cascades counterparts make for easier hikes, made all the better by endless valley views. To continue exploring under your own steam, the winding lanes of the San Juan Islands – set in the whale-plied strait between Washington and Canada’s Vancouver Island – host more cyclists than cars. The coastal wilderness that is Olympic National Park is equally alluring, featuring everything from virgin rainforests to glacial lakes. However, some of the best scenery can be experienced without even stepping out of your car door. Take in endless tulip fields and mighty rivers all to the mountainous backdrop of the 440-mile Cascade Loop Highway. The road remains the best way to see America.