The Best of Northwest Small Towns

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They dot the map and sit well off the interstate, and most of us pass them by on our merry way to somewhere else. But what if that small town was your destination?

The Northwest is full of historic townships, country villages and mountain communities that make for unique, low-key getaways. On our recent #NWTripChat on twitter, dozens of local travelers shared details of their favorite Northwest small town getaways. Here’s what they said.


Travelers share their favorite Northwest small towns.

Q: What are some of your favorite Northwest small town travel memories?

“Introducing a friend to the Oregon Coast in Oceanside.” @WahkeenaPhotos

“Biking in Sisters Oregon and spending weekends in Redmond and Bend!” ‏@pitstopsforkids

“Earlier this year spent a week on Orcas Island. Love Eastsound with all its character and charm.” @wildtalesof

‘”Digging for fossils behind the high school with my kids in aptly named Fossil, Oregon.” @WahkeenaPhotos

“Small towns on the Long Beach Peninsula – charming towns, old-style cottages, connected by long sandy beach. Summer memories!” @seattlekim

Chemainus on Vancouver Island for Remembrance Day – amazing experience and memory!” @nwtripfinder

Jacksonville Oregon – Victorian Christmas Parade.” ‏@mrsbrownkiwi

“Orcas Island over 4th of July weekend & fun times in Eastsound at Historical Day Parade & the farmer’s market.” @WLTravelerJen

“Wine tasting by horseback and staying in a teepee at Cherry Wood B&B near Zillah.” @tourismpro

 The Best of Northwest Small Towns  |  Northwest TripFinder

Q: What are your best tips for exploring small towns like a local?

“Dip into local cafe or pub for a bite, sit at the counter, strike up a conversation with the bartender or a local patron.” @seattlekim

“Ask a local! When you roll into town, take a stroll downtown and ask a passerby where the best breakfast joint is.” @nwtripfinder

“Don’t be afraid to ask the locals. They know ALL the off the beaten path spots.” @WahkeenaPhotos

“Ask questions of waitresses at diners and breakfast joints. Ditto for gas station attendants.” ‏@pitstopsforkids

“Do some research before you head out…oh, and leave the fanny pack at home.” ‏@MPGearCo

“Letting the locals know you are interested in their town. They are usually happy to tell you where to go.” ‏@plumdeluxe

“When traveling with kids, I like to go into a locally owned toy store and ask for rec’s.” @CascadiaKids

“Connect with the town on Facebook! We’ve got an enthusiastic group on our page that loves to share.”  @VisitParksville

“I love this tip: Visit a local bar on karaoke night!” @nwtripfinder

 The Best of Northwest Small Towns  |  Northwest TripFinder

Q: Which Northwest small towns have unexpected or offbeat attractions for local travelers?

‏”I love the little towns of Bow and Edison. Awesome food and nice people. Plus Skagit Valley is beautiful!” ‏@gritcitygirl

“I love Shaniko. The entire town is like a living museum, and friendliest locals anywhere!” @WahkeenaPhotos

“My most fave “what did I stumble into” moment was the Port Townsend Kinetic Sculpture Race.” ‏@seattlekim

LONG BEACH! Home of Marsh’s Free Museum’s Jake the Alligator Man and home of the historic Razor Clam Festival!” @Funbeachcom

“I think beautiful murals in NW small towns are incredible – Chemainus, Toppenish and Cottage Grove.” @nwtripfinder

Coombs! Old Country Market. Goats on the Roof, bacon lip balm, and more!” @VisitParksville

“Love Poulsbo for its Norwegian theme…makes you feel like you are far away from home.” @wildtalesof

“I love the bronze sculpture art in Joseph, OR. Gorgeous art with a view!” @seattlekim

“The Morrow County Museum in Heppner Oregon = jaw-dropping. Love small town museums.” @CascadiaKids


 The Best of Northwest Small Towns  |  Northwest TripFinder

Q: What are some “must-eat-at” restaurants in small towns in the Northwest?

Apple Valley BBQ in Parkdale is one of my favorites anywhere!” ‏@WahkeenaPhotos

“The Kitchen in Eastsound on Orcas Island. I think we ate there 3 times during our visit. Yum.” @wildtalesof

“For great pizza & beers on the way back from Mt Baker: North Fork Pizza & Brewery (and wedding chapel) in Deming.” @seattlekim

“The Depot Restaurant (Food to die for!) in Seaview, The Pickled Fish in Long Beach (live music+AMAZING view!)” @Funbeachcom

“Biscuits & Gravy at the Sidewalk Café in Mitchell, Oregon is a must eat when visiting the Painted Hills.” @WahkeenaPhotos

“Best pizza for me is Woodstocks in Corvallis.” @tourismpro

“We always eat fish and chips at Bandon Fish Market in Bandon. It’s a tradition!” @pitstopsforkids

“The Painted Lady in Newberg, Oregon. Amazing fine dining restaurant in the Willamette Valley wine country!” @WLTravelerJen

‏”A personal favorite for me is Black Goose Inn at Beach Acre Resort in Parksville.” ‏@VisitParksville

“Must-eat-at: Los Hernandez tamales in Union Gap. Bar none the best tamales around.” @tourismpro

“Taqueria Juquilita in Chehalis. Best Mex in state!” @gastrognome

“Ajax Cafe for dinner in Port Hadlock. Great food and also – everyone dons a fancy hat!” @nwtripfinder

 “Country Boys BBQ in Cashmere, WA” @wildtalesof

“A must-eat on the way to Lake Mayfield is Spiffy’s in Chehalis, a classic American diner w/excellent homemade bread.” @LakeMayfield

“Just discovered: Local Myth Pizza in Chelan. Great beer & pizza!” @seattlekim

“In Leavenworth, love SOUTH for yummy regional Mexican, and Munchen Haus (Beer and Brats)” @Leavenworthy

“The Brick in Roslyn. Scott’s Dairy Freeze in North Bend. Wapiti Woolies for ice cream in Greenwater.” @moosefish

 The Best of Northwest Small Towns  |  Northwest TripFinder

Q: What Northwest small towns are a must-stop for craft beer or hard cider?

“Columbia River Gorge craft beer small towns: Stevenson (Walking Man Brewing), White Salmon (Everybody’s), Carson (Acadian, Backwds), Parkdale (Solera Brewery).” @seattlekim

Fort George in Astoria, Oregon.” @wildtalesof

“When I am anywhere near Peshatin, Washington I stop at Cascadia Winery for their Apple Wine – love it.” @nwtripfinder

 “Port Townsend and its surrounding areas, so many great breweries up there!” @MPGearCo

Hood River has it all. Craft breweries, great wineries.” @WahkeenaPhotos

“No visit to Bellingham is complete without a stop to Boundary Bay.” ‏@Cadenza17

“I loved the hard ciders at Merridale Cidery in the Cowichan Valley!” @WLTravelerJen

Chelan for Blue Spirits Distilling espresso vodka.” @moosefish

The Gorge White House, just outside of Hood River, has recently added a hard cider tasting room.” @WahkeenaPhotos

Tieton Cider Works for cider and Bale Breaker Brewing near Yakima for craft beer- they’re in a hop field!” @tourismpro

“Awesome fruit wines handcrafted at Little Qualicum Cheeseworks near Qualicum Beach, and fun for a farm visit too!” @VisitParksville

Cashmere Cider Mill in Cashmere has a tasting room.” @Leavenworthy

The Best of Northwest Small Towns  |  Northwest TripFinder

Q: Which Northwest small town festivals are among your favorites?

‏”Pow-wow in Siletz is a must attend for me every year. Yum—Frybread!” @WahkeenaPhotos

“The Trout Lake Festival of the Arts in Trout Lake.” @nwtripfinder

“It’s become a ritual for us to attend the Vashon Strawberry Festival in July.” @MPGearCo

Kite Festival and Razor Clam Festival! We LOVE festivals here on the Long Beach Peninsula!” @Funbeachcom

Lentil Fest in Pullman is a great small town fest! The mascot is Tastee the Lentil!!” @lesliedines

“The Lavender Festival in Sequim! Also enjoy the Tulip Festival in Mount Vernon.” @WLTravelerJen

“Can be hard to pick as Leavenworth has more than 20, but I think my fave is Maifest.” @Leavenworthy

“We loved OktoberFest in Mount Angel Oregon – small town ones are the best!” @nwtripfinder

Q: What about you? What’s your ideal small town getaway?


photos: Joseph Oregon by GeoFX, Waitsburg Washington by Scott Butner, Oceanside Oregon by Franco Folini, Cashmere Washington by Gene Bisbee, kite in Long Beach by Ali Wade, Bandon fish & chips by John Russell, Craft beer Walking Man Brewing in Stevenson Washington by m_e_mccarron, Leavenworth Maifest by Pictoscribe.
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