Discover the Best Things to Do in Vancouver, WA

Nestled on the north bank of the Columbia River, Vancouver, Washington, often lives in the shadow of its famous namesake to the north.

Best Things to Do in Vancouver wa

Yet, this charming city offers a treasure trove of activities and experiences that deserve the spotlight.

From exploring the historic downtown area to embracing the natural beauty surrounding it, Vancouver is a destination that caters to diverse interests.

Let’s dive into some of the best things you can do while visiting this vibrant city.

Exploring Downtown Vancouver

One of the first places any visitor should explore is Downtown Vancouver. This area is a delightful blend of historic charm and modern amenities, offering something for everyone.

1. Esther Short Park

Esther Short Park is the oldest public square in Washington State and serves as the heart of Downtown Vancouver.

Best Things to Do in Vancouver wa

This five-acre park is a hub of activity year-round, featuring beautiful gardens, a playground, and an interactive water fountain.

It’s a perfect spot to relax, have a picnic, or catch one of the many events hosted here, such as the Vancouver Farmers Market, which operates on weekends from March through October.

The market offers fresh produce, artisanal goods, and a variety of food vendors, providing a great opportunity to sample local flavors.

2. Vancouver Farmers Market

Adjacent to Esther Short Park, the Vancouver Farmers Market is a bustling marketplace where local farmers, artisans, and food vendors come together.

This market is one of the largest in the region and operates from March to October, offering a wide variety of fresh produce, handmade crafts, and delicious street food.

It’s a vibrant spot to soak in the local culture and pick up unique souvenirs.

3. Waterfront Renaissance Trail

For those who enjoy a scenic walk, the Waterfront Renaissance Trail is a must-visit.

This picturesque trail stretches along the Columbia River, providing stunning views of the water and the Portland skyline.

The trail is perfect for walking, jogging, or biking, and there are plenty of benches and picnic spots along the way.

It’s also home to several sculptures and public art installations, adding a touch of culture to your stroll.

4. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

Step back in time at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, which offers a glimpse into the region’s rich history.

Best Things to Do in Vancouver wa

This reconstructed 19th-century fur trading post was once a vital hub for the Hudson’s Bay Company.

Today, visitors can explore the fort’s buildings, interact with costumed interpreters, and learn about the area’s history through engaging exhibits.

The nearby Pearson Air Museum, part of the historic site, showcases the history of aviation in the Pacific Northwest.

5. The Grant House and Officers Row

History enthusiasts will also appreciate a visit to Officers Row, a collection of 21 historic homes that once housed U.S. Army officers stationed at Vancouver Barracks.

The Grant House, named after Ulysses S. Grant, who was stationed here before becoming a general and later the 18th President of the United States, is now a restaurant.

Dining here offers a unique experience, as you can enjoy a meal in a beautifully preserved historic home.

Embrace the Great Outdoors

Vancouver, WA, is surrounded by natural beauty, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

Whether you prefer hiking, water sports, or simply soaking in stunning views, you’ll find plenty of opportunities to connect with nature.

1. Vancouver Lake Regional Park

Vancouver Lake Regional Park is a popular spot for both locals and visitors.

The park spans over 190 acres and offers a variety of recreational activities, including swimming, kayaking, and picnicking. The lake itself is great for windsurfing and paddleboarding, and the park’s trails are perfect for a leisurely hike or bike ride.

With stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains, it’s a picturesque location for a day of outdoor fun.

2. Columbia River Gorge

Just a short drive from Vancouver, the Columbia River Gorge is a natural wonder that shouldn’t be missed.

Best Things to Do in Vancouver wa

This spectacular canyon stretches for over 80 miles and offers breathtaking views, numerous waterfalls, and a variety of hiking trails.

Popular spots include Multnomah Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in the U.S., and Beacon Rock, which provides a challenging hike with rewarding panoramic views from the top.

3. Mount St. Helens

Another iconic natural landmark within easy reach of Vancouver is Mount St. Helens.

This active stratovolcano is famous for its catastrophic eruption in 1980, but today it’s a fascinating place to explore.

Visitors can learn about the eruption and its aftermath at the Johnston Ridge Observatory, hike the numerous trails around the volcano, or even climb to the summit for a truly unforgettable experience.

4. Lacamas Lake

Located in nearby Camas, Lacamas Lake is a serene destination offering excellent opportunities for hiking, fishing, and boating.

The surrounding park features several trails, including the popular Round Lake Loop, which takes you through lush forests and past scenic viewpoints.

The lake is also home to various wildlife, making it a great spot for birdwatching.

Experience the Arts and Culture

Vancouver’s vibrant arts and culture scene is another reason to visit this dynamic city.

From galleries and theaters to festivals and live music, there’s always something happening to engage and inspire.

1. Kiggins Theatre

Kiggins Theatre is a historic landmark in downtown Vancouver.

This beautifully restored Art Deco cinema first opened its doors in 1936 and today offers a mix of classic films, independent movies, and live performances.

It’s a great place to catch a show and experience a piece of local history.

2. Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Music lovers should not miss the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

This talented ensemble performs a variety of classical and contemporary works throughout the year, often featuring renowned guest artists.

Attending a concert is a wonderful way to enjoy high-quality music in an intimate setting.

3. Art Galleries

Vancouver is home to several art galleries showcasing the work of local and regional artists.

The Art at the CAVE gallery, for example, features rotating exhibitions of contemporary art, while the Aurora Gallery offers a diverse selection of paintings, sculptures, and photography.

These galleries provide a glimpse into the thriving local arts scene and are perfect for art enthusiasts.

Indulge in Culinary Delights

No visit to Vancouver would be complete without sampling the local cuisine. The city boasts a diverse culinary scene, with everything from fine dining to casual eateries.

1. The Eatery at The Grant House

As mentioned earlier, The Grant House offers a unique dining experience in a historic setting.

The restaurant serves a menu of Northwest-inspired dishes made with locally sourced ingredients.

Whether you’re enjoying a leisurely brunch or a romantic dinner, the ambiance and cuisine make it a memorable dining destination.

2. Willem’s on Main

Willem’s on Main is another downtown gem, known for its farm-to-table approach and innovative dishes.

The menu changes seasonally to reflect the freshest ingredients available, and the cozy, rustic atmosphere adds to the charm.

It’s an excellent choice for foodies looking to experience the best of Vancouver’s culinary scene.

3. Breweries and Taprooms

For craft beer enthusiasts, Vancouver has several breweries and taprooms worth exploring.

Trap Door Brewing and Loowit Brewing Company are two popular spots where you can sample a variety of locally brewed beers in a relaxed, friendly environment.

Many of these breweries also host food trucks and live music, making them great places to spend an evening.


Vancouver, WA, may be less known than its Canadian counterpart, but it offers a wealth of activities and experiences that make it a standout destination.

From the historic and vibrant downtown area to the breathtaking natural surroundings, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

Whether you’re a history buff, an outdoor adventurer, an art lover, or a foodie, Vancouver welcomes you with open arms and promises a memorable visit.