Vancouver, Washington is a picturesque city located in the Pacific Northwest, just across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon. The place is well known for its vibrant culture, beautiful nature, and roots in winemaking. Join us as we explore the top things to do in Vancouver, WA for a perfect vacation.
Vancouver, WA is a great place for both families and couples. There are tons of opportunities to get out and have fun. Outdoor exploration and attractions centered around kids are travelers’ favorites. Meanwhile, couples will enjoy the art, wine, and craft beer scene of the city.
With that foreword let’s embark on a journey to explore the top things to do in Vancouver, WA. We’ve put everything in its own category so you’ll never miss a beat.
Indulge yourself in the local history
It’s always fun to start with local history. Vancouver, WA has multiple interesting historical sites and we have a full guide on the best museums that you can visit in town. The link is at the end of this section, but we are now highlighting two museums that we found the most interesting.
1. Fort Vancouver National Historic Site
The Fort Vancouver National Historic Site is an extensive location that covers the old fort and trading post of Vancouver. This area was an important crossing on the Columbia River for the very first pioneers who ventured west.
The Historic Site offers self-guided walking tours and has sections of the fort wall and even a lookout tower restored. As part of the site, you can also visit some original houses that were used as lodging for the officers.
It’s a nice little peek into the past and we think it’s simply an attraction you can’t miss. Even if you are not so much into history the Fort Vancouver site has plenty of interesting things.
2. Pearson Air Museum
Our other favorite museum in town is the Pearson Air Museum. This is if course a vintage aircraft museum so this caters to an audience that loves man-made machinery.
They keep a nice collection of old aircraft including many that have taken part in World War II. We are always amazed when we look at old planes like these. They look fragile, complicated, and very-very unsafe.
The very first people who have taken to the skies and paved the way for today’s aviation are truly curious and real explorers who wanted to see the world from a different point of view.
Go wine or beer tasting!
Vancouver, WA has long been renowned for the great wines that are produced in Washington state. You could always find some amazing vineyards nearby to go for wine tasting, however, recently the Vancouver Waterfront also opened. Now you don’t even need to leave town for wine tasting.
The craft beer revolution has also made quite a big impression on the city. With local breweries popping up everywhere around town there are plenty of places to sample what kind of beer they brew in this region. Some even allow brewery visits. Oh, those are always fun!
3. Vancouver Waterfront
The waterfront area is a recent addition to the city and it has been one of the best things to do in Vancouver, WA ever since it was established.
It’s a nice area next to the Columbia river full of restaurants and bars. Locals and tourists alike love to come here and spend the night eating, drinking, and overall having fun, while you have the city of Portland on the other side of the river as added scenery.
Apart from great restaurants, the waterfront has managed to attract a number of Washington wineries. There are multiple tasting rooms all over this small area and some of the best wines in Washington state can be sampled here.
Many of the places offer full tasting experiences with food and wines. It’s an especially nice idea for a romantic night out.
4. Taste the local craft beer – or take a factory tour
It’s not just wine tasting rooms that the city attracted over the last couple of years. The craft beer craze of America is well known to the residents of Vancouver, WA. And oh, do they have some amazing beers and breweries to visit.
First of all, there are many craft beer pubs in town. These include some of the best craft beer from Washington and even more from out of state.
Then you got the local breweries which have tap houses, brewpubs, and even brewery tours in town. It’s a great scene and if you are into beer you will absolutely love it.
5. Wineries around Vancouver, WA
Are you looking for a more scenic experience? Maybe looking to visit the vineyards along with the winery? Then take a look at some of the wineries around Vancouver. Almost all of them offer wine-tasting hours and many have great views of the surrounding area.
In fact, if you are also looking to buy wines this is your best bet. They sell excellent quality at some of the best prices. A group of friends looking for things to do in Vancouver, WA will absolutely love a visit to one of the wineries.
Fun things to do in Vancouver, WA with kids
Now, so far we’ve focused a lot on adults. It’s time to switch gears and check out some family attractions in town. The last two sections are all great for families. First, we’ll check local businesses that cater to families then we’ll check outdoor exploration opportunities around Vancouver.
6. Kiggins Theatre
Kiggins Theatre is a historic cinema in Vancouver. In fact, to this day, it’s a single-screen movie theatre. Come here to watch movies in a setting that’s interesting in its own right.
Being one of the oldest surviving cinemas in the area the schedule usually includes old movies and art movies. This is not the place to watch the newest and greatest. This is a place to travel back in time and check out a showing of an old cartoon or a classic.
Make sure to check out the current schedule at https://www.kigginstheatre.com/.
7. Sky Zone Trampoline Park
We are still not sure when did full-scale trampoline parks come from but it seems like all major US cities have one now. This things to do in Vancouver, WA is a fully family-centered attraction.
Most trampoline parks do not cater to kids of all ages but Sky Zone even has a separate section for toddlers.
As you would expect from a fully equipped trampoline park it’s more than just jumping. Obstacle courses, climbing, backflips, and fun are all part of the experience.
8. Dizzy Castle
Those who are visiting Vancouver, WA with little kids will absolutely love Dizzy Castle. It’s a café for adults and a huge playground for kids.
Imagine an indoor store playground where you can leave your kid to have fun while you are shopping. Now scale this up at least three times and you have Dizzy Castle. From indoor slides to climbing and castle-themed attractions this place is heaven for little kids.
The area for adults is simple and a bit lacking but you can be absolutely sure that your kid will leave with a huge grin on their face.
9. Laser Blasters
Finally, we have Lasertag. Another superb family place but as it is with Lasertag you can always grab a group of friends and it will be tons of fun.
Laser Blasters is definitely a fun thing to do in Vancouver and it offers even more than just Lasertag. They have indoor mini golf and a bunch of arcade machines that you can play. Great fun.
Explore the local nature trails
Finally, we will take a look at some of the most amazing nature trails in the area. Vancouver, WA is a popular destination for outdoor recreation and it’s easy to see why. There are tons of places outside of town to go hiking or even walking.
Don’t forget to bring your phone or camera as you are set to take tons of pictures in this beautiful environment.
10. Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge
The Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge is a great place for people who want to see some animals. Birds especially love the refuge as they can hide away from humans and go on their days uninterrupted. Nature photographers will love the opportunity to get some close-up shots of the local bird population.
You may meet other animals as well like deer. The refuge is also a protected area so it’s very rustic and has beautiful vegetation. We loved the visit and we were surprised at just how few people know about this place.
The main activity here is the auto tour. In the winter you can take your car and tour the refuge with some opportunities to get out at a certain location. During the summer season, visitors may also choose to take the auto tour route on foot.
This will allow them to get closer to the action and allow for a more relaxed pace of exploration. We do advise that if you are a pedestrian on the auto tour then you should at all times keep an eye out for oncoming traffic.
11. Lacamas Park
Lacamas Park is located just the southern tip of Lacamas Lake. You would expect that the park takes you around the lake but instead it takes you into the wilderness near the lake.
There are multiple hiking trails ranging from easy to moderate difficulty. It’s a great nature park with waterfalls amazing nature and a small lake. You can do a number of water based activities on the lake like canoeing.
12. Beacon Rock State Park
Finally, we have Beacon Rock State Park. It is one of the most well known state parks in the area. It’s a picturesque area with Beacon Rock taking the center stage.
You can hike up the rock on a man-made path. It’s not the easiest of hikes as you will be going up a small trail that’s carved into the sides of the rock. Definitely not for the faint-hearted.
The views from the viewing area are amazing. You’ll see the Columbia River down below, the mountains of Oregon in front of you, and the lush greenery that covers the ground.
If you were to only do one outdoor activity on your Vancouver, WA holiday then we highly recommend it to be a visit to Beacon Rock State Park and to the top of Beacon Rock. It’s just mesmerizing.