There are many things about the Pacific Northwest that make is especially alluring to visitors. It’s truly nature’s playground for anyone who loves the outdoors, wants to get out and experience the mountains, ocean, and everything in between.
The extent of the Pacific Northwest is defined by the Pacific Ocean to the west and the Rocky Mountains to the east. It encompasses the states of Washington and Oregon, as well as the islands that spread up into Canada on the north-western tip of Washington.
While the Pacific Northwest is quite well known for its rain, locals embrace the weather because it leads to the immense greenery and lush environment that we happily traipse around whenever it’s sunny. If you’ve ever visited Seattle on a sunny day, you know what I mean.
If it’s your first time visiting the Pacific Northwest, you’re in for a treat. Read on as we share our favorite unique things to do in the Pacific Northwest.
10 Unique Things to Do in the Pacific Northwest
This list contains ten of my favorite unique things to do in the Pacific Northwest. It will take you from coast to city and mountains to forests — and along the way you’ll learn why so many people have chosen to live in this veritable paradise.
1. Shell Fishing (Clams & Oysters)
One of our favorite things to do in the Pacific Northwest, especially on a sunny afternoon, is shell fishing. There are dozens of great beaches across the Puget Sound and Washington and Oregon coast where shell fishing is not only abundant, but practically a way of life for the locals. Plus, it’s easy for newbies to learn how.
You can easily find oysters, clams of all kinds including razer, longneck and butter, and the elusive Pacific Northwest geoduck. check with the Department of Fish and Wildlife for regulations and to find out which beaches are currently open for fishing.
Before heading out, you’ll need to get the proper supplies (garden shoves, sand buckets and gloves will do), and purchase a license, which is good for the whole season.
Crabbing goes in its own category of unique things to do in the Pacific Northwest. A cherished hobby of many locals, crabbing for the Dungeness and Red Rock crabs is actually quite easy and inexpensive.
A special crab license is required in addition to the normal fishing license, but you can usually pick one up at any tackle shop near where you’ll be crabbing.
You’ll also need a large bucket, a crab ring or trap, and bait. We use a simple crab ring that can be bought or rented at any local tackle store or online. Crabs go crazy for fresh or even slightly smelly raw chicken, so buy a pack of drumsticks to use as bait.
If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a couple of keepers, but half the fun is pulling up the ring and wrestling with the baby crabs that you have to send back to the bottom. They’re feisty little guys, but with gloves on you can just pick them up from behind and toss them back.
If you can rent a boat and head further out into the Puget Sound, you’ll have the best luck. But there are a few good spots to crab off the docks. One of our favorite spots is at the Mukilteo Ferry dock. There’s food and a bathroom nearby and you can watch the ferry loading in between pulling up the pot.
3. Pike Place Market
Shopping at Pike Place Market in Seattle is truly unique Pacific Northwest experience. The market was opened in 1907 as a place for farmers to bring their fresh produce to their customers, and is the oldest continually operated public market in the United States.
It is located directly along the waterfront in downtown Seattle, overlooking Elliot Bay with stunning views. Inside, you’ll find more than just fresh produce. You’ll also find antiques, tea and spice shops, specialty food purveyors, comic book dealers, collectibles and even a brewery.
And who can forget the flying fish at the Pike Place Fish Market, where employees often throw enormous salmon across the room to each other while hordes of onlookers watch with excitement.
For more, check out this list of 43 Fun Things to Do in Seattle.