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5 Reasons to Avoid the Pacific Northwest

You may know that Starbucks first began in Seattle. If you watch Grey’s Anatomy, you know Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital is also in Seattle. The deepest and cleanest lake in America is Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

The Pacific Northwest seems to be a fun, hip, and beautiful place to visit. But is it? Here are five reasons why you might want to reconsider your visit. The Pacific Northwest may not be all it’s cracked up to be.

Which States Make Up the Pacific Northwest?

Most people consider the Pacific Northwest solely Washington state and Oregon. However, Idaho, northern California, and the Canadian province of British Columbia are sometimes included.

The Pacific Northwest’s geographical features include the Cascade and Olympic Mountains. Mount Rainier, the tallest peak in the Washington Cascades, stands over 14,000 feet tall. Some of America’s most lush forests abound here, a direct result of the plentiful rainfall the Pacific Northwest gets each year. This area of the country is also geologically active, with numerous volcanoes and geologic faults.

Cloudy coastline on the Pacific Northwest
If you want to enjoy warm sunny weather, it is best to avoid the Pacific Northwest.

What Are the Largest Cities in the Pacific Northwest?

Seattle, Wash., is the largest city in the Pacific Northwest region, with over 740,000 residents. The entire metropolitan area covers about 5,900 square miles and includes over four million people. It’s one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, with a population increase of 21% over the last 10 years or so.

Vancouver, B.C., is home to about 675,000 residents. Portland is the largest city in Oregon, with approximately 650,000 people. The entire metropolitan area has about 2.5 million residents.

Four national parks in the Pacific Northwest protect the stunning landscape and wildlife of the rocky coastlines, pristine forests, and craggy mountaintops. Crater Lake National Park is in Oregon, and Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, and North Cascades National Park are in Washington state. 

Other natural features that draw visitors to the Pacific Northwest each year include the Columbia River Gorge, Fraser Canyon, Mount St. Helens, Malaspina Glacier, and Hells Canyon.

Tourists also flock to the major cities of Seattle and Portland. The Seattle Space Needle offers panoramic views of the city and farther on a clear day. Founded in 1907, Pike Place Market is one of the oldest public markets in the country. Sports fans flock to Safeco Field to watch the Mariners or CenturyLink Field to watch the Seahawks.

Pro Tip: Blow a bubble and find out why the Chewing Gum Wall Is the Grossest Place in Seattle (and That Says a Lot).

Woman putting gum on Seattle gum wall
Avoid the Pacific Northwest to steer clear of crowded touristy areas.

5 Reasons to Avoid the Pacific Northwest

Although the highlights of the Pacific Northwest include its stunning natural beauty and the eclectic cities, there are reasons not to visit.

If you’re looking to experience the breathtaking views, it’s entirely possible you won’t even be able to see through the fog and clouds, making your trip to the Pacific Northwest highly disappointing.

1. The Weather Is Dismal

It rains a lot. The weather is dreary and gloomy for much of the year. It’s pretty depressing, actually. And the rain isn’t sheets or buckets. It’s just a layer of mist that never seems to leave. This weather leads to the beautiful green forests of the Pacific Northwest, but it doesn’t lead to very enjoyable experiences when visiting.

2. It’s Expensive

A visit to the Pacific Northwest will cost you. Accommodations within walking distance of shopping, dining, and nightlife are outrageous. Along with the rest of the west, fuel costs more here.

You might pay $3.44 per gallon in North Carolina, but you’re going to pay over $5 per gallon in Washington or Oregon. Tickets for various attractions are also expensive. The region relies on tourism, so expect to fork out the money.

3. It’s Overcrowded

As mentioned earlier, Seattle is one of the fastest-growing cities in the country. Most people can’t afford to pay a mortgage, so you’ll find high rises downtown where people live stacked on top of each other. The traffic is awful, and the drivers are even worse.

Because of the vast forests and acreage of the national parks, most people live in bustling urban areas. The dense population leads to congestion and frustration.

4. The People Can Be Unfriendly

Have you seen Portlandia? The snobbish personalities aren’t just for TV. They’re real. Hipsters have an air of entitlement that follows them. High-tech CEOs aren’t looking to make friends with tourists. In fact, with the growing influx of residents to Seattle, most people would prefer you stay away. It’s already overcrowded.

5. Homelessness Is a Huge Problem

Like many urban areas, homelessness is a problem in the major cities of the Pacific Northwest. Tents line the sides of streets, and sleeping bags lie throughout public parks.

Seattle has one of the highest-density populations of homeless people in the United States, and Portland has been dubbed the “Tent Town.” Forbes Magazine released an article that stated the greater Seattle area had over 11,700 homeless people in 2021.

Pro Tip: If you still want to visit the Pacific Northwest, these are 5 Reasons to Avoid Portland, Oregon.

Is the Pacific Northwest Worth Visiting?

The pictures of the Pacific Northwest on Instagram or in travel magazines show beautiful blooming Japanese Tea Gardens and awe-inspiring snow-capped mountains. The Pacific Northwest is indeed stunning. But it’s also gray, expensive, overcrowded, and unfriendly.

If you think the natural beauty outweighs these cons, plan your trip to the Pacific Northwest. Just set your expectations low and be ready for at least a few disappointments.

Have you ever visited the Pacific Northwest? Do you think it’s worth visiting? Tell us your thoughts in the comments.

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