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Steeped in history, Vancouver is the oldest city in Washington. Once the largest western outpost of the British Hudson's Bay Company, where supplies and food were bartered in the 1800s, it was closed in 1860 as Americans took over commerce. The outpost was later recreated as the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site. For more history, check out the Pearson Air Field, the oldest operating airfield in the West, where vintage aircraft are displayed at the Pearson Air Museum. If adventure is your bag, Vancouver is the perfect base for day trips to the Columbia River Gorge, the breathtakingly beautiful 70-mile river stretch that cuts through the Cascade Mountains, or Mount St. Helens, the site of the famous volcano, both of which offer a slew of outdoor activities. For calmer pastimes, cruise the picturesque river in the Columbia Gorge riverboat, or visit Beacon Rock, the world's second largest monolith, where a walking trail leads to spectacular panoramic views.
Named from the anglicized form of the Hebrew word "shalom," meaning peace, Salem provides visitors with exactly that - plus a horde of historic sites to explore and plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. Oregon's capital, one of the oldest cities in the state, exudes simple, small-town hospitality with just enough politics and culture to keep things interesting. Tour the grand, gold-domed State Capitol to learn about the workings of the government, then head to the observation deck for a fantastic view of Salem and its surrounding area. Although the whole city is a living history lesson, brimming with old buildings and landmarks, the Mill Mission Museum is a definite standout. Art buffs should not miss the impressive Pacific Northwest collection at the Hallie Ford Art Museum. In between sights, take time to people watch or picnic at Bush's Pasture Park, or enjoy wine tasting at some of the local vineyards. Salem's idyllic setting, in the heart of the emerald Willamette Valley, coupled with its historic role as political hub for Oregon make it the perfect choice for a delightful and interesting weekend away.
With the distinctive Haystack Rock and Needles marking its shoreline, Cannon Beach is one of Oregon's quaintest and most picturesque destinations. Nine miles of beach make a perfect setting for strolling along the seaside, watching diverse wildlife in its natural habitat and building a sand castle in the annual sand castle building contest. With strict regulations in place limiting the infiltration of large chain stores or restaurants, Cannon Beach retains its small town charm.