Fort Vancouver, as it was originally known in the early 1900s, still serves as a base camp—but now it’s for sports and recreation. Less than two hours from Mount St. Helens, windsurfing mecca Hood River and the coast, day trip options from the city abound.
Vancouver itself offers adventures aplenty. For the history buff, the old stronghold preserved much of its war-time heritage. Visit historic homes on Officers Row, and eat at the Grant House: The first house built on the row is now an award-winning restaurant. The fort itself delights all ages with shows of weaponry, tours of housing and explorations of everyday life. For a slightly spookier spin, take the nighttime lantern tour and discover what went on within the fort walls after the sun had set.
Meanwhile, the nearby Pearson Field and Pearson Air Museum let aspiring aviators explore one of the oldest running airfields in America, as well as see vintage airplanes. Twice yearly, free plane rides are available for youth.
The city is also packed with parks, shops—including the nearby Pendleton Woolen Mills outlet in Washougal—swimable and fishable lakes, hikes and foodie destinations.