Vancouver, The Little Portland in Washington State

Published Date Author: , October 22nd, 2010
by Scott & Mark, Purple Roofs

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Vancouver, Washington

Vancouver, Washington

Just got back from a short trip to Vancouver, Washington – not the big one up in Canada, but the cute little town across the Columbia River from Portland, Oregon, in southwestern Washington State. You get here from Portland via the 5 Freeway, or from the Portland Airport via the 205 to the 14.

Vancouver, Washington

The easiest way to describe Vancouver is sort of a small Portland – same climate, similar architecture – but a lot smaller. Although Vancouver proper extends quite a ways east, Downtown Vancouver consists of just a few small districts – Uptown, where you’ll find Main Street and shorter, historic buildings, and Esther Park, centered on a cute one block park with a beautiful brick tower, water features, mature trees, and a much newer vibe.
Esther Park, Vancouver, Washington

Vancouver, unlike Portland, has no skyscrapers – the tallest building is maybe 15 stories.

Musicians in Esther Park - Vancouver, WashingtonWe stayed close to Esther Park (at left), and were surrounded by the sounds of the city, from the train tracks that run along the riverside to the bells from the tower in the park. When we got down to ground level, we were delighted to hear other sounds, these from the street musicians inthe park on a lovely Saturday morning.

Farmer's Market, Vancouver, WashingtonMost of the buildings in this area are newer, and run from 3-10 stories.

In Esther Park, you’ll also find a weekly farmer’s market on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Sping into Fall. This one’s about twice the size of ours back home, fillade with fresh produce and flowers, and with a great prepared food section. The smells wafting from the food carts are enticing, and there was live music to enhance the mood.

Vancouver, WashingtonThere’s a Starbucks on the north side of Esther Park, great for a quick coffee and danish with park views. On the south side of the park, you’ll find Grey’s on the Park at the Hilton Hotel, which offers a good, hot breakfast, also with park views.

On the first Friday of the month there’s also an evening art walk throughout the downtown area.

North Bank Gay Bar - Vancouver, WashingtonOn Sixth Street, about two blocks east of the park, you’ll find North Bank (pictured at left),  a gay bar complete with Drag Shows.

Vancouver, WashingtonWalking north a few blocks on Main Street to Mill Plain Rd, you’ll find the Uptown District, Vancouver’s historic downtown. This is an up-and-coming District, with a lot of historic flair – and a lot of consignment and antique shops.

Vancouver, Washington MuralThe Vancouver city government has recently taken a crash course in urban revitilization, and has a number of small projects planned for the urban core of the city, including a beautiful new main library branch, conversion of a vacant lot to a city park, and restoration of some of Main Street’s historic storefronts.

Downtown seems to have a dearth of fine dining options, but of course, you’re just ten minutes by car from Downtown Portland and all the great restaurante there.

Vancouver is also home to the area’s alternative newspaper, the Vancouver Voice.

For a city of its small stature, Vancouver has a surprisingly quaint downtown and lots to offer the gay and lesbian traveler.

Comments reader  3 Reader Comments

rolnald rollings - Gravatar

rolnald rollings said on March 31, 2011, 6:59 am:

looking for gay placies in vancouver wa

Chuck - Gravatar

na Chuck said on March 12, 2014, 2:30 pm:

I want to meet gays here, Im new, from Kennewick, WA. Please let me in on shows. I want to see drag shows or TS’s.

Timm - Gravatar Timm said on February 25, 2017, 5:13 pm:

I am looking to relocate to the Vancouver area from Coulee City, Wa (in the heart of Trump country…help me).

I would like to know which area of town is considered the “gay” neighborhoods and which are the most affordable.

Thank you

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