Situated in the crook of the elbow bend in the Lower Columbia River, Vancouver serves as a gateway to the Columbia Gorge , Mount St. Helens , and Portland just across the river. The unique riverside geography allows Vancouver to hang on to its slow-paced charm in spite of its inclusion in the metropolitan Portland scene, giving visitors a healthy blend between big city convenience and small-town relaxation.
Much of the city’s appeal is drawn from its colorful history, which is vividly illustrated at the town’s premier attraction, the Vancouver National Historic Reserve .
The local transit system is C-TRAN (360/695-0123, www.c-tran.com , $1.30–2.35 per ride, $3 all-day pass, $3 express ride to Portland), which provides daily service throughout Clark County, as well as to downtown Portland.
For cross-country trips, contact Greyhound (613 Main St., 360/696-0186 or 800/231-2222, www.greyhound.com ).
Amtrak (360/694-7307 or 800/872-7245, www.amtrak.com ) trains stop at a classic early-1900s depot at the foot of West 11th Street, with daily connections north and south on the Coast Starlight, and eastward up the Columbia River aboard the Empire Builder.
For air service, head south across the Columbia River to Portland International Airport (7000 NE Airport Way, Portland, OR, 877/739-4636, www.flypdx.com ). The airport is serviced by all the major domestic and international airline carriers and is a major hub for Alaska Airlines and Horizon Airlines, which offer dozens of flights to Seattle , Spokane , and other nearby Northwest destinations.
The main parking lot is $24 per day or $3 per hour here, with long-term economy parking for $8 per day. Dozens of shuttle and van carriers service Vancouver from here, including Blue Start Transportation Group (800/247-2272, www.bluestarbus.com , $24–32), which offers door-to-door shuttle service.
Pearson Air Field (VUO, within Vancouver National Historic Reserve) provides services to private pilots.