Not a day goes by that I don’t look outside of the window and find myself amazed by the beauty of the Pacific Northwest. The mountains are captivating. The lakes and rivers are the most stunning shades of blue. The Pacific ocean is freezing, but electrifying. The rain comes in buckets, showers, light sprinkles, or not at all. Every now and then, the clouds part just to remind you that the horizon is covered in ranges of mountains, and sunshine illuminates the faces of happy Washingtonians. Although there are many reasons why the PNW amazes me, here are five reasons that make doing a DTS here in the PNW even better.

1. Little Lynden and The Emerald City

Two of my favorite places to be here are none other than the beautiful small town we live in, and the shining space age city of Seattle. Lynden is affectionately nicknamed Little Lynden by students in my DTS because of its charming small town feel and welcoming atmosphere. Lynden is home to the best small businesses, like Katz Coffee, a picturesque coffee shop that has the most comfortable couch and the sweetest baristas in this corner of the U.S.

Seattle, known as the Emerald city, is just under a two-hour drive away. It is by far the coolest city I’ve experienced. You can get Mexican street food and a real Mediterranean falafel or gyro within a minute walk of each other. The city sports stunning views of Mt. Rainier and equally amazing views of its space age architectural icon, the Space Needle.

2. Road trips… anywhere!

The Pacific Northwest has so much to offer to those whose favorite vacation is to load up your backseat with snacks, throw on your favorite inspiring tunes, fill your car with friends and take a weekend to road trip. There are tons of famous sights to see while driving through Washington and Oregon. WA is home to a handful of giant volcanoes, including Mt. Baker. This mountain can be visited by a short road trip over to Artist’s Point, which provides spectacular views of Baker at 5,100 feet in elevation.

3. Mountains, mountains, mountains!

Like I said before, the mountains in the PNW are stunning. Most of them are actually volcanoes, but hopefully that’s nothing to worry about, since all of them are dormant. The mountains provide the PNW with incredible variety. In northern Washington, the North Cascades National Park contains the beautiful Mt. Baker, Mt. Shuksan and Glacier Peak, and dozens of trails. The Mountain Loop Highway is an especially gorgeous drive. It takes you up to the top of the pass, where a lookout spot will reveal incredible views of snow covered ranges and thousands of evergreen trees standing tall.

4. Woods Coffee

The Pacific Northwest is also home to a wonderful place called Woods Coffee, one my favorite places to go here. It’s a small chain of coffee shops in Washington that embody coziness, with warm wooden walls and a fireplace in most locations. It’s the perfect place to curl up and read, or work on your DTS journal. The only thing better than the delicious drinks and tasty holiday specials is the friendly disposition of every barista that greets you when you walk through the door. With every cup emblazoned with a quote from the nature inspired genius: John Muir, Woods gives new relevance to the reverence of nature to a generation slowly realizing that a life behind screens isn’t enough.

5. Quirky, offbeat, but amazing region

The Pacific Northwest is like none else… the home of coffee, Microsoft, the best donuts in the country, and Macklemore,  it’s a hipster’s paradise. This region truly has a place for anyone and everyone, whether you identify with tiny dutch towns, busy cities, towns closer to Canada than their American neighbors, huge national parks or the strangest cities ever. Choosing to do a DTS here will keep you on your toes 24/7. There’s never a dull moment in this place.

Written by Katie Prior