As we enter 2018, it’s exciting to think of all the possibilities the year will hold. Well if your bucket list or New Year’s resolution includes finding more things to do locally, than we just did your work for you. This list has 20 fun, unusual and even educational things you can do right here in Clark County. So start checking off that bucket list now. In fact, maybe this is your bucket list for 2018.
1. Delve into Clark County History. The Clark County Museum in downtown Vancouver is the place to start to learn about local history. Coming up in 2018 will be a major exhibit with interactive displays featuring the musical history of Clark County. Then, of course, a visit to Officer’s Row and Fort Vancouver are a must. Want to know more about local aviation history? The Pearson Air Museum at Pearson Airfield is the place to go for all things aircraft.
2. Learn with the Kids. Right on the Columbia River, the Water Resources Education Center is an excellent (and free!) place in Vancouver to learn about how to care for and make wise decisions about water. They hold regular events for families and children. You can also enjoy a living history event at the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site or head out to the Pomeroy Living History Farmfor a first-hand view of pioneer life on a working farm.
3. Experience First Friday. Rain or the chill of the season won’t keep you from exploring the galleries, shops and eateries of Clark County. Both downtown Vancouver and Camas open stay open late and have special events to entice you to visit on the first Friday evening of every month year ‘round.
4. Take a Hike. Connect with nature at the Steigerwald Wildlife Refuge or at the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge. Find a scenic trail along the rushing water as you explore the trails of Clark County. If a paved trail is more to your liking, enjoy a walk along the Burnt Bridge Creek Trail.
5. Visit a Winery. There is no need to fight the traffic to go wine tasting. The Southwest Washington Winery Association has a whole list of wineries right here in our area. Look for their Summer Passport Challenge. Last year, we found out about the English Estate Winery right in the middle of suburban east Vancouver. You can also look forward to events where the wineries come to you like the Vancouver Wine and Jazz Festival.
6. Check Out the Beer Scene. Clark County is becoming a mecca for beer lovers. With new brewpubs popping up and events such as Vancouver’s Spring Brewfest in March, you’ll have an opportunity to get in on tastings, festivals and fun throughout the year. And, for something completely different, try out Washougal’s Weird Beer on the River.
7. Volunteer to Help. You can help stop the spread of invasive weeds, serve at the Clark County Food Bank, or focus your efforts during the Martin Luther King Day of Service in Vancouver. Whether it is through a church, a town or county government, there is much to do in Clark County to help improve the lives of our citizens and our environment.
8. Shop the Farmers Markets. Seasonal markets feature local produce and craft vendors. Farmers markets in Clark County continue on into harvest season, bringing colorful, healthy offerings and specialty foods to our community. Eat healthy and make a trip to the farmer’s market part of your weekly routine.
9. Try a New Local Restaurant. Watch ClarkCountyTalk for reviews of local restaurants. Last year we found local places to go for yummy donuts and for vegetarian food. We tasted tacos at Little Conejo and learned about Willem’s on Main. But the best time to explore the cuisine of Vancouver is during the October Dine the Couve event. Three courses for $23 will draw you in to the restaurant and tasting room scene.
10. Explore a Small Town Downtown. You’ll find indie bookstores, chic boutiques and art galleries as you explore the downtown areas of Clark County. We enjoyed discovering Downtown Camas one warm morning and look forward to exploring more small town charm in 2018.
11. Tour a Garden. You can enjoy ambling through a natural plant garden at the Brush Prairie’s Wildlife Botanical Gardens, take a gardening class at Shorty’s Garden Center, or take a Natural Garden Tour with Green Neighbors. Need more inspiration? Tour the Backyard Wildlife Garden at the Water Resources Center.
12. Celebrate our Native Heritage. Honor the Nez Perce each April by attending a reconciliation ceremony that includes honor songs, drumming and an empty saddle ceremony featuring the famous Nez Perce Appaloosas. Or, join in the Annual Pow Wow at Clark College, an evening of music, dance, tradition, and community.
13. Walk Along the Columbia. Enjoy the barge traffic and sailboats as you walk the 5-mile Waterfront Renaissance Trail connecting downtown Vancouver with Wintler Park. In Washougal, you can continue walking along the river along the Washougal Waterfront Trail and the Lewis and Clark Heritage Trail. Stop and read the interpretive signs. You’ll pick up a little Clark County history, too.
14. Celebrate Holidays Locally. There’s no reason to join the crowds on the freeways during the holidays. You can enjoy a stunning fireworks display at Fort Vancouver for the Fourth of July, attend Christmas tree lighting ceremonies in our downtowns and shop ‘til you drop before Christmas at bazaars across Clark County.
15. Go Biking. Check out Bike Clark County. They are all about education, safety and advocacy when it comes to biking. The City of Vancouver has a great list of bike routes and trails. One of our favorites is the 8-mile Burnt Bridge Creek Trail running from Stewart’s Glen in Fruit Valley and crosses over I-5 to Leverich Park and Arnold Park. It extends all the way to NE 90th Avenue and Burton Road.
16. Shop Local. From resale shops to trendy boutiques, Clark County has some great shopping. You’ll find bike shops, indie bookstores, pet supply shops and more. Your local merchants will appreciate it when you Shop Small and Shop Local. When the weather turns warm, check out the special shopping events such as the Downtown Camas Plant and Garden Fair.
17. Recycle and Upcycle. Learn about recycling with information from Clark County and find out where to take your fall leaves for free. And, be sure and put the annual Recycled Arts Festival on your calendar. It draws crowds from near and far.
18. Visit a Clark County Artist. Galleries are open throughout the year but it is only once a year that you can tour artists’ open studios. Clark County Open Studios is a free self-guided tour where local artists open their studios to the public and share how, why and where their art is created.
19. Savor Some Coffee. Clark County is home to many local coffee shops, stands and cafes. Some, like Sweet Touch Café, also specialize in food and pastries.
20. Help a Pet. We are fortunate to have excellent rescue groups and shelters in Clark County. You can adopt a pet or volunteer at the Southwest Washington Humane Society and the West Columbia Gorge Humane Society. And don’t forget to support our off leash dog parks. They are volunteer-run.