Still looking for that perfect last-minute gift? Last week, I picked up The Most Beautiful Villages and Towns of the Pacific Northwest by travel writer Joan Tapper, with lush photos by Nik Wheeler.
Tapper knows her stuff. She’s the founding editor of National Geographic Traveler magazine and she’s a great judge on what makes for a beautiful destination– she highlights those smaller, quaint towns that feel like they’ve gracefully aged for the past 100 years. Each village or town is accompanied by text and large photographs; this is as much a coffee-table display book as it is a dream-guide of where to go during your lifetime.
The downside is obvious – it’s a pictorial wish list. You won’t find specifics, you won’t find much on what to do with kids. The price is steep at $40 USD, $45 CAN, yet understandable, due to the photo-heavy format. The book sells for considerably less on Amazon.com.
Regardless of these issues, if you (or your gift recipient) flips through the pages on a rainy, wintry day, you’ll find yourself taking mental notes for next summer. I think I’d like to head to Florence’s waterfront neighborhood and ride Kaslo’s streetcar. The photos and narratives complement each other; it would be difficult to imagine the Oregon Coast’s jagged haystack rocks and soft sand without a photograph. And without the text, you wouldn’t understand historical transformations that many of these towns went through, as logging and fishing economies fell away.
Which villages are covered in the book? Here’s a rundown. Do you agree? What was left off the list – and out of the book?
Oregon’s Most Beautiful Villages and Towns:
- Albany and Brownsville
- Baker City
- Cannon Beach
- Hood River
Washington’s Most Beautiful Towns and Villages:
- Friday Harbor and Eastsound
- Gig Harbor
- La Conner
- Oysterville, Ilwaco, Seaview and Long Beach
- Port Townsend
- Walla Wall and Dayton
British Columbia’s Most Beautiful Villages and Towns:
- Fort Langley
- Fort Steele
- Ladysmith and Chemainus
- Nelson and Kaslo