Travel Tips

13 iPhone Apps for Your NW Trip

Need ferry fares, Oregon traffic maps or the Spokane weather forecast? There’s an app for that. Need the kids to chill on the long I-5 drive? There’s a nap for that. Here are 13 apps to consider for your trip in and around Washington, Oregon and BC. You’ll find all in the iTunes Store.

A caveat: If you plan to use a web-boosted app in a country not included in your iPhone coverage, find out how much it’ll cost you to use your data plan.


1.  BorderWait by RBJZ Post Industries | $0.99

This app displays times at the American/Canadian border, so you can decide which crossing to take. Locals often choose the crossing with the least wait time, not necessarily the easiest one (Peace Arch). Crossing points are lined up vertically, in order, from Vancouver to New Brunswick. But you’ll need a map to navigate to nearby border stations, if you’re not already familiar with the crossings.

2.  Pacific Northwest US by Steve Parker | $0.99

Pacific Northwest weather can be undependable. Rain one minute, brilliant sun the next. This app offers expected temperatures, wind conditions and precipitation on color-coded maps. You’ll find weather from Astoria to Zillah, covering all of Washington and Oregon. The downside? No BC weather.  The upside – kids seem to love playing with weather maps.

3.  Atmospherique by Quadrant Newmedia | Free

So, because there’s no BC weather in the previous app, you’ll need this one, which lists the latest temps (Celsius, Fahrenheit or Kelvin), plus a 7-day forecast. You choose the location(s) that you’ll be in, or let the GPS tell Atmospherique where you are. Should you bring a jacket for your walk through Victoria? The app tells you the chance of precipitation.

4.  Twilight: Movie Tour by Audama Software Inc | $2.99

If you share your home with a Twilight fan, check out this app. It shows various Washington and Oregon filming locations, along with maps so you can find the exact destination. It even outlines the movie’s run time in the Twilight for each locale. I’m not a huge Twilight fan, so I’m not the best person to fact-check this one. But I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

5.  Olympic National Park Field Guide by Nadistra, LLC | $4.99

Identify the Olympic National Park’s animals, trees, flowers and plants with gorgeous full-color photographs. Download details on all of the above, plus info about local towns, campgrounds and special points of interest. I do wish that the Google Map displayed all 900,000 acres with push-pins for towns, campgrounds and points of interest. It can be difficult to understand the lay of the land, unless you’re already familiar with the park.

6.  Woodland Park Zoo by AVAI Ventures Inc. | $0.99

Why does a certain snake’s Latin name translate to “silent fate?” Find out this fascinating fact – plus dozens more – from the Woodland Park Zoo’s fantastic app. I really like the valuable daily schedule: when the giraffes are fed, when zookeepers give talks and when the puppet show begins. Find your travel companions on the grounds with the GPS-enabled app, or use the map to make your way around the 188-acre zoo.  A fabulous use of technology.

7.  Visit Victoria by Jordan Mann | Free

This app functions like a simple, selective tourism guide. You’ll see Victoria’s 30 main attractions listed with a brief description of each, the hours, website, phone number and address. Tap on the address, and your web browser opens to the attraction’s exact location on Google maps.  It’s a great, basic app for anyone Victoria-bound for the day or a weekend.

8.  iFerry by Web X.0 Media | $1.99

This app makes quick work of the Washington State Ferry System, and it’s a necessary asset for anyone traveling through the Pacific Northwest during the crowded summer season. Real-time info on schedules, crossing times, fares, alerts and delays throughout the Pacific Northwest’s most popular destinations, including the San Juan Islands, Friday Harbor, West Seattle and Sidney, BC.

9.  Portland Art Museum by Spotlight Mobile | Free

The Portland Art Museum offers awesome, ongoing family programming. But if you’re not at the museum on a family programming day, this app offers streaming podcasts from experienced curators, who explain the PAM’s collection to you (and then you can explain that ultra-modern piece to the kids, perhaps). Some teens may also enjoy the podcasts. Bring earphones – and be aware that some explanations can be rather lengthy. The app’s map is solid and useful.

10.  The Oregon Trail by Gameloft | $4.99

Many children played a simpler, green-screen version of this game in elementary school. Now your children can round up the wagons, cattle and kids for a journey out west. Learn to hunt, fish and pan for gold – while avoiding dysentery, bandits and bad weather. The game presents one-line history trivia on the Oregon Trail, so kids get a dose of pain-free learning. Advancing levels ensure that there’s always a new challenge, and the graphics are simply adorable.

11.  Tourism British Columbia by Near Me BC | Free

A phonebook-like app pointing out over 4,000 of BC’s popular attractions, restaurants, visitor centres and towns. The app interacts with your phone’s GPS to point out great options by distance, in kilometers and miles from your current location. The attractions aren’t organized, so you’ll find spas mixed in with whale watching and casinos next to military museums. However, the app is extremely comprehensive. There are phone number and website for each listing, plus links to additional information on

12.  Parks Envi NW by Open Door Networks, Inc. | $1.99

An image-heavy app of Pacific Northwest National and State parks. View Oregon and Washington mountains, lakes, parks and historic sites. The web icon on each takes you directly to the online National Park sites for more information. But basically, it’s a slideshow of travel possibilities, with photos of varying quality. Try the “Ken Burns effect” for fun.

13.  Oregon by Moonshadow Ecommerce, Inc. | Free

In this app, you’ll find traffic cams throughout the state, the speed of traffic in the Portland area, and events categorized by Oregon region. All information is sourced from the Oregon Department of Transportation and Travel Oregon.  I wish that more non-event activities were listed in “Things to Do,” and that more lodging options were listed (only two?!). But the statewide traffic information is handy.

What did I miss? E-mail me your suggestions.

Lora Shinn writes about family travel, Pacific NW travel, grown-up travel...and travel in general. Her travel-related articles and essays have appeared in Family Fun, Parenting, AFAR, National Geographic Traveler, AAA magazines and Redbook, among others.


  • eParkGuide

    Hi Lora,

    My name is Elizabeth Ljubinkovic and I am the Marketing Coordinator for eParkGuide. We create etours on National Parks & other Public Lands, across the globe, but primarily in the United States.

    We sell and give away our etours through the iTunes Application Store. Were currently working on improving our current applications, but I was wondering if you would be interested reviewing our new applications once they are finalised?

    I hope to speak with you soon.

    Warm Regards,

    Elizabeth Ljubinkovic

  • Jill Seman

    Great suggestions! I am downloading some for a future trip to my dad’s house – he lives just north of Seattle. Thanks! Love the Ferry one as we’re always trying to get the timing right..

    I am an app developer myself and thought I’d mention a group of us parents who develop applications written by parents for parents: iPhone apps like these can be handy when traveling with kids.