Camas, Washington ~ a small town gem and a great destination for a quickie weekend getaway.
A short 25 minute drive from the burbs of Beaverton takes us across the Columbia River into Washington State, land of legal pot for anyone who’s so inclined. We weren’t there for the legal buzz but, by the end of the day as we wound our way back home we were definitely high on life and small town adventures.
Around 20,000 people reside in Camas and these lucky folks enjoy the best of both worlds – living in a small town within easy access to the big cities of Portland and Vancouver. It’s about a 20 minute drive to the Portland airport and and easy drive east on Highway 14 takes you further into the Columbia River gorge for all manner of outdoor activities, art festivals, resorts, and wineries. As they say in real estate – location, location, location.
Last Saturday morning, hubs and I headed out to stretch our legs and shake off the work week (me, not hubs the professional retired gentleman as his newly minted business cards proudly proclaim) with a leisurely seven mile stroll around Lacamas Lake, conveniently located just a few miles from the heart of downtown. If I lived in Camas, I would definitely own a canoe! While we walked, we enjoyed watching the lake come to life as the sun warmed the air and weekenders came out to play.
Kayakers paddled slowly and silently, hugging the waterlily lined shore while happy kids whooped and hollered as they hit the wake behind buzzing speed boats. A few fisherman tried their luck and even a sea plane got into the act and skimmed the water for a graceful takeoff.
It’s hard to keep your eyes on the path with so much going on but we managed to avoid any walking accidents and made it back to the park and parking lot exercised, entertained and ready for lunch and a self-guided walking tour of downtown Camas.
First, lunch! We headed to Nuestra Mesa (Our Table) where we savored a leisurely, al fresco Mexican lunch complete with cervesa for hubs and a pomegranate marguerita for moi. We enjoyed authentic, well-prepared food in a lovely atmosphere and met the owners, Todd and Tania. We chatted with Tania who shared their story of meeting in Sayulita where Todd, a surfer dude from the US, had opened a restaurant with his buddy and Tania, who grew up in Mexico City, was working in a family-owned business. It’s a long way from a small beach town in Mexico to a small river town in western Washington, but we’re glad they’re here and we will definitely be back for more delicious tacos and tortas. And next time I’m trying the grapefruit marguerita. Olé.
Our bellies happy, we set out for a walk and window shopping along Fourth Street which appeared to be the main drag in downtown Camas. It’s a beautiful tree-lined street with lots of lovely shops and a few more interesting restaurants worth a stop. We could have spent way too much time fondling the treasures tucked away in Camas Antiques, but we moseyed on – past the beautifully restored Liberty Theater and poked our heads in for a peek at the charming B&B Camas Hotel. What a fun place for an overnight getaway!
Camas was once a mill town and a large paper mill still sits at the west end of town. A good wind in the wrong direction and your nose will let you know it’s still in operation! All was clear on our Saturday visit. These days, however, although it is a short commute to the “big city”, several high tech companies like Hewlett-Packard and Sharp Microelectronics have set up shop nearby. Camas is definitely growing. Let’s hope it manages to keep it’s small town charm.
Sometimes we get so focused on traveling to far flung places and foreign “bucket list” destinations that we forget to explore the hidden treasures right in our own back yard. Small towns like Camas are perfect destinations for day trips or weekend getaways and they dot the highways and back roads all over the Pacific Northwest. What are your favorite small town gems?
See you on the road. Let’s meet up for a glass of vino. Hubs is buying!