A new category this year, The Great Northwest is the wonderful and varied place where we live, work, and play. Our readers selected great landmarks and wonderful outdoor scenic areas as favorite parts of this corner of the U.S.

Pearson Air Museum/Ft. Vancouver

Regional history flew to the top in this category. Pearson Air Museum and the Fort Vancouver National Historic Site topped the list.

According to the Pearson website, "At the museum, you will learn about the inception of aviation - when flying was new to the world and those who flew in open cockpit aircraft, with the wind in their faces, were the ultimate daredevils!"

The Pearson Air Museum's historic hangar was built in 1918.

Even older than Pearson, "Fort Vancouver is a gem of a park whose story as an economic and cultural center - told, in part, through engaging programs and a world-class archaeology collection - fascinatingly portends that of the modern-day Pacific Northwest."

WINNER:Pearson Air Museum and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

RUNNERS UP: Clark County Historical Museum, OMSI, and the Portland Art Museum

Esther Short Park

Outdoors in the Northwest on a spring or summer day is near perfection. Add picnic food, food vendors, and a scenic location, and you have a fun afternoon. Close to home, Esther Short Park topped the list, probably due to the Farmers Market and the twice weekly concerts during the summer months.

“Great summer concerts & nice green grass!”

WINNER:Esther Short Park, 555 W 8th Street, Vancouver, WA, 98660

RUNNERS UP: Lewisville Park, Officers Row and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, Frenchman’s Bar, Battle Ground Lake, and Lacamas Lake

Lake Merwin

Water’s also a big part of our lifestyle in the Northwest, and it’s one of the ways in which our area is unique, with mountain lakes and rivers within a short drive. Boaters can own a luxury yacht or a two-person kayak, and all will find their wave to ride.

WINNER: Lake Merwin

RUNNERS UP: Columbia River, Swift and Yale Reservoirs, Lacamas Lake, Ridgefield

Lewis River area

With all the varied walking and hiking areas in the Northwest, this vote category included a great variety of vote getters, but for local beauty the top favorite was the Lewis River area, barely topping Lacamas Lake. It’s pretty clear that hikers like to be near water, and enjoy the natural beauty of the Northwest.

WINNER: Lewis River area

RUNNERS UP: Lacamas Lake, Columbia River Gorge, Beacon Rock, Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Round Lake

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Ah, the weekends!

That’s when we can sneak away from our day to day responsibilities and find fun and relaxation. Proximity to the ocean beaches brought waves of voters to this category, and the artsy, upscale beach town of Cannon Beach takes honors.

WINNER: Cannon Beach, Oregon

RUNNERS UP: Skamania Lodge, Lincoln City, Seattle, Oregon Coast

Heathman Lodge/Camas Hotel

When you don’t have the time or money for an extended vacation, it’s pretty easy to find some getaways right near home.

Why not book a night right here in town, and relax without planes, trains, and freeways, or spend a day or evening at one of the local multi-event locations like Big Al’s.

We have some appealing locations right here, including the Camas Hotel and the Heathman Lodge, tied for top honors.

WINNER:Heathman Lodge, 7801 NE Greenwood Drive, Vancouver, WA, 98662, (360) 254-3100; The Camas Hotel, 405 NE 4th Ave., Camas, WA, 98607, (360) 834-5722.

RUNNERS UP:Big Al’s, Fairgate Inn, and Portland area

The Columbia Gorge

The Columbia Gorge is beloved by our readers for its waterfalls, varied terrain, the river itself, and for the small communities that line the shore of the river. But one can’t deny the majesty and power of experiencing Mt. St. Helens, the volcano in our own backyard.

Beacon Rock, one of the runners up but also part of the Gorge, was described by a reader as having ”Great hikes on the rock and in the park across the street. Waterfalls and fantastic views of Columbia Gorge.”

WINNER: The Columbia Gorge

RUNNERS UP: Mt. St. Helens, Multnomah Falls, Beacon Rock, the town of Hood River.

Fort Vancouver Site and Officers Row

The Northwest’s scenic beauty, history, and geology top this category’s voting, and what’s more historic than Fort Vancouver and Officers Row, the base for commerce and community in Clark County?

Readers commented on the Columbia Gorge as follows:

“Words aren't enough to describe what awaits visitors to the Columbia Gorge!”

“Beautiful drive with lots of waterfalls.”

WINNER:Officers Row and Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

RUNNERS UP: Mt. St. Helens, Columbia Gorge, Multnomah Falls

North Clark County Winery Tour

The burgeoning wine industry in Clark County topped off the votes in this category, showing that the wineries and their tasty events are growing quickly in popularity. For landmark tours, hear the historical tales of Fort Vancouver’s frequent tours with historic interpreters. Pendleton Woolen Mills’ wonderful mill tour takes you through the process of weaving, from rough wool to spectacularly colored and patterned blankets and fabrics.

WINNER: North Clark County Winery Tour

RUNNERS UP:Fort Vancouver, Pendleton Woolen Mill

Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

As in many of the Great Northwest categories, Fort Vancouver topped the list of reader favorites. It continues to be developed into an historic treasure trove.

Reader comment:

“It contains many historical sites to see -- Pearson Museum and the old Barracks and Red Cross facility!’

WINNER:Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

RUNNERS UP: Mt. St. Helens, Esther Short Park, Vancouver Farmers Market

Big Al’s

Voters find fun things for kids both indoors and out in our area – the climate demands that!

The most fun votes go to the bright lights, food, and activity of Big Al’s. A park and Kids Club earned mentions too, along with the great children’s floor in the beautiful new downtown library.

Reader comment:

“This isn't your regular old musty library! Innovative, bright, inviting, hi-tech, places for kids to be kids!”

WINNER:Big Al’s, 16615 SE 18th St, Vancouver, WA, 98683, (360) 944-6118.

RUNNERS UP:Esther Short Park, Kids Club, Fort Vancouver Public Library