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Pacific Northwest Scouting Trip

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My partner and I are planning to relocate to the Pacific Northwest next year after I finish grad school. We are taking a scouting trip to Washington and Oregon in about 6 weeks and wanted to seek out some recommendations for smallish towns and regions within about a half hour commute from both Portland and Seattle. I have heard wonderful things about the Columbia River Gorge, and have been to Olympic NP, Bainbridge Island, Port Angeles, and Seattle before. We just mostly want to check out towns we may try to live in -- smaller, more rural, but still within reasonable commuting distance. Also, any recs for B&Bs in the area would be great -- we've booked our plane tickets but no accommodations yet.
We'll be there for a week in August and we'll have a car. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.

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