Top Places to Visit on the West Coast

Not including Alaska, the U.S. west coast stretches for nearly 1,300 miles bringing lots of possibilities for fun and scenic travel destinations in Washington, Oregon, and California. Be sure to put at least a few of these top spots to visit if you plan to travel to this spectacular region.

San Juan Islands, Washington

The San Juan Islands lie just off the coast of Washington State, easily accessible by ferry from Anacortes. The second-largest and most populated island is San Juan, which offers lots to do in the seaport town of Friday Harbor, from exploring art galleries and museums, to shopping unique boutiques and delving into a fantastic food scene. It’s also the best destination for those who want to watch for whales. The Southern Resident orcas can frequently be seen off its shores from May through early October, and other whales like humpbacks, minke, and grays can be spotted too, along with dolphins, porpoise, otters, seals, and sea lions. Orcas Island is renowned for its tranquility and hiking opportunities, home to the tallest mountain in the archipelago, Mount Constitution. A hike to the summit brings 360-degree views that include views of the island-dotted Salish Sea and glimpses of Mount Baker and the North Cascades.

Seattle, Washington

One of the most popular cities on the west coast, Seattle offers outdoor adventure and a wealth of attractions. Don’t miss Pike Place Market, popular among locals and visitors alike, not only offering the usual fresh produce, flowers, and handcrafted goods, but also a wide range of delicious items like fresh-caught seafood. Watch the entertaining fishmongers who toss the fresh catch of the day while cracking jokes, and talented buskers too. You can also take a spin on the Great Wheel along the waterfront for a breathtaking view of the water and surrounding mountains, ride the elevator to the top of the Space Needle for another jaw-dropping view, visit a long list of museums and join an Underground Tour in Pioneer Square.

Portland, Oregon

Portland was ranked No. 6 in the 2018 Best Places to Live in the United States by the U.S. News & World Report, and for good reason. In fact, you might want to check out the Portland houses for sale while you’re here. Foodies are drawn to this city for the many outstanding artisanal restaurants, endless food trucks, farmers’ markets, and microbreweries, while outdoor enthusiasts appreciate the abundance of parks with beaches and mountains nearby. There are a ton of vintage stores, thrift shops, and design-savvy boutiques to browse, along with a lively nightlife scene, including lots of clubs and bars that host frequent live music.

The Lost Coast, California

When you think of California beaches, you probably picture the southern half of the state, with its stretches of sand filled with beautiful people soaking up the sun. But the Lost Coast up north offers a very different experience along the state’s most undeveloped stretch of shoreline. A rare treasure where one can be surrounded by magnificent beauty, enjoying quiet contemplation or surfing the consistent, year-round swells. 

San Francisco, California

The Golden Gate City is considered one of the world’s most beautiful by many. Cross the famous bridge by car, on foot or bicycle, and then capture photos of this magnificent landmark from Baker Beach. Take a walk through Golden Gate Park, which is not only home to picturesque pathways and vast lawns, but renowned attractions like the California Academy of Sciences, a natural history museum that glistens with impressive gems and minerals, prehistoric exhibits, and living examples of extraordinary flora and fauna. The options for outstanding dining are endless too, from sourdough bread bowls filled with creamy clam chowder to a wide range of gourmet cuisine.