30+ Best Places To Visit On The West Coast USA

Last Updated: April 12th, 2024

Disclosure: WayToStay is reader-supported. If you buy a product we link to, we may earn a commission. Learn More

Looking to enjoy an amazing road trip down the West Coast of the US or just want to soak up the chilled-out vibe in one or two specific destinations? Well, you’re in the right place. We’ve collected the best places to visit on the West Coast.

Whether you want to hit up the sunny rays of California, the hipster vibes of Oregon, or the wild outdoorsy playground that is Washington, there are bound to be plenty of places on this list that you should put on your next US itinerary!

Let’s dive in and find out more.

The 30+ Best Places To Visit On The West Coast USA

1. Pike Place Market, Seattle, Washington


You might recognize Pike Place Market in beautiful Seattle thanks to the fish flying through the air from one fishmonger to another. This bustling market is the beating heart of Seattle’s waterfront and it’s a must-visit whenever you’re in the city.

Carve out some time to grab a coffee and wander around the various stalls and cafes. Get yourself some tasty lunch and soak up the local vibe!

2. Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California


Is there a bigger San Franciscan icon than the Golden Gate Bridge? This striking red emblem of the city is so important that it’s the symbol of the city’s NBA team, the Golden State Warriors.

It’s probably one of the most famous sights on the West Coast. Head to Golden Gate State Park and see this titan of infrastructure in all its glory before hopping in the car and driving across toward wine country!

3. Griffiths Park, Los Angeles, California


If you’re a fan of La La Land, you’ll immediately recognize Griffiths Park from the dreamy observatory dance sequence. This 4,210-acre park is full of hiking and running trails on the edge of the Santa Monica Mountains, and of course, the iconic Griffith Observatory.

It’s a perfect place to spend an afternoon, and one of the best parts is that general entry is completely free, which is a huge bonus when you’re in the notoriously expensive LA!

4. Rodeo Drive, Los Angeles, California


Want to get into some serious retail therapy while you’re in the City of Angels? Well, there’s only one place to go and that’s Rodeo Drive. Home to the world’s biggest and most luxurious brands, it’s where the rich and famous go to treat themselves.

If you’re a fan of Pretty Woman, you’ll also want to check out the Beverley Wilshire Hotel at the bottom of Rodeo which is where most of the movie was set!

5. Alcatraz, San Francisco, California


Let’s be honest, this intriguing and mystical island is home to one of the most famous prisons in the entire world. Alcatraz is a must-visit when you’re in San Francisco.

Not only do you get to explore the prison, and learn about the famous inmates, including Al Capone, but you also learn about the lesser-known Native American history of this historic island.

6. Mount Rainier National Park, Washington


If you’re into hiking, mountaineering, climbing, or snow sports, you’re going to have a whale of a time at the Mount Rainier National Park. Whatever the season, there are plenty of outdoorsy, adventure activities to experience in one of the nation’s most beloved national parks, home to the highest point in the state.

If you’re visiting in the winter, hire yourself some snowshoes and hit the Lena Lake trail. There’s a hotel at the bottom of the trail that serves boozy hot drinks afterward!

7. Catalina Island, California


Want to enjoy a relaxed island getaway just a short ferry ride away from Los Angeles? Well then, jump on a boat to Santa Catalina Island, otherwise known as just Catalina Island.

Filled with great restaurants and cafes, fun resort towns, and a ton of hiking trails, it’s a perfect spot for a day trip or a weekend away. In fact, you can hike the Trans-Catalina Trail which takes 38.5 miles so it’s a good outdoorsy activity for a couple of southern Californian days.

8. Portland, Oregon


Do you love craft beer, amazing niche bakeries, bike-friendly streets, and a whole lot of indie, underground culture? There’s one place that does hipster culture better than anywhere else on the West Coast and that’s Portland!

Surrounded by two different rivers and the mighty Mount Hood, it’s the perfect combination of nature and bustling city vibes. Make sure to check out Voodoo Doughnuts – it’s well worth the queue!

9. Huntington Beach, California


Known as Surf City USA, Huntington Beach is the epitome of a southern California beach town. It’s one of the best places to ride the waves and is even home to the Surfing Hall of Fame.

Wander down the famous Huntington Pier, watch the surfers try to “shoot the pier”, and make sure to grab a bite to eat and a cocktail or two at the legendary Dukes!

10. Redwood National Park


If you want to see some of the biggest and oldest trees in the world, there’s no better place than the Redwood National Park in northern California. Located just a short drive from the Oregon border, it’s the perfect road trip destination.

Strap on your hiking boots and wander around the miles and miles of trails, appreciating the giant redwood trees that have made this area famous all around the world.

11. Mount Hood, Oregon


As the highest point in Oregon and just a short drive away from bustling Portland, the Mount Hood State Park has a whole range of hiking, mountain biking, and running trails, as well as plenty of snow and mountaineering options.

Taking on the titular Mount Hood is a huge undertaking and only 10,000 people even attempt to climb this active volcano each year!

12. San Diego, California


Want to enjoy a laid-back vibe in a city that’s known for its soft sandy beaches, independent bars and restaurants, and family-friendly attractions? Add San Diego to your Southern California itinerary.

Check out the famous San Diego Zoo, wander around the stunning harbor when it’s all lit up at night, or watch the sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

13. Yosemite National Park, California


As an outdoor lover’s playground, Yosemite National Park has been welcoming hiking and climbing enthusiasts for decades now. From the impressive El Capitan and Half Dome rock faces to the magical Brideveil Falls, there’s always something amazing to see.

If you want to see all the major sights at once, brave the crowds at Tunnel View for the perfect photo.

14. Cannon Beach, Oregon


Fancy a beach day while you’re in Oregon? Cannon Beach has to be one of the most beautiful beach towns in the whole of the Pacific Northwest. If you’re in the town itself, you can treat yourself to a visit to a boutique art gallery or a roam around a nature trail.

Of course, finish your day on Cannon Beach itself for one of the best sunsets you’ll ever see!

15. Space Needle, Seattle, Washington


Is there a more iconic sight in all of Seattle than the Space Needle? Towering tall above this tech-savvy city is a spinning dining room in the sky. With panoramic views for miles around, including out across the Puget Sound, it’s a great place to get your bearings and appreciate the beauty of this unique West Coast city!

16. Crater Lake National Park, Oregon


Harking all the way back to 1902, the Crater Lake National Park is the fifth oldest park in the US and it’s a stunning place to hike. Make sure to spend a day hiking up to the rim of the crater to really appreciate the deep blue color of the expansive lake below.

It’s kind of mesmerizing! If you love hiking and natural wonders, then this needs to be on your Oregon itinerary!

17. Snoqualmie Falls, Washington


Want to see one of the most beautiful waterfalls in America? Well then, head to Snoqualmie Falls. It’s actually twice as high as Niagara Falls making it a super impressive place to visit if you’re in Washington State. There are plenty of observation points and hiking trails along the way, and as one of the most popular tourist attractions in the state, you’ll be in good company!

18. Napa Valley, California


Wine lovers are going to need no introduction to this West Coast destination. Located just a short drive north of San Francisco lies the famous Napa Valley wine country.

With hundreds of boutique vineyards and wineries, you can easily wander from different tastings or cellar door events, or jump on a tour and get a designated driver built in! The Napa Valley is also home to amazing restaurants so you can soak up that wine along the way!

19. Joshua Tree National Park, California


Fancy checking out a desert wonderland that’s got bucketloads of Native American history and culture around every corner? Head to the Joshua Tree National Park.

With amazing views across both the Coachella and Hidden Valleys and miles and miles of desert and interesting cacti everywhere you turn. Marvel at how the wind has sculpted the national park over time and get a new appreciation for the desert landscape.

20. Leavenworth, Washington


Who’d have thought you could visit a Bavarian-style mountain village in the heart of Washington state? Well with a visit to beautiful Leavenworth, you can do just that.

Surrounded by gorgeous mountains and forests, you can enjoy the great outdoors, or spend time exploring the independent stores and restaurants around the town. If you can, schedule your visit around Christmas is when the whole town goes all out with light displays and a German Christmas Market!

21. Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California


Want to be surrounded by skateboarders, rollerbladers, and laidback Californian vibes? Head to Venice Beach in Los Angeles. Home to the famous boardwalk, you can wander along and check out all the different stalls, hit up a bar or two, or even check out a Venice Beach weed tour – after all, it’s legal here!

If you’re into skateboarding, Venice Beach has one of the best skateparks in the area, so it’s well worth checking out!

22. Monterey, California


If you’re a fan of Big Little Lies or just love US history, check out Monterey on the Californian coast. A common road trip destination along the iconic Pacific Highway, Monterey has an amazing aquarium, and historic museums about industry, and is even home to California’s first-ever theater! There are also a ton of great seafood joints in town, so make sure to check out some local restaurants!

23. Olympic National Park, Washington


Clocking in at an incredible million acres of protective land, the Olympic National Park spoils any visitor who steps foot there! Thanks to its proximity to Seattle, it’s perfect for day trips or weekends away.

It has something for everyone with rainforests, coastlines, glaciers, forests, mountains, and more! Literally, you could spend your entire vacation here and still not see it all!

24. Lake Tahoe, California


Straddling the border of California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is a super popular vacation destination in both summer and winter. With plenty of opportunities for hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, and climbing in the summer months, and some world-class ski resorts in the winter months, it’s a classic adventure vacation city. Rent yourself a cabin, grab yourself a cup of coffee, and enjoy a day in the great outdoors.

25. Cascade Mountains


If you want to visit an insanely cool mountain range during your West Coast road trip but don’t know when you can fit it in, check out the Cascade Mountains as they extend from British Columbia in Canada all the way down to California. Hike, kayak, climb, ski, snowboard, or just enjoy the stunning natural views that the Pacific Northwest has to offer!

26. Hollywood Walk of Fame, Los Angeles, California


There are few streets that are more iconic than the Hollywood Walk of Fame. This Los Angeles institution is one of the most popular tourist destinations in California and welcomes thousands of visitors each and every year. Wander the pavements in front of Graumann’s Chinese Theater and try and find your favorite movie stars, bands, and directors! Be careful not to spend all day looking!

27. Columbia River Gorge, Oregon


If you’re visiting Oregon, it’s kind of hard to ignore the mighty Columbia River that snakes through Portland and goes all the way to the Rocky Mountains.

One of the coolest places to appreciate this huge river is the Columbia River Gorge. With a depth of over 4,000 feet and tons of scenic cliffs, bluffs, and dramatic rock faces, it’s one of the most striking natural places in the entire state!

28. Big Sur, California


One of the best ways to see the Pacific Coast is to road trip down Highway 1 and one of the key sights along the way has to be Big Sur. With rugged mountains on one side and the Pacific Ocean on the other, it’s an amazing place to experience.

If you want to stop along the way, there are dozens of beaches, state parks, and hiking trails all around the area. But honestly, this has to be one of the most iconic road trip routes in the US!

29. San Juan Islands, Washington


If you love marine wildlife and beautiful wild landscapes, head to the San Juan Islands in Washington, on the border with Canada. This collection of islands is home to amazing animal life, including the appropriately named Orca Island! Back on dry land, the islands are a haven for hiking, independent shops, and farm-to-table dining, so they’re the ideal vacation destination!

30. Long Beach Peninsula, Washington


Want to spend time on the beach but love that more rugged and windswept vibe? Well then, head to the Long Beach Peninsula in Washington state. Spanning over 28 miles of stunning sandy beaches and gorgeous beach towns, it’s a relaxed region to check out and the amount of delicious seafood restaurants in this area is amazing!

31. Palm Springs, California


Do you love architecture and quirky desert towns? Take a drive over to Palm Springs, where the mid-century modern architecture period reigns supreme.

In addition to the stunning buildings and pastel-colored aesthetics, there are plenty of spas and golf courses to choose from if you want to rest and rejuvenate in the shadow of the mountains!

32. Santa Monica, California


If you’re traveling with your family or are just looking for a fun day out in Los Angeles, head out to Santa Monica. The showstopper of Santa Monica has to be the Santa Monica Pier.

With a ton of arcade games and an iconic Ferris wheel, it’s one of the quintessential tourist stops if you’re visiting LA. If you visit in the evening, you can see the beautiful sunset and you can check out the many bars along the waterfront!

33. La Push, Washington


Love whale watching or the Twilight movies? Well, those two interests overlap in the magic Venn diagram that is La Push. Located on the Quileute Indian Reservation, this beautiful area that’s characterized by its beach and forest environments is a perfect place to visit if you love nature, history, and culture!

About The Author

Rebecca Crowe is a freelance content writer who specializes in writing about travel, food, drink, and adventure. She specializes in budget and adventure travel content and can usually be found climbing some rocks, eating some tacos, or waiting around at the nearest airport. Her best budget travel achievement was spending a weekend in Paris with Roland Garros tickets for under £150, although she's always on the lookout for even better adventure and travel deals! If you want to keep up with her next adventure, check out her website at Wandering and Wine.

Join our list

Subscribe to our mailing list and get interesting stuff and updates to your email inbox.

Thank you for subscribing.

Something went wrong.

Enter your email and get this picture and description straight to your inbox

🔒 We don’t spam or sell emails. see our privacy policy
Picture of Rebecca Crowe

Rebecca Crowe

Rebecca Crowe is a freelance content writer who specializes in writing about travel, food, drink, and adventure. She specializes in budget and adventure travel content and can usually be found climbing some rocks, eating some tacos, or waiting around at the nearest airport.

Her best budget travel achievement was spending a weekend in Paris with Roland Garros tickets for under £150, although she's always on the lookout for even better adventure and travel deals!

If you want to keep up with her next adventure, check out her website at Wandering and Wine.

Read More From Rebecca Crowe
Send this to a friend