Best Places to Visit on the West Coast

TravelFreak is reader supported. Your engagement on this site allows us to bring you this content for free. Because this website contains affiliate links, if you make a purchase through these links, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. This has absolutely no effect on our recommendations or evaluations. Thank you for supporting our mission!

The West Coast offers a wonderful range of vacation destinations and is well worth exploring. From the stunning landscapes of the Pacific Northwest all the way down to the sun-drenched coast of Mexico, there’s always somewhere new to explore.

Take a look at some of the best destinations to visit from the West Coast below.  And as always, make sure you are prepared by planning ahead, getting travel insurance, and packing accordingly!

Baja California, Mexico

Head off on an exciting cruise to Ensenada, and discover the stunning natural beauty and exciting Mexican culture of Mexico’s Baja California peninsula. The remarkable mountainous desert landscapes that stretch right to the sea are a joy to behold, and the culture and cuisine of Mexico is something to be savored.

Start your Mexican adventure from Ensenada by exploring the Valle de Guadalupe, Mexican wine country. This gorgeous valley was planted with vines by Spanish missionaries centuries ago and now rivals the Napa Valley with its exceptional wineries and exciting fine dining restaurants.

The seas surrounding Baja California are absolutely teeming with life, and this part of the world is a paradise for scuba divers, snorkelers, and nature lovers more generally. Head to Loreto to see blue whales, Puerto San Carlos for gray whales, La Paz for whale sharks, and Cabo San Lucas for humpbacks. Don’t miss out on the underwater world of Cabo Pulmo, North America’s oldest coral reef and a haven of brightly colored marine life.

Finally, the twin towns that makeup Los Cabos, Cabo San Lucas, and San Jose del Cabo, are renowned for their lively party atmosphere, superb beaches, great restaurants, and exceptional local art. There are some areas that are a little less safe than others, so make sure you are taking extra precautions and traveling safely.

Vancouver, Canada

Vancouver is a wonderful city that offers up an outstanding quality of life for residents and tourists alike. Surrounded by ocean and magnificent landscapes, there aren’t many places where you can go skiing in the morning, swimming in the afternoon, and dine on haute cuisine in the evening, but Vancouver provides all this and more.

Vancouver is relaxed yet full of life, with an exceptional atmosphere that will have you falling in love with the city from the moment you arrive. The snow-capped peaks that surround it make the perfect backdrop for this great Pacific Northwest city, and it is a wonderful destination for a vacation.

Start off in Vancouver with its cultural highlights, as the city is bursting with world-class museums, galleries and venues. Don’t miss the Museum of Vancouver and Vancouver Maritime Museum, and ensure you get to grips with the vibrant artistic community on Granville Island.

Vancouver’s natural beauty is one of its main attractions, so why not head out of the city to explore the mountains, parks and trails that are an easy drive from downtown. Grouse Mountain offers a wonderful, if challenging hike, with live lumberjack shows and a superb restaurant waiting at the top. The Capilano Suspension Bridge is also worth discovering, hanging precariously above the river and rainforest of the park below.

Finally, Vancouver’s downtown neighborhoods are perfect for foodies and anyone looking for a stylish and elegant night out. Main Street is packed with amazing restaurants and superb craft breweries, while the cobbled streets of historic Gastown, Vancouver’s oldest district, are still lit with gas lights. The neighborhood boasts Vancouver’s best restaurants, as well as an atmosphere of sophisticated vintage charm, and is one of the best places to wander around in the city.

Portland, Oregon

Portland revels in its ever-so-hipster reputation and is very happy living up to the artisan coffee and organic fixie bike stereotypes that are cast its way. While Portland absolutely does offer some exceptional examples of the most trendy millennial archetypes, it is so much more than just flat whites and ironic mustaches and makes a superb choice for a West Coast vacation.

Portland is probably the best place to eat in the Pacific Northwest, with a dining scene that runs the full range from exotic street food and trendy pop-up eateries to the finest haute cuisine and Michelin-starred restaurants. Head to Downtown for an amazing range of international restaurants from French and Italian to Peruvian and Asian Fusion, and don’t miss out on the great American comfort food joints either.

Portland has some fantastic parks, and an afternoon spent exploring its wonderful green spaces is well worth your time. Visit Mills End Park, the smallest park in the world, if you are in the mood for oddness and curiosity, or explore Mount Tabor City Park in the crater of an extinct volcano! Of course, any visit to the Rose City would be incomplete without seeing Washington City Park, the home of the International Rose Test Garden.

Portland is extremely deserving of its artistic reputation and boasts some of the best art galleries in the country. Portland Art Museum is the oldest museum in the Pacific Northwest, while the Pearl District is full of independent galleries and artistic collectives. Finally, the Blackfish Gallery is a stunning showcase of Oregon and Washington-based artists, and well worth a visit.

Seattle, Washington

The largest city in the Pacific Northwest, and with some of the most iconic sights, Seattle is a must-visit vacation destination for a West Coast trip.

Fans of science and history will love the Seattle Center and the exceptional Museum of Flight, and no visit to Seattle would be complete without a trip up the Space Needle. Originally built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Seattle Center offers a complete experience, with over 30 museums, galleries, sports venues and entertainment centers making this an incredible family spot.

You can’t visit Seattle and not grab a coffee at the very first Starbucks in the world, at Pike Place Market. In fact, Pike Place Market should possibly be one of the first places you head to. One of America’s oldest farmers’ markets, it is a noisy, colorful and exciting experience, full of fresh produce, traditional vendors and amazing seafood.

Seattle also has a pretty spectacular dining scene. Its coastal location means that the seafood here is exceptional, and a large, vibrant Vietnamese community has given rise to some of the best South Asian restaurants in the US, as well as some incredibly exciting fusion cuisine. Don’t miss the innovative menus at Monsoon, the Latin-inspired sushi at Japonessa, or the amazing fresh fish at Chinook’s.

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.

On A Similar Note...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.