The Pacific side of the country has a totally different feel than the East Coast. Life moves at a different pace and the land seems just a touch more wild. Check out these amazing and lesser known Pacific towns across the West Coast and beyond.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Langley, Washington
If you can bear spending 20 minutes on a scenic ferry to Whidbey Island, you'll be rewarded with sights of the charming town of Langley. As it only has about a thousand permanent residents, this place definitely feels like it moves at a slower pace. The coastal feel of Langley, combined with its charming retro architecture, makes this town a great prospective Pacific vacation hideaway. Check out the Useless Bay Coffee Company for a tasty cup of joe and a cozy vibe.
2. Kaunakakai, Hawaii
They say that when Hawaiians want to experience authentic Hawaii, they go to the "last island" in the chain: Molokai. The somewhat rustic town of Kaunakakai is the only true town on this island and a haven for visitors looking to get away from the more developed and touristy areas in the state. The town features the only bar on the entire island, the Hula Grill. If you're looking for a secluded spot to experience the natural beauty of Hawaii without the crowds, Kaunakakai is it.
3. Haines, Alaska
This quaint town is nestled in the shadow of Mount Ripinski. If the staggering natural beauty of the surrounding landscape doesn't convince you to drop by, then maybe you'll be interested in checking out the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. During the autumn and winter, this place has the largest concentration of bald eagles on earth. If you're a fan of peculiar attractions, you might want to visit Haines' Hammer Museum. It's an entire museum dedicated to the history and importance of the hammer in human society.
4. Depoe Bay, Oregon
Located in scenic Lincoln County, this small town is quaint without being overly kitschy. Depoe Bay has a great food scene with lots of places to order a steaming plate of fresh seafood. There are whale watching tours that leave almost daily during the summer, and this lovely town also has the distinction of being home to the world's smallest navigable harbor.
5. Port Orford, Oregon
Port Orford is a small fishing town with a huge love of the arts. This is actually the most westerly town in the contiguous United States, and perhaps due to its extreme geographic situation, you won't find troublesome crowds anywhere near Orford. The coastal town is something of a haven for artists and creatives, which makes for some great street art and a fun-loving community vibe.
6. Talkeetna, Alaska
This town is practically within throwing distance of Mt. McKinley, so it's a great place to make camp if you're looking to explore the peak. Talkeetna offers loads of opportunities for outdoor fun in all seasons. You'll find great hiking trails, excellent kayaking spots, and plenty of fish to be had in the three rivers that meet at Talkeetna. If you visit during the winter, the rustic log buildings and snow-dusted evergreens of the town will definitely steal your heart.
7. Big Bear Lake Village, California
This place has a name that seems straight out of a T.V. family movie. Big Bear Lake Village is tucked into the San Bernardino Mountains and is positively lousy with gorgeous scenery and quaint local spots. In the warmer months, there are plenty of festivals and outdoor activities to keep visitors occupied. If you drop by during the holiday season, you'll be treated to a magical tree lighting and the smell of wood fires.
8. Garibaldi, Oregon
Located in Tillamook County, this town is a vibrant fishing community with an old-fashioned feel. Besides the spectacular scenery and beautiful harbor, this place has a surprisingly robust restaurant scene. The Bayfront Bakery and Deli is a local favorite that is pretty much the perfect breakfast spot. Local wildlife includes great white gulls, harbor seals, and even bald eagles. Use this town as a basecamp for exploring the nearby wilderness by foot or kayak, or just enjoy the small town hospitality.
9. Prosser, Washington
The town of Prosser is a peaceful settlement on the banks of the Yakima River. It is host to a yearly balloon festival that draws balloon enthusiasts and lovers of whimsy to the little town. Prosser also puts on annual harvest and Christmas festivals, so this is a great place to visit with the family at almost any time of year.
10. Avalon, California
This charming town is built into the rocky coast of Catalina Island. Avalon has an incrediblely European feel, with plenty of small shops and cozy restaurants lining the harbor area. Crescent Avenue is a particularly beautiful place to stroll and take in the smells and sights of the coast.
11. Ketchikan, Alaska
This town is actually growing in notoriety, but it's still a great spot to get away from it all and absorb a bit of Alaskan history. The town's Totem Heritage Center showcases the incredible totem poles that the local native population treasures and still crafts to this day. The creek that runs through town is filled with salmon and even the occasional seal. This is a great town to explore if you don't necessarily want to be in the middle of nowhere, but still want a taste of the rugged Alaskan wilderness.
12. Tiburon, California
This town sports a name with some definite bite. Spanish settlers named the small town after the native leopard sharks that swim in the waters around Tiburon. Once you're in town, you can take a quick ferry over to nearby Angel Island, which offers tons of historical sites and national park land to explore. However, Tiburon is so picturesque that you may not want to leave.
13. Leavenworth, Washington
Located in the middle of the Cascade Mountains, this charming Bavarian village feels worlds away from the everyday. Founded by German immigrants, Leavenworth is absurdly picturesque. This place holds one of the grandest Oktoberfest celebrations outside Germany, and is home to a Nutcracker Museum. Check out Munchen House for a toasty fresh pretzel and a savory Bavarian sausage.
14. La Conner, Washington
This town boasts lots of blossoms and brilliant mountain vistas. Located on the beautiful Skagit River, La Conner has lots of wonderful restaurants to sample and beautiful galleries to peruse. The town holds an annual tulip festival, and the town-proper of La Conner is surrounded by fields upon fields of flowers.
15. Friday Harbor, Washington
This place is definitely one of the most charming spots in the San Juan Islands. As you may have guessed from the name, Friday Harbor is a coastal town. With wide streets, beautiful architecture, and a scenic waterfront, this place is perfect for strolling and people watching. Fresh seafood and adorable boutique shops abound in Friday Harbor.
Have you been to any of these charming towns? Have any suggestions for other cool Pacific spots? Let us know!