Are you planning a trip to the West Coast? The West Coast is known for being home to some of America’s most vibrant cities, beautiful national parks, stunning drives, and breathtaking coastlines. Simply put, this part of the United States has everything one could ask for. While Hollywood and San Francisco are some of the destinations that first come to mind, the West Coast is full of hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re looking for a place to kick back and relax or more adventurous spots, these 10 hidden gem destinations on the West Coast guarantee an unforgettable travel experience.
10 San Juan Islands, Washington
Located off the coast of Washington, the San Juan Islands are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, bordering Victoria BC and the Vancouver Islands; This region is a natural wonder of the world and while it is one of the West Coast’s hidden gem destinations, it is well worth a visit. The archipelago offers several outdoor opportunities including bird watching, wildlife viewing, kayaking, boating, kayaking, camping, fishing, and more! Travelers can never run out of things to see and do in this place. Made up of 172 islands, there are several stunning parks, beautiful lakes, and incredible hiking trails to explore in this region.
9 North Cascades National Park, Washington
Visiting North Cascades National Park in Washington won’t cost travelers a dime, yet it is one of the least visited places on the West Coast. The park has several hiking trails, magnificent lakes, more than 300 glaciers, and beautiful waterfalls just waiting to be explored. It will take approximately three hours from Seattle to reach North Cascades National Park. Hiking, camping, picnicking and mountain climbing are some of the most impressive outdoor opportunities to take advantage of on this side of the West Coast.
8 Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon
One of the largest stretches of coastal dunes in the world, the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area offers travelers a different kind of beach getaway. Various species of wildlife and plants thrive in this beautiful but less touristy area. Designated a National Recreation Area in 1972 by the United States Congress, this is another paradise for lovers of the outdoors. With open dunes, wetlands, stunning beaches, and tree islands, adventurous vacationers will enjoy picnicking, wildlife viewing, birding, camping, paddling, and hiking in this region.
7 Pismo Beach, California
Nestled perfectly between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Pismo Beach is a charming seaside town that offers all the wonderful things tourists could ask for. From boutique shops to an expanse of beautiful coastline and enchanting views of the Pacific, this city is definitely worth a stop. Known as the clam capital of the world, it offers an incredibly relaxing beach experience. Travelers can also go horseback riding, play golf, and dine at one of its world-class oceanfront restaurants.
6 Bishop, Calif.
With all the outdoor adventures, including fishing opportunities, sightseeing, backpacking, mountain biking, bird watching, bouldering and more, it’s hard to believe that Bishop is one of the hidden gem destinations on the West Coast. Nestled between the Sierra Nevada to the west and the White Mountains to the east, this charming city is a wonderful place to explore. The town is only a few hours from big cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but it lacks any urban influence, making it a perfect place to relax and achieve peace of mind. Stroll through the city and discover its spectacular landscapes.
5 Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Founded in 1898 by 16-year-old Jim White, Carlsbad Caverns is one of the largest cave systems in the world. Jim discovered these caves on a horseback trip through the Chihuahuan desert. He later returned with his friend to map the cavern. Within the system, travelers will notice several beautiful rooms and formations, including the Green Lake Room, the Mystery Room, and the “bottomless pit.” Most of these rooms were named after Jim. Carlsbad Caverns are amazing and deserve as much attention as other West Coast tourist attractions.
4 Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
With lush prairies, beautiful lakes, incredible historic sites, mountain peaks, and fantastic hiking trails, Grand Teton is one of the West Coast’s hidden gems. There’s something for everyone in Grand Teton National Park, and it’s hard to understand why it’s less visited. Families can go hiking, boating, or wildlife watching for an incredible opportunity to see moose, bison, or elk. Photo opportunities and outdoor adventures like fishing and biking are plentiful.
3 Depoe Bay, Oregon
Depoe Bay is a charming seaside town that boasts incredible restaurants, hidden coves, and some of the most stunning sunsets on the Oregon coast. Home to the smallest harbor in the world, Depoe Bay is known as the whale-watching capital of the Oregon coast, thanks for being a great place to watch whales. From this bay, travelers can catch multiple whales as they migrate closer to shore. You don’t even need to go by boat to see these adorable creatures because they come right up to shore.
two Windsor, Calif.
Located in Sonoma County, Windsor is the perfect destination for exploring California wine. Visitors to this area should always do some wine tasting at one of the local wineries. The historic downtown is walkable and allows travelers to discover more about California than just wine. The charming place boasts historic buildings dating back to the 19th century, beautiful housing boutiques, and upscale restaurants serving great food.
1 Avila Beach, California
Avila Beach is magical and surprisingly one of the least visited destinations on the West Coast. At the beach, vacationers will have an experience like never before. Brimming with a variety of beautiful spas, hiking opportunities, natural hot springs, and world-class wineries, Avila Beach is the best place to be. Are you looking for the perfect spot to enjoy an impressive view of the Pacific Ocean? Head to the Punta San Luis Lighthouse and climb to the top.