Best West Coast Vacation Spots

The best West Coast vacation spots for most people will most often refer to the long California coastline. After that, Washington State and Oregon most often figure into planning. Wherever you choose on the West Coast is sure to please as this coast is filled with everything from rocky coastline to world-class cities to some of the best beaches in the nation.

The best California vacation spots are found along its entire length, which is 770 miles. Its width is only 250 miles, meaning the coast is easily accessible from anywhere in the state. From San Francisco north to the border with Oregon is some of the most pristine and stunning coastal scenery to be found anywhere in the world. It southern coastline from San Francisco to San Diego, though dotted with large urban areas, has equally stunning seascapes, especially in the section called Big Sur between Santa Barbara and San Francisco. In fact, the top places to go on the West Coast include the large urban areas of San Diego, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Many of the best California vacation spots are these cities, each of which offers the widest variety of the experiences that are available in the state.

California Vacation Spots
California Vacation Spots

Los Angeles is one of the best California vacation spots to give you a taste of all the state has to offer. There are magnificent beaches from Malibu to LAX and Long Beach. One of the world's top museums, the Getty Center, is located here in the hills above Brentwood and Santa Monica. It ranks among the finest museums for the quality of collection, its magnificent gardens, its stunning architecture, and the wide panoramic views of the Los Angeles skyline and the Pacific coastline. Other prestigious museums include the Natural History Museum, Museum of Art, the Griffith Observatory, the Gene Autry Museum of Western Heritage, and the Peterson Automotive Museum. There is a respected zoo and aquarium, some of the best shopping and in the world, and beautiful beaches. And it is all surrounded by stunning mountains. During the winter, you can actually go surfing and skiing in the same day. Another of the things that makes the second largest city in the United States one of the top places to go on the West Coast is show business. This is the home of Hollywood and the center of motion picture making. The attractions of Hollywood, and the ever present possibility of seeing movie stars, also draw thousands of visitors per year.

West Coast Vacations
West Coast Vacations

Other cities that are among the best California vacation spots are San Francisco, often compared to beautiful Cape Town in South Africa, and San Diego, a lovely city with a wonderful Spanish colonial Old Town that is on the National Register of Historic Places. You can sample some of the best vintages in the world in the Napa Valley, play golf on some of the most famous (and most scenic) golf courses in the world at Pebble Beach and Cypress Point near Carmel, or drive the coast-hugging route along Big Sur boasting some of the most magnificent scenery in the world.

More of the best West Coast vacation spots will be found in Washington State and Oregon. Both these states have casinos (as does California) and they attract many visitors. Many of these are near other attractions. The Tulalip Casino, for instance, is located only about 30 miles from the city of Seattle, and only a couple miles from the shores of Puget Sound with its beautiful San Juan Islands.

There are numerous state and national parks in all three states that are among the top places to go on the West Coast along the western coast of the 48 contiguous states. Several of these are world-famous spots, including Yosemite with its incredible rock formations and awe-inspiring waterfalls and Sequoia National Park, with its monumental giant sequoia trees and Avenue of the Giants. Both of these parks are in California. Oregon boasts North Cascades National Park and Olympic National Park, which, like Yosemite and Redwood National Park in California, are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. In Washington, you will find the Lewis and Clark National Historic Trail, which follows the path of the great explorers through seven states from Oregon and Idaho to Kansas and Missouri, and the spectacular Crater Lake National Park.

Many people forget about Alaska when thinking about the best West Coast vacation spots, and this largest state has a coastline even longer than California's. Many tour this magnificent coastline on cruises, which generally begin and/or end in Vancouver British Columbia or Seattle. All the major cities and towns are located in the southern part of the state, and few except hunters and dedicated adventurers venture much further north than Fairbanks, the only major city not on the coast. Even Denali National Park can be visited as a shore excursion from a cruise ship, although it usually an overnight or two-night excursion. Other beautiful parks and areas that draw tourists are Glacier Bay National Park, the Kenai Peninsula, and several gargantuan glaciers—all best visited as excursions from cruise ships.

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