Diverse landscapes and towns brimming with charm can be found throughout the West Coast states. From coastal gems to inland beauties, we’ve put together a list of some of the most beautiful smaller towns waiting to be photographed and explored.
Cambria is a picturesque town complete with tall pine trees and jagged coastline, located on California’s Central Coast. The town is a great artistic hub with many galleries and theaters. For the outdoor enthusiasts, recreational activities abound, including water sports and hiking. For history seekers, explore interesting sites such as the Guthrie-Bianchini House. One of the oldest homes in the town, it now houses the Cambria Historical Museum. There are many festivals throughout the year, including the Cambria Art and Wine Festival.
Cannon Beach is a beautiful coastal village located on the Northern Coast of Oregon. The area is brimming with fantastic art and architecture. There are breathtaking scenic views from Haystack Rock to the beautiful old growth rainforest found in Ecola State Park. The landscape provides adventure seekers with plenty of fun, from hiking to water sports to wildlife watching. One must-visit summer event is the Sandcastle Contest.
Lake Chelan is located at the southeast end of the stunning lake of the same name. A popular tourist destination, the area is surrounded by incredible landscape, including forest-covered mountains, which provides hours of fun for lovers of the outdoors. Alternatively, wine lovers will be impressed by the area’s growing wine scene. If visiting in winter, guests can enjoy the Winterfest Festival which features ice sculptures, music, wine and beer tastings.
A college town located on the eastern border of Los Angeles County, Claremont makes for a perfect weekend retreat. There are approximately 23,000 trees here including American Elms, Eucalyptus and numerous other species. Claremont also has the distinction of being the first Fair Trade Town in Southern California, meaning that many shops, eateries and other outfits carry and sell Fair Trade products.
First settled in the 1850s, Dayton is a small historic gem found in the southeastern portion of Washington. A must-visit for any history buff, this community is home to 117 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places. Visitors are encouraged to pick up a map at the Chamber of Commerce and stroll along the streets to discover some of these architectural beauties. Dayton also has several interesting museums, including the Dayton Historic Depot, The Boldman House Museum and the Palus Artifact Museum, where visitors can discover a variety of artifacts from the Palus Indian Tribe.
Also known as ‘The Maritime City,’ Gig Harbor is a beautiful seaside town with a long maritime history, from boat building to commercial fishing. An ideal destination for visitors who love water sports from sailing to kayaking, the lush landscape also offers numerous trails. The Harbor History Museum with its historical schoolhouse, and maritime vessels is a must-visit attraction for history fans. Gig Harbor is also a wonderful place to relax, with a waterfront perfect for taking a leisurely stroll while exploring galleries, boutiques, and tasty dining spots.
Joseph is a charming town in Northeast Oregon with a rich Native American history. The town is named after Nez Perce Chief Joseph and is not only a paradise for history lovers, but also an outdoor adventurer’s haven. Between the beautiful Wallowa Mountains and the nearby Eagle Cap Wilderness, this ‘Little Switzerland of America’ offers miles and miles of hiking trails. Joseph’s streets are lined with incredible bronze sculptures by artists such as Shelley S. Curtiss and Steve Parks and full of unique shops, galleries and restaurants.
Mendocino is a town of breathtaking beauty. Surrounded by bluffs blanketed with colorful wildflowers, Mendocino is dotted with beautifully restored Victorian homes many of which house bed and breakfasts and specialty shops. Popular with film crews as well, Mendocino has been featured in numerous films and television shows over the years, including the television series Murder, She Wrote. For visitors who want to explore the great outdoors, the Mendocino Headlands State Park offers miles of trails, beaches, and water sources. No matter the time of year, visitors will also find a range of events, including the Mendocino Music Festival.
Nevada City is a California gold rush town found in the idyllic setting of the Sierra Nevada Mountains’ foothills. Local residents are proud of their town and have taken every step to preserve its century-old Victorian buildings. To explore this town’s narrow streets, it’s best to park the car and stroll along on foot to discover all the great finds, including beautiful art, handmade jewelry, clothes and books. Must-see events take place throughout the year as well, including the Nevada City Bicycle Classic, First Friday Art Walks, and Victorian Christmas to name but a few.
A picturesque Oregon town, Silverton is found in the heart of Willamette Valley. This colorful, historic town is home to The Oregon Garden, a botanical garden showcasing many specialty landscapes along with a house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. Art lovers will enjoy the vibrant murals found throughout Silverton depicting its history, while the charming downtown will appeal to those seeking fun gifts and tasty edibles. Something for everyone, the town hosts many events, including the Silverton Hills Strawberry Festival, plus the surrounding area provides many outdoor adventures.