Planning a trip to the West Coast? West Coast is known to host some of America's most vibrant cities, gorgeous national parks, stunning drives, and breathtaking shorelines. Put simply, this part of the United States has everything one could ever ask for. While Hollywood and San Francisco are some of the destinations that first come to mind, West Coast is brimming with hidden gems waiting to be discovered. Whether one is looking for a place to relax and unwind 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 Washington’s coast, the San Juan Islands are perfect for outdoor enthusiasts, bordering Victoria BC and Vancouver islands; this region is a world’s natural wonder, and while it is one of the West Coast’s hidden gem destinations, it is totally worth a visit. The archipelago offers several outdoor opportunities, including birding, wildlife spotting, kayaking, sailing, kayaking, camping, fishing, and more! Travelers can never run short of things to see and do in this place. Comprising 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 penny, yet it is one of the least visited places on the West Coast. The park boasts several hiking trails, magnificent lakes, over 300 glaciers, and gorgeous waterfalls waiting to be explored. It will take about three hours from Seattle to reach North Cascades National Park. Hiking, camping, picnicking, and mountaineering are some of the most impressive outdoor opportunities to grab on this side of the West Coast.
8 Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area, Oregon
One of the world’s largest expanses of coastal sand dunes, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area offers travelers a different kind of beach getaway. Several wildlife and plant species thrive in this beautiful but less touristy area. Designated as a National Recreation Area in 1972 by the U.S. Congress, this is another haven for outdoor lovers. Consisting of open dunes, wetlands, impressive beaches, and tree islands, adventurous vacationers will enjoy picnicking, wildlife viewing, birding, camping, paddling, and hiking in this region.
7 Pismo Beach, California
Sandwiched perfectly between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Pismo Beach is a charming seaside town offering all the wonderful things vacationers could ask for. From boutique shopping to an expanse of a beautiful coastline to enchanting vistas of the Pacific, this town is certainly worth a stop. Famously recognized as the Clam Capital of the World, it offers an incredibly relaxing beach experience. Travelers can also go horseback riding, golfing, and dine at one of its top-notch waterfront restaurants.
6 Bishop, California
With all the outdoor adventures, including fishing opportunities, sightseeing, backpacking, mountain biking, birding, bouldering, and more, it is hard to believe that Bishop is one of the hidden gem destinations on the West Coast. Located between the Sierra Nevada to the west and White Mountains to the east, this charming town is a wonderful place to explore. The town is only a few hours away from big cities like Las Vegas and Los Angeles, but it lacks urban influence, making it a perfect spot to relax and achieve peace of mind. Wander through the town and discover its dramatic landscapes.
5 Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Founded in 1898 by Jim White, a 16-year-old, Carlsbad Caverns is one of the world's largest cave systems. Jim discovered these caves on a horse-riding journey through the Chihuahuan Desert. He later came back with his friend to map the cavern. Within the system, travelers will note several beautiful rooms and formations, including the Green Lake Room, Mystery Room, and the 'bottomless pit.' Most of these rooms were named by Jim. Carlsbad Caverns is amazing and deserves as much attention as other tourist attractions on the West Coast.
4 Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
Boasting lush meadows, beautiful lakes, incredible historical sites, mountain peaks, and fantastic hiking trails, Grand Teton is one of the hidden gems on the West Coast. There is always something for everyone at Grand Teton National Park, and it is hard to understand why it is lesser visited. Families can go hiking, boat riding, or wildlife viewing and get an incredible chance to spot elk, bison, or moose. Photo opportunities and outdoor adventures, such as fishing and biking, are plenty.
3 Depoe Bay, Oregon
Depoe Bay is a charming seaside village boasting incredible restaurants, hidden coves, and some of Oregon Coast's most breathtaking sunsets. Home to the smallest harbor on earth, Depoe Bay is known as the whale watching capital of the Oregon Coast, thanks for being an excellent whale viewing spot. From this bay, travelers can catch multiple whales as they migrate closer to the shore. One doesn’t even need to go boat riding to watch these adorable creatures because they come close to the shore.
2 Windsor, California
Found in Sonoma County, Windsor is the perfect destination to explore California's wine. Visitors coming to this area must always do some wine tasting in some of the local wineries. The historic downtown is walkable and lets travelers discover more about California than just wine. The charming spot features historic buildings dating back to the 19th century, beautiful housing boutiques, and top-notch restaurants serving great food.
1 Avila Beach, California
Avila Beach is magical, and surprisingly, it's one of the lesser visited destinations on the West Coast. At the beach, vacationers will have an experience like never before. Brimming with an array of beautiful spas, hiking opportunities, natural hot springs, and top-notch wineries, Avila Beach is the best place to be. Looking for the perfect point to enjoy a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean? Head to the Point San Luis Lighthouse and climb to the top.