Gig Harbor in Washington.

11 Small Towns In The Pacific Northwest Were Ranked Among US Favorites

You may have heard of the Pacific Northwest (PNW), a heavenly region that runs through multiple western states, parts of Canada, and Alaska, including Washington, Oregon, western Idaho, and parts of northern California. The PNW extends over 24 million acres, with small towns and big cities home to some lucky locals. Visit this beloved getaway for mind-blowing views and the dramatic coastline of stunning sheer cliffs over beaches. Find something for everyone, from spectacular historic architecture to waterfront restaurants and huge sea stacks along the beach. The PNW awaits adventurers with the coastal Olympic National Park and the desolate North Cascades National Park, featuring the country's most dangerous mountains and destination islands.

Anacortes, Washington

Gorgeous Anacortes in Washington.
Gorgeous Anacortes in Washington.

The vibrant coastal community on a drive-to island, Anacortes, bursts with small-town charm sans tourist crowds. Visit in time for one of the regular annual festivities or as a pitstop on your way to the San Juan Islands and International Ferry runs. Anarcotes, the state's hotspot to enjoy bluegrass and jazz at outside venues in the summertime, the historic waterfront, and 50 miles of hiking trails will hold you captive in awe for days. Its ever-growing culinary scene of restaurants and bars deserves a special mention, with farm-to-table menus, dishes made from scratch, and house-made ingredients, including BBQ, fusion, and rustic grub.

Enjoy easy access to this crown jewel of Fidalgo Island, halfway between Seattle and Vancouver, British Columbia, during the "Uncorked" food and wine experience that will rid you of your wintertime blues in February. The springtime attracts whale watchers, kayakers, stand-up paddleboarders, and boaters with the sea's fresh breath under pleasant sunshine. Visit in the summertime to browse the Saturday Anacortes Farmers Market with farm cheeses, fresh bread, gourmet nuts, and jewelry, along with other globetrotters who descend upon the town at this time for the annual tulip festival.

Bainbridge Island, Washington

The beautiful Bainbridge Island with the backdrop of the mountains in Washington.
The beautiful Bainbridge Island with the backdrop of the mountains in Washington.

Bainbridge Island, just a half-hour ferry journey from Downtown Seattle, is both a laid-back and stylish getaway destination in the state. It is a favorite getaway for Seattleites and the setting for many scenes from the hit American TV series Grey's Anatomy. Hit up Bainbridge Island if you are nature-inclined, an outdoor fan, or in search of solace amid jaw-dropping nature and family-friendly pursuits in a charming small-town candy wrap. Plan your own escape to great outdoor adventures or an eclectic boutique shopping trip with welcoming accommodations and scenic vistas all around.

Bainbridge Island is the quintessential place to unplug from daily life while dining on fine food. Its small-town atmosphere envelops you on a nature lap bike ride around the area, with a downtown galore of local chic eateries and galleries. The spirited community attracts and inspires artists and freedom seekers who seek powers from nature and enrich culture with their own. From wild canoe paddles into the open water to regular on-town events, you will also be surprised at the amount of art throughout.

Bandon, Oregon

Aerial view of Bandon, Oregon.
Aerial view of Bandon, Oregon.

Come to Bandon for the beach and the stunning ocean vistas, and stay for the boundless nature to explore on hikes through the wild woods and along the streams. This breathtakingly beautiful southern seaside slice of Oregon has been a beach destination since the mid-19th century. Bandon lures new visitors from around the country with great attractions through every picturesque season, like the Old Town studded with local restaurants, great galleries, unique boutiques, and cool bookstores.

Enjoy year-round moderate temperatures with summertime green landscapes and clean air while fishing, cycling, golfing, taking nature strolls, and beach crawling. A chance storm creates an unreplicable atmosphere of dramatically rolling waves that beat down on the coastline. Lounge shoreside with wildlife like Gray whales migrating just off shore and orcas in the estuary, along with ospreys, geese, and bald eagles flying over the pristine saltmarsh area east of downtown.

Lincoln City, Oregon

Aerial view of Lincoln City
Aerial view of Lincoln City

Lincoln City, a coastal town in Oregon, offers a rich tapestry of experiences. Its Historic Taft District showcases diverse shopping, dining, and attractions.  Visitors can partake in kite festivals, savor fresh seafood daily, learn glass blowing at the Lincoln City Glass Center, and procure unique souvenirs. The Lincoln City Outlets and the local casino also beckon travelers. Culinary enthusiasts will appreciate the varied dining options available. Boasting seven miles of scenic beaches from Roads End to Siletz Bay, the city also features attractions like the Cascade Head viewpoint and the Salmon River Estuary. Nelscott beach is renowned for its waves, and the bay is ideal for paddling.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

The gorgeous Cannon Beach in Oregon.
The gorgeous Cannon Beach in Oregon.

Cannon Beach is a favorite romantic beach getaway in the state, with a famous sand stretch and a cozy in-town atmosphere that drums to its own beat. Escape to this scenic slice along the northern Oregon coast for a cultural fill through world-class galleries and the local lifestyle at elegant eateries and unique shops. The attractive rock-studded beach will pull you in for crawls and lounging around tide pools and the iconic Haystack Rock protruding from the waters.

Enjoy photoshoots and picnics with water vistas, or come for a refreshing post-hike swim. Ecola State Park's snaking nature trails are joyous for meandering amid ancient, old-growth trees, with the sparkling Pacific and alluring beaches peeking through. Just off Highway 101, a drive that rivals California's Highway 1, Cannon Beach, one of the most beautiful places in the entire country, is unreplicable.

Chelan, Washington

Beautiful view of the winery near the lake Chelan in Washington
Beautiful view of the winery near the lake Chelan in Washington.

The scenic town of Chelan is like a delectable piece of candy with many layers that you savor at your own pace. Unravel the beautiful wrapper of Lake Chelan's rolling shores over water sports, adventurous hikes, and winery visits on one epic getaway from your dreams. The town, easy on the eyes, boasts agriculturally rich lands that spawn orchards with delicious, beautifully colored apples and other offerings you can spot through local markets on a browse for local culture and fresh produce.

Explore along the gentle ups and downs of the meandering hiking and cycling trails, with vineyards around and views of the tranquil, sparkling lake surface that beckons for a dip. From boating to swimming, kayaking, and even scuba diving in Lake Chelan, you can dive into the rich cuisine scene of farm-to-table restaurants post-outdoors. Realize the wildest of your dreams through the deep North Cascades' backcountry after a boat ride to the far end of the lake.

Gig Harbor, Washington

Aerial view of Gig Harbor in Washington.
Sunset scene at Gig Harbor in Washington.

The magnificent maritime village of Gig Harbor, just across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, is a favorite quick getaway from Tacoma. Its scenic destination along the bay in Puget Sound is "the gateway to the Olympic Peninsula," with surrounding beautiful state and city parks, like the nearby Kopachuck State Park. Enjoy easy access to this postcard-like town with the state's best coastal nature on a weekend getaway or a day trip for downtown wanderings and meandering hiking trails for all levels and varied vistas.

Enjoy the best access to the world of beach pursuits like watersports, lounging, and a load of delectable waterfront eateries. Take a stroll along the spectacular historic waterfront, billed as the region's most picturesque, at the snowy Mount Rainier backdrop and enveloping evergreen forests, with white boats dotting the cobalt blue waters of the Sound. From the Harbor History Museum with its rich seafaring vestiges to the seafood galore and shopping at each step, your family will never run out of year-round excitement.

Langley, Washington

View from Langley Marina on Whidbey Island Washington
View from the Langley marina on Whidbey Island, Washington.

It really does not get more atmospheric in the state's small-town department than Langley, quaintly perched atop Whidbey Island. Just 0.8 square miles in size, this historic town founded in the 1800s frequently makes lists of the Northwest's "best escapes." Experience the remote, historically rich feel in the air with immersive pursuits for all tastes while overlooking the glistening waters of Saratoga Passage and the Cascade Mountains. Unravel the threads of Langley's past on a stroll along the original loggers' bunkhouses and the museum to its most decadent waterfront, where nature and history combine in a beautiful dance under the sunny vibes and leisurely local lifestyle.

Langley, one of the first to elect a female Mayor and home to a vibrant hippie community in the 1960s and 1970s, offers a liberal atmosphere and a wholesome family environment. From the thriving arts to New England-style architecture, the easy-on-the-eye town induces relaxation to join the laidback lifestyle through studios and galleries showcasing local arts, quirky cafes, and numerous creative events. Even the bunnies escaped to this land decades ago, with the progeny of these furry little creatures hopping about today. Sightsee the artists blowing glass and sample fine local wines, while the gorgeous coastal stretch of sand is prime for whale watching and beach crawls.

Leavenworth, Washington

The main street through the Bavarian themed village of Leavenworth
The main street through the Bavarian themed village of Leavenworth, Washington.

Visit Europe right in your backyard with the same charm and culture from across the seas against the backdrop of the gorgeous Cascade Mountains in Washington. The little Bavarian village is replete with Alpine architecture and non-kitsch pursuits like a nutcracker museum and German-style food halls for the brats and beers of your life. Even without the in-your-face cultural aspects, Leavenworth is one of the US' best mountain towns that enchants through the wintertime with skiing and a holiday season like no other. Visit for a romantic winter escape or a fantastic weekend getaway anytime to browse through family-friendly pursuits with utterly jaw-dropping views.

The enchanting small town is a must-visit at least once in your life, with agritourism and Bavaria in its blood. Leavenworth welcomes new faces year-round with something ready for every taste, like orchard strolls at the end of the warm summer months. The crisp shoulder season, including the annual Oktoberfest, is a giving time for pears, wine grapes, apples, and cherries in this nation's top grower of organic pears. Take a stroll through the colorful stands of the local farmers among the lively locals and unique cultural sights.

Newport, Oregon

The picturesque coastal town of Newport, Oregon.
The picturesque coastal town of Newport, Oregon.

This picturesque little town boasts unreplicable natural beauty, which enchants from the first step and captives while meandering endless hiking trails in the inebriating mix of pine and salty air. Escape to Newport, where the sounds of the crashing waves and squealing seagulls will be the only thing you hear, soothing your mind and leaving you with a deep sense of nostalgia upon leaving. The visual splendor is everywhere, from the dramatic bluff-topped beachscape to the forested hike to the cliff's edge. Follow the trail up Communications Hill to Yaquina Head for an enormous visual payoff of incredible, sweeping coastal vistas you can enjoy over a sunny day picnic.

The Oregon Coast Trail is a joyous discovery for backpackers who strap on a beach bag and sleeping bag for a section from Otter Rock through South Beach. Mike Miller Educational Trails in South Beach are well-maintained for family-friendly hikes to bond with each other and nature amid various tree species of the coastal forest at sea level. Explore the easy, scenic Ocean to Bay Trail near Big Creek Park or take a grounded, hand-in-hand stroll through South Beach State Park. From the Oregon Coast Aquarium and Hatfield Marine Science Center to kite flying along picture-perfect sandy beaches, your kids will love building sand castles while you simply soak in the sun's rays. Lounge by the state's oldest active lighthouse from 1872, Yaquina Head, the tallest in Oregon at 93 feet.

Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend, Washington
View of Port Townsend, Washington, from Puget Sound.

The exciting town of Port Townsend bursts with good vibes from its northeastern tip of the Olympic Peninsula. Experience it all here in between Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca on your getaway to the spectacular natural beauty of the renowned Olympic National Park. This Victorian seaport has something for everybody to hunt joyfully for family-friendly pursuits. Get away with a group of friends or enjoy a romantic escape amid historic architecture and many art galleries.

The waterfront town will take your breath away, where every sight is picture-perfect against the backdrop of the jagged mountain fringe at the horizon. Its miles of beautiful beaches beckon for summertime lounging and waterside strolls to soak in the views under the sunshine. Sightsee the local wildlife of orcas from this tip of the peninsula jutting into the whale-rich waters and get more Instagram likes along the walkable downtown with an ornate historic collection. Its Victorian grandeur is an enchanting sight of exquisitely crafted gems from the 19th century that must be experienced in person.

While the dreary rain of Seattle may be the first to spring to mind, the PNW is blessed with perfect weather for all outdoor activities. Enjoy comfortable temperatures for summertime hikes and crisp air during the winter wonderland scenery. The landscapes do justice to the rain, with vineyards and orchards along the agriculturally rich land, which you can taste firsthand through wineries and colorful local markets. The small towns complement the wilderness with a friendly atmosphere and breezy feel on your daily perusals around historic architecture and delightful cultural sights.

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