The charming town of Leavenworth, Washington. Editorial credit: Kirk Fisher /

8 Of The Most Walkable Towns In The Pacific Northwest

You do not have to be always driving to your vacation destination, worrying about parking spaces, speed limits, or cops. Sometimes, one just wants to leave the car behind, amble through beautiful main streets, and access most travel-worthy sites by foot. Moreover, there is no better way to really know a place than by strolling down cobblestoned streets and popping (on a whim) into restaurants, art galleries, museums, and fancy boutiques. If this sounds worth trying, the following are 8 of the most walkable towns in the Pacific Northwest.

Astoria, Oregon

Historic Bank in Astoria Oregon
Historic Bank in Astoria, Oregon.

First-time visitors enjoy strolling through Astoria’s old Victorian-style houses, sampling its excellent breweries, and foraging through its delightful array of inviting restaurants. Astoria Brewing Company serves delicious draft root beer, while Bridgewater Bistro, with seats overlooking the Columbia River, is known for its sterling service and heavenly meals. Astoria has spacious sidewalks — and boasts a Walk Score of 86 out of 100. The Maritime Museum houses one of the country's finest displays of shipwrecks while the Hanthorn Cannery, a feature of the town since 1875, is the oldest cannery pier on the entire Columbia River.

Moscow, Idaho

Moscow, Idaho
The University of Idaho campus in Moscow, Idaho. Editorial credit: Charles Knowles /

Moscow’s streets are pedestrian-friendly and sidetracked with beautiful trees, making it one of the most walkable towns in the Pacific Northwest. It is arguably the most walkable town in Idaho. Moscow was originally named "Hog Heaven," and today, one can remove “Hog” and have an idea of what to expect. Tucked away on Paradise Creek, just north of Lewiston, Moscow is home to the University of Idaho, the state’s primary research university. This town is not just walkable: Downtown Moscow features almost 50 public bike racks, and many of the streets are hemmed with bike lanes. Grab a meal at the aptly named Nectar Restaurant, a Moscow culinary highlight known for exquisite cocktails and other delicious offerings. Pass some time at the Arboretum & Botanical Garden, where you will enjoy mingling with ducks, squirrels, and geese. The scenic Paradise Path winds through the university campus, downtown Moscow, and several local parks — and must be squeezed into an itinerary.

Leavenworth, Washington

Christmas time in Leavenworth, Washington
Christmas time in Leavenworth, Washington. Editorial credit: Puriwat W /

Leavenworth is a storybook town that any artist will enjoy painting. The unobstructed view of the hills that frame the town adds a layer of charm that any first-time visitor will find endearing. The town sits close to the Wenatchee River and features both the rolling steppe of eastern Washington and the fir forests of the craggy Cascades. The town’s Waterfront Park is a tranquil place to inhale tasty views and is famous for its picturesque walking and biking trails. The lovely, rustic charm of Bavarian Lodge makes it a nice place to spend the night, especially after riding the Alpine Coaster at the Leavenworth Adventure Park. Alternatively, the Icicle River RV Resort, located on 50 acres in some of the most beautiful scenery in the West, can be an ideal place for wildlife viewing, afternoon strolls (there are nice paths along the creek), and water-themed fun.

Friday Harbor, Washington

The beautiful waterfront area of Friday Harbor, Washington
The beautiful waterfront area of Friday Harbor, Washington. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Leave your car behind when visiting Friday Harbor, the major commercial center of the San Juan Islands archipelago. The eye-catching architecture here is old and grand and defines a downtown area that is scenic and walkable. One can treasure-hunt on Spring Street, watch the sunset at Shark Reef, sip delicious wine on a sunny patio at the San Juan Vineyards, or listen to the songs of different whales at the one-of-a-kind Whale Museum, which styles itself as the first museum in the United States devoted to a species living in the wild. Finally, the San Juan Islands National Monument, with its scenic hikes and foliage, is known to sweep first-time visitors off their feet and must not be skipped, however much one is pressed for time.

Ashland Oregon

Ashland, Oregon
A beautiful walking path in Ashland, Oregon. Editorial credit: Christopher babcock /

“Charming” is just how to describe Ashland, a buzzy town of about 21,000 residents that features a lovely downtown and an adjacent 93-acre park that follows the scenic Ashland Creek. While there are some steep hills in certain parts of town, Ashland is walkable, elegant, and unbelievably rustic. The Cascades join the Siskiyou Mountains just south of town and serve visitors a delicious plate of outdoor fun and adventure. Lithia Park features a beautiful Japanese garden, two duck ponds, a formal rose garden, groves of sycamore trees, and several quiet and secluded spots. North Mountain Park, with its well-maintained gardens, labeled plant life, creek, and trail, is the perfect place to spend a slow afternoon. Get ice cream from Mix, a buzzing nook for delicate pastries — and explore spots such as the Southern Oregon University campus, Ashland's Historic Railroad District, and the area around the nearby Emigrant Lake.

Yachats, Oregon

Heceta Head Light near Yachats, Oregon.
Heceta Head Light near Yachats, Oregon.

Yachats is a dainty town on the Central Oregon Coast known to be among the most walkable small towns in the Pacific Northwest. With eye-catching sites such as the Heceta Head Lighthouse, one of the most beautiful lighthouses in the United States — and arguably the most photographed — Yatchats is deservedly called the "Gem of the Oregon Coast." Just south of Yatchats is Devil's Churn, one of the Northwest's most stunning natural wonders. Cute, ocean-facing shops line the downtown area — while art pours out from many spots, including the Earthworks Gallery, which boasts an outstanding variety of artwork all beautifully displayed. To take the edge off of any day, spend some minutes at Topper’s Ice Cream, especially if the day is hot and balmy.

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Cannon Beach, Oregon
Cannon Beach, Oregon.

Known for its crystal-perfect sand, Cannon Beach is among Oregon’s most underrated towns. First-time visitors love milling around the iconic 235-foot-tall Haystack Rock, one of the tallest intertidal structures in the world. One will enjoy seeing puffins diving for fish here, some elk on the hillside leading down to the water, and making good use of numerous photo-ops. The town itself is swoon-worthy and filled with numerous pleasure spots. For example, one will enjoy a long stroll on the beach, willingly spend a whole day at Ecola State Park, and savor a warm drink at Sleepy Monk, which serves what could be the best Latte on the coast.

Port Townsend, Washington

Downtown Port Townsend, Washington
Downtown Port Townsend, Washington. Editorial credit: 365 Focus Photography /

Rounding off this list is the picture-perfect town of Port Townsend, also fondly called the “city of dreams.” Once arguably the largest harbor on the United States' West Coast, Port Townsend today features one of Washington's best-known National Historic Landmark Districts and is in Budget Travel’s Coolest Small Towns To Visit for 2023, the only town in the Pacific Northwest to make the cut. Spend the night at the Palace Hotel, an iconic 3-story gem built in 1889. Pizzas at the Waterfront are incredibly delicious, whether one considers the texture of the crust, the tangy sauce, the perfect amount of cheese, or even the homey, laid-back ambiance. After a filling meal, pass the time at the beach before crowning the day with some stand-out dinner at the Khu Larb, a lovely Thai restaurant known for finger-licking delicacies.

The Takeaway

However much a town is beautiful, it loses a piece of its soul if it is not walkable. As a vacationer, a walkable town comes with numerous advantages. First, it is always cheap to explore a town on foot. Save that cash for a snug cottage, a rustic cabin, or a pampered stay. Then again, walking is the best way to discover a place. There is the chance to stumble across areas of the city that are not intended for tourists. Those who want to experience this kind of adventure in the Pacific Northwest should check out towns such as Astoria, Oregon; Moscow, Idaho; and Port Townsend, Washington.

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