Small stores along the sidewalk in Carmel, California, USA. Editorial Credit: Robert Mullan /

9 Picture-Perfect Towns on the Pacific Coast

The Pacific Coast is home to some of the finest towns in the United States. Laid by the coastline of the Pacific Ocean, these towns are picture-perfect and are worthy of being used for the front cover of travel magazines. Despite being named differently, these towns all share one thing in common, and that’s their endless stretches of soft white sand beaches overlapping the azure waters of the ocean. Some of these beaches are further beautified by backdrops of rocky shores and mountains. From the postcard-perfect and colorful houses in Capitola to the magnificent Haystack Rock on Cannon Beach, beauty is abundant in these towns on the Pacific Coast, which makes them great destinations worth visiting all year round. 

Carmel-by-the-sea, California

Homes in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Editorial credit: EQRoy /
Homes in Carmel-by-the-Sea. Editorial credit: EQRoy /

Carmel-by-the-sea is a small, unsung town in California that would shock first-time visitors. This town is simply jaw-dropping, and once here, it's difficult to take enough pictures. For starters, the town is on the Monterey Peninsula, giving its location a unique photogenic beauty. Also, the town is uniquely arranged to preserve its pristine beauty, with all houses surrounded by trees. Visitors can walk along the Scenic Road Drive to drink in views of its gorgeous coastlines as the charming waters of the Pacific Ocean sweep sands further into the shores. Alternatively, relax by the scenic beach or visit any of the marine protected areas like Point Lobos and Carmel Bay, where the marine allure of the town is unspoiled. 

Bandon, Oregon

Bandon Historic District, Bandon, Oregon. Image Credit: Visitor7 via Wikimedia Commons
Bandon Historic District, Bandon, Oregon. Image Credit: Visitor7 via Wikimedia Commons

The quaint town of Bandon in Oregon sits at the mouth of the Coquille River and gives visitors a front-row seat to observe nature in its picturesque, untainted form. Here, visitors can begin their adventure at the Face Rock State Overlook, which is a state park on its own, offering stunning views of offshore rocky islands, one of which even looks like a human face. Another scenic point to soak in the beautiful nature in this town is the Coquille River Lighthouse, where the waters glisten in deep blue and make a postcard-perfect view. Bullard's Beach State Park is yet another, with sandy, gorgeous shores where you can watch the sunset. The park also boasts a jetty, where storm-watching and sightseeing are epic experiences. East of the park is the iconic vertical-lift Bullard Bridge that crosses the Coquille River - a beauty to behold. 

Cayucos, California

Scenic view of Ocean Avenue in downtown Cayucos.
Scenic view of Ocean Avenue in downtown Cayucos.

Cayucos is a coastal town in the Pacific Ocean that’s remarkable for its captivating and unspoiled natural beauty. The town is so remarkable that it flaunts the slogan "A Slice of Paradise." The town's most prized natural jewel is the Cayucos State Beach Park, where sunset views are gorgeous, and miles of sandy beaches are seductive. Visitors can spend time at the Cayucos Pier, one of the best in the country while admiring the aquamarine waters and waves that make the beach a surfer's paradise. The natural beauty is further amplified by the background of mountains, including surrounding headlands and bluffs. Harmony Headland State Park is a fascinating headland to see. Here, visitors can hike a 1.5-mile trail to indulge in the visual pleasures of the Pacific Ocean. 

Cannon Beach, Oregon

Crescent Beach at Ecola State Park, Oregon.
Crescent Beach at Ecola State Park, Oregon. 

Cannon Beach in Oregon is a postcard-perfect town by the Pacific Coast with natural shoreline views that are entrancing. The town is so beautiful that National Geographic named it one of the world's most beautiful places in 2013. A remarkable feature of Cannon Beach that makes it even more scenic is the Haystack Rock, which is a large rocky outcrop on the coast at 235 feet. But the views get even better with two other rocky formations known as Needles, which can be seen jutting from the water into the sky. The Needles are situated near Haystack Rock and are accessible at low tide for visitors who would love to take pictures and flaunt on Instagram. Aside from the rocky formations, Cannon Beach itself is charming, with lush green vegetation on its shores, complementing the white sands. 

Newport, Oregon

Fishing fleet in Yaquina bay harbor marina in Newport, Oregon, via steve estvanik /
Fishing fleet in Yaquina Bay Harbor Marina in Newport, Oregon, via Steve Estvanik /

Think of a scenic and serene beach town nestled on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, and Newport comes to mind. Charming blue waters, sailboats and vessels, a lush green background behind the shores, and a magnificent bridge are some of the elements that define the scenery of this town on the Pacific. In addition to the scenery, the town is also home to attractions like Agate Beach State Recreational Site, where a tunnel beneath a highway leads to a picturesque beach. Newport also hosts Nye Beach by a seaside cliff and a headland known as Yaquina Head, overlooking the ocean with its 93-foot Lighthouse - the tallest in Oregon. Meanwhile, the Yaquina Bay Arch Bridge sits pretty on the southern end of the town on Yaquina Bay, waiting to be photographed. 

Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend Boat Haven Marina. Editorial credit: Cascade Creatives /
Port Townsend Boat Haven Marina. Editorial credit: Cascade Creatives /

Port Townsend is a former army base in Washington perched on the northeastern tip of the Quimper Peninsula, which is a headland that stretches to the shores of the Pacific Ocean. This scenic town is further defined by magnificent beaches and sparkling waters, while the imposing frames of the Olympic and Cascade Mountains combine to make it more picturesque. Visitors are welcome to walk around this enchanting town to capture its beauty either at the beachy shores or further inland, where the scenery is green with a myriad of trees, most notably Douglas fir. Alternatively, there are three state parks adjacent to Port Townsend - Fort Worden, Fort Flagler, and Fort Casey- which are also beautiful and full of things to see and do.  

Capitola, California

Colorful residential neighborhood Capitola Venetian Court in California coast.
Colorful residential neighborhood Capitola Venetian Court on the California coast. 

Capitola is a beautiful bay town where colorful buildings, seaside cliffs, turquoise-blue waters, and miles of sandy beaches harmonize to form a postcard-picture beauty. Visitors here can stroll between imposing cliffs to access some of the town's best beaches, like New Brighton Beach and Capitola Beach, where ocean views are scenic and unbelievable. The small community is also at the tip of Soquel Creek, with waterfront houses and restaurants dotting the shores. Meanwhile, the town's photogenic pier is not for the camera alone but a base to enjoy the visual pleasures of stunning, colorful houses on slopes overlooking the charming waters.

Mendocino, California

Mendocino Headlands vista on a sunny spring afternoon.
Mendocino Headland's vista on a sunny spring afternoon. 

Mendocino is a small town of just 700 people that punches above its weight when it comes to natural beauty. This picturesque community sits on Cape Mendocino, overlooking the Pacific Ocean, while the emerald waters form waves that clash on the rocky shores below the cape. This position alone presents spellbinding views, yet there's more. Visitors can savor more charming beauty at the Mendocino Headlands State Park, consisting of more rocky headlands running into the Pacific Ocean. The park is also home to Big River and Portuguese Beaches, where one can relax and admire nature. In addition, there is a larger beach around the banks of Big River that stretches for eight miles, including other small coves that can be reached by boat for more sightseeing. 

Florence, Oregon

Florence, Oregon.
Florence, Oregon.

Florence is a postcard-perfect beauty and home to the largest coastal sand dunes in North America. The sand dunes, under the Oregon Dunes National Recreational Area, stretch 40 miles from the Coos River in North Bend to Florence. Visitors can explore the dunes by foot to relish the abundant photogenic scenes, which include stunning beaches. Florence is also by the mouth of the Siuslaw River on the Pacific Ocean, which is a breathtaking destination where you can catch the sunset behind its bridge. Find more picture-postcard beauty at Heceta Head Lighthouse on a cliff known as Devil's Elbow, while small rocky outcrops from the charming blue ocean form the base. It's the perfect location for nature lovers to capture scenic natural beauty and take memorable pictures. 

The Pacific Coast is lavish, with beautiful small towns, that are scattered across Washington, Oregon, and California. These towns pride themselves in the natural glory of gorgeous coastlines and beaches. However, some are further blessed with landmarks like mountains and rocky formations, while some go the extra mile into afforestation to sustain the beauty of their landscapes. Regardless of their uniqueness, one is certain to be spoiled by endless, mesmerizing views of natural surroundings. The views are photo-worthy, and visiting these towns without a camera could be considered a disservice to any visitor. 

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