Colorful residential neighborhood, Capitola Venetian Court, along the California coast.

The Most Picturesque Small Towns in Pacific Coast

A geographic area full of stunning vistas and wide-ranging panoramas, the Pacific Coast of the United States is truly one of the most spectacular destinations in the country. With plenty of cool breezes, sunny rays, charming communities, and fascinating histories, the towns in this part of America are awesome places to spend a holiday, ideal for all ages of travelers. So come and experience the beautiful Pacific Coast across an exploration of some of its most welcoming and picturesque towns. Here, the best of natural and cultural allure come together, ready to create a very special set of holiday memories that will surely not be forgotten any time soon.

Capitola, California

Sunset vibrancy in Capitola Village, Santa Cruz County, California, USA.
Sunset vibrancy in Capitola Village, Santa Cruz County, California, USA.

Capitola is California’s oldest seaside resort town, tracing its modern history to the 1850s. Today, this Santa Cruz County town is home to nearly 10,000 inhabitants and is beautifully situated on the shores of Monterey Bay. Attracting thousands of visitors each year, Capitola has a beautiful array of splendid beaches, charming shops, restaurants, and intriguing historic landmarks. And with its comfortable weather in summer and winter, there is really never a poor time to visit this great town. Visit the Riverview Historic District and admire its assortment of Spanish style buildings, while the colorful homes in the Venetian Court neighborhood make for some incredible photo opportunities. One can even rent a summer home here! Finally, at the tranquil and scenic Soquel Creek, a quiet and reflective outing while admiring the blue waters of the Pacific Ocean makes Capitola an ideal place for those who want to escape the big city life. Go fishing, swimming, or sailing, from the pier and simply enjoy a most relaxing and pleasing vacation in this underappreciated jewel of California.

Port Townsend, Washington

Port Townsend, Washington, USA: The Washington State ferry Kennewick steams out of Port Townsend past Main Street Plaza, where people enjoy the sunny day.
Port Townsend, Washington, USA: Main Street Plaza. Editorial credit: Gareth Janzen /

Port Townsend was first chartered way back in the 1790s, and today, it is home to a population of just over 10,000 residents. The seat of Jefferson County, this stunning Olympic Peninsula harbor town, is one of Washington State’s most beautiful communities. Visiting the intriguing waterfront Historic District, where an assortment of preserved 19th-century landmarks continue to fascinate the public. From St. Paul’s Episcopal Church (1865) to the Bartlett House (1883), these and others listed on the National Register of Historic Places bring guests back in time to the critical formative years of this region of the country. And do not forget about the Fort Worden Historic State Park, where the story of the American military is recounted in a stunning 432-acre preserve. Add in cool coastal breezes, beautiful views of the Cascade Mountains, and, of course, plenty of ocean vistas, and the charm of Port Townsend is challenging to deny.

Astoria, Oregon

Astoria, Oregon, USA: Liberty Theatre in downtown, a city landmark.
Astoria, Oregon, USA: Liberty Theatre in downtown, a city landmark. Editorial credit: BZ Travel /

The seat of Clatsop County, Astoria, is the oldest non-indigenous settlement in Oregon, with a history dating back to 1811. Home to a moderate population of just over 10,000 residents, this beautiful Pacific Coast town never disappoints with its truly splendid natural and cultural allure. Take in some truly exquisite panoramas of not only the Pacific Ocean but of the Columbia River, where opportunities to go sailing, swimming, and fishing attract both the casual and ardent outdoor adventurists. Meanwhile, Astoria’s historical character is on full display in its historic district, and one can explore such landmarks as the Captain George Flavel House (1885) and the John Jacob Astor Hotel (1923), amongst others listed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks. From there, why not visit the 125-foot-tall Astoria Column or spend an afternoon at the informative Columbia River Maritime Museum?

Finally, visiting Astoria would not be complete without hopping on to the Astoria Riverfront Trolley. Take a voyage back in time and ride through town on a restored turn of the 20th-century trolley car, where beautiful vistas galore enrich the holiday of visitors of all ages.

Sequim, Washington

Sequim, Washington, USA: Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center.
Sequim, WA, USA: Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center. Editorial credit: CL Shebley /

Known as the sunniest place in all of Washington State, the town of Sequim receives an average of only 400 mm of rain annually! Indeed, with its low levels of rainfall and its comfortably warm and cool year-round temperatures, Sequim is a great place to enjoy the outdoors. Located along the Dungeness River and at the base of the Olympic Mountains, Sequim is home to a modest population of just over 8,000 inhabitants. It is here that residents and tourists alike can enjoy a charming harbor community, complete with splendid beach areas and, of course, breathtaking water vistas. Spend an afternoon at the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge admiring a wide range of birds and mammals, while even just a stroll through the downtown and its assortment of restaurants, cafes, and other shops make for a pleasant outing.

And if visiting in the summertime, one cannot miss out on the truly beautiful sight of Sequim’s lavender farms. Do not forget about the Lavender Week Festival in July, where these aromatic flowers make for a fragrant and visually delightful experience for all.

Morro Bay, California

Morro Bay, California, USA: Downtown cityscape.
Morro Bay, California, USA: Downtown cityscape. Editorial credit: ByDroneVideos /

Located along California’s Central Coast, the harbor town of Morro Bay is a delightfully charming community where seaside vistas and historic allure meet. Formally established in the 1870s and now home to just under 11,000 residents, Morro Bay is well known in the area for the imposing Morro Rock, which juts out from the shoreline at a height of 576 feet. With plenty of stunning beaches and long stretches of coastline, visitors will never find a shortage of opportunities to go sailing, fishing, swimming, surfing, tanning, and even bird watching in this most relaxing California gem. Meanwhile, when not enjoying the natural scenery, Morro Bay’s cultural views also leave an impression. Browse through a nice assortment of local restaurants, shops, and galleries in a cozy and sunny ambiance. Finally, be sure to visit the nearby Hearst Castle, just a short 30-minute drive away, a Spanish-style mansion that was built in the early 20th century.

Port Angeles, Washington

View of Port Angeles City Pier.
View of Port Angeles City Pier.

Named by Spanish explorers in 1791, the beautiful harbor town of Port Angeles was settled later and has grown into a stunning harbor town on the Pacific Coast. The seat of Clallam County, the town is scenically framed by the majestic Olympic Mountains, and it remains a great place to fully immerse oneself in the outdoors. Enjoy such activities as swimming, sailing, and fishing, while scenic car rides and hikes of the Olympic Peninsula and coastline mean there is never a shortage of breathtaking photos to be taken. And with its pleasant temperatures year-round, exploring Port Angeles is really delightful no matter what the season. Amongst the other natural landmarks to admire here include the Strait of Juan de Fuca (near the province of British Columbia in Canada) and the Hurricane Ridge at the nearby Olympic National Park.

Bandon, Oregon

Bandon, Oregon: Main downtown street.
Bandon, Oregon: Main downtown street. Editorial credit: Bob Pool /

The town of Bandon is scenically situated on the banks of the Coquille River, which leads to the Pacific Ocean. Founded by Irish settlers in the 1870s, this delightful community of just over 3,000 inhabitants is known for its cool climate, and guests can enjoy a scenic holiday experience full of photographic hotspots. Indeed, from sandy beach areas, rocky cliffs, and calming river bank walks, Bandon is never short of exquisite panoramas. Explore such natural and cultural landmarks as the Bandon Dunes Resort, the Coquille River Lighthouse (1896), and Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge, or enjoy a day in the inviting downtown and historic district. Here a cute assortment of local shops, diners, and other businesses create a most lovely ambience, while several popular annual festivals delight all ages. These include the September Cranberry Festival, which lovingly celebrates this sweet fruit and its many tasty products.

Coupeville, Washington

Coupeville, Washington State: View from the old wooden pier over Penn Cove.
Coupeville, Washington State: View from the old wooden pier over Penn Cove.

Coupeville is stunningly located on Whidbey Island on the shores of Penn Cove, where a modest population of under 2,000 inhabitants call home. Established in the 1850s, this seat of Island County is a true scenic delight, where nature and fascinating history come together. An excellent spot for a weekend getaway, Coupeville’s charming historic waterfront district is a fun place to spend an afternoon where a fine range of restored 19th-century landmarks continue to dot the landscape. With a welcoming collection of local eateries and shops along the harbor shores, Coupeville truly gives off the feeling of Anytown, USA, with a most special Pacific Ocean setting. From there, visit the majestic State Parks of Fort Ebey and Fort Casey for a true immersion in raw and tranquil nature. Finally, with Coupeville’s cool climate and cute beach areas this most quaint Washington State town reminds all of why sometimes the small places have the biggest attraction of all.

Explore the Pacific Coast's Hidden Gems

From Washington State to the “Golden State” of California, America’s Pacific Coast is a veritable wonder full of natural splendor and cultural intrigue. Indeed, whether it is a cool harbor town or a sunny beach community, the welcoming and stunning towns located along the Pacific Coast are the perfect places to enjoy a holiday, no matter what age. So hit the road and come to the USA’s West Coast and the unique allure that is the Pacific Ocean. Here, charming settings, fascinating history, and loads of small-town charm await all looking for a most photographic vacation!

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