Table of Contents
States Found In The Western US
According to the U.S. census, the Western US consists of 13 states encompassing the dry US southwest, the temperate rainforests of the northwest, Alaska to the north, and the Hawaiian Island to the west in the Pacific.
California, the largest western state, dominates the largest swath of the West Coast. To the north, Oregon and Washington make up the rest of the western coastline before Alaska to the northwest of Canada.
Beautiful Montana boasts incredible natural beauty as do Idaho and Wyoming just to the south. Utah and Denver are Gateways to the Rockies and the stunning deserts of New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada boast stunning oases and parks for travelers to explore. And out in the Pacific, sit the stunning Hawaiian islands.
The Best Places In The Western US For Travel
The western United States is filled with stories of adventure and discovery with stunning landscapes such as the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona, the high peaks of Colorado, and the California coast, all provoking wonder in travelers.
The long golden coast of California is always a popular destination for travelers from across the world. Southern San Diego and Los Angeles offer lovely weather and are home to a wonderful climate, beaches, and even Hollywood.
San Francisco, to the north, is home to the Golden Gate Bridge. California is also popular for skiing in the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
High Mountain Terrain of the West
The Pacific Northwest is full of lush temperate rainforests, high mountain terrain, high plains, and a stunning coastline that is full of life.
Oregon is home to the beautiful Mount Hood and scenic Portland famous for its lush green parks and vistas of high mountains. Washington is the home to Mount Rainer, the natural beauty of the Olympic Peninsula, the towering Cascades, the city of Seattle, and the life-filled Puget Sound.
Outdoor Adventures in the West
The stunning mountains and forests of Montana and the high mountains of Colorado and Idaho are popular with outdoorsy travelers. Outdoor adventurers also love exploring the scenic desert landscapes of Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico.
Locations like the Grand Canyon and cities like Las Vegas are always popular travel destinations while locations like Sedona have become sought-after.
Alaska is a frozen world to the north, but it does thaw out every summer and is a wondrous place to dive into nature. When it comes to Hawaii, most are already well aware of the stunning beauty and escape it offers to travelers.
West Coast: Climate And Geography
The climate of the West Coast might be the most varied of the US as it covered the largest percentage of the United States territory even if it contains the fewest states.
The Rocky, Sierra Nevada, Cascade, and Olympic mountains can all be found in the western US. The deserts and mountains of the southwest lead to varied climates like Nevada with its nearly endless deserts, but it also contains Lake Tahoe and the lush landscape that surrounds it.
Hawaii enjoys a subtropical climate and Alaska has its northern temperate and polar climates.
The Gold Coast
California enjoys a subtropical climate along its southern coast and a temperate climate with rather constant weather throughout the rest of the state. Here is the average weather recorded at LAX.
– 55 – 67 °F (April)
– 64 – 74 °F (July)
– 60 – 73 °F (October)
– 50 – 65 °F (Winter)
Pacific North West: Oregon And Washington
Containing Oregon and Washington State, the coastline of the Pacific North West enjoys frequent rainfall and the lush greenery of their temperate rain forests.
Washington and Oregon are also home to high planes that bridge the divide between the Cascades and the Rockies. Here is a look at the average temperatures recorded at Portland International Airport.
– 44 – 62 °F (April)
– 57 – 82 °F (July)
– 47 – 64 °F (October)
– 36 – 46 °F (January)
The Southwest: Nevada, Arizona, and New Mexico
The southwest of the United States is most known for its vast deserts with incredible terrain and scenic oases. Yet, there is always much life to be discovered in these biomes.
Here is a look at the average temperatures recorded at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport.
– 62 – 86 °F (April)
– 85 – 106 °F (July)
– 66 – 89 °F (October)
– 47 – 67 °F (January)
The Mountain States: Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, And Colorado
The Mountain States are home to some of the highest elevations in the US with cities like Denver with an elevation of 5,279 feet.
The climate of this region is famous for the snowfall that draws flocks of skiers to their mountains every year. Here is a look at the average temperatures for Denver International Airport.
– 36 – 62 °F (April)
– 61 – 88 °F (July)
– 38 – 65 °F (October)
– 21 – 43 °F (January)
Home to long cold winters and short cool summers, Alaska’s climate can be quite harsh for most of the year, but there are a few months each year when Alaska is excellent for visiting.
Here is a look at the average temperatures for Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport.
– 31 – 45 °F (April)
– 54 – 66 °F (July)
– 31 – 41 °F (October)
– 14 – 24 °F (January)
Thanks to a sub-tropic climate, being passed through by the Tropic of Cancer, Hawaii enjoys consistent weather all year. With the stunning beauty of the coastline of the islands, the aesthetic beauty of their volcanoes, and Oahu, the most popular Island for tourists with its famous Waikiki beach.
Here is a look at the average temperatures from Daniel K. Inouye International Airport.
– 70 – 82 °F (April)
– 75 – 87 °F (July)
– 74 – 86 °F (October)
– 67 – 80 °F (January)
The Mountains, Forests, and Deserts of the West Coast
The western US is home to the nation’s tallest mountains, vastest deserts, and tallest trees. Rocky Mountains divide the west from the rest of the US while the Sierra Nevada, Cascade, and Olympic mountains are closer to the coast.
The redwood trees of California stretch to the sky and the temperate rainforests of the northwest teem with life. The Sonoran Desert in the southwest is full of wondrous locations to discover such as the Chihuahuan and Mojave deserts.
The Grand Canyon is also found in this region and is one of the most sought-after natural wonders found in the US.
Lakes and Waterways of the West Coast
The western US is home to powerful rivers like the Colorado River that was able to carve the Grand Canyon. Large beautiful lakes such as Lake Tahoe and the Great Salt Lake.
Puget Sound in Washington State is the lifeblood of Seattle’s seafood industry and is an incredible destination to explore.
The Western US: Top Waterway Attractions
– California, Nevada
Great Salt Lake
Popular Wildlife of the Western US
Throughout the western US, mule deer, white-tailed antelope squirrels, cougars, American badgers, coyotes, hawks, and several species of snakes and lizards are commonly found.
Bald Eagles are found both in Alaska and on the California coast. Destinations like Yellowstone National Park are home to some of the most incredible collections of wildlife in the US.
The waterways of Puget Sound are home to orcas, sunflower sea stars, Dungeness crab, and so much more. The vast green forests of Montana are home to a great variety of animals including the massive grizzly bear as well as moose, bighorn sheep, and elk.
The Sonoran Desert is home to Gila monster, Anna’s hummingbird, cactus wren, and many other lovely creatures that call the desert home.
An image of a Cactus Wren at Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, North Kinney Road, Tucson
Massive marine animals migrate up and down the California coast and Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals, humpback whales, tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks and white-tip reef sharks all live off the shores of Hawaii.
The Western US Is The Most Known For
The Western US is known for many things. In many ways, it represents the wildest of the US, far from the old cities of the East Coast. The West is home to towering mountains, vast canyons, endless deserts, incredible forests, and an incredible array of beautiful wildlife.
California is home to popular cities like Los Angles and San Diego with long stretches of beaches that draw incredibly numerous crowds every year. Their popular nightlife is perhaps only matched by Las Vegas, Nevada. Some of the most popular cities for young travelers are found in the western US.
The coastline of California also includes national parks that protect the incredible habitats just off of the shore.
Beautiful view of Sedona Town, Arizona
The shores of Lake Tahoe draw crowds when the weather gets warm, but then the slopes draw them during the cold months. The Mountains of Colorado have some of the best skiing in the world.
Cities like Seattle played an important role in American music history while today it is still home to incredible seafood markets and walkable downtown if travelers don’t mind a couple of hills.
Oregon, Denver, and Tucson are also major tourist draws. While cities like Sedona have become spiritual destinations for some travelers.
Five Largest Cities in the Western US
– 4 Million
– 1.7 Million
– 1.5 Million
– 1 Million
– 900 Thousand
Famous Food From The West Coast
What makes the food of the West Coast unique from that of other parts of the US is its incredible availability of fresh seafood, influence from southern states and Mexico, as well as a strong Asian influence as many immigrants from Asia arrived first on the West Coast. The warm, predictable weather, of much of the West Coast, also lends itself to food trucks.
Southern food makes much more of an appearance in the cuisine of the western US than in the east. Even as far north as Seattle, biscuits-and-gravy as well as spots like Ezell’s Fried Chicken are quite common.
Mexican influence on the food of the western US is quite prevalent, especially in the southwest. Travelers will be able to enjoy many authentic Mexican dishes, as well as less authentic but still tasty Tex-Mex restaurants.
A delicious photo of Pho
Travelers looking for the best Asian food in the US will find it on the West Coast. Dishes like pho have long been adopted into West Coast cuisine while many East Coast Americans are only recently being introduced to it, and still struggling to say it right.
Asian restaurants are much more likely to be clearly defined by the nationality of their cuisine and less likely to be generically lumped together like Asian cuisine in other parts of the US.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is also found in the western US, and it is one of the most awe-inspiring natural locations in the entire US. Carved by the Colorado River, the canyon stretches 277 miles. It is a hiker’s and backpacker’s dream with many adventurers available to be discovered within it.
The Grand Canyon is also home to a lot of preserved Native American culture that can be experienced and appreciated by visitors.
Bucket-List Hikes, The Incredible Terrain of the West Coast
The varied terrain and vast elevation changes make the western US a bucket-list destination for many hikers and backpackers. Travelers will have the choice of a variety of mountain ranges and terrain to conquer.
Travelers can spend days exploring the Sonoran Desert, and many people travel from all over to hike through Montana. The mountains of Utah and Colorado are also found in the dreams of hikers. Hiking the Volcanoes of Hawaii and the frozen peaks of Alaska are quite the adventure too.
The coastline of California may be the most well-known and most visited part of the state, and this is all well deserved, it is called the gold coast for a reason. Its white sand beaches are perfect for relaxation.
However, they are not to be outmatched by the beaches of Hawaii that also draw crowds every year. The West Coast is also full of life with a great many protected regions where nature thrives.
Things To Do Out West
Travelers will find that the western US is full of amazing adventures. Outdoorsy travelers will love exploring the high mountains, deserts, and forests of the western US. Many parks in the area protect their wonderful environments while also welcoming travelers to come and explore nature.
Travelers looking for a bit more of a city experience will have plenty of fun on a night out in Las Vegas or on a stroll down the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, travelers will find numerous restaurants, venues, shops, and more all catering to them.
West Coast represents the last frontier of the US with it comes some of the largest and most sustained ecosystems and natural settings in the US.
A trip to the West Coast can contain exploration through museums detailing events like the Gold Rush, and natural places like Yosemite National Park, and the Grand Canyon. In the western US, travelers will find that the blur between the city and nature is far shorter than in other areas in the US.
Nicest Beaches On The West Coast
The nicest beach on the West Coast would be an interesting debate as there are many to choose from.
California is home to the longest coastline and the largest number of beaches. Long Beach might be the most famous, but Laguna Beach, Pfeiffer Beach, La Jolla Beach are among the most beautiful in California. Cannon Beach, Oregon is incredibly aesthetic and Washington’s Long Beach is a popular getaway.
Travelers venture to Hawaii from all over the world to enjoy their pristine beaches. With many of the resorts offering incredible access to the ocean, Hawaii is always at the top of the list of top beach getaways.
Even Alaska, though it may be too cold for swimming, is home to an incredible life-filled coastline that many venture to every year to experience the animals that live there.
Best Western US Hiking
Hikes of different varieties can be found all over the western US. Travelers looking to explore stunning red rock and desert terrain in search of oases and stunning vistas will love hiking through Arizona.
Travelers looking to discover incredible wildlife will love adventuring through Yellowstone in Wyoming where they can explore the incredible landscape and spot amazing wildlife that thrive in the park. The Rockies of Colorado offer high-mountain adventures for those daring enough to embark on them.
Alaska is might be the last true wilderness in the US, and Hawaii offers an incredible subtropical climate to explore.
Go Backpacking And Camping Out West
With an abundance of natural parks and stunning landscapes, travelers come from all over to backpack and camp in the western US. The southwest is a go-to spot for hikers looking for multiple-day adventures through the stunning desert terrain.
Camping in many of the western national parks is also a popular pastime. Many travelers take a page out of President Teddy Roosevelt’s playbook and disappear from the world in the woods of Yellowstone.
Travelers will find no shortage of backpacking and camping opportunities in the western US.
The Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is one of the most incredible wonders of the natural world with thousands coming to experience it every year. The Grand Canyon is 277 miles with a great deal to offer those looking to backpack through it.
There are multiple routes that are often used as well as guides that the travelers can work with to best experience the Canyon. This vast wonder of nature could honestly take a lifetime to fully explore, so backpackers will be sure to find a few ways to spend some time in the Grand Canyon.
National Parks in the West
The western US is home to some of the most famous and south after National Parks in the entire United States. Yellowstone National Park is perhaps the most famous park in the US, and it is mostly found in Wyoming but also stretches into parts of Montana and Idaho.
Yosemite National Park in California is another top park with incredibly famous vistas. California is also home to Redwood National Park with its towering trees reaching hundreds of feet into the air.
Denali National Park in Alaska is home to some of the most incredible protected wilderness in the world, and Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is an incredible place to witness how life thrives in a volcanic world.
The western US is home to a vast array of animals. Mule deer, white-tailed antelope squirrels, cougars, American badgers, coyotes, hawks, and several species of snakes and lizards are commonly found throughout the west.
Travelers can spot Bald Eagles in both Alaska and California. National Parks such as Yosemite and Yellowstone National Park are popular destinations for travelers looking to spot wildlife that can’t be seen anywhere else. The Puget Sound, next to Seattle, is home to orcas, sunflower sea stars, Dungeness crab, and more.
Montana is home to some of the largest and most interesting Fauna in the US. Travelers will be able to spot Gila monster, Anna’s hummingbird, cactus wren, and many other lovely creatures in the Sonoran Desert.
Massive marine animals migrate up and down the California coast and Pacific bottlenose dolphins, Hawaiian monk seals, humpback whales, tiger sharks, hammerhead sharks and white-tip reef sharks all live off the shores of Hawaii.
Sunny California is often the first state travelers think of when they think of the western US, and why wouldn’t they? The state literally has everything that travelers will love and enjoy.
With the longest coastline in the US, California boasts some of the most stunning beaches in the US. Southern Californian cities are popular getaways for both Americans and travelers from all over the world.
To the north, cities like San Francisco boast some of the cuisines in the west with immigrants from all over bringing their cuisine with them as the city’s growing tech industry recruits from across the globe.
Travelers looking for mountains will find them too, the Sierra Nevada range is full of wonderful destinations to explore. California really is one of the top go-to destinations in the US.
Located in the Bay Area near San Francisco, Berkeley is a classic blend of history, art, culture, and cuisine, and serves as a breeding ground for writers, artists, and musicians. Berkeley is the home to the prestigious UC Berkeley also known as Cal, and the inception place of activism during the Civil Right Era.
Berkeley provides a plethora of mind-soothing tourist hotspots including various cafés, bookstores, meet-up points, and lodging options making it a nice weekend getaway in the Bay Area.
Sacramento is a special place with all the things vacationers could be looking for in a major city, ranging from an international airport to beautiful restaurants and great neighborhoods. As the capital of California, it is more than a state political hub.
The state boasts an incredible nightlife scene, beautiful farmers’ markets, magnificent arts, and rich history all worthy of exploring. Sacramento is full of charm and has something for everyone.
Sacramento is the state capital of California and a storied metropolis boasting a rich history dating back to the California Gold Rush. Nestled at the intersection between the American and Sacramento Rivers, the city experiences sunny days throughout the year, making it a prime destination for tourists yearning for warm weather.
Sacramento is also endowed with multiple historical attractions that will take visitors down memory lane while leaving them in awe of more hip sites and hidden gems from this era.
But there is so much more that attracts visitors to Sacramento and the Greater Sacramento area.
The vast, sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles is the largest city in California. If that wasn’t big enough, the “City of Angels” even ranks as the second-largest city in the US, painting a clear picture of just how seriously big this place is.
What LA looked like before Hollywood shot this part of the country to global fame is an entirely different realm; the city and its surrounding regions have undergone a complete transformation into a substantial urban hub filled with a diversity of attractions, neighborhoods, activities, and people.
While Los Angeles is a place where dreams come true for many, it’s not everybody’s cup of tea. Some can’t get enough of the place; others can’t stand it. A lot of people — visitors and residents alike — claim it’s far too big and expensive, which does put many off from ever visiting.
However, those who know how to plan a trip to LA, where to go, what to do and see, and where to stay will find it’s a top destination in California for tourists — not just residents.
Anaheim is a bustling city in Orange County, Southern California, attracting visitors from different corners of the globe, thanks to its world-famous attractions. While it’s mainly recognized for Disneyland, there is more to this city.
The city boasts several shopping centers, cool neighborhoods, splendid weather, a range of entertainment opportunities, and incredible outdoor adventures.
There are plenty of restaurants, hotels & resorts, and parks to visit. Planning to go sightseeing in California? Anaheim is full of fun adventures that will have every traveler yearning for more.
Santa Barbara sits along California’s iconic Route 1 right on a stretch of iconic coastline. Every year, travelers flock to this incredible coastal town to enjoy its luxurious accommodations as well as its aesthetic coastline.
Santa Barbara is more than just home to hotels and lovely beaches. There are plenty of things for travelers to discover here.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a top weekend getaway destination with so much for visitors to enjoy. From a unique culinary scene to beautiful gardens to incredible shopping opportunities, this enchanting California coastal town has a lot of fun experiences.
Being one of the most walkable towns, a weekend trip is bound to be one of a kind.
Visitors will encounter several lavish homes and luxury hotels and resorts to match. Everyone will find something interesting in Carmel-by-the-Sea. It is full of pristine beaches, art galleries, a fantastic wine collection, and more.
With over 100 days of sunshine, San Diego is one of the most amazing cities to explore in the U.S. Famous for its pristine beaches, splendid weather, incredible craft brewery scene, and several opportunities for outdoorsy tourists, San Diego’s community is very active and full of friendly locals.
The city is one of the best places to have a taste of some of the tastiest seafood and Mexican dishes.
Whether going on a weekend getaway or planning to stick around for a few weeks, there is always something unique to experience every day.
Washington State is the most northwestern state, until Alaska, in the US. The State is home to towering mountains, high plains, lush temperate rainforests, and waterways teeming with sea life.
Seattle is the largest city in the state and sits sandwiched between Puget Sound and Lake Washington. With its multiple waterfronts, Seattle enjoys incredible access to the surrounding waterways and is a popular hub for ferrying to other parts of the Pacific Northwest.
High mountain sky areas, such as Crystal Mountain, draw skiers and borders, while miles of hiking trails through the Olympic and Cascade mountains are a hiker’s dream. Even from the center of Seattle, nature is never too far away in Washington State.
When the sun starts to set into Puget Sound, Seattle’s skyline turns to its most beautiful shadows. Before darkness falls on the city and the Space Needle’s stunning shape can be seen, the harbor takes on the hues of sunset and the glass office towers become blindingly light.
The current coffee obsession began in Seattle, a cosmopolitan city with a thriving commercial port. Seattle’s cultural scene is blossoming today, and outdoor activities remain an essential element of city life. The metropolis is a blend of urban hip, runners, and martinis.
While there is always a patch of grass nearby due to the abundance of downtown parks, Seattle’s famed rainstorms can keep tourists indoors instead of visiting the city’s many fun and informative activities.
When most travelers think about Nevada, their first thoughts usually jump to Las Vegas and perhaps deserts, as Nevada has quite a bit of desert.
The Desert landscape that covers much of Nevada is not without incredible destinations to explore. Many of the parks that preserve the wilderness of Nevada are full of life and are incredible destinations to explore. Nevada also shares Lake Tahoe with California and is home to some of the lake’s most stunning coastline.
Cities like Las Vegas draw thousands every year, and smaller cities like Reno, the biggest little city in the world, are also incredible tourist draws. Nevada is one of the most sought-after destinations in the US.
It might be challenging to figure out where to begin when it comes to organizing a vacation in America because there is so much to discover in this enormous country. However, there aren’t many places that attract friends, families, and solo travelers alike.
Henderson, the second-largest and among the many beautiful cities in Nevada, is one such location.
There is practically endless amusement wherever visitors turn. Lake Mead, Hoover Dam, and its own thriving art, culture, leisure, shopping, and food scenes are all easily accessible from here. There is so much to do and explore in the city.
Reno is not only a popular destination for travelers looking to immerse themselves in the city’s casinos and nightlife, but it is also a great destination for exploring nature. Reno sits in proximity to some incredible natural sights such as Lake Tahoe.
Travelers looking to visit Reno may be looking for a little insight into the city and what they should expect, especially if they’ve ever traveled to Las Vegas. But Reno is one of the most popular destinations in the US, there is a lot to sort through.
Las Vegas is the gambling and vice capital of the United States, and it has an interesting history. There is plenty to see and do in this city (and plenty to know about visiting in advance).
Las Vegas is nicknamed “Sin City” for good reason and its catchphrase “What Happens In Vegas, Stays In Vegas” epitomizes what Vegas is all about (or at least how it markets itself), although it has changed over the years.
Vegas is also one of those destinations that can be very affordable — and even family-friendly — or as expensive as one can imagine. It all comes down to what visitors want to do, what their expectations are when they go, and how well they plan.
Home to the Grand Canyon, incredible red-stone formations, happening cities like Phoenix and Tucson, and spiritual retreats like Sedona. Those that dwell in the northern US have a tendency to flock south to the state during the winter to enjoy the incredible weather and consistent climate that Arizona offers.
Outdoorsy adventures always find something to do in the state with the miles of trails available to explore and inspiring destinations that will take travelers’ breaths away. A trip to Arizona is one traveler will remember forever.
Thinking about visiting Phoenix? The Valley of the Sun is one of the most iconic travel destinations in the Southwest region of the United States, and a must-visit spot in Arizona. Brimming with beautiful culture, stunning mountains, and spectacular sandy deserts with many things to see, including gorgeous desert animals.
The city boasts luxury resorts, cultural and historical attractions, an incredible dining scene, and endless opportunities for outdoorsy travelers. Phoenix has everything one would need to have an unforgettable vacation experience, no matter their interests and age.
The Hawaiian Islands sit 2,400 miles off the west coast of the continental US. Comprised of 137 islands in total, covering 6,423 square feet, Hawaii is arguably the most aesthetic location in any part of the US. Once described by Mark Twain as, “the loveliest fleet of islands that lies anchored in any ocean.”
Hawaii is a draw that attracts far more than Americans. Many come from across the globe to enjoy the pristine shores, stunning volcanoes, and happening metropolitan areas of Hawaii.
Located on Oahu’s south shore, Honolulu is the capital of Hawaii and arguably the busiest city in the state.
Many of the most famous images of Hawaii come from this tourist hot spot, which is known for its famous crescent beach that gives way to palm trees and high-rise hotels (and a slight view of the Diamond Head crater).
It’s not hard to see why many people flock to Honolulu when they visit Hawaii. But given that it’s such a bustling city, there’s a lot tourists should consider and know before making the trip.
It can be an expensive city, but it’s possible to see Honolulu on a budget with a bit of preparation.