Best things to do in San Francisco
Explore the bustling Fishermans Wharf with authentic seafood restaurants, a resident seal colony, fun attractions at Pier 39, and beautiful shops and restaurants at historic Ghirardelli Square.
Take a famous San Francisco Cable Car. Navigate the twists and turns of famous Lombard Street on Russian Hill. Drive to Alamo Square for an iconic photo at the Painted Ladies, or visit some of San Francisco's most walkable neighborhoods at North Beach or China Town for a delicious meal. Take the cable car shop to Union Square for some of San Francisco's best shopping.
Enjoy breathtaking views from the Presidio. Experience breathtaking vistas of San Francisco's Bay from the Golden Gate Bridge Welcome Center. Visit the Walt Disney Family Museum, have lunch at the historic Presidio Officers Club, and stop by the Presidio Visitors Center for more exhibits.
Visit Golden Gate Park for incredible museums, galleries and gardens. See gorgeous gardens like the San Francisco Botanical Garden and the Japanese Tea Garden, and fine art at the De Young Museum. Climb to the top of Hamon Tower for glorious views of the Golden Gate Park. Kids will love the California Academy of Sciences with an aquarium and indoor rainforest.
Explore attractions at dramatic Lands End like the Sutro Baths ruins and Lands End Visitor Center. Walk along windswept cliffs at the Lands End Trail, and see a magnificent art collection at the Legion of Honor.
Find San Francisco's best beaches. Visit dramatic coastline at Baker Beach or China Beach, or stroll along the sandy beach at Crissy Field, all the way to Fort Point beneath the Golden Gate Bridge. Stop at the Warming Hut Cafe for refreshments and gifts. Tour the inside of Fort Point and enjoy incredible views from its rooftop.
Take a ferry ride to Alcatraz Island and tour the eerie buildings of this haunted penitentiary. Book another ferry ride to the charming town of Sausalito for a waterfront lunch and some shopping. Take a shuttle from Sausalito to Muir Woods, and walk through an ancient stand of coastal redwoods.
Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge to the breathtaking Marin Headlands. See the Point Bonita Lighthouse, explore spectacular coastal baths and military fortifications, and tour a Cold War era missile base. Explore a charming 19th century army base at Fort Baker with historic buildings, a restaurant and children's museum.
2. San Diego
San Diego is a relaxed beachtown in the Western United States. It has beautiful beaches, great cultural attractions, and bustling restaurant areas. Find the best things to do in San Diego.
Best things to do in San Diego
See the spectacular coastline at La Jolla, with enchanting coves and sandy beaches. Go snorkeling at popular La Jolla Cove, plan a beach day at La Jolla Shores, or take your kids to the Children's Pool Beach protected by a breakwater. Visit the Birch Aquarium with soaring ocean views, and enjoy a meal at La Jolla's charming village.
Visit charming Coronado, with glorious white sand beaches, shop and restaurants along Orange Avenue, and a famous hotel once graced by Old Hollywood celebrities and royalty.
Find San Diego's best beaches. Mission Beach has a vintage amusement park with a historic roller-coaster and kid train, and a popular oceanfront path. Laid-back Pacific Beach is just north of Mission Beach and has a pier with cottage rentals. Ocean Beach is north of Mission Bay and has a wonderful pier for strolling.
See San Diego's incredible Balboa Park. There's so much to do here, including 17 museums, gorgeous gardens, and the famous San Diego Zoo. The Spanish-renaissance buildings and lush landscaping at Balboa Park are exquisite. Visit free attractions like the Timken Museum of Art, Museum of Photographic Arts, and Botanic Building. Kids will love the Fleet Science Center. Other popular attractions include the San Diego Museum of Art, Air and Space Museum, and Auto Museum. Climb to the top of the California Tower for soaring views over San Diego in one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States.
Enjoy panoramic coastal views of San Diego at the Cabrillo National Monument. Take a bluff-top walk to the Whale Overlook to see migrating whales, explore a coastal trail that wraps around the headland past old military fortifications, or walk down to the enchanting tide pools. Learn about the history of this area at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, and the Visitor Center for the Cabrillo National Monument.
Explore San Diego's bustling waterfront. Tour a WWII aircraft carrier at the USS Midway Museum, or take a photo at the iconic Embracing Peace Statue. The nearby San Diego Maritime Museum also has a flotilla of historic ships, just across the road from a fabulous playground and splash pool for kids. The San Diego Children's Museum is a few blocks back from the waterfront.
Visit amazing Seaworld San Diego in a lush, garden setting, with fascinating animal exhibits, thrilling roller-coaster rides, and a Sesame Street themed play area for little kids. Catch a sea lion, orca or dolphin show at Seaworld San Diego.
Find the best restaurant areas in San Diego. Top of your list should be Little Italy, with the lovely Piazza Della Famiglia reminiscent of a square in Europe. Seaport Village has an vibrant, waterfront setting in a Spanish-style village. San Diego Old Town is the historic heart of San Diego, with traditional dancers, adobes, shops and restaurants. The new Liberty Station is an old naval station converted to trendy shops and restaurants. It's so close to the airport so you can experience the thrill of low flying planes. Finally, the historic Gas Lamp Quarter near downtown San Diego is the place to go for incredible nightlife and restaurants.
3. Los Angeles
The exciting city of Los Angeles is the entertainment capital of the world. It has golden beaches, a beautiful climate, great shopping and restaurants, and a thriving museum and gallery scene. This is one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States. Find the best things to do in Los Angeles.
Best things to do in Los Angeles
Start your exploration of Los Angeles in the relaxed, beachside area of Santa Monica. Shop at the Third Street Promenade mall. Enjoy glorious coastal views along the 2-mile bluff-top path at Palisades Park. Walk down to the Santa Monica Pier and take a ride on the roller-coaster. Walk or bike along the beachfront path that travels south from Santa Monica to Venice Beach.
Nearby Venice Beach has an eclectic boardwalk full of buskers, entertainers, tarot card readers and ice-cream shops. Stop at the Venice Beach Skate Park where skateboarding was invented in the 1970s. Check out the bodybuilders at nearby Muscle Beach. Take a photo at the iconic Venice Beach sign on Windward Avenue. Eat or shop at the super trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard, or take a stroll along the peaceful Venice Canals.
Drive up the Pacific Highway to trendy Malibu. Have lunch on the Malibu Pier at the Malibu Farm Cafe. Visit the historic Adamson House, then drive up to Malibu Bluffs for breathtaking views of one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States. Spend an afternoon shopping for LA's coolest brands at the Malibu Country Mart. Plan a visit to the Getty Villa to see Greek and Roman antiquities inside a replica of an ancient Roman villa.
Downtown LA is undergoing a huge resurgence and is full of museums and art galleries. Check out the Museum of Contemporary Art, or the sleek The Broad art museum. Catch a show at the Walt Disney Concert Hall, ride the historic Angels Flight Railway, or browse an incredible selection of books at The Last Bookstore.
Explore cool museums at Exposition Park. Exposition Park is famous for hosting the 1932 and 1984 Olympics, in one of the best cities to visit in the USA. Visit the free California Science Center, check out the Endeavor Space Shuttle, and gaze in awe at the exhibits at the Natural History Museum LA. Stroll through the enchanting Rose Garden.
Plan a trip along Hollywood Boulevard to see where the Oscars are held at Dolby Theater. Tour a Hollywood movie palace like the TCL Chinese Theater, along Hollywood Boulevard, or catch a movie. Stroll along the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and visit famous museums like the Hollywood Wax Museum.
See the most spectacular views of LA. Take the tram ride to the free Getty Museum at Brentwood for breathtaking views, and see artworks from the world's richest art museum. Or visit the free Griffith Observatory at Griffith Park for unsurpassed views including the Hollywood Sign. The free Greystone Mansion in Beverly Hills is another popular viewpoint, and over seventy movies have been filmed here.
For some of LA's best artworks, stop by LACMA for contemporary art, or the Huntington Library, Art Gallery and Gardens in Pasadena.
Seattle has an incredible natural setting in the beautiful Pacific Northwest. It's located on Puget Sound and is surrounded by snowcapped mountains. It's also home to tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft. Find the best things to do in Seattle.
Best things to do in Seattle
Seattle's stunning waterfront is bustling with activities. Plan a visit to the vibrant Pike Place Market with plenty of vendors, shops and restaurants, and take a selfie at the famous Gum Wall. Walk a few blocks back to the celebrated Seattle Art Museum, or take a ferry to Bainbridge Island. Enjoy a meal at a waterfront restaurant, ride the Seattle Great Wheel, or visit the Seattle Aquarium. Visit the striking sculptures at the Seattle Sculpture Park. Stroll along the waterfront path at Myrtle Edwards Park for views of one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States.
Visit the Seattle Center for five major attractions. Ride to the top of the Space Needle for panoramic views of one of the best cities to visit in the USA. See the stunning artworks at Chihuly Garden and Glass. Marvel at the incredible collection of memorabilia at the Museum of Pop Culture. Take your kids to the Seattle Children's Museum, or Artists at Play Playground.
Enjoy Seattle's thriving neighborhoods. Explore Seattle's diverse neighborhoods, like Fremont, Ballard and Capitol Hill for great shopping and restaurants. Take beachfront walks at Alki Beach and Golden Gardens, or visit beautiful Seattle Parks like Green Lake and Discovery Park.
5. Portland Oregon
Quirky Portland has spectacular natural beauty, and a renowned restaurant and cafe scene. Stay in a trendy downtown hotel and explore Portland's best shopping and restaurant streets. Shop with no state sales tax. Find the best things to do in Portland Oregon.
Best things to do in Portland Oregon
The epicenter of Downtown Portland is Pioneer Square. It's just steps from the Pioneer Place Mall with big name brands. Visit nearby retailers like the flagship Nike Store, Nordstrom, and Nordstrom Rack. Further afield is the hipster Union Way Arcade next door to Living Room Theaters. It's one block from the largest independent bookstore in the world - Powells Bookstore. Take your kids to Finnegan's Toys and Gifts. Enjoy a bustling downtown area in one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States.
The vibrant Pearl District is directly north of Downtown Portland. This gentrified warehouse district is full of historic buildings with restaurants and shops. Eat at famous Pearl District breweries like 10 Barrell Brewing or Deschutes Brewery. Stroll along 12th avenue to see Jamison Park with a splash-pad for kids, the wetlands area at Tanner Park, and playground at The Fields Park. See views of the Fremont Bridge in one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States.
Also north of downtown is gritty Old Town. Don't miss the enchanting Lan Su Chinese Garden, and the famous Voodoo Doughnuts. Take a photo at the Keep Portland Weird sign. Enjoy a meal at the casual Pine Street Market.
Portland has some fabulous neighborhood streets with vibrant restaurant scenes. It's one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States for eating out. Top of your list should be Portland West End and NW 23rd Avenue in Nob Hill. Across the river visit the artsy Mississippi Avenue and Alberta Arts District for some of Portland's best restaurants.
Portland is also renowned for it's gorgeous green spaces. Visit Washington Park and explore the trails at the Hoyt Arboretum. Washington Park is also home to the stunning Oregon Zoo, Portland Childrens Museum, and World Forestry Center. The Pittock Mansion is also in the Southwest Hills and has panoramic views of downtown Portland.
6. Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a picturesque, coastal town just 1.5 hours north of Los Angeles. This charming town is full of mediterranean style buildings, and beautiful beaches. Find the best things to do in Santa Barbara.
Santa Barbara's main shopping and restaurant area is along State Street. Enjoy secluded courtyards, terraces and vibrant landscaping as you explore this street in Santa Barbara downtown. Visit the open air Paseo Nuevo Mall and catch a movie. Nearby is the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. Climb to the top of the gorgeous Santa Barbara Courthouse and step inside it's bell-tower. Enjoy incredible views of one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States.
Stearns Wharf runs directly off State Street and is full of restaurants and candy stores. Stearns Wharf is a lovely place for a stroll and has breathtaking views of the coastline, and is also home to the Ty Warner Sea Center. The Wharf is flanked by two beautiful beaches, East Beach and West Beach. Follow the path along East Beach all the way to the bluff at Shoreline Park Santa Barbara for views of one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States.
Explore other popular beaches at Santa Barbara like Leadbetter Beach and Hendrys Beach. Hendrys Beach has a secluded location with its own beach cafe.
Santa Barbara's peaceful Mission Canyon is home to 3 major attractions - the Santa Barbara Mission, Santa Barbara Botanic Gardens, and Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History. The Santa Barbara Mission is part of California's famous mission system established by the Spanish.
Visit Monterey's iconic Cannery Row on the waterfront, made famous by John Steinbeck's namesake novel. Cannery Row was once a booming commercial area full of canneries, now converted to restaurants and shops. Stop at Steinbeck Plaza and walk down to the enchanting McAbee Beach. Continue to the excellent Monterey Bay Aquarium, arguably the best aquarium on the West Coast of America.
Stroll along the Monterey Bay Trail for gorgeous coastal views. The best section of the Monterey Bay Coastal Trail starts at beautiful Lovers Point Beach, then travels 2.3 miles past Cannery Row to the Fisherman's Wharf. From here you can see the wide open, golden sands of Del Monte Beach.
Book a kayaking tour to explore Monterey's rocky shoreline and coves. The waters off Monterey are a protected marine sanctuary, and have abundant sea-life including whales, seals, sea lions and otters. Book a popular whale watching tour in one of the best cities to visit in the Western United States.
Drive south of Monterey to the storybook village of Carmel. Walk along Carmel's Ocean Street for upscale restaurants, boutiques and art galleries. The dramatic Carmel Beach is just off Ocean Street. The Carmel Mission is a short distance away and has a beautiful chapel, living quarters and gardens to explore. Continue on to the wild Carmel Beach State Park, and visit the Carmelite Monastery behind it.
Explore the famous 17-mile drive on the Monterey Peninsula. The 17-mile drive has scenic viewpoints with iconic attractions like the Lone Cyprus and Pebble Beach. The white sand beaches are breathtaking. Combine this with a visit to the Point Pinos Lighthouse and Asilomar State Beach, also on the Monterey Peninsula.