Finding the Best Beaches on the West Coast

America’s western coastline offers a wide variety of beaches that have been delighting visitors since they were first discovered. Whether you prefer sunbathing in southern California or exploring the rugged beauty of the Pacific Northwest’s shores, here’s our list of the most beautiful beaches to visit on the west coast, starting from the south and moving northward.

Mission Beach in San Diego, California
As the top-ranked west coast beach on TripAdvisor’s Best Beaches of 2011 list, Mission Beach is the perfect family fun destination. Children will love playing in the large waves, which also tempt surfers. If you’re feeling adventurous, book a lesson with the Pacific Surf School, which teaches beginners of all ages how to surf safely. Mission Beach is clean and well-maintained, with soft sand for comfortable sunbathing and building sand castles. It is backed by a paved boardwalk which runs all the way up to Pacific Beach, and lined with a variety of restaurants and activities to suit the entire family. Nearby attractions include Belmont Amusement Park and miniature golf. You’ll find watersports and bicycle rentals are available, too.

Table Rock Beach in South Laguna Beach, California
If you’re looking for a quiet, secluded beach in Southern California, Table Rock Beach is Laguna’s best-kept secret. Complete with secret coves and large, beautiful rock formations, Table Rock is a photographer’s dream. You won’t find any public bathrooms, restaurants or crowds, only the peaceful sounds of the waves crashing against the shore. The sea is strong here, so be sure inexperienced swimmers and children are wearing life vests and are supervised at all times. This beach is also a romantic spot for watching the sunset.

Cannon Beach in Clatsop County, Oregon
For an upscale beach experience, head to the town of Cannon Beach, Oregon. This beach is home to one of the most photographed landmarks in Oregon: Haystack Rock. This unusual rock formation rises 235 feet out of the sea, and was designated as a National Wildlife Refuge and Marine Garden for the many species of birds and marine animals that reside there. The pristine beach is backed by beautiful mountains and a rugged coastline, perfect for romantic strolls. If you enjoy traveling with your pets, they are welcome on Cannon Beach as long as they’re kept on a leash. Cannon Beach is home to several music concerts and a sand castle contest each summer. The area has also received acclaim for the many art galleries, fine restaurants, and unique shops located in the village nearby.

Olympic National Park near Port Angeles, Washington
Olympic National Park is more than just a beach – it’s 922,000 acres of pristine wilderness, which spreads out alongside over 70 miles of picturesque coastline. This park is so unique that it was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981. The beaches in this park will enable you to experience nature the way it looked before it was ever touched by humans, thousands of years ago. Young children will love exploring the many tide pools that form along the beach during low tide. For an amazing family vacation or romantic getaway, pitch a tent under the stars while you listen to the waves crashing on the shore. In addition to the beach you’ll be able to explore forests complete with hot springs, rain forests, lakes, and even glaciers in the mountain peaks. Modern showers and restrooms are available on-site.

Heather Johnson is a writer for the leading online honeymoon planning resource. Learn all about the best honeymoon destinations today!

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