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Pacific Coast Winter Hot Spots

Via chooses the best places and activities along the coast from Alaska to Southern California.

Via Staff
California's Pacific Coast, picture
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California's Pacific Coast draws travelers in winter with its rugged beauty.

East Coasters go to the beach. In the West, we hit the coast—or rather, it hits us. Long before we spot the water, the salty air tells us we're close. The Pacific Coast begs to be driven: Highways were paved and named in its honor. We also hit it on foot, with our surfboards and flip-flops, our sweaters and dogs. Go on, follow its curves, pause on its promontories. Watch it long enough and it'll eat the sun, a grand nightly performance at the edge of our world. It's a hit every time.

Alaska Surfing in Sitka (in a wet suit, of course) + Cross-country skiing on the beach in Gustavus + Midnight Sun beers at Juneau's Hangar on the Wharf

California Snowy plovers on Haul Road, north of Fort Bragg + Barbecuing bivalves at a Tomales Bay oyster farm + Spotting bat rays from the end of Estero Trail in Point Reyes + Sand castles at Stinson Beach + San Francisco's Beach Chalet + Santa Cruz's Mystery Spot + Big Sur's Bixby Bridge + Pier fishing in Morro Bay + The views from Malibu's Adamson House + Basketball on the Venice Beach courts + Digging holes at Huntington Dog Beach + Sighting gray whales in Dana Point Harbor + Launching a model yacht in Mission Bay Park, San Diego

Oregon Kayaking near the Columbia River mouth + Tide pools at Ecola State Park + Crabbing in Newport + Carnivorous plants at Darlington State Natural Site

Washington Massive starfish at Cape Flattery + Razor clams at Leadbetter Point + Grilled king salmon at Kalaloch Lodge

This article was first published in November 2009. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.