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Best of the West: Road Trip


Written by Lindsay Taub / Published by

Heading into summer road trip season, there’s no better time to get off the radar and away from the big cities. We’re talking about the small towns rich in nature, culture and history. Lindsay Taub counts down the top 11 towns of the West Coast.

Look a little deeper from the Rockies to the Pacific Northwest, these towns all have some special things in common and it’s not just their beauty. Most are without big box stores and chain restaurants, and almost all seem to send smoke signals to attract outdoorsy, active, and independent spirits. The Wild West is still close to its roots – from the adventurers who discovered, the miners who called them home and to the bordellos that kept them in business.

With populations of anywhere from 2,000 to about 100,000, discover the top 11 small towns of the American West:

#1 Astoria, Oregon

Population: 10,000

Getting there: Fly into Portland International Airport (PDX); from there it’s a 1.5 to 2 hour drive to Astoria.

Named after America’s first millionaire and legendary fur trader, John Jacob Astor, it is the oldest settlement west of the Rockies. Conceived as a fur trading outpost in the early 1800s, it’s located on the south banks of the Columbia River just 20 minutes from the Pacific Ocean. It’s beauty and charm drew in the likes of Lewis and Clark during their expedition and still commemorates the western end of the Lewis and Clark trail.

Today the historic fishing town is going through a kind of renaissance with craft breweries popping up along the “North Coast Craft Beer Trail,” a charming downtown filled with lively cafes and boutiques, a fantastic market, stylish hotels and emerging culinary scene.

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