15 Most Underrated Towns To Visit in the Pacific Northwest

Whether you’re looking for a small, coastal town or an artistic haven away from the big cities, there are many underrated towns worth visiting.
Updated May 14, 2024
Fact checked
senior couple hiking

We receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story, but the opinions are the author's own. Compensation may impact where offers appear. We have not included all available products or offers. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.

When you think of the Pacific Northwest, your mind may automatically jump to Portland or Seattle. 

And while there’s plenty to do and see in both of these lively and thriving cities, the region has a lot more to offer — from quaint shore towns to natural wonders to surprisingly bustling downtowns.

Here are 15 excellent yet lesser-known Pacific Northwest towns to consider adding to your travel bucket list if you're stepping up your travel game.

If you’re over 50, take advantage of massive travel discounts and trip-planning resources

Over 50 and love traveling? Join AARP today — because if you’re not a member, you could be missing out on huge travel perks. When you start your membership today, you can get discounts on hotels and resorts, airfare, cruises, car rentals, and more.

How to become a member today:

  • Go here, select your free gift, and click “Join Today”
  • Create your account (important!) by answering a few simple questions
  • Start enjoying your discounts and perks!

An AARP membership not only unlocks discounts that could save you hundreds on your next trip, but you’ll also have access to deals on vacation packages, guided tours, and exclusive content to help plan your next getaway.

Important: Start your membership by creating an account here and filling in all of the information (do not skip this step!). Doing so will allow you to take up to 25% off your AARP membership, making it just $12 per year with auto-renewal.

Become an AARP member now

Anacortes, Washington

Tanner McQueen/Adobe anacortes washington sunset

Located about midway between Seattle and Vancouver, Anacortes allows for a quaint island getaway in the middle of the Pacific Northwest.

Guests can enjoy plenty of natural beauty (including a lively waterfront and 50 miles of hiking trails) and a packed events calendar filled with festivals and live music.

Ashland, Oregon

john/Adobe emigrant lake ashland oregon

Ashland, in southern Oregon, is near plenty of natural wonders — like the Siskiyou and Cascade mountain ranges — but it also offers small-town vibes and is an artistic haven.

It’s home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and is close enough to the Mt. Ashland Ski Area that visitors will find plenty to do in Ashland no matter what time of year they visit.

Astoria, Oregon

pngstudio/Adobe astoria oregon

Astoria is a beautiful city overlooking the Columbia River. It’s a fishing village, but proximity to the Pacific Ocean and stunning Victorian architecture gives it a unique charm.

With plenty of museums and great places to eat and drink, it’s worth a stop on any journey along Oregon’s coast.

Earn a $250 travel bonus with this incredible card

There's a credit card that's making waves with its amazing bonus and benefits. The Bank of America® Travel Rewards credit card has no annual fee and you can earn 25,000 bonus points after spending $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening.

You can earn additional points just by using this card for your everyday purchases — unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases. The 25,000 bonus points can be redeemed for a $250 statement credit toward travel or dining purchases.

If you want to travel and dine out more, the Travel Rewards card can help you get where you want to go.

The best part? There's no annual fee.

Click here to apply now.

Cottage Grove, Oregon

Laurens/Adobe two seniors enjoying sunset

Cottage Grove is one of several small and charming towns south of Eugene — and while there’s plenty to do around the area, Cottage Grove’s beautiful covered bridges are a must-see for anyone visiting.

The bridge tour makes for a fun excursion — and you can do it on foot or by bike.

Florence, Oregon

CheriAlguire/Adobe lighthouse state park scenic viewpoint

About an hour west of Eugene, Florence is an excellent option if you’re looking for rest, relaxation, and fun along Oregon’s beautiful coast.

It’s small but packed with plenty to do — with miles of beaches, Historic Old Town Florence, an array of accommodations from riverfront hotels to cabins in the forest, and top-notch dining.

Friday Harbor, Washington

Richard/Adobe orca whales in san juan

Located in San Juan County, Friday Harbor is a delightful seaport town. It’s slow-paced, extremely walkable, and full of charming shops, restaurants, and attractions.

It also happens to be a great place to join a kayaking or whale tour.

Gig Harbor, Washington

adonis_abril/Adobe gig harbor washington

Gig Harbor is a maritime village that makes for an ideal, tranquil getaway while still offering a lively waterfront filled with shops, restaurants, wine bars, and more.

There’s no shortage of natural beauty either, as visitors can enjoy stunning views of Puget Sound and Mount Rainier.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to bring a travel credit card to help you earn travel rewards.

Leavenworth, Washington

Joe/Adobe streets of leavenworth in december

Located in the Cascade Mountains in central Washington State, Leavenworth is a Bavarian Village offering a picturesque charm and much German influence.

The stunning natural beauty and adorable buildings are enough to warrant a visit, but Leavenworth also has events that draw visitors year-round (particularly a months-long Christmas festival).

Long Beach, Washington

Jo Ann Snover/Adobe long beach washington

Long Beach is an excellent area to kick back and relax, particularly along the beach and boardwalk on the Long Beach Peninsula.

Washington’s coast may not be as well-known as California’s or even Oregon’s, but visitors can enjoy miles of beach, delicious seafood, excellent hotels and accommodations, and proximity to the beautiful Northwest rain forests.

Earn cash back on everyday purchases with this rare account

Want to earn cash back on your everyday purchases without using a credit card? With the Discover®️ Cashback Debit Checking account (member FDIC), you can earn 1% cash back on up to $3,000 in debit card purchases each month!1

With no credit check to apply and no monthly fees to worry about, you can earn nearly passive income on purchases you’re making anyway — up to an extra $360 a year!

This rare checking account has other great perks too, like access to your paycheck up to 2 days early with Early Pay, no minimum deposit or monthly balance requirements, over 60K fee-free ATMs, and the ability to add cash to your account at Walmart stores nationwide.

Don’t leave money on the table — it only takes minutes to apply and it won’t impact your credit score.

Apply for a Discover Cashback Checking account today

Neskowin, Oregon

sumikophoto/Adobe neskowin ghost forest oregon coast

It may be small, but the village of Neskowin offers the very best of the Oregon coast. With more than three miles of beautiful beach, a friendly atmosphere, and proximity to plenty of natural beauty (like Cascade Head trail), Neskowin is an excellent option for a tranquil getaway.

Port Townsend, Washington

R. Jeff Huth/Adobe port townsend washington

A quirky small town with plenty to offer, Port Townsend — located about two hours from Seattle in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula — offers a mix of natural wonder (with beautiful beaches and Olympic National Park) and a lively village.

It’s also got several renowned restaurants and a thriving arts and culture scene.

Seaside, Oregon

Crin/Adobe seaside oregon town sign

Another small yet mighty Pacific Northwest beach town is Oregon’s Seaside. There’s plenty to do in the charming little town — from lounging in the sand to flying kites to strolling the grand promenade and getting in some kayaking or biking.

With nearby trails and stunning wildlife, it’s an excellent choice for vacationers looking to get up close and personal with the beauty of Oregon’s Coast.

Sequim, Washington

Mike/Adobe sunset sequim washington beach

A small town on the Olympic Peninsula surrounded by natural beauty, Sequim is an ideal destination for hikers, bikers, fishers, and all sorts of outdoor enthusiasts.

The lavender farms are a must-see and though small, Sequim has a lively downtown with an array of dining options as well.

Whidbey Island, Washington

LoweStock/Adobe deception pass park washington

Whether you’re driving or arriving by ferry, there is plenty to do and see on beautiful Whidbey Island — from hiking and fishing to strolling through shops and farmer’s markets and perhaps even sampling some local wines.

Just north of Seattle, visiting Whidbey is an excellent way to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day or two.

Yachats, Oregon

Teressa L. Jackson/Adobe yachats oregon pacific northwest

Another small city along the Oregon Coast, Yachats offers a mix of natural beauty and a lively village with plenty to do.

Whether you’re looking to shop and enjoy some excellent restaurants or would prefer to hike gorgeous trails and take in the Pacific from stunning viewpoints (or both), Yachats is an excellent choice.

Bottom line

Alex Photo/Adobe happy traveler couple resting

While many of these destinations make for excellent summer getaways, don’t sleep on winter in the Pacific Northwest — particularly if you’re into cold weather activities.

There’s still plenty to do in the region during what may be considered the “off-season” — and visiting during these months can help you keep more cash in your wallet as well.

Easy-to-Earn Unlimited Rewards


Card Details

  • Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases
  • Earn 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases
  • Longer intro APR on qualifying purchases and balance transfers
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • Apply Now
  • Earn unlimited 1.5 points per $1 spent on all purchases, with no annual fee and no foreign transaction fees and your points don't expire as long as your account remains open.
  • 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases.
  • Use your card to book your trip how and where you want - you're not limited to specific websites with blackout dates or restrictions.
  • Redeem points for a statement credit to pay for travel or dining purchases, such as flights, hotel stays, car and vacation rentals, baggage fees, and also at restaurants including takeout.
  • 0% Intro APR for 15 billing cycles for purchases, and for any balance transfers made in the first 60 days. After the Intro APR offer ends, a Variable APR that’s currently 19.24% - 29.24% will apply. A 3% Intro balance transfer fee will apply for the first 60 days your account is open. After the Intro balance transfer fee offer ends, the fee for future balance transfers is 4%.
  • If you're a Bank of America Preferred Rewards® member, you can earn 25%-75% more points on every purchase. That means instead of earning an unlimited 1.5 points for every $1, you could earn 1.87-2.62 points for every $1 you spend on purchases.
  • Contactless Cards - The security of a chip card, with the convenience of a tap.
  • This online only offer may not be available if you leave this page or if you visit a Bank of America financial center. You can take advantage of this offer when you apply now.
Bank of <span class='whitespace-nowrap'>America<sup>®</sup></span> Travel Rewards credit card
Apply Now

on Bank of America’s secure website

Read Card Review

Intro Offer

Earn 25,000 online bonus points after you make at least $1,000 in purchases in the first 90 days of account opening - that can be a $250 statement credit toward travel purchases

Annual Fee



Why we like it

Author Details

Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore Laura Gesualdi-Gilmore is a seasoned freelance writer who also teaches writing courses at Rutgers University. She's based in Jersey City and enjoys travel, live music and, of course, spending quality time with her pup.

Want to learn how to make an extra $200?

Get proven ways to earn extra cash from your phone, computer, & more with Extra.

You will receive emails from FinanceBuzz.com. Unsubscribe at any time. Privacy Policy

  • Vetted side hustles
  • Exclusive offers to save money daily
  • Expert tips to help manage and escape debt