Why is it that summer goes by so much faster than every other season? The sunshine and balmy temperatures won't be here forever, but there's still time to relish the West Coast before the leaves start to fall and everything cools down. Whether you're looking for outdoor exploration, great views, kid-friendly activities, a killer glass of wine, or just a beautiful place to relax, these destinations will ensure that you pack as much fun into the dog days of summer as you can.
Catalina Island, California
If you're craving clean air, quiet hikes, and a serene beach, Catalina Island, California is an under-the-radar treasure. Accessible by a pleasant ferry ride from the California mainland, Catalina Island doesn't allow cars on the island without special permission, so bikes and golf carts will get you around to see the sights and take in everything that Catalina has to offer.
Wander the botanic gardens, take a dip in the water, or hike through the rugged mountains spotting bison along the way. If you're into indoor luxuries, Avalon boasts coastal Mediterranean charm and features plenty of spas, dining, and unique shops to explore.
Fort Bragg, California
Another California destination to consider is Fort Bragg, which rests on the state's northern coast. Fort Bragg is home to California's famous towering redwoods, where you can participate in the stress-relieving practice of forest-bathing. You can also explore the historic harbor and frolic with furry friends on the leash-free dog beach. For the brave and meteorologically minded, there is also ample opportunity for storm chasing along the coastline.
The oceanside town is full of museums and galleries including numerous murals and a lot of opportunities to unleash your own inner artist. You'll have a myriad dining options including plenty of vegan and vegetarian options, as well as the North Coast Brewing Co., one of the oldest independent breweries in the country.
Don't miss Glass Beach, which boasts a long shoreline made of sea glass as well as indigenous and endangered plants including the bright and beautiful Menzies' wallflower. Just be sure not to take any glass pieces as souvenirs because it's actually illegal and certain areas of the beaches are nearly depleted because of travelers' sticky fingers. Leave some fun for those who come after you and hit up the Sea Glass Museum, which has free entry.
Mount Hood, Oregon
If you're really looking to beat the heat, Mount Hood — the second most-climbed mountain on the planet — offers skiing and snowboarding all year long at the Timberline Lodge and Ski Area, Windells Ski Camp, and High Cascade Snowboard Camp. The volcanic mountain also has great hiking, including the scenic Timberline Trail No. 600.
Mount Hood also boasts plenty of boating opportunities and waterfalls including the famous Ramona Falls, as well as plenty of wining and dining courtesy of the city's rich orchards and farms.
Located just hours outside San Francisco and Sacramento, Redding, California and the nearby Shasta Cascades, are true hidden gems in upstate California. Natural wonders include waterfalls and the limestone Lake Shasta Caverns along with numerous scenic hiking trails and endless water activity options at Shasta Lake. The pedestrian Sundial Bridge has a great view and it's near several local attractions including museums and theaters. For the treasure hunter in you, Redding also has 4,000 geocaching spots throughout the city and vinos will rejoice at a number of winery options.
Long Beach Peninsula, Washington
Don't let the name "Cape Disappointment" fool you. Long Beach Peninsula in Washington is a scenic drive from Portland and Seattle and makes for a fantastic weekend getaway. The Peninsula has plenty of outdoor activities including bird and whale watching, a wildlife refuge, the 8.5-mile Discovery Trail, and a long, peaceful stretch of beach. The area's fishing, clamming, and crabbing are some of the best around, which ensures local dining will have some of the freshest seafood you'll ever savor.
With an array of museums, historical sites, galleries and theaters, as well as options for zip line tours and new additions of cozy lodging options and artisanal dining, the Long Beach Peninsula is the perfect mix of riveting and relaxing for a short stay before September.