The Western part of the United States isn’t known as the Wild West for nothing. Initially serving as the land of promise for settlers moving from the midwest, followed by the California gold rush, to the Silicon Valley center of innovation, and the melting pot of Hispanic and Asian cultures of today, the west coast is teeming with brilliant minds, beautiful locales, and incredibly varied cultural traditions. There are both massive cities and loads of peaceful national parks, both for the urban-dweller and the outdoors-lover. Thinking of moving to the United States for study? Look no further than the West.
Here are ten of our favorite things to do in ten states in the American West:
Largest city: Los Angeles
Population: 38 million
The list of things to do in California is endless. It’s a vast state with a massive population. If it were its own country, California would be the 34th most populous and would have the 9th largest economy in the world. From the beaches of Southern California, to the lowest and hottest point in the USA -- Death Valley -- to the sprawling Redwood forests of the north, this state is not only home to the glitz and glamor of Hollywood, but to a varied array of truly breathtaking scenery. When in California, see the best of it by driving along Pacific Coast Highway (Highway 1), which runs along the coast from San Diego upwards to Oregon.
Capital : Salem
Largest city: Portland
Population: 3.9 million
Oregon is one of the most beautiful states in the Union, heavily forested and full of mountains, it’s full of wonderful things to do for the outdoorsy type. Though Crater Lake National Park is Oregon’s only national park, it’s well worth seeing, especially for those who enjoy hiking!
Largest city: Seattle
Population: 6.9 million
Washington is divided up into two climates, thanks to the Cascade Mountain range that runs through the middle of the state. The western part, which sits along the Pacific Ocean, has a cool marine environment while the eastern part has a drier, more arid climate. If you’re a lover of mountains, check out the following active volcanoes in the Cascade range: Mount Baker, Glacier Peak, Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, and Mount Adams.
Largest city: Boise
Population: 1.6 million
Idaho is a lovely and sparsely populated state, home to the famous Idaho potato. It’s also the gemstone state as nearly every type of gemstone can be found there. Additionally, it’s full of beautiful rivers and waterfalls. When in Idaho, check out Shoshone falls in the southern part of the state for a truly spectacular sight.
Largest city: Billings
Population: 1 million
It’s no surprise that Montana has served as inspiration for many artists and photographers, given its gorgeous landscape and wealth of famous national parks. Montana is also home to many Native American tribes. Check out the Crow Fair and Rodeo near Hardin to see traditional costume and dance.
Largest city: Denver
Population: 5.3 million
Do you love snow, the great outdoors, and beautiful scenery? If the answer is, “yes”, you just might find that Colorado is your favorite state. Full of majestic mountains and ski resorts, Colorado is a powder-lovers’ paradise. Check out Aspen if you want something fancy, or Breckenridge for something a little more laid-back.
Capital: Carson City
Largest city: Las Vegas
Population: 2.7 million
It’s hard to imagine Nevada without thinking of the glittering lights of Las Vegas, a desert oasis that is quite literally in the middle of nowhere. No state has more completely uninhabited areas than Nevada. For those who want to do something a little different than the norm when in Nevada, visit Great Basin National Park - full of forests, arches, peaks, and lakes.
Capital: Salt Lake City
Largest City: Salt Lake City
Population: 2.9 million
Like much of the American West, if you love the outdoors, you’re bound to be excited by the offerings of Utah. Home to many iron rich and orange-colored and truly interesting rock formations, this state is absolutely beautiful. Check out Bryce Canyon for some of the most unique rocks on this planet.
Largest city: Phoenix
Population: 6.6 million
Politically, Arizona is a rare red state in an otherwise sea of left-wing states. Also known for a desert-like environment of mild winters and incredibly hot summers, this state is perfect for those who like to keep warm. One of Arizona’s, and the USA’s, most famous landmarks is the Grand Canyon, which shouldn’t be missed if visiting this state.
Largest city: Honolulu
Population: 1.4 million
Hawaii is one of the most famous states in the USA thanks to its endless tropical beaches, incredibly different weather and horticulture as compared to the rest of the US, and indigenous culture. Though there is an endless list of things one could do when in Hawaii, one of our favorites is kicking back on the North Shore of Oahu.
There you have ten of our favorite things to do in a selection of ten states in the American West. If passing through the area, don’t forget about Wyoming, New Mexico, and Alaska, which are also considered states in the American West.