Are you planning a trip along the West Coast of the United States? It’s a popular route amongst travelers to visit the major cities, the beaches, the mountains and small towns from Vancouver, BC to Los Angeles, and for a good reason. With over 1,200 miles (2,000 km) of land stretching between the two cities, travelers experience a diversity of landscapes and climates—from the mountainous port city of Vancouver to the dry desert of Southern California, and everything in between.
Now there is another reason to plan a voyage along the Pacific Coast—the Hostelling International West Coast Passport Tour.
Hostelling International has 27 stamps to add to your collection, with the new HI-West Coast passport. Collect a free souvenir stamp at each West Coast hostel in the U.S. and Canada — just four stamps will earn you a free “West Coast Tour” t-shirt!
Illustrated by Michael Wertz, each souvenir stamp is a miniature work of art that celebrates the iconic features of 20 West Coast destinations. The keepsake passport holds your stamps, as well as notes and other memorabilia, tracking your adventures as you travel.
To get your free passport and stamps, simply ask at the front desk when you check-in to any participating HI-hostel in California, Oregon, or Washington, or in British Columbia’s Vancouver, Victoria, or Whistler.
Need some inspiration for your journey?
Iconic West Coast
- Join more than a million annual visitors who flock to Buchtart Gardens, located just outside Victoria, to revel in 55 acres of gardens that bloom in all seasons.
- In San Francisco, take in sweeping Bay views from the Golden Gate Bridge, then ride a ferry out to infamous Alcatraz Island.
- Don’t miss Yosemite Valley, one of the most iconic natural wonders in the U.S., beloved for the magnificent beauty of its forests, waterfalls, and granite peaks.
- Spend a sunny summer day at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk — ride the Giant Dipper, play skeeball, munch on carnival food, and take a dip in the Pacific.
- Further south in Monterey, head to the Monterey Bay Aquarium which is world-renowned for its impressive exhibits, cutting-edge research, and dedication to ocean conservation.
- Enjoy epic skiing and snowboarding on Whistler’s world-class powder, or bike the slopes in the summertime at Whistler Mountain Bike Park. Then tackle the longest zipline in Canada, and ride the Peak 2 Peak Gondola.
- Hit the slopes on Grouse, Seymour, or Cypress mountains — all just a stone’s throw from downtown Vancouver — then cycle the 8.8 km seawall around Stanley Park, or chill out on the beach at English Bay.
- In Port Townsend, kayak or sail the waters around the Olympic Peninsula and San Juan Islands, or head out hiking in Olympic National Park.
- In the Marin Headlands, meander along coastal trails with stunning views of San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge, and see old-growth redwood forests at nearby Muir Woods National Monument.
- Surf the world-famous Mavericks break near Point Montara, kayak from Pillar Point Harbor, or hike to nearby Fitzgerald Marine Reserve, Montara Mountain, or Montara State Beach.
For the Foodie
- Eat streetside at one of Portland’s famous gourmet food carts, and immerse yourself in laid-back coffee culture and the local microbrew scene.
- Slurp local oysters straight from Point Reyes National Seashore, and sample celebrated artisanal foods in the tiny town of Point Reyes Station.
- Go wine tasting at more than 30 local wineries near Cambria and San Luis Obispo, and visit one of SLO’s four farmers markets featuring California’s finest produce.
- Sample classic American eats at Los Angeles landmarks like Pink’s Hot Dogs, The Apple Pan, Tommy’s Original burgers, or the world’s first Hot Dog on a Stick.
- Revel in San Diego’s endless summer while munching fish tacos, baja-style, and top it off with award-winning local brews.
Off the Beaten Path
Despite being the capital city of California, Sacramento has a relaxed vibe and a small-town feel. Its Gold Rush history is evident in Old Sacramento, Sutter’s Fort, and other historic parks, while Midtown is thriving with cafes, bars, and clubs catering to the city’s young and hip. Sacramento is also popular with summertime travelers looking to escape the coastal fog and go rafting, tubing, or cycling along the American River.
Known as the “Gateway to Yosemite,” Merced is a convenient stopover, especially for those traveling by public transit. But Merced is more than a transit point – it’s a friendly agricultural town where you can slow down, meet the locals, and stay in a typical American suburban home at HI-Merced. While you’re here, visit the Merced Courthouse Museum, go swimming in Lake Merced, or tour the world’s largest cheese factory.
West Coast by Rail
Hop on board Amtrak Cascades and ride the rails from Vancouver to Seattle, where you can hook up with Amtraks Coast Starlight. The most spectacular train route in the U.S., the Coast Starlight runs from Seattle to Portland, Sacramento, Emeryville (where an Amtrak shuttle takes you into San Francisco), San Luis Obispo, and finally Los Angeles. From L.A., you can catch the Pacific Surfliner down to San Diego.
The scenery along the way ranges from the dramatic snow-covered peaks of the Cascade Range to lush forests, fertile valleys, and long stretches of Pacific Ocean vistas. The train itself offers a Dining Car and a Parlor Car designed for taking in the views. Rail passes and multi-ride tickets are available, so you can stop over anywhere along the way.
- HI-Vancouver Central, HI-Vancouver Downtown, HI-Vancouver Jericho Beach
- HI-Port Townsend
- HI-Portland Hawthorne
- HI-Portland Northwest
- HI-Point Reyes National Seashore
- HI-Marin Headlands
- HI-San Francisco City Center, HI-San Francisco Downtown, HI-San Francisco Fisherman’s Wharf
- HI-Midpines Yosemite Bug
- HI-Point Montara Lighthouse
- HI-Pigeon Point Lighthouse
- HI-Santa Cruz
- HI-San Luis Obispo
- HI-Los Angeles Fullerton, HI-Los Angeles Santa Monica, HI-Los Angeles San Pedro
- HI-San Diego Downtown, HI-San Diego Point Loma