No doubt you’ve heard of National Parks and National Forests, but National Landmarks? Well, those aren’t quite as clear cut as the other two. A National Landmark is sort of that in between phase, places that are very beautiful or very important, but not quite up to the standard of a National Park.
National Historic Landmarks can be natural, buildings, and even monuments. They can be their own stand alone sites, or you can find them tucked away inside a National Park, National Forest, or State Park as well. One thing you must know about them though? You shouldn’t miss out on them.
Here, we’ve got a list of treasured National Landmarks along the West Coast that you’ll want to make a part of your next road trip.
The Adventuress is a schooner currently kept in Port Townsend Historic District in Washington. It was originally built across the country, in Boothbay Harbor, Maine, in 1913 and restored in Seattle. The 133 foot boat hosts a number of educational programs throughout the year.
Tucked into Mount Rainier National Park you’ll find Longmire, Washington, part of the Longmire Historic District. These are a group of buildings, cabins, and hotels with the oldest dating back to the late 1800s that served as an attraction for people looking to enjoy nature. Even John Muir stayed there.
Historic Columbia River Highway
One of the more beautiful drives you’ll find in the country is on a historic highway built in 1913 that meanders alongside the Columbia River Gorge. The Historic Columbia River Highway features incredible sightseeing from waterfalls and dams to overlooks and viaducts.
Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum
The Kam Wah Chung museum in John Day is incredible. The owner, a pioneering Chinese immigrant who lived through an intensely anti-Chinese period in late 1800s, locked it up in 1948, went for med treatment in Portland, and died there. Nothing was touched for decades. Highly recommend a tour of what was a general store/doctor’s office/pharmacy/boardinghouse/community center, all in a building the size of my 1 bedroom apartment. This is the general store, complete with shrines. #latergram #centraloregon
A photo posted by Emily Guise (@emilyguise) on
The West Coast has a fascinating history when it comes to immigrants from Asia, and if you’re looking to learn more about it the Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum should be on your list. Converted from a trading post built in the 1860s, this museum highlights the active and vibrant local Chinese community.
Coso Rock Art District
A photo posted by horsing__round (@horsing__round) on
One of the best sites in the country to observe Native American and Paleo Indian petroglyphs is inside the Cosco Rock Art District inside he Big and Little Petroglyphs Canyon near China Lake, California. Here, you’ll find over 100,000 drawings thought to be approximately 10,000 years old.
Pony Express Terminal
The Pony Express was the original cross country mail delivering service. Started in the late 1850s, men road on horseback up to 10 days to get from the Atlantic to Pacific Coasts. The West Coast terminus was in Sacramento, California. Now, the building is part of the Wells Fargo History Museum.
Santa Cruz Looff Carousel and Roller Coaster
What better way to end a tour of National Historic Landmarks than with a roller coaster? At the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, you’ll find the original carousel built by the Looff family that’s over 100 years old. And you’ll also be able to enjoy the Giant Dipper wooden rollercoaster built in 1924.
These are just a few of the varied National Landmarks you’ll find along the West Coast. What are some of your favorites? Let us know in the comments!