If you decide to head toward the west coast of the United States for a vacation, everyone knows about the beautiful beaches, the fantastic cities, and sweeping vistas. But there is also a great deal of history to see in the American West as well, and it should be a part of any great, west coast road trip.
The first sites to think about visiting are the national parks and monuments. Many of them have historical significance themselves. The San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park and Museum is a great place if you are headed for Central California, or the John Muir National Historic Site close by as well. If you want to check out Southern California, visit the Cabrillo National Monument, which marks the landing of the first Spanish ship in San Diego Bay. In Northern California, you must see the Redwood National Park. Its historical importance lies in its very existence, as does that of Yosemite in the south, the first national park ever created.
If you are headed for the Pacific Northwest, they have plenty of history as well. The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park commemorates one of the most important moments in western exploration. More toward the interior, there is the Oregon Trail Interpretive Center, which examines the pioneer history of one of the United States’ key lines of expansion. In Washington, there are places near Seattle like Fort Warden and the Klondike Gold Rush museum, which examines the history of Seattle’s role in that historical event.
One fascinating approach was taken by this reporter from the LA Times. He followed the steps of Mark Twain through Reno and further, chronicling the journey of the great American author on his own seven year tour of the west coast. One brilliant part of the Twain journey is that it follows near so many of the other great historical places on the western coast of the United States. You can do mulitple trips at once.