In a list complied by the Matador Network highlighting their 20 coolest towns in America, the small city of Port Angeles came in at number 16. For many, the city of Port Angeles serves as a gateway to Vancouver Island and the remote Olympic National Park, accessible along a gorgeous drive along Highway 101 or across the Strait of Juan de Fuca by ferry. Known by locals as P.A., this small town on the northern Olympic Peninsula blends its logging and port history perfectly with tourism and nature.

As someone who has lived in the PNW the majority of my life, I can honestly say that I agree with Matador on this. Port Angeles is one of my favorite towns on the Olympic Peninsula, and a town I often describe to people when traveling abroad. Port Angeles is the quintessential representation of the Olympics, and a place that is fond in nearly every visitors hearts and minds.

Just an 2:45 drive from Seattle,  the accessibility of nature and wilderness that Port Angeles gives is well worth double that drive. Located at the foot of the Olympic Mountains, Port Angeles is one of the few towns in the world that can give you nearly every nature option within a few miles drive.

Port Angeles is:

– 9.5 miles from the hiking and backpacking adventures in the Elwha River Valley, the site of America’s largest dam removal project.

– 17 miles from Hurricane Ridge ski and snowboard area in Olympic National Park, which also offers stunning panorama and amazing summer hiking.

-17.4 miles from Dungeness Spit, a 5.5 mile sand spit sticking into the Strait of Juan de Fuca, capped off with a lighthouse at the end. The area is amazing for birding, hiking and even seeing whales.

– 21 miles from Lake Crescent, Washington’s second deepest lake. The region also has superb hiking, biking, kayaking and an incredible history.

– 22 miles from one of the Sol Duc, one of the most iconic waterfalls in Washington State that also happens to sit next to hot springs and access to amazing backpacking and camping.

– 46 miles from Quilcene, a small town that helps serve as a basecamp for the hundreds of miles of wilderness on the eastern slopes of the Olympic Mountains. Quilcene also is the jumping off point for adventures along the Olympic Peninsula’s Hood Canal Region and close to the Mount Townsend hike.

– 69 miles from the beaches of LaPush, where whales are frequently seen, as are tide pools, beaches and rugged sea stacks that are the most beautiful in the Pacific Northwest.

-70 Miles from Neah Bay, and the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. This area has the best beach hikes, and the most stunning views of the power of there Pacific Ocean.

– 88 miles from the Hoh Rainforest, one of the quietest and wettest places in America. Home to elk, salmon and hikes through rainforests to the summit of Mount Olympus, this region is incredibly popular for hikes of all abilities.

– And so much more, just miles from town. Like this.

Port Angeles also has great food, a growing micro-brew scene and the only legal marijuana store on Highway 101. The region also has good school, dozens of family-friendly city parks and the best sunsets and sunrise around. Whether you are just stopping by for the day, or looking to stay for awhile, Port Angeles has something for you. With access to Olympic National Park, Vancouver Island and so much more, I am glad that the town is getting some much needed love. Amazing to see how the city that was to be the replacement capitol if the south had won the Civil War, has grown.

Congrats, Port Angeles, you deserve the attention!