The West Coast is home to a host of impressive universities and colleges, ranging in size from a few thousand to more than 40,000 students. Take a look at the schools you might put on your list and where to stay and dine while you’re there.
Whitman College (Walla Walla, Wash.)
Where to Stay: The renovated Marcus Whitman Hotel is back to its turn-of-the-century glory, sporting a fine dining restaurant and a short walk onto campus.
Where to Eat: Truly a gem in Walla Walla, Whitehouse-Crawford pays homage to local farmers and artisans in a lovely lofted space. Wines from the region shine here as well.
What to Do: Tour the West Side wineries (and East and South if time permits) and the Port of Walla Walla Incubator for start-up wineries, or if you are car-less, walk by the dozen-plus tasting rooms in the downtown area.
University of Washington, Seattle (Seattle, Wash.)
Where to Stay: The contemporary upscale Watertown is blocks from campus and also convenient to popular sites like Pike Place Market, the Space Needle and cute shops.
Where to Eat: Get the full Seattle waterfront dining experience at Ivar’s Salmon House.
What to Do: Immerse yourself in music at Paul Allen’s EMP Museum, a nonprofit museum with rock-n-roll roots and one of the coolest buildings in town.
Reed College (Portland, Ore.)
Where to Stay: Get a “Reed rate” at the comfy Clinton Street Guesthouse B&B with rooms, cottages or a bungalow in the convenient Southeast Portland neighborhood.
Where to Eat: It’s worth traveling just over a mile from campus for innovative Thai street food in a fun ambiance at Pok Pok.
What to Do: Get a dose of the artisan culture by heading to the Portland Saturday Market, the city’s oldest outdoor arts and crafts market (open Saturday and Sunday, March–December).
Lewis & Clark (Portland, Ore.)
Where to Stay: Snuggle up on the banks of the nearby Willamette River at River’s Edge Hotel, convenient to the college, downtown Portland, and complete with a spa.
Where to Eat: At hot and modern Spanish eatery Ración, you can order one of the amazing tasting menus or simply share a table full of Spanish tapas for a fun, interactive meal.
What to Do: Get fresh air with a hike right inside the city limits at Forest Park Conservatory, which offers great views of the city sights and the Willamette River.
University of California, Berkeley (Berkeley, Calif.)
Where to Stay: The charming, recently remodeled 25-room Bancroft Hotel is more of a bed and breakfast set inside a gorgeous landmark building, right across the street from campus.
Where to Eat: Savor the ultra fresh and creative sushi at Kirala, a great stop where there’s also a menu of Robata grilled meats.
What to Do: The UC Botanical Garden at Berkeley is a stunner, with 34 acres of gorgeous planting and more than 10,000 varieties of indigenous plants.
Stanford (Stanford, Calif.)
Where to Stay: Take advantage of Northern California’s beauty at the Rosewood Hotel, overlooking the Santa Cruz mountains in nearby Menlo Park.
Where to Eat: Have a fresh and innovative lunch right inside the Cool Cafe at Cantor Art Center.
What to Do: If you dine at Cool, stroll through the Rodin Sculpture Garden, which is located just outside, and then head to the paved 3.7-mile Stanford Dish Hiking Trail to soak up the rays.
Claremont Colleges: Pomona, Scripps, Harvey Mudd, Pitzer, Claremont-McKenna (Claremont, Calif.)
Where to Stay: The hip Hotel Casa 425 is a nice alternative to the other chain hotels and one of the only places right in town, near the movies, restaurants and the edge of campus.
Where to Eat: Head to the wonderful, family-owned Italian chophouse Tutti Mangia for traditional fare. The restaurant morphs into a casual trattoria by day.
What to Do: Bring your hiking shoes and get your sweat on at the 5-mile loop at the Claremont Hills Wilderness Park, at the base of the mountains that overshadow the campus.
University of Southern California (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Where to Stay: Check into the Radisson Hotel Los Angeles Midtown for a convenient perch for visits to USC and for relaxing by the pool.
Where to Eat: Grab your fix of Mexican fare at La Taquiza, and be sure to taste the unique Mulitas, corn tortilla pockets filled with meat, cheese and guacamole.
What to Do: It’s LA after all, so take a tour of a studio, drive by the stars’ homes or take the one-hour ferry ride for a Catalina Island getaway.
University of California, Los Angeles (Los Angeles, Calif.)
Where to Stay: When in doubt, you can’t go wrong staying at a Kimpton Hotel, and the Hotel Palomar Westwood happens to be a quick walk from the edge of campus.
Where to Eat: Make your way to under-the-radar Ink for intriguing and surprisingly good contemporary American fare at modest prices.
What to Do: Make an effort to snag tickets to a show at the Geffen Playhouse for an amazing live experience.
University of California, San Diego (La Jolla, Calif.)
Where to Stay: For the loveliest seaside accommodations and just a short jaunt to campus, reserve at The Grande Colonial Hotel.
Where to Eat: Go the ethnic route for lunch at the intriguing International Market and Grill, where locals rave about the amazing Persian kabobs served with charred tomatoes and rice is tops.
What to Do: Tool about the cute boutiques, restaurants and shops on Prospect Street in downtown La Jolla.
This article is part of our College Town Tours series. Find more here: