Adventure Seekers, We Found Your Next Greatest Vacation
These experiences will test your limits (in the best way possible).
Every year the Sunset Travel Awards honor the best in travel in the West. This year we had over 600 entries across all categories (a record number!). These activities are the 2023 winners of the What to Do: Best Adventures and Explorations category. Check out the complete list of winners here. For our definitive directory to travel in the West, click here.
Best Adventures and Explorations
Central Oregon Astro Tourism
Amateur astronomers and everyday stargazers gather to marvel at central Oregon’s dark skies, where the remote high desert from Sunriver to Sisters, and from Prineville to Madras, makes for some of the most spectacular viewing in the Pacific Northwest.
The Alaska Railroad: 100 Plus Years of Exploring Alaska
For 100 years, this rail line has taken travelers on a journey under a clear glass dome to enjoy full-service dining while making their way from Anchorage, Seward, and Fairbanks, ending the journey at Denali National Park. During the winter, the locomotive connects Anchorage, Talkeetna, and Fairbanks, known for incredible aurora borealis viewing.
Sea Cave Kayaking at Channel Islands National Park
The Channel Islands are one of the most remote and underexplored National Parks within the system, which is why it’s imperative to go with an expert guide. Explore the world-renowned sea caves and kelp forests at Scorpion Anchorage or kayak alongside the island’s unique flora, fauna, and geology, all while learning about its rich Native American history.
Outdoor Odysseys, San Juan Islands
These multi-day guided kayak camping tours give explorers an immersive experience in Washington’s Salish Sea. As you paddle from inlet to island learning about the marine life and ecology, stops make ample time for farm-to-campfire local food, wines, craft beer, and, of course, great coffee.
Hike and Bike Hood River
Active travel is the essence of a visit to Hood River in the Columbia River Gorge, where the idyllic valley allows for a range of activities from agritourism experiences (including wineries, cideries, and craft breweries), e-bike tours, epic trail runs and hikes, and the unique opportunity to pedal a two-person railbike along old train tracks through the woods.
Heart of the Rogue Festival
This annual festival in downtown Medford, Oregon, is a vibrant multi-day celebration of the surrounding Rogue Valley with local artists and artisans, musicians, small businesses, the region’s esteemed wineries and breweries, and a Boston Marathon-qualifying run.