These cities in California have much more to offer than just Hollywood. The Golden Gate Bridge, little villages and incredible beaches.
Old neighborhoods, often located along the Pacific Ocean, offer a unique feel and personality; they are interspersed among modern cities full of amazing museums, world-class restaurants, and vibrant bars.
California Hidden Cities
The beach scene is thriving in these cities, making it possible to roam through their streets, before relaxing on the pristine sand and having a cocktail later in the evening.
There’s plenty of outdoor activities in these storybook towns, including scenic coastal views and quaint main streets. Check out these beautiful towns and cities in California.
1. Ojai – California
Population: 7,613 (2020)
You can reach Ojai by taking the Pacific Coast Highway northwest of Los Angeles. Ojai is nestled in a valley among the Topatopa Mountains, offering breathtaking views of the mountains. biking, hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing and even Jeep tours are all popular pursuits.
The country setting is also ideal for those seeking wellness experiences. If you are looking to unwind, indulge yourself in a spa treatment at Ojai Valley Inn. Moreover, if you’re visiting Ojai, it’s worth checking out Ojai Village, where you’ll find Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.
This area offers many charming shops and restaurants, including Bart’s Books, a popular outdoor bookstore.
2. Laguna Beach In California
Population: 22,991 (2020)
In southern California, Laguna Beach is a tropical paradise. There are dozens of cove beaches hidden along Orange County’s coastline in residential neighborhoods. This coastal beach town between San Diego and Los Angeles has been drawing visitors for years. Many beaches are a standout, such as Victoria Beach, which has a pirate tower built right into the cliffs, as well as Thousand Steps Beach, which is known for its sea caves. Beachgoers looking for traditional sandy shorelines will find them at Main Beach and Crystal Cove State Park.
Heisler Park offers epic oceanfront sunsets either at the beach or in the park, so don’t miss them.
3. St. Helena
Population: 6,049 (2020)
It’s safe to say that St. Helena is one of the most picturesque towns in the Napa Valley. Near the Napa city limits, St. Helena offers its visitors charm left and right with its tree-lined Main Street, , and a hearty selection of shops, restaurants, and galleries. You should also visit local wineries, such as Hall Wines, about 15 minutes from the city center, or Merryvale Vineyard, the first one created after Prohibition. For a special treat, check out The Restaurant at Meadowood (awarded three Michelin stars) or Woodhouse Chocolate.
Despite its central location, the real draw to this area is its close proximity to Napa Valley’s vineyards and state parks.
4. San Clemente
If you’re visiting California, you can’t go wrong with San Clemente. The city of San Clemente, located in Orange County, is known for having “the world’s best climate.” It enjoys about 300 days of sunshine per year and average temperatures of 73 degrees all year long. Stunning scenery such as cascading hillsides, gorgeous beaches and Spanish colonial architecture only make the town even more picturesque.
You will find plenty of locals enjoying the weather and scenery at the bustling beach and pier in this city. Afterward, visitors can explore San Clemente’s striking coastline along the approximately 2-mile-long San Clemente Coastal Trail.
5. Sonoma Cute Cities
The budget-conscious traveller is likely to take advantage of Sonoma’s wine country. Sonoma, situated about 45 miles north of San Francisco, is not only cheaper than Napa, but larger as well, which means fewer tourists at tasting rooms. However, the city of Sonoma is small, housing fewer than 12,000 people despite being located in Sonoma County (over 1,600 square miles). Sonoma is not only a great home base for exploring nearby wineries and vineyards, but also a National Historic Monument for its historically significant architecture.
You will Enjoy a stroll through the picturesque town center or a hike on the Sonoma Overlook Trail for spectacular views.
6. Pismo Beach, California
In addition to Oceano Dunes, Pismo Beach is home to many outdoor activities, including surfing, hiking, and more. In addition to horseback riding on the sandy beach, all-terrain vehicles can be rented and driven through the dunes. Sea caves in Dinosaur Caves Park can be explored by kayak during a kayaking tour. You can also take a stroll along Pismo Beach if you don’t like to venture far from the beach. The monastery butterfly grove is open from October to February so you can observe thousands of butterflies or walk the trails along the coastal hillsides.
7. Tahoe City, California
The tranquility of this town on Lake Tahoe offers an escape from the fast pace of city life. Located in the northwest region of Lake Tahoe, just a few miles from Squaw Valley and Alpine Meadows, this tiny town has a population of fewer than 3,000. A quiet Lake Boulevard runs through the town, flanked by towering pine trees, beautiful lake views, and a variety of local shops and charming restaurants that range from rustic to quirky. In town activities include Commons Beach, biking along the Truckee River Bike Trail, diving into Lake Tahoe from the Tahoe State Recreation Area, a great spot for camping.
8. Nevada City
If you want a glimpse of California at the time of the gold rush, Nevada City is the place to go. Located approximately 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, this historic town has made its preservation a top priority and has been added to the National Register of Historic Places.
Explore Broad Street, Nevada City’s main thoroughfare, where much of the town’s iconic architecture has been preserved, and you’ll also find a variety of small businesses run by friendly locals. Empire Mine State Historic Park, and the nearby Tahoe National Forest, are sure to appeal to history buffs, while outdoor enthusiasts should take advantage of the nearby park.
In Idyllwild you can experience Yosemite-like landscapes without having to deal with the crowds that descend on the popular national park. Mount San Jacinto State Park, which is 105 miles east of Los Angeles, is home to Idyllwild, which features green forested landscapes and granite peaks.
There is a rustic charm in this town that complements the surrounding landscape. Explore Idyllwild’s central streets and find one-of-a-kind goods before exploring the outdoors. The town is free of chain restaurants and stores.
10. Morro Bay
There is no better place to relax and unwind than this small fishing village located about 20 miles north of San Luis Obispo. Visitors to Morro Bay will enjoy the laid-back atmosphere, which encourages them to enjoy the scenery. This famous volcanic plug, Morro Rock, stands at 576 feet high with an estimated age of 576 years. Historically, it was used by sailors for navigation as early as 1542. Many tourists visit the rock’s adjacent beaches to admire its stature. Other popular attractions in Morro Bay include trips to Morro Bay State Park and the Morro Bay National Estuary Program, which provides information about local wildlife for residents and visitors.
In my opinion, this is among the most adorable towns in California. The stunning location along the Monterey coastline, lush forests, and fairytale-like architecture make this a dreamy retreat that will leave you wanting to stay. A walk through the streets of Carmel-by-the-Sea will allow you to fully enjoy this charming small town. Additionally, Carmel offers unique dining experiences because chain restaurants aren’t allowed to set up shop. After browsing and dining at locally owned businesses along Ocean Avenue, stroll down to Carmel Beach. Consider finding a spot underneath a cypress tree or sticking around for sunset.
Visitors willing to make the long drive from nearby San Diego, this mountain town offers sweeping wooded landscapes and country kitsch. Its old-world feel and wide range of outdoor activities make Julian stand out among place like it. The old main street features Western-style storefronts adorned with Americana. Lunch may be eaten at the old-fashioned Miner’s Diner, local goods may be purchased at the Julian Cider Mill, and dessert may be purchased at the famous Julian Pie Company.
Then, you’ll find a number of beautiful parks to explore, including Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, William Heise County Park, and Santa Ysabel Preserve.
13. Santa Maria
This beautiful vacation destination is located in the foothills of the Sierra Madres, minutes from pristine beaches, parks, mountains, championship golf courses, and hiking trails.
Santa Barbara County is home to 58 award-winning wineries nestled in picturesque countryside. Surf and swim in the Pacific Ocean while relaxing on the white sand beach. Surf shops, amazing restaurants, beaches, hiking and biking trails, golf courses, and endless activities can be found in this hidden paradise.
14. West Covina
As one of the largest cities in the San Gabriel Valley, the City has a land area of 16 miles. The City of West Covina is also well known for being the backdrop and filming location for several movies and television shows. As well as its mall, movie theater, and restaurants. The population for the city was 109,501.
15. El Cajon
The average household income in El Cajon is approximately $75,498. The majority of residents work in white-collar jobs. In San Diego County, that’s a solid middle-class income, and more people rent than own homes.
There was a thriving grape, citrus, and tomato agriculture in El Cajon. Frontier Town, Big Oak Ranch, a tourist attraction in the 1960s and 1970s, featured a typical frontier-town theme park and periodic simulated shootouts.
It is an all-around good neighborhood to live in Burbank. A number of nice parks are located throughout the area, the transportation is adequate, and the people are friendly. The downtown areas offer a few unique attractions, but there are not too many things to do. A major attraction is Universal Studios and the TV/movie entertainment studios.
It is important to note that there are nine cities or towns named “Burbank” in the United States. Although Luther Burbank was well known to Californians in his adopted state, the City of Burbank was named after Dr. David Burbank.
Located in the northern Sacramento Valley, Chico is the economic, cultural, and political center of the region. It is also the largest city in California north of Sacramento. As the home of California State University, Chico and one of the largest urban parks in the world, the city is known as a college town.
The residential area of Chico offers residents a dense suburban feel, and most residents rent their homes. Chico has a large number of coffee shops and parks. Chico is home to many young professionals and its residents tend to be conservative in nature.
18. Carson, California Cities
For the most part, Carson is a great city. Of course, there are some weirdos, but they are not too numerous. There is a great deal of spirit in the city and its residents. You may be surprised to learn that the city has a rich history.
Located in Los Angeles County, California in the South Bay region, Carson is approximately 14 miles from Los Angeles International Airport and 13 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Carson is bordered on the east by Long Beach and on the west by Torrance. In addition to the Los Angeles harbor, California’s famous coastline and beaches are about six miles away from Carson.
19. Newport Beach
There is a large, boat-filled harbor in Newport Beach, a coastal city in southern California. In addition to Newport Beach Pier and Balboa Pier, the Balboa Peninsula also has the Balboa Fun Zone, an old-fashioned amusement park featuring a Ferris wheel and ocean views.
There are many yachters, sailors, anglers, surfers, and others who visit this beachfront city every year.
What are the most notable features of Livermore, California? With its historic roots dating back to 1869, Livermore is considered to be the oldest wine region in California, surrounded by award-winning wineries, farm lands, and ranches that reflect the valley’s western heritage.
The city of Livermore is located in Alameda County, California. Livermore is the most populous city in the Tri-Valley with a 2020 population of 87,955.
21. Citrus Heights
Citrus Heights is located in Sacramento County, California. As of the 2020 U.S. Census, the city had a population of 87,583, up from 83,301 at the 2010 U.S. Census.
Citrus Heights ranked relatively well in terms of crime rate among California suburbs, with an average crime rate that was only slightly higher than the national average. Citrus Heights’ eastern side tends to report higher crime rates than its western side, based on available data.
With its numerous mainstream events, such as the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival and Stagecoach Country Music Festival, Indio has become one of the top destinations for foodies and music lovers.
The majority of Indio residents own their homes and the area offers a sparse suburban feel. There are many parks in Indio. There are a lot of families in Indio, and residents tend to be liberal.
Residents of Hesperia enjoy a sparse suburban atmosphere, with most owning their homes. The city of Hesperia has a large number of parks. There are many families living in Hesperia, and the residents tend to be liberal in their outlook.
During December in Hesperia, California, snow falls for 0.5 days and aggregates up to 1.38″ (35mm). During the entire year, snow falls for 3.1 days and aggregates up to 5.28″ (134mm).
24. Daly City
Area codes: Area code 415, Area code 650
Daly City is the second largest city in San Mateo County, California, United States, with a population of 104,901 according to the 2020 census. This town is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, and is immediately south of San Francisco. It is named after the landowner and businessman John Donald Daly.
Daly City is known as the “Gateway to the Peninsula” due to its proximity to San Francisco Bay on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west.
There is so much to do in Temecula, including championship golf courses, hot-air ballooning adventures, award-winning wineries nestled in 3,000 acres of picturesque wine country.
Over fifty years ago, Helen Hunt Jackson’s romantic novel Ramona introduced the concept to the public. Temecula is situated in a valley that was previously part of San Diego County in southern Riverside County. The town is situated approximately 70 miles north of San Diego on Highway 395, a major inland artery.
26. Yosemite National Park
Visitors: 2,268,313 (in 2020)
The best time to visit Yosemite is between May and September, when the park is accessible, but not too crowded. The majority of the year, Yosemite’s roads and trails are closed due to snowfall. In addition to its waterfalls and granite monoliths, Yosemite National Park has deep valleys and ancient giant sequoias. 125 years ago Yosemite become a national park.
Our nation’s third national park might be Yosemite, but it sparked the idea of national parks. On June 30, 1864, President Lincoln signed the Yosemite Land Grant, protecting the Mariposa Grove and Yosemite Valley 26 years before it became a national park. We still benefit from their foresight today because the government protected this land due to its natural beauty.
27. Napa Valley
Colleges and Universities: Napa Valley College, The Culinary Institute of America at Greystone, Pacific Union College
Population: 138,572 (2020)
Napa is best visited between August and October or between March and May. Tourists flock to Napa during the region’s harvest season (August through October). Accommodations, especially, are likely to be expensive during this busy time.
Napa Valley is one of the world’s premier wine regions, boasting more than 400 wineries and known for its high-quality Cabernet Sauvignon. Explore the vineyards, speak with the winemaker, or enjoy award-winning Napa Valley wines.
Things To Know For Visiting California
1. WiFi Everywhere
There is free WiFi almost everywhere in the state, so whether you’re dining at an upscale restaurant or a café, you can expect to be able to connect. In California, keeping in touch with family and friends and keeping up with what’s happening via social media is not a problem.
2. You Will Need A Car
Even if you intend to stay in one city for the duration of your trip you will need a car to get from point A to point B. In a state as large as California, it is possible to travel almost anywhere in relative freedom, so you will want a vehicle that will be reliable for long distances. There are also many scenic drives along the state’s coastal highways.
4. Music Festivals
There is no doubt that California is a music fest state. Los Angeles is the world’s capital of record companies. If you are interested in experiencing new music, interacting with other music lovers, meeting new people, or just watching a wide selection of amazing international acts perform, California has many music festivals. Many festivals and concerts are held throughout the state, such as Coachella, Stagecoach, and BottleRock.
5. Check the weather
Since California is such a large state, its climate varies greatly from one region to another. A Mediterranean climate dominates most of the state, with temperatures that stay warm and somewhat moist throughout the year. It is important to know in advance what climate you will experience so that you can pack the appropriate clothing.