While visiting, The U.S Army Corp of Engineers' Bay Model is a fascinating representation of the San Francisco Bay available for viewing in Sausalito. Its picturesque pier sets it apart from other southern Orange County towns. Neighboring the city of Ventura, west of Los Angeles, Oxnard is well regarded as one of California's best small towns to live in, and it's just as popular for weekend visits and vacation travel. The 25 Best Small Town Main Streets in the U.S. 30+ Small Towns You Should Visit This Summer, 28 Best Jobs for People Who Live In Small Towns, Pioneer Woman's Hotel, the Boarding House, Matt Dayka/courtesy of Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, Tenley Fohl Photography, Courtesy Visit the Santa Ynez Valley, Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism/ VisitPalmSprings.com, Tahoe South/Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority. The high cost of living has possibly contributed to the low population, but the residents would rather keep it that way. From windswept coastal communities to mountain towns in the shadows of giants, places like Arcata and Ojai deserve to be kept a secret-but their charm is too much of a magnet for those who enjoy a slower pace. A vibrant mountain town an hour east of San Diego, Julian is a charming community built upon the 19th-century California Gold Rush. Los Alamos' Old West heritage is on display as you stroll past the art galleries, antique shops, and tasting rooms along the main street. An idyllic coastal community, Carmel-by-the-Sea has it all: natural beauty, gourmet cuisine, art (nearly 100 galleries! Stay close and hang out at locally owned restaurants, boutiques, and museums that showcase St. Marys spirit and soul. For couples looking for an escape, romantic getaways in California are laced with intimate settings and quiet surroundings. Orizaba). Small towns like Half Moon Bay, Avalon, and Julian aren't only popular for their beautiful surroundings, but it's their culture and community that converts tourists into long-term residents each year. Its rugged coastline boasts jaw-dropping views of the sparkling Pacific Ocean, while the countless beach towns lining the shore are positively charming. With no two communities exactly alike, other small towns like Nevada City and Solvang are built on a rich heritage and historic cultures. Don't miss St. Joseph's Day Fiesta in March, a celebration of the migratory return of the cliff swallows. The verdant scenery and rich tastes of St. Helena often attracts visitors for their first-time visit, and the laid-back sense of style and friendly community keeps them coming back for years. On a stunning section of the Central California coast, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a romantic, seaside destination. The campus of Humboldt State University in Arcata adds to the casual tone of the city, and the Arcata Plaza displays its rich heritage with cultural spots like the Arcata Hotel and the Minor Theater. The "pink moment" at sunset is another very special feature of this tiny town. On a stunning section of the Central California coast, Carmel-by-the-Sea is a romantic, seaside destination. Within an agriculturally rich region of Northern California, the stunning city of Sonoma is at the heart of the world-famous county of its own name. Many tourists arrive in Avalon via high-speed ferry. The 1880 Union Hotel, pictured above, is a Victorian-style saloon dating back to the days of the wild west. On the border between California and Nevada, South Lake Tahoe is a year-round resort town attracting visitors with its bright blue water in the summer and ski hubs like Heavenly Village in the winter. The Ojai Valley Trail is a popular walking and cycling destination within the city, and numerous golf courses are spread throughout the Ojai Valley. Because this, this is a place for the high roller. The historic downtown district is lined with boutique shops and local restaurants, and some of the best skiing and trail activities in California stem from Tahoe City in all directions-including the tranquil waters of Lake Tahoe at the city's edge. Midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this town is beautifully decorated with public artwork: murals, tile mosaics, and sculptures line the streets. Paso Robles is your gateway to wine-and-olive mecca in California's coastal mountain range. Drive about an hour and a half northwest of Los Angeles and you'll arrive in the … Less than 30 miles north of San Diego, overlooking the ocean, Encinitas is known as one of the best surf towns on Highway 101. Carpinteria: 15 minutes south of Santa Barbara. Founded by Danish Americans in 1911, the rich heritage of this enchanting hamlet is very much on display, with colorful storefronts and windmills throughout the city-as well as authentic Danish bakeries adding sweet scents to any visit. Regular ferries leave from Sausalito to San Francisco, where stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge can immediately be seen from the Marin Headlands. More outdoor exploration awaits at the Arcata Marsh and Wildlife Sanctuary; a paradise for birders. It's a perfect destination for day hikes and backpacking trips, and the restaurants of Idyllwild cater towards those who have worked up an appetite. More about us. Do You Know How to Hang Christmas Lights? With a postcard bay and casual island pace, Avalon imbues the feeling of foreign travel without leaving the country. Epitomizing the tastes and culture of the surrounding Sonoma Valley, this historic city stills displays its past with colonial architecture and 19th-century adobes spread throughout downtown. You can hike amongst these beauties along trails traversing the 575-acre Arcata Community Forest. Alongside the charming attraction of homes and local businesses, it's the eclectic events of the downtown district and the friendly Humboldt County community that makes Ferndale a special place to visit. On the northern point of Monterey Bay lies Capitola; one of the oldest seaside resort towns on the west coast. The island of Coronado has been a popular vacation destination for decades thanks to its pristine beaches, oceanfront mansions, and beautiful gardens. Northern California is known for its small towns and their charm. Wrigley Botanical Gardens on the edge of Avalon makes for a great daytime activity, as does the stunning promenade wrapping around Avalon Bay. Dubbed "Idle-Awhile" by long-distance hikers passing through the area, Idyllwild is one of the first towns the Pacific Crest Trail passes through when heading north from the Mexico border. The old Victorian architecture lining the streets of Mendocino blends beautifully with Mendocino Headlands State Park, which borders the community on all three sides. Alongside… Within Humboldt County in Northern California, on the northern portion of Humboldt Bay, a short drive from Eureka, Arcata is a charming small town defined by a laid-back atmosphere and a sense of history. Hollywood stars and top athletes live in oceanfront homes here, under an elegant veil of privacy on long stretches of beach, and enjoy front-row seats for surfing and unforgettable sunsets. In a valley surrounded by the Topatopa Mountains of Ventura County, Ojai is a mountain-lovers town 80 miles north of Los Angeles. The Sonoma Plaza is a first good place to stop in Sonoma, surrounded by blocks of local restaurants and boutique shops. Ambitious hikers can make their way to the top of the 14,505-foot peak via the Whitney Portal. Hedge Creek Falls is always a popular place to head to from the historic downtown district of Dunsmuir, and similar natural appeal is experienced at the nearby Lake Siskiyou. It's known for its concentration of mid-century modern architecture and lush golf courses, as well as serving as a haven for celebs dating back to the Rat Pack days. It's not just the rolling surf that makes Encinitas a popular place to visit-the community that tends to gather within the historic downtown district is known to have a "fun-in-the-sun" kind of mentality. These Christmas Front Doors Are Nothing but Merry, 27 Most Delicious Christmas Dinner Casserole Ideas, 15 of the Quirkiest Small Towns In America, This content is created and maintained by a third party, and imported onto this page to help users provide their email addresses. Laguna Beach | Photo Copyright: Brad Lane. Best Big Cities in California: Offering cultural attractions on every street, the larger cities in California provide an entirely different traveling experience. Backdropped by the impressive Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco is the capital of culture in the Bay Area. It's popular for city getaways without traveling too far. Alongside the historical resonance throughout this charming small town, modern establishments and eateries line the streets, and all types of appetites can indulge.