California is a beautiful state with fantastic weather and lots to see. It has much more to offer than just the big cities like LA, San Francisco, San Diego, etc. If you’re planning on traveling the US and seeing the hidden gems of our country, California is a great place to start.
There are plenty of smaller places you should visit in California if you want to experience a different sort of atmosphere and see the nooks and crannies of this state. Other than that, visiting these smaller cities is a good way to get around California without breaking the bank.
You can still have fun, enjoy beautiful sights, and meet wonderful people even if you’re not going to Los Angeles. So, let’s check out some of these amazing locations and give you some itinerary inspiration.
Laguna Beach is a gorgeous little city in OC. While it may not be one of the best places to live in Orange County, it’s definitely worth a visit.
This charming coastal city is great if you like a beach day, swimming, surfing, or sunbathing. Outdoor fans can even go hiking, biking, or running on one of Laguna’s trails or enjoy some fun water sports. You can also check out OC’s only natural lake – Barbara’s Lake.
Artistic souls can check out some of the many galleries or visit the summer arts festivals hosted in this pretty beach town. Nightlife in Laguna Beach also has a lot to offer – from bars and clubs to rooftop lounges.
There’s something for everyone, so Laguna really is an excellent place to visit when traveling through small towns in California.
If you’re looking for a small city with a lot of heart, Ojai is the place for you. This beautiful city is located in Ventura County and is just a short drive from Los Angeles. The main drag, Signal Street, is lined with cute shops and restaurants. You can find anything from vintage clothes to locally made artisanal goods.
Ojai is also home to many art galleries, as well as the Ojai Art Center. The city features work by local artists, as well as rotating exhibitions from guest artists.
There are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy in Ojai as well. The city is surrounded by mountains, so hiking and biking are popular pastimes. Or you can simply take a walk and enjoy the scenery. Ojai is the perfect place to relax and recharge if you want to escape the hustle and bustle of city life.
Sausalito is a picturesque small town located in Marin County, just across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. The city is known for its beautiful waterfront views, as well as its arts and culture scene.
There are several art galleries in Sausalito, as well as the Bay Area Discovery Museum, which is perfect for kids. The city also has a number of festivals throughout the year, including the Sausalito Art Festival and the Jazz and Blues Festival.
Sausalito is the perfect place to spend a day if you’re looking for some peace and quiet. There are plenty of parks and green spaces to enjoy, as well as restaurants with waterfront views. You can go up to Vista Point and take some magnificent shots of San Francisco and the bay. You can also take a ferry ride to San Francisco for some sightseeing.
This charming seaside town is the place to visit if you want to have that classic Californian experience. Pismo Beach is a dream for outdoor activities. If you want to learn to surf, ride horses on the beach or drive ATVs through the dunes, Pismo Beach is the place for you.
Kayaking, swimming, or simply drinking coffee with a sea view – it all awaits in this quintessential Californian town.
Located in Sonoma County, just north of San Francisco, Sonoma is known for its wine country atmosphere and beautiful scenery.
Sonoma Valley is home to more than 400 wineries, as well as the Sonoma Valley Museum of Art. Something you can also look forward to is the annual Sonoma International Film Festival.
This charming town has lots of parks and greenery, as well as a scenic walking trail that leads through the heart of the city. So, if you’re an outdoorsy person, you would enjoy visiting. You can even take a short drive to Napa Valley to enjoy the gorgeous views and tasty wine.
If you’re planning a trip with your girlfriends, an anniversary getaway, or a wine-tasting adventure, Sonoma is definitely a good place to check out.
One of the charming small towns to visit in California is the unique place called Avalon. It’s located on Santa Catalina Island and is the perfect spot for a recharging getaway. The fact that there is a 25-year-long waiting list to have a car on the island says a lot about the tranquility of this town. Don’t worry – you don’t need a car to get around Avalon. You can get by on foot or by golf cart.
Avalon is an excellent place if you want to go snorkeling, enjoy white sandy beaches, or hike along the Trans-Catalina Trail. If you want to make the trip extra special, you can go on a helicopter ride to Catalina – it will be a memory you’ll never forget.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a small town on the Monterey Peninsula in the Golden State. It is known for its art galleries, boutiques, and stunning scenery.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is home to more than 100 art galleries, as well as the Carmel Art Association. The city also hosts various festivals throughout the year, including the Carmel Art Festival and the Carmel Bach Festival.
If you’re looking for a place to relax and enjoy the outdoors, Carmel-by-the-Sea is an excellent choice. The city has lots of parks and sandy beaches, as well as the Scenic Bluff Path that runs along the coast. You can also take a short drive to Big Sur to enjoy the stunning views.
What’s Next on Your California Trip Itinerary?
If you want to take the scenic route this summer and avoid the hustle and bustle of the big cities, visiting California towns like these is a great plan. You can experience the authentic atmosphere, meet the locals and make special memories in these charming small towns.
All the cities listed above are truly unique and picturesque, so we’re sure you’ll have a great time if you visit them on your upcoming vacation. Which one do you choose?