The Getaway
Explore the Beauty of California's Small Towns

There are so many unique towns to visit in California it can be hard to choose just one! Whether you're looking for a small town with a cozy atmosphere or a city full of excitement and things to do, we've got you covered. Plan a road trip with your friends, or choose just one to explore. Any way you choose to travel, you're sure to love these California towns.


01 Sonoma

Everyone should visit Sonoma at least once in their lifetime. Located in Northern California, Sonoma is world-renowned for its wine country, and there are plenty of vineyards to see and tours to take. But wine country isn't the only thing Sonoma has to offer. The area is also home to beautiful redwood forests, a stunning coastline, and countless hiking trails.

And, of course, no visit to Sonoma would be complete without sampling the local cuisine, which features fresh, locally-sourced ingredients. Also, be sure to check out the city's historic Plaza, which offers a glimpse into the past, while the nearby public market is the perfect place to grab a bite or pick up a souvenir.

Sunset at Sonoma California patchwork vineyard at harvest KarenWibbs/ Getty Images

02 Ojai

Those who take the time to visit Ojai are rewarded with a unique and charming experience. The city is situated in a picturesque valley, and its proximity to the ocean creates moderate temperatures year-round.

Visitors can enjoy many outdoor activities, such as hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The area also has several wineries, making it a perfect destination for wine lovers.

A pink sky in Ojai. StefsStuff/ Getty Images

03 Carmel-by-the-Sea

Despite being a coastal California town, Carmel-by-the-Sea is personified by its European feel, with cobblestone streets and quaint shops and restaurants. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy, from hiking and biking to golf and swimming.

And, of course, the beaches are simply stunning, making it easily one of the best towns to visit in California for travelers looking to catch some waves or enjoy some spectacular sunsets.

empty trail by coastline,Carmel-by-the-Sea,California,USA. chinaface/ Getty Images

04 Lone Pine

If you're looking for a place to get away from it all, Lone Pine is one of the best towns to visit in California. Nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, this small town has a big heart.

The people here are friendly and welcoming, and there's plenty to do, whether you're looking for a relaxing vacation or an adrenaline-pumping adventure. Outdoor enthusiasts will love hiking, biking, and climbing in the beautiful scenery around Lone Pine.

A jacobs ladder is visible as the sun is setting behind mount whitney in Lone Pine california. DurkTalsma/ Getty Images

05 Solvang

Situated in the Santa Ynez Valley, Solvang is just a short drive from Santa Barbara. Its quaint shops and rolling hills offer a welcome respite from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. The town is also home to several excellent wineries, making it the perfect place to enjoy a glass of wine while enjoying the stunning scenery.

What travelers and locals alike seem to love about Solvang, though, is the unique Danish architecture. Stroll through town or visit a local restaurant, and you'll swear you're in Denmark!

California, Santa Barbara - California, Solvang, Town, USA HaizhanZheng/ Getty Images

06 Nevada City

You might not expect much from a historic gold mining town, but Nevada City offers a lot to eager travelers interested in exploring California's history. There's always something to do here, from great shops and restaurants to exciting museums and outdoor activities.

The setting is gorgeous, as the Sierra Nevada mountains surround the city. While the views make it one of the best towns to visit in California, and from farmer's markets to festivals to live music, you'll never be short of things to do in Nevada City.

Dramatic sunset in Sierra Nevada viewed from the Kings Canyon miroslav_1/ Getty Images

07 San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo (which locals call SLO) is a Central Coast gem known for its incredible weather, stunning scenery, and diverse activities. Whether you want to spend your days exploring the great outdoors or indulging in some retail therapy, you'll find plenty to keep you occupied in SLO.

There are also several breweries and distilleries in the area, making it a perfect destination for beer and spirit lovers. In addition to its many breweries and bars, San Luis Obispo is also home to some of the best restaurants in the state. Visitors can enjoy fresh seafood, farm-to-table cuisine, and traditional Mexican dishes.

Aerial shot of the passenger train station and Historic Railroad District in San Luis Obispo, California on a sunny afternoon in summer. halbergman/ Getty Images

08 Eureka

If you're looking for a place to visit off the beaten path, you should add Eureka, California, to your list. Eureka is a charming seaside town in Humboldt County, known for its stunning natural beauty and laid-back vibe. Plus, there's plenty to do in and around Eureka, from hiking and biking to exploring the local shops and restaurants.

Looking for two must-see places to add to your itinerary when visiting Eureka? Start at Sequoia Park Zoo and then visit the Sequoia Park next door to witness the grandeur of the iconic, towering redwood trees.

Woodley Island Eureka CA Boats at Marina dlinca/ Getty Images

09 Sausalito

Sausalito is a beautiful little town just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco, which is known for its stunning views, quaint shops and cafes, and relaxed atmosphere. Visitors to Sausalito can enjoy taking in the sights from one of the many waterfront parks, browsing the unique shops, or simply enjoying a meal or a drink overlooking the bay and fantastic restaurants like Scoma's of Sausalito.

Sausalito near San Francisco in California Aurore Kervoern/ Getty Images

10 Tahoe City

Surrounded by stunning mountain scenery and situated on the shores of Lake Tahoe, Tahoe City is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. In the winter, hit the slopes at nearby resorts or go cross-country skiing through the forests. In the summer, you can hike, bike, and paddleboard to your heart's content. And no matter what time of year you visit, you'll be able to enjoy Tahoe City's lively Main Street, which is lined with shops, restaurants, and art galleries.

A peaceful evening night view over the east shore of Lake Tahoe. In the mountains of the northern Sierra Nevada, hale irwin/ Getty Images

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