How Many of These California Gems Have You Discovered?

7 Charming California Destinations – How Many of These Gems Have You Discovered?

Not only across the country but across the globe, California is renowned for having some of the most iconic vacation destinations. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who didn’t recognize places like Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Diego, and San Francisco. However, California is a huge state; there’s much more to the Golden State than a mere handful of cities. Its terrain is diverse, from coastal and desert cities to sleepy towns tucked away in the forests and mountains.

With so much to see in California, it’s only natural that a few cities and towns get forgotten in the shuffle of top recommended places. Below, we’ve put together a list of seven Californian vacation destinations you might not have known about, but are totally worth the visit. Read on to learn more!


Capitola California

Believe it or not, Capitola is the oldest seaside town in the entire state of California. The town is brimming with colorful, Venetian-style beach bungalows, a lovely pier, and a tranquil small-town atmosphere, located only an hour and a half south of San Francisco. Here, you can enjoy all of the beauty of central California without the hustle and bustle of being in the city.

Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake California

Big Bear Lake stands out not only for its gorgeous mountain atmosphere, but for also being the only ski resort in Southern California. That line that Californians feed you about being able to surf and ski in the same day is no joke; Big Bear Lake is a mere two-and-a-half hours away from L.A and two hours from Palm Springs, yet you’ll feel like you’re staying worlds away from the beaches that Southern California is known for. In the summer, you can spend your days kayaking, paddleboarding, fishing, and boating on the lake. Come winter, you can ski (cross-country and downhill), snowboard, snowshoe, and more at locations like Snow Summit and Bear Mountain.

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara Shopping

Santa Barbara is a funky beach town that couples the best of a city atmosphere with the laid-back ambiance that has drawn in countless visitors seeking out that soul of California. Artists and hippies flock here, as they did in the old days, but they’re now joined by new generations of freethinkers and people who want to enjoy Santa Barbara’s exquisite coastal atmosphere. The city is also located near Los Padres National Forest, the Santa Ynez Mountains, and Mission Canyon, meaning that you can spend your days surfing, hiking, and having fun outdoors in between checking out famous spots like the Funk Zone, the Waterfront, Stearns Wharf, and the Riviera.

Dana Point

Dana Point CA by by catlin.wolfard

Nestled between Los Angeles and San Diego, Dana Point was an early mecca in the surfing scene. It marries the beachy vibe of dive bars and simple beach shacks with pricey yachts and enormous mansions, making it a varied and beautiful landscape for your Californian experience. It’s also one of the most photogenic places in Orange County, so you can take gorgeous pictures during your vacation as keepsakes.

San Jose

San Jose California

Less popular than its northern neighbor of San Francisco, San Jose is rich with cultural hotspots that underscore the diversity of California. Spanish architecture, peaceful farms and parks, intriguing art galleries, old-fashioned theaters, and fascinating museums all color the character of San Jose. Visit spots like the Golden Gate Railroad Museum, the Rosicrucian Egyptian Museum, Holly Hummingbird Farm, Voorhees State Park, the water park Raging Waters, the Tech Museum of Innovation, and Happy Hollow Park and Zoo.

Imperial Beach

Imperial Beach CA

This secluded beach is tucked away at the very southernmost tip of not only the West Coast, but all of the continental United States. Imperial Beach’s isolated location between San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean has largely preserved the unfussy and classic vibe of its SoCal roots. You can see both San Diego and Mexico from its iconic pier.

Lake Almanor

Lake Almanaor CA by NAParish via Flickr

Lake Almanor is a stunning lake located about one hundred and sixty miles north of Sacramento within California’s Shasta Cascade. Here, you can enjoy activities on and near the lake during the warmer months of the year, then enjoy the changing leaves in the fall and recreation like snowshoeing and skiing during the winter. It’s also located nearby Lassen Volcanic National Park, where you can see steam vents, active hot springs, and bubbling mud pots.

About The Author:  Jacob Levine is an online blogger and content manager for Paradise Retreats, a local Santa Barbara vacation rental service offering some of the best rentals in the state. For more information, or to book a stay, visit our site today!

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