California is one of the most diverse states within our country offering so much to do, see, and experience. From the lush, sprawling forests of Northern California, to the jaw-dropping desert sunsets in SoCal, the Golden State is full of excitement, magic, and wonder. The only downfall, is that California has so much to offer, that it can prove rather difficult when you’re facing the decision of which destinations to include on your itinerary. It’s okay – you can relax now. We’ve compiled a list of 6 of the most mesmerizing, overlooked small towns in California that you simply must visit in your lifetime.
Located in Santa Barbara County, Los Olivos offers a quaint small-town charm where wine tasting and dining in solitude are plentiful. Leisurely stroll downtown and admire the artistic skill of local artists in this small town’s galleries while you enjoy a lively jazz melody playing in the background. If you’re hoping to enjoy a palatable meal following your day of exploration at the charming downtown, Los Olivos is proud to cater to a variety of tastes, offering Italian deli style eateries like Panino Los Olivos and one of a kind organic garden dining experiences like you’ll find at Global Gardens, the whole family will find something new to enjoy. Can you imagine the memories you’ll make?
Coastal California is absolutely gorgeous year-round. Balboa Island, one of California’s secret gems, transports you from the hustle and bustle of urban California to the laid-back coastal vibe of a small beach town. Family-friendly, Balboa Island offers fun adventures for the whole family. Take a boat tour and go whale and dolphin watching, ride the Ferris wheel and attend the fun zone arcade, or enjoy a day of fishing off the pier. Are you a junkie for adventure? Take a surf class at Newport Surf Camp. Jump on the Ferry and head to Balboa Island – make a day of it!
Ah, Malibu. There is so much to be said about this gorgeous beach town, but no words can truly describe the beauty of this California beach town destination – you really have to experience it for yourself. Where most California beach towns are crowded and rapidly growing in population, Malibu remains thriving yet quiet, emitting a feel of contentment, calm, and relaxation. Offering small town nostalgia like community gardening classes and events, combined with modern touches like fine dining, Malibu is a great place to spend the day if you’re looking to escape from the hustle and bustle of a California metropolis and reconnect with natural surroundings.
Old Town Temecula
Once you discover Old Town Temecula, it’s sure to become a favorite. Filled with so much history, Old Town has a rustic vibe. From antique stores and art galleries to boutiques and unique dining, you’ll never want to leave this charming SoCal destination. The old architecture is esthetically pleasing to your eye, and the Spanish-style décor is incredibly warm and artistic. You can take in the historic Western nostalgia and the friendly atmosphere while you enjoy a fresh meal on the patio at Palumbo’s Ristorante or Baily’s Old Town Temecula, or you can grab a brew with friends at one of the delightful pubs the town has to offer. Don’t leave California without visiting!
In the heart of the Ynez Valley, the tiny European-inspired town of Solvang thrives. When you visit Solvang, you’ll feel like you’ve just stepped into a magical fairytale. There aren’t many places left like historic Solvang, and the experience is worth the trip. Offering more than 150 shops and boutiques, you’re sure to find the perfect souvenirs to accompany you on your trip home. This whimsical town resembling a Swedish village is sure to become rooted deep in your fondest memories.
Envision a Mediterranean view, boats in the harbor, a blue sea and lush green cliff sides. Beautiful, isn’t it? Now imagine the same rejuvenating setting just a short distance away. Yep! Avalon will remind you of a Greek Oasis, but it won’t cost you an arm and a leg to get there. Situated along the coastline of Catalina Island, this gorgeous town has all you’ll need during your stay. Go for the day or stay for a week – Avalon boasts some of the most inviting hotels, delectable dining, and rejuvenating spas. Go boating, enjoy the landscapes, and unwind. Avalon is definitely a location that tops our bucket list!