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    California cities: the most beautiful stops to visit

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    Martí Micolau

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    There are many reasons that drive so many tourists to flock to the Golden State every year: California's national parks, beaches, scenic coastline, mountainous regions, desert regions and wine valleys. However, it is undeniable that another of the ingredients that contribute to attracting visitors to a considerable extent are the cities; in fact, this state can boast some of the most fascinating urban centers in America. In this article we will therefore deepen how to visit the California city, dealing with the most famous and well-known ones, the minor ones and also some hidden gems, able to transform your holiday into a real surprise. Let's begin!


    • The big cities of California: the trio of wonders
      • Los Angeles
      • San Francisco
      • San Diego
    • Californian minor cities
      • Santa Barbara
      • Monterey
      • Palm Springs
    • Villages and ghost towns not to be missed ...
      • Carmel by the Sea
      • bodie
      • Calico ghost town
    • Map of the most beautiful cities in California

    The big cities of California: the trio of wonders

    When you are talking about Californian cities the thought immediately flies to Los Angeles, San Francisco and San Diego, all 3 positioned on the coast and able to exert a unique charm on tourists from all over the world.

    Los Angeles

    An immense and sprawling metropolis, where it is easy to get lost. From the point of view of general aesthetic beauty it is at least a step below the other 2, but the amount of attractions it is able to offer makes it a practically unmissable destination for any self-respecting California on the road tour: the worldliness of Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills, the fantastic world of Disneyland, the amazing Universal Studios, the magic of Hollywood (while you're at it, take some notes on what to see in Hollywood) ...

    If we then consider Greater LA, the extended metropolitan area, the attractions multiply, adding to the list the beaches and seaside resorts immortalized in the many films, starting from Santa Monica, Malibu and Venice and, if you want to push yourself inland, there is always the interesting town of Pasadena.

    Given the immense size of this California metropolis, we have put together a special section, a travel guide to Los Angeles where you will find all the information you need to organize your stay, from things to see, how to get around, where to sleep in Los Angeles. Angeles.

    Los Angeles Travel Guide

    San Francisco


    Among all Californian cities, maybe that's right San Francisco the one that exerts the most charm, why? It will be due to its innate unscrupulous and eccentric tendency, which over the years has made it a sort of outpost of new trends and counterculture, or perhaps due to the charm of its streets, a succession of ups and downs from which continuous panoramic views of the bay of the same name, or for its most symbolic monument, the Golden Gate, the famous red bridge that I highly recommend you to cross from one end to the other by bicycle ...

    Difficult to say, the fact is that in this city you will have many things to do. As with Los Angeles, you must not only consider the urban borders, but also the surroundings, which will allow you to access natural beauty such as Muir Woods, Yosemite National Park, the wine areas of Sonoma and Napa Valley (read the article Napa Valley what see for more), and some charming coastal towns such as Sausalito, Monterey and Carmel.

    Again we have created a dedicated section, a travel guide to San Francisco designed to help you plan a visit, with tips on top attractions, sightseeing passes, out-of-town excursions and some tips on accommodation in San Francisco.

    San Francisco Travel Guide

    San Diego

    The charm of San Diego it is indisputable, and the reason why it is less popular than the other two is due to the fact that it is less known and advertised. The beautiful location on the coast (over 110 km) has in fact nothing to envy to Los Angeles or San Francisco, its beaches are the most beautiful, the climate it has to offer is probably the best of all American cities and amusement parks in San Diego will not be able to rival the mammoth attractions of Los Angeles, but we lack very little ...

    In fact, you will find SeaWorld, the most famous water park in California, the most traveled zoo on the West Coast, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park and Legoland. San Diego also boasts a quaint historic center and many interesting districts, some of which are permeated by a typically Mexican atmosphere, as well as a number of museums of great interest (art, naval, space and much more). Also for this city you can use our travel guide to San Diego to organize your vacation:

    San Diego Travel Guide

    Californian minor cities

    In addition to the main centers, there are also a number of smaller cities, towns on the coast or inland definitely interesting to visit. Here are 3 not to be missed:

    Santa Barbara


    It is a typical seaside resort with palm trees and beautiful beaches, but also rich in historical testimonies and interesting elements from an architectural point of view (the many buildings in Hispanic style give it a unique and peculiar character). A mix of ingredients that makes it a stop not to be missed along the Californian coast. We have dedicated an article to how to visit the city: what to see in Santa Barbara.


    It is not only its fortunate position that makes Monterey a fixed stop on the most typical Californian on the road. The town has more to offer than it seems: just think of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the most important aquariums on the West Coast, or the numerous historic buildings that characterize the Path of History, a path that will allow you to relive an important part of the Hispanic past of the city and California.

    The location on the peninsula of the same name makes it Monterey an excellent stop also to visit the surroundings: you can drive along the scenic route 17 Mile Drive, or the unlikely refuge for rich people of Pebble Beach, but also Lovers Point, the suggestive beach of Pacific Grove, and do not forget Carmel, of which we will talk about shortly. For a detailed guide read our article on what to see in Monterey.

    Palm Springs

    Here we leave the coast to venture into the desert, Palm Springs is a real oasis in the middle of the dunes of Mojave desert, a town with a decidedly unique character, characterized by typical low houses built in adobe framed by palm trees and swimming pools. Here architecture enthusiasts will find numerous elements of interest and will be able to admire the villas of the many Hollywood VIPs, who starting from the 40s began to take refuge in this town to spend their holidays. For more information, I refer you to our article on how to visit Palm Springs.

    Villages and ghost towns not to be missed ...

    California is full of small villages and towns to discover; we dedicate this last part of our excursus on Californian cities to some particular, picturesque and unusual destinations ...

    Carmel by the Sea

    Just a short walk from Monterey you will find the unlikely village of Carmel, an agglomeration of fairy-tale-style houses from which street addresses, lampposts and mailboxes have been banned, a sort of surreal small village, which also boasts one of the most beautiful Missions in all of California, as well as a beautiful beach with breathtaking views . For more information on how to set up a visit, check out our article on Carmel By the Sea.


    It is one of the best preserved western towns in America, now a ghost town, but really interesting to visit. If you grew up with Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, you can't miss such a pearl. Find all the information you need in our article dedicated to Bodie.

    Calico ghost town


    Another western town, but unlike bodie, not authentic. Rather, it is a brilliant and very funny reconstruction, where shootings and other events typical of the life of the cowboys are staged. If you want to know more take a look at our article on Calico Ghost Town.

    Map of the most beautiful cities in California

    Below you will find an interactive map of the cities of California that we have indicated in this article, hoping it will facilitate you in preparing an itinerary.

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