Tourists are often drawn to destination hubs like Los Angeles and San Francisco, but it’s actually California’s small towns that boast the most character and charm. Here are five small towns you should detour to on your next West Coast adventure.
Solvang is California’s quaint, European hideaway that will make any visitor feel as if they’ve stepped away from the beachy, Cali-cool lifestyle, and into a Danish storybook. Located just 30 miles northwest of Santa Barbara, this historic village was founded by Danish Americans in 1911. Even today, the town’s enchanting essence can’t be replicated, thanks to its authentic staples like family-owned Danish bakeries, windmills, and vintage storefronts. For more information, visit www.solvangusa.com.
Located an hour east of San Diego is Julian—an enchanting community built upon the 19th-century California Gold Rush that’s known for an abundance of apple orchards, cozy pie shops and the unforgettable surrounding peaks of the Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve. For more information, visit www.visitjulian.com.
Settled on the southeast corner of Catalina Island is the postcard-perfect town of Avalon—a city so beautiful and singular in character, you’ll forget that you’re still in California. Here, the island vibe is abundant, casual living is celebrated, and visitors will get to indulge in the amenities of a luxurious oceanside town without the hassle or cost of traveling abroad. For more information, visit www.cityofavalon.com.
Dunsmuir is one of Northern California’s most popular tourist attractions, as it provides the perfect glimpse of life in the Pacific Northwest. Hedge Creek Falls is a staple element of the area, with hikers and nature lovers all flocking to the town to indulge in Dunsmuir’s gorgeous, untouched forests. For more information, visit www.www.ci.dunsmuir.ca.us.
Carmel-by-the-Sea is a romantic, seaside destination that’s beloved for eclectic art galleries, boutique shops, and fairy-tale cottages. Carmel Beach—one of California’s most photogenic beachside destinations—is composed of wind-molded cypress trees that are true West Coast treasures. For more information, visit www.carmelcalifornia.com.