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13 California Cities That Guarantee Fun
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13 California Cities That Guarantee Fun

The Golden State is sure to be one of the most exciting places in the U.S. But, which are the most fun cities in California?

Roubina Al Abashian

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5 min read

March 24, 2022

You’ll never run out of fun cities to explore in California. Bustling with entertainment, food, nature, art, and culture, the Golden State promises a wealth of adventures that satisfy any interest. From Northern California’s quaint towns to Southern California’s coastal heavens, these are the destinations you need to add to your bucket list if you want to have a good time.

Most Fun Cities in Northern California

Don't forget to hike the beautiful trails of Arcata Community Forest when you're in town. The redwood trees at the park will leave you speechless.

1. Arcata

Nestled across the coastal area of Humboldt Bay is the vibrant yet serene city of Arcata—one of California’s most affordable beach towns. To make the best out of a trip to Arcata, hike the community forest trails surrounded by lush vegetation and towering redwood trees. Don’t forget to tour the Plaza and check out its quaint little boutiques. If you’re a big foodie, make sure to stop by Los Bagels for delicious handmade pastries and artisan espresso.

2. Santa Rosa

Santa Rosa is a Wine County treasure known for year-round great weather and breathtaking open spaces. This fun town in California is an attractive destination for families looking to step out of the mold with their kid-friendly trips. Safari West—one of California’s best zoos—is located in Santa Rosa and gives you the chance to get up close to exciting wildlife like cheetahs, wildebeests, and cape buffalos. Eager to spend more time outdoors? Head over to Spring Lake Regional Park where you can kayak and paddleboat with your little ones. 

Judging by its beautiful waterfalls, it's no surprise that the official slogan of Dunsmuir is "Home of the best water on Earth."

3. Dunsmuir

If you’re someone who appreciates spending time in the great outdoors, Dunsmuir will be right up your alley. As one of the top cities to visit in California with beautiful nature, Dunsmuir features a number of rivers, lakes, and waterfalls that warrant fun adventures. The Mossbrae Falls and Hedge Creek Falls are both easily hikeable trails in the area and reward you with beautiful waterfall views as you wrap up. If you need to fill your itinerary with more fun things to do in Dunsmuir, dining aboard a train at the unique Railroad Park Resort should be at the top of your list.

4. Mendocino

Everyone deserves a relaxing vacation in one of California’s most charming beach towns. Mendocino, with its Victorian architecture, gigantic redwoods, and spiky bluffs, is the perfect hideaway from city life and into the arms of nature. As with other beach towns in NorCal, you’ll never run out of exciting things to do in Mendocino. Go whale watching on the coast, canoe down the Big River, and visit the Temple of Kwan Tai—you’ll soon come to love the ambiance of this fun town in California.

The wooden waterfront docks of Sausalito are fun to stroll any time of day. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge from S.F. and see for yourself.

5. Sausalito

While Sausalito is just across the bridge from San Francisco, it feels like a whole new world to explore. Take it slow and enjoy visiting this fun town in California on foot. Have an al fresco dinner at the waterfront restaurants lining its downtown area. If you’re up for a bit of an adrenaline-inducing activity, sign up for a paddleboarding lesson while you’re there! Falling in love with Sausalito and wanting to stay longer? You’ll have no trouble finding more awesome things to do in Sausalito

6. Ferndale

Ferndale is prominent for its old Victorian architecture, unique feel, and vibrant food scene. During your weekend getaway in Ferndale, enjoy views from the Fernbridge historical bridge, visit the Centerville Beach County Park, and check out the famous farmhouses behind it. If you’re a history buff, you’ll have a blast diving deeper into the city’s roots at the historic Ferndale Museum

7. Truckee

Do you need a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life? Head to Truckee: a highly underrated town near Lake Tahoe. Surrounded by idyllic nature, this incredible mountain town offers plenty of opportunities to relieve the tension and do some self-reflection. Start your morning with serene outdoor yoga and go on exploring its picturesque meadows and creeks on foot, bike, or horseback. 

Carmel-by-the-sea is known for its enchanting architecture and famous mayors, which includes the likes of Clint Eastwood.

8. Carmel-By-The-Sea

Whether you’re in Carmel-By-The-Sea for a romantic weekend getaway, a family vacation, or a solo retreat, you’ll find a slew of fun activities to enjoy. The coastal city is renowned for its charming beaches, famous historic mission, art galleries, and cozy cottages. While you’re there, visit as many beaches as you can, birdwatch at the Carmel River Bird Sanctuary, and stroll Ocean Avenue to check out its shops, cafes, and art galleries.

Fun Towns in Southern California

9. Avalon

Located on Catalina Island, the small California town of Avalon is ideal for a one-day getaway from L.A. Book one of the hotels at the beachfront part of this California city and you’ll feel like you’ve escaped to the Amalfi Coast. Most of the best shops, restaurants, and attractions are within walking distance of each other, so you’ll have no problem getting around this fun city in California. Don’t miss the chance to go snorkeling in the Pacific and glide on a glass-bottom boat trip with Catalina Tours; you’re in for a trip of a lifetime.

Encinitas is a San Diego County gem known for its beautiful beaches, awesome restaurants, and rich history.

10. Encinitas

Ask any surfer and they’ll tell you about all the fun you’ll have catching waves in Encinitas. Grandview Surf Beach earns Encinitas its reputation as one of California’s best surf towns, but there’s more to the city than its beaches. Located just 30-minutes north of Downtown San Diego, Encinitas offers an array of outdoor activities to enjoy on a short getaway.  

11. Temecula

Southern California has its own stretch of Wine Country in Temecula. Known as one of the most fun cities in California, Temecula offers tons of opportunities for exciting adventures you can enjoy without imbibing in any alcohol. Plan a Temecula getaway, take a tour of the old town, and explore the valley on horseback. Need to fill your itinerary with more cool things to do in Dunsmuir? view its vineyards from above on a hot air balloon adventure. If you visit during the right time, you’ll also be able to enjoy a visit to the U-pick farms for strawberry and pumpkin picking.  

The picturesque Danish architecture of Solvang makes it one of the most coveted travel destinations in Southern California.

12. Solvang

Your quest for unique cities to visit in California stops at Solvang: the Danish village in the heart of Southern California. Colorful streets, delicious food, beautiful Scandinavian architecture, and a lot of history await you in this charming small town. Eat mouthwatering Danish favorites, admire iconic landmarks, and take part in the city’s one-of-a-kind events like Solvang Danish Days and Solvang Julefest. Visiting Solvang is always a good idea. 

13. Ojai

Fun looks a little different in Ojai. The charming SoCal town is a hiker’s paradise with its array of terrains and natural beauty. Hike the Matilija Canyon trail for unobstructed views of the Matilija Dam and the surrounding lush hills. Up to get a taste of everyday life in Ojai? Wander through its two-street downtown region and revel in the Bohemian vibes. Before you leave, stop by Ojai Olive Oil to taste the best olive oils in Southern California and enjoy a memorable food experience.

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