Top 10 of the most beautiful villages in California, to perfect your road trip

Have you ever visited the essentials of Los Angeles and San Francisco? Have you traveled through Malibu, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, Monterey and Carmel-By-The-Sea and are hungry for much lesser known but equally recommendable small California towns? This top is for you! Here are 10 frankly unmissable places. Sometimes surprising villages for a crossing of unexpected influences…

1. Pacific Grove

Located between Monterey and Pebble Beach, this small town known for receiving the visit, between mid-October and mid-February, of thousands of sublime monarch butterflies, is also appreciated for its beautiful Victorian houses, its picturesque lighthouse and its museums. There is also Stanford University’s famous marine biology station.


The nerve center of the Californian vineyard, this big village of course offers plenty of tastings but also several hiking trails, which also welcome a lot of cycling tourists. A place of retreat, peaceful and conducive to epicureanism, also rich in many museums and other fascinating art galleries.

3. Mendocino

Relatively spared from the floods of tourists, in particular because of its location north of San Francisco, this small town perched above the Pacific is appreciated for its rugged cliffs and its art galleries. Romantic, quaint and welcoming, Mendocino is one of California’s hidden gems.

4. Calico

One of the most famous ghost towns in the United States, where people once mined silver. Now transformed into an open-air attraction, Calico is home to a few shops and offers a proper immersion in the lifestyle of the late 19th century. Exciting !

5. Solvang

Very close to Santa Barbara, Solvang is one of those atypical places that looks like something out of a movie or a cartoon. This is also where Alexander Payne’s masterpiece, Sideways, was filmed. Founded by Danish educators in 1911, Solvang has retained an appearance that contrasts sharply with what can be found around. And that is what makes it rich. A sort of Danish parenthesis in America, with the added bonus of a replica of the Little Mermaid of Copenhagen!

6. Sausalito

Connected to San Francisco by the mythical Golden Gate, this charming city once known to house gambling dens during Prohibition, has now regained its calm. Even if gentrification has done its work there, driving out the hippies to welcome some Silicon Valley pundits.

7. Borrego Springs

The only village in Borrego Desert State Park, Borrego Springs is therefore a desert village. A popular site for its strange sculptures, arranged along the road, which seem to welcome visitors while at night the stellar vault puts on a show.

8. Idyllwild

Lost in the mountains of San Jacinto, in the middle of lush vegetation, this village also receives many artists but also stands out as a popular stopover for hikers. The kind of nugget that has to be earned and which, in addition, offers tranquility due to the fact that to this day, tour operators continue to ignore the area. All the more reason to ask.

9. Ferndale

A village of barely 1300 inhabitants, of Victorian style, classified by the National trust for historic preservation. Born at the crossroads of various influences, Ferndale offers a journey through time, in the heart of a California far from clich├ęs.


Once a must-see city during the gold rush, Columbia now serves as a historic site. Magnificently preserved, this small town wanted to change as little as possible to continue to tell its history to its visitors.

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