The gorgeous Laguna Beach town in California.

10 Gorgeous California Towns To Visit In 2023

Visit the small California towns to get away from the hustle and bustle of the big cities on a getaway, chase away the winter blues, and even enjoy skiing. From SoCal through "SloCal" to NorCal, these towns are the place to be in 2023, with many famous places poking their cute sun-kissed faces on this list. Choose blindly, and you will land in a real winner amid wine country, with old-time vibes and endless charms that enchant everyone regardless of taste. These towns deliver the best attributes of the Golden State without the crowds along the windswept coastal beaches. Choose a mountainous enclave, a remote gem, or a desert oasis that offers a leisurely lifestyle in year-round balmy weather.


Vineyard With Rolling Hills In The Distance, Dry Creek Valley, Healdsburg, California, USA
Vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, Healdsburg, California.

For the wine-centric, there's no better place to enjoy shopping, dining, and sauntering through the Plaza like a local when steps away from their favorite pastimes—vineyard strolls, wine tastings like an expert, and lounging with a glass at views. Healdsburg, a small town in Sonoma County along the Russian River, invites like-minded fans of the drink and conoisseurs's families to share deep knowledge about the region and friendly advice about the best hotspots. Come this summer or fall for those lush grapevines with juicy fruits and river walks under the uncompromising Cali sun.

Whether you are escaping the cold November air and dreary views or the wintertime blues, Healdsburg is the perfect town when it gets dressy for the holidays. Feel at home in no time, venturing through the downtown area or on a hike along those pristine landscapes in an atmosphere that feels so far away from the everyday. You must visit this town in 2023 to share a glass of California's finest in between family-friendly pursuits, so snatch an Airbnb or book a night at the Montage Healdsburg and get excited to descend into some easygoing luxury.

Laguna Beach

The gorgeous Laguna Beach town in California.
The gorgeous Laguna Beach town in California.

Laguna Beach, big and small, remote and central, is perfectly SoCal from every side. Enjoy easy access between Los Angeles and San Diego for a must-visit in 2023 if you have never been before. The town will fulfill all of your getaway dreams at any time while keeping everyone happily occupied along the array of scenic beaches. Escape the wintertime blues for strolls along the sunny beach in an atmosphere made famous on TV and in countless movies, with swimming and lounging regardless of the season. From Main Beach to Crescent Bay, these local favorites have everything you need and are a hand's reach away from all other things that you desire.

Learn surfing in a small-town atmosphere, so you can catch the waves in big cities like San Diego or just hang on your longboard amid dolphins in the waters. This coastal town and surf mecca bursts with artists' talent along the streets, with the most impressive outdoor public art. Seek wild scenery along the shores of Crystal Cove State Park, perfect for a shaded stroll in a remote atmosphere. The family-friendly downtown will diversify each day with different cafes, galleries, and boutiques to peruse on vacation. Choose the Surf & Sand Resort, and you will be lulled to sleep by the crashing waves outside your window.

Lake Tahoe

Summer at Lake Tahoe, California.
Summer at Lake Tahoe, California.

This lakeside mountain town in the beautiful Sierra Nevada range is truly unlike any other, with both 400 inches of snow and 300 days of sunshine a year. The super popular vacation and adventureland for families and the outdoorsy offers varied lodging options, including log cabins in the woods, lakefront cottages, and resort-style amenities. For the picturesque alpine lake strolls alone, it receives millions of visitors from around the world to gawk and bask in a real recreation paradise.

Visit Lake Tahoe this year to reconnect with nature over some summertime swims, autumn foliage, and the wintertime cross-country skiing and snowshoeing of your life, with its 15 ski resorts just around the corner. Come back in the spring for the best hiking trails in the natural world when it shakes off the last of the heavy flakes. From boating and waterskiing off the sandy lake's shores to mountain biking the countless trails around, there is also nightlife in town, like breweries, bars, and casinos. The alpine feel and scenic glory overwhelm, inspire, and recharge you to get into the hustle of life.

Long Beach

Shoreline Village in Rainbow Harbor In Long Beach, California.
Rainbow Harbor In Long Beach, California.

The small port town of Long Beach, ensconced in the greater Southland, is where the real fun starts once you get away just far enough—only 30 miles from the Hollywood sign—to get into the laid-back vibes away from the traffic-clogged LA scene. Find plentiful rentals for a vacation or getaway to immerse yourself in a lifetime of activities like interesting restaurants and a vibrant shopping scene, not to mention the early music of its most famous son, Snoop Dogg. Buy some of the vintages, like outfits, home decor, vinyl records at Third Eye Records, and those bottles of reds and whites you've been itching to get your hands on.

Get with the beat at some of the best SoCal breweries like Beachwood, the regular podium finisher at the Great American Beer Fest, and Southland, one of the state's oldest bars. Dine your heart out on Fourth Street's Retro Row with exquisite pizzas and cool wine choices at Little Coyote. Visit the hip Aquarium of the Pacific with your family, SoCal's largest and the infamous Queen Mary, a nearly century-old ocean liner, restaurant, and hotel.

Los Alamos

Sign welcoming visitors to Los Alamos, California.
Sign welcoming visitors to Los Alamos, California. Image credit: NHRHS2010 via Wikimedia Commons.

Come deep into the heart of Central California, in northern Santa Barbara County, to discover this cow country gem, with just an hour's access south of San Luis Obispo. The unlikely culinary oasis surprises first-time visitors with thousands of loyal followers and just over 1,300 souls to its name for a real homey vibe. Full of Life Flatbread started slinging out some delicious pizza creations exactly two decades ago, making history here just off Highway 101. Try their creations in 2023 and work up some sweat on scenic strolls, hikes, and bike rides through the surrounding rolling hills to hit other notable restaurants.

The "little LA," an esteemed SoCal town since then, offers plentiful roadside motels to accommodate its ever-growing popularity among foodies, culture vultures, and seekers of cute sights and old-timey feels. Take a stroll along the flat-front buildings on the main drag and stop by the just-as-famous natural wine-tasting room with its rustic look. Visit Bell's, a fine-dining Michelin-starred destination that has been going strong for five years with the reputation of being one of the country's best new restaurants, according to Esquire. From slurping up excellent food and wine to cozy coffee shops and a unique shopping scene, Los Alamos will entertain your whole gang on a getaway to remember.


 Cannery Row in Monterey, California
Cannery Row in Monterey, California.

The Monterey Peninsula in the "SloCal" part of the country has a different vibe than anywhere else in the Golden State. Immerse yourself in the relaxed local pace you've been craving along the pebbly beaches and the humble architecture in town. Monterey, on the northern side of the peninsula in central California, about 40 miles south of Santa Cruz, aspires to the perfect coastal lifestyle by synthesizing easygoing with sophistication. Enjoy all of Monterey's jaw-dropping coastline views with strolls and lounging in a real small-town feel, defining the laidback luxury you deserve on a getaway.

Make a memorable stop on your coastal road trip or come for a romantic weekend stay, with many family-friendly activities for everyone, like golf, the world's most coveted fairways, whale watching, and more natural wonders all around. Take a stroll through the charming seaside neighborhoods, visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium, one of the country's best, and take a different pick every day from the seafood galore of restaurants. Every day here starts with the natural beauty along the picture-perfect beaches and browsing Monterey, a small town with a soul.

Palm Springs

Golf course in Palm Springs, California.
Golf course in Palm Springs, California.

No other town in California can compete with the glam of Palm Springs, albeit a bit overdone. Nevertheless, the town, under its timeless charm, continues to receive an endless string of tourists, whom it never fails to disappoint. Visit this sunny town to cut loose and enjoy extravagance in a desert setting, with a lot of cuteness going on here. Palm Springs, a popular luxury escape to the sunny California Desert at the San Jacinto Mountains with all of the amazing views, does not have to break the bank on a getaway. Under the balmy year-round weather, you can enjoy your favorite outdoor activities and peruse the hotspots in the fresh air.

This destination for Hollywood stars and powerful people from around the world since the 1920s is a must-visit at least once in your life, so make 2023 the year to spend a few days in the warm desert small-town atmosphere with your favorite gang. Find a great blend of entertainment and relaxation with something that excites everyone in your gang, like museums, sophisticated restaurants, the nearby Coachella Valley, resorts for a day visit, and drive-in movies. Come for the sea and the mountains, and take an aerial tramway to be treated to the best perspective atop spectacular desert landscape views.

Santa Monica

The coastal town of Santa Monica, California.
The coastal town of Santa Monica, California.

Come live the coastal lifestyle in Santa Monica, a town with an unreplicable vibrant atmosphere that lures thrill-seekers, beachgoers, and scenically starved tourists. The city in Los Angeles County, with a thriving cultural scene and beautiful beaches in sunny weather, is replete with scenic beauty and a wide range of attractions for every taste. Seek a slice of it along the Santa Monica Pier, Muscle Beach, and the infamous Santa Monica Beach and Promenade—a worldwide destination.

Enjoy easy access from LA for a day trip into this quintessential California beach town but with a whole vacation worth of things to do and see. Take a stroll along the pier to experience the real spirit of the town with its amusement park, the Ferris wheel overlooking the beach, shacks, and anglers fishing off the pier. Soak up that lively Santa Monica downtown atmosphere with hotspots like the Santa Monica Museum of Art, other excellent museums, and more than a handful of popular restaurants and cafes that foodies adore.

Shelter Cove

Black Sand Beach in Shelter Cover, California.
Black Sand Beach in Shelter Cover, California.

There are many immaculate places in California that retain a pristine feel thanks to just enough population along its mighty Pacific coastline to keep on thriving. Visit Shelter Cove, a tiny town clinging to a remote protuberance on Humboldt County's Lost Coast, crashed by the ocean waves under the towering King Range. The real dreamy scene comes with spotty cell phone service and no distractions or stressors. Enjoy each moment like the sunset, as the slowpokes here do in a town with no downtown or even a stoplight. Feel a world apart from city life and all the wares of civilization, except for the recent progress that has seeped in, just the way you like.

With only local places, you can visit Gyppo Ale Mill, modeled for a "freewheeling and independent life" and serving excellent locally brewed beer, you can enjoy on a patio with a view of the Shelter Cove airstrip, along with weekly live music and a firepit. The surf-and-turf Mi Mochima is the town's go-to for fine dining on dishes with Venezuelan flair like swordfish-stuffed empanadas and pork ribs—a satisfying choice after all of the exploring around. Take a stroll and lounge along the sweeping black-sand beaches with rich tide pools and whale-watching opportunities. The active appreciate various hiking trails, including the glorious backpackers' choice of the Lost Coast Trail just to the north.


Danish town of Solvang in California
The Danish town of Solvang in California.

Immerse yourself in some culture in 2023 like never before in Solvang, a sun-soaked slice of Danish history. Just stroll down Copenhagen Drive to feel transported an ocean apart with places to taste the real deal Aebleskivers among other authentic pastries. The perfect mix of California's best wine cellars, European bakeries, and the most diverse shopping scene to drink, dine, and swipe on repeat makes you feel like a real Dane under the glorious California sun.

Live the life you've been dreaming of on a quick getaway with strolls to saunter between boutique shops, or ride the Solvang Trolley to scope it all out amid Danish-style architecture and more Airbnbs available than ever before. Bring your camera and picnic basket to chase some windmills or visit the 120 wineries in the area. Choose the Mirabelle Inn with its Michelin-starred restaurant, First & Oak, for the best stay of your life. 

These towns are magnets for outdoor scenery seekers with family-friendly pursuits, entertainment, and nightlife. Live in luxury on a getaway in a coastal community where you can stroll the sands first thing in the morning and be lulled to sleep by the sound of the waves at night. Breathe in that healing salty mix in the air that will rid the last of the city soot from your lungs during outdoor ventures and in-town explorations with many hotspots to uncover. Discover some of the nation's best beaches, aquariums, and other kid-friendly places amid a whole Michelin-starred restaurant scene and chance celebrity sights. Having long been a magnet for famous people, you can dig into the town's history on a simple stroll through the air full of elegance and decadence around every corner.

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