House in hte Danish style, Solvang village in Santa Barbara County, California

7 of the Most Walkable Towns in California

California, dubbed the Golden State, is renowned for its endless sunshine, vibrant culture, and beauty. So, what better way to explore this scenic state than on foot? While big cities like Los Angeles, San Diego, and San Francisco often attract major attention, California has many stunning small towns. Walking through these towns enables visitors to immerse themselves in and appreciate their natural beauty and culture up close. Today we will explore seven of the most walkable towns in California, each with a unique blend of local life, historical landmarks, and scenic hidden gems. These towns promise a memorable experience that only a walking tour can provide.


Shopping on Main Street of Carmel, California.
Shopping on Main Street of Carmel, California. Editorial credit: oliverdelahaye /

Carmel-by-the-Sea is a quaint small town in Monterey with picturesque European-style shops and breathtaking ocean views. Carmel is only one square mile which makes it extremely walkable. The town sits on a hill and overlooks the white sands of Carmel Beach. The beach is pet-friendly and is one of California’s few off-leash beaches. Along the beach runs the Carmel Scenic Road Walkway, a scenic paved path that leads to downtown. One of the town's most popular eateries is the Mission Ranch owned by none other than Academy Award-winning actor, Clint Eastwood.


Healdsburg, California: a historic, corner-facing building downtown
Healdsburg, California: a historic, corner-facing building downtown, via Logan Bush /

Healdsburg in Sonoma County California is a laid-back small town. There are many things to do and see in this town including booking enjoyable guided walking tours. Breakfast at Costeaux French Bakery is a must while in town. The bakery was established in 1923 and is renowned for its artisan breads and fresh pastries. The central plaza in Healdsburg is a great place for a spot of shopping. Popular stores include Mr. Moon’s which sells handmade jewelry, soap, and more, and Dovetail’s Collection which sells ceramics, woodwork, and home decor. Healdsburg is home to over 90 vineyards and wineries such as Amista Vineyards which offers guided hikes and tastings.


Bridgeway, the main street of Sausalito, California
Bridgeway, the main street of Sausalito, California. Editorial credit: bluestork /

Located north of San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge is Sausalito, a tiny town (it’s only two square miles). Most visitors walk, bike, or take the ferry down from San Francisco to enjoy the town’s delicious food while basking in the sunshine and looking out at the Bay. Some of the best cafes and restaurants include Barrel House Tavern, Sushi Ran, and Fish. As the town is located near the water, kayaking, and paddleboarding out on Richardson Bay are popular sports. Twelve minutes away from Sausalito is Tennessee Valley Trail. The trail is 1.7 miles long and families can walk or enjoy bike rides.


The picturesque town of Solvang, California.
The picturesque town of Solvang, California. Editorial credit: HannaTor /

Solvang was founded in 1911 by Danish immigrants and today it is like a little slice of Denmark in California. The town can easily be explored on foot beginning at Denmarket Square. Located in the Square is a beautiful fountain with a sculpture of the famous Danish story, “The Little Mermaid''. West of the fountain is Solvang Park which features a sculpture of Hans Christian Anderson (Author of The Little Mermaid). From there, visitors can head East towards Carivantas, one of the area's best wineries. Not too far from there located on Copenhagen Drive are several shops selling Danish delights such as Danish pan-cakes, sausages, and pastries.


Downtown Ojai, California, after winter snow in the mountains.
Downtown Ojai, California, after winter snow in the mountains.

Ojai is located in Ventura County, California. The town is very walkable, particularly the downtown area. Visitors can begin their tour at Cluff Vista Park near downtown Ojai. The park features local art and native plants and consists of six gardens - a deer-grass meadow, butterfly garden, chaparral landscape, sage garden, riparian landscape, and hummingbird garden. The park also features a basalt column, fountains, and pergolas. Also located downtown is the Ojai Valley Museum, a former rectory and church that was designated an Ojai Historic Landmark in 1993. The museum has beautifully carved entry doors, a stunning statue of a young man and a life-sized condor, and a sculpture of a brown bear.


Famous and historic Sebastiani Theater and Building in downtown Sonoma, California.
Famous and historic Sebastiani Theater and Building in downtown Sonoma, California. Image credit Lynn Watson via

Some of the best wine country in California, Sonoma is a great place for solo travelers, couples, and wine lovers. The main downtown area is small, but very walkable and houses a theater, great restaurants, and a park. Downtown is also a great place to taste wine, there are several wine-tasting rooms such as Highway 12 Winery, Auteur Wine, and Sebastiani. The town of Sonoma was once governed by Mexico and its past is deeply rooted in Old West culture. To learn about this culture, visitors can walk to the Mission San Francisco Solano de Sonoma museum, and explore the Sonoma Barracks cannon arsenal and military post.

St. Helena

Historic buildings in St. Helena, California.
Historic buildings in St. Helena, California.

St. Helena is situated in Napa Valley California. It is another beautiful wine hub with ample things to do. Downtown St. Helena has been nicknamed “Napa Valley’s Main Street” and is dotted with art galleries, charming shops, and superb wineries. Charles Krug Winery which opened in 1882 is one of the best in town and was the first ever tasting room in California. Merryvale Vineyards is also a must-visit spot. After walking around tasting wine downtown, visitors can head to restaurants such as Gott’s Roadside for an open-air meal or The Model Bakery for a slice of pizza.

Parting Notes

Exploring towns like St. Helena, Solvang, Sonoma, Ojai, Healdsburg, Carmel-by-the-Sea, and Sausalito on foot, allows visitors to experience the charm and beauty of California from a unique perspective. Each town has a distinct personality, culture, and attractions that beckon visitors to slow down and enjoy its natural beauty and local charm. From exploring the Danish heritage of Solvang to wine tasting in St. Helena and Sonoma, these towns are best explored through leisurely walks. So, grab your comfy shoes and enjoy an unforgettable trip through these seven most walkable towns in California.

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