The third-largest state by size and the most populous one is strewn with towns to get away from the busy cities without the crowds or the tourist vibe. From Napa Valley and San Francisco to Los Angeles and down to San Diego, we present to you a choice of welcoming towns, some of which are officially rated the friendliest in the state. Enjoy the pleasant climate for outdoor pursuits and the laid-back environment along the streets as you delve into shopping and culinary delights.
These eight towns deserve the spotlight for being the friendliest in California while astounding you with their dramatic nature that is most tame when you explore. Enjoy pristine beaches, verdant state parks, and orchards, all with low traffic, for the best times in close company and unobscured vistas. Explore at your leisure with the always-welcoming locals to make friends and get advice on their beloved towns.
This village in the northern reaches of Southern California is a real picture of perfection, with a relaxed vibe typical of the "SloCal Land." Find Cambria's friendly face poking peacefully between Cayucos and San Simeon in a heart-touching, jaw-dropping sight to behold. The seaside hamlet welcomes visitors for feel-good experiences around some of the state's best nature, like horseback riding along the shores or trotting through the hills.
Take a morning stroll down Moonstone Beach, which you will frequent during the days of your vacation, and in the evenings for sunset. The cultured town awaits the artsy type downtown, a-buzz with creativity, marvelous architecture, art galleries, boutique shopping, and antiques. Enjoy the lively street energy and head into the friendly environs of the surrounding Monterey Pines for a shadowed picnic, or visit the nearby Hearst Castle. Cozy up in Cambria in any season with warm service, farm-to-table feasts, and the most luxurious wines from the region.
The small town with friendly access between the ocean and San Diego Bay is an easygoing place away from the city. Enjoy your favorite seasonal pursuits after checking into the welcoming historic Hotel Del Coronado with friendly service that saw celebrities like Oprah, several presidents of the US, and even the British monarch. Leave the impressive accommodations for now, with the irresistible outdoors awaiting under a warm climate and smiling locals on a sunny day stroll.
Explore Coronado, surrounded by water sights on all sides and named the third friendliest town in the US by Expedia readers in 2015. Relish in a lazy morning of book-browsing through its literary landmark, Bay Books, with the cutest stationary section to stock up for your friends back home. The Bluewater Grill invites you for a sunset dinner with an unreplicable experience over a custom seafood menu with an exquisite view of the bay.
Encinitas is an exquisite SloCal town with a relaxed local pace to enjoy sights and pursuits for any taste at your leisure. It is also among the few places in the state retaining the revered Old Cali appeal, alongside the typically spectacular beaches for swimming and sunbathing along the beautiful coastline. Immerse yourself in the retro feel, unique culture, and beachy vibes along the streets on your way to the sandy shores and breathtaking water vistas.
Spend a peaceful afternoon in refreshing nature on a stroll through the town's many green spaces, like the San Diego Botanic Garden or the San Elijo Lagoon Ecological Reserve, with seven miles of walking and hiking trails. Get personal with wildlife at the Nature Center and explore the distinctive, friendly neighborhoods. With delicious dining options and shopping hotspots at each corner, you will fall in love with the town and revisit it again, just a short drive or train ride from San Diego.
Laguna Beach is a no-secret friendly place that captures hearts at first sight, with a special aura emanating from this part of the SoCal coastline. Enjoy beachgoing throughout the year and a myriad of feel-good pursuits to diversify your stay alongside friendly locals on and off the water. The scrumptious piece of California beckons with famous cafe terraces where you will feel part of the atmosphere while absorbing culture through the many indie coffee shops.
Start a relaxing day on the patio of the laidback Laguna Coffee with unhurried locals, regardless of the day of the week. Seek neighborly advice from a new friend or your friendly hotel concierge to experience everything their beloved town has in store without regrets when it is time to leave. You will feel at home and always be allured to come back with new experiences and surprising hotspots each time.
Orinda is a homey West Coast suburb east of Oakland, with just over 19,000 educated residents. Ranked the second friendliest town in the country by Forbes readers in 2017, it is a desirable place to live with low crime and a relaxed place to visit on a weekend getaway from the city's rush. Join the friendly community over cheese parties with fresh regional delicacies, and stop by the California Shakespeare Theater for a memorable evening experience.
Come at your leisure with a pleasant climate throughout the year, like during the cozy pumpkin carving season with contests and neighborhood wine gatherings. Visit in time for the Orinda Film Festival or the 4th of July celebration that starts over a pancake breakfast. Orinda will lament the lack of interaction in the hustle and bustle of the dizzying city with appealing small-town vibes to feel refreshed and ready to get back in the game of life back home.
Rancho Mirage is a truly miraculous SoCal resort getaway, under the radar and without the tourist vibe. It was rated the second-friendliest town in the country by Expedia readers in 2015 for its welcoming atmosphere. The gracious residences and a dose of vitamin D will make you believe in humanity once again. Stroll the sun-kissed streets brimming with kind services like Shame on the Moon and Gioia restaurants for the best pastas that will fill you up with energy and good feelings.
Explore the friendly nature around this Palm Springs area, like walking trails through the Indian Canyons, or join the locals over a round of world-class golf. Rancho Mirage, 650 feet above Palm Springs Valley in the Santa Rosa Mountains, has been a stunning home to celebrities over the years with beautiful landscaping, luxurious stays, and panoramic views. Dine fabulously every day and enjoy award-winning spa experiences on a weekend retreat that you will remember as the most relaxing of your life.
This charming, walkable beach town with a revered atmosphere to relax could not get friendlier if it tried, with resident seals who love seeing visitors from their basking spots along the seaside rocks. Seal Beach is down-to-earth and one of the nation's friendliest towns, according to Forbes readers, at the gateway to Orange County's 42 miles of coastline. Explore the friendly town's quaint, immaculate neighborhoods and a walkable Main Street laden with hotspots. It is a year-round destination for the Seal Beach Christmas Lighting ceremony and the wide sandy expanses.
Enjoy friendly access to its pristine 1.5-mile beach spread, just 28 miles south of Los Angeles, and take a day trip to Long Beach one way and Huntington Beach the other. Find several great surf spots to windsurf and handle the waves alongside the locals, or fly kites and build sand castles with your family. The Surfside Pier is the state's second-longest wooden pier, dating from the 1900s, for strolls and sunset picnics. The town of under 25,000 residents is home to a whopping 18 parks to stay active outdoors in as much company as you like.
Visalia is not just one of the Golden State's friendliest towns but also one of the most beautiful to explore, where nature is as friendly as the residents. Find the small town peeking out of the beautiful fruit orchards along California's Central Valley that await friendly tourists to lighten their loads. Take a relaxing stroll under the sun and enjoy fruit picking with your family before visiting shops for homemade jams to bring back.
Discover history along the streets from 1852 with museums and various ways that celebrate thriving agriculture through the years. Find a welcoming stay and enjoy easy access from the historic downtown to explore some of the best national parks in California. Get really personal with the wild nature of the largest volume tree in the world at Sequoia and Kings Canyon national parks, with hiking trails, rivers, and friendly waterfalls.
California is one friendly state, with a load of vitamin D throughout the year in its southern stretches and a relaxed feel moving towards the middle through the SloCal Land. Enjoy a pleasant climate year-round, with diverse nature to explore throughout the Golden State. Choose a town with a local vibe, an easy drive from US cities, and the coast nearby.
Get away from the serious city's grime and hurried people to the pristine beachscapes with a refreshing pace of seaside living. These towns welcome you with cozy vibes, appealing streets, and charming residents that make you feel part of the crowd.