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We might be a bit biased, but we’re of the opinion that nothing beats a beautiful California beach town. That being said, there are some gorgeous communities that aren’t far from the coast that are definitely worth exploring. If you’ve got a day to step away from the beach, get in your car and head inland, if only slightly. These gems are just a few of the many worthy places you’ll find.

Mill Valley


You’ll find Mill Valley about 14 miles north of San Francisco on the western and northern shores of Richardson Bay. The small city is a nature lover’s paradise, with the Muir Woods National MonumentMuir Beach Overlook, and Tennessee Beach being some of the top attractions.

Santa Rosa

Ledson Winery and Vineyards, Santa Rosa, California, USAPhoto credit: Jim G / Flickr

Located in Sonoma County, Santa Rosa is in the heart of California’s culinary epicenter. If you enjoy excellent food and wine, you’ll love this charming community. Add in all the options for arts, culture and live music and you’ve got a sophisticated little city with a lot to offer. Santa Rosa was devastated in late 2017 with a rapidly spreading fire that killed many residents and burned 5% of the homes in the city. It’s time for us to visit again and help them out. Santa Rosa is about a 30 minute drive from the beaches of Bodega Bay.


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You’ll find Ojai, a peaceful escape from the madness of L.A., about 30 minutes northeast of Ventura. People tend to come to Ojai to relax, and you’ll find plenty of resorts and spas where you can do just that. The serene Meditation Mount on Reeves Road is a place yogis and gurus have been drawn to for many years. Recent wildfires burned all around the area, but the town was spared and its charm remains.

Beverly Hills

Los Angeles - Beverly Hills_ Rodeo Drive-14840767396Photo credit: Wally Gobetz / Flickr

If you’re envisioning a star-studded mecca, you’re not terribly far off. Beverly Hills is home to some of Hollywood’s most famous celebrities, but that’s certainly not all it has to offer. You’ll find gourmet restaurants, luxury hotels, fancy spas and high end shops at every turn, making this the perfect place to pamper yourself (and to people watch).


Grand01Photo credit: Wikipedia 

Escondido is a scenic mid-sized city in the northern part of San Diego County, only 20 minutes from the coast. Visually stunning and full of amenities, it has all the appeal of a big city without the crowds. Escondido is home to beautiful wineries, craft breweries, fantastic restaurants and a charming historic downtown area. Here are a few things to do near Escondido.

Santa Ynez

Santa Ynez Valley Marriott

Santa Ynez sometimes gets overshadowed by the neighboring Solvang, but it has plenty to offer its cultured tourists. You’ll find the perfect blend of museums, shopping, outdoor recreation, dining, wine and nightlife here, and you’ll only be a 25 minute drive from the ocean.


Topanga Canyon, December 25, 2011Photo credit: Kent Kanouse / Flickr

Take a detour from Highway 1 just before you reach Malibu, cruise up Highway 27, and you’ll come to what appears to be a community carved into a canyon. That would be Topanga, a mecca for artists and hippies with a population of 8,300 people. Aside from its beautiful scenery and quirky layout, shopping is the main appeal of paying this place a visit. You’ll find vintage apparel and one-of-a-kind art you won’t see anywhere else.