• There are a variety of other locations to San Francisco, from Capitola to Stinson Seaside, lots of that are underrated seaside cities in California.
  • Los Osos is a hidden gem midway between SF and LA, providing pristine seashores, climbing trails, and wildlife watching, and makes for one of many many glorious small-town options to San Francisco.
  • Contemplate smaller cities like Capitola or Castroville as scenic and reasonably priced options to San Francisco’s costly hustle and bustle.



The historic metropolis of San Francisco is a business, monetary, and cultural heart in Northern California and the fourth most populous metropolis within the US. Usually thought of an costly place to go to, San Francisco has a broad vary of actions and issues to do and plenty of are surprisingly free. From vibrant nightclubs to nighttime excursions to thrilling exhibits and extra, San Francisco’s nightlife is famous and provides an incomparable expertise.

For these staying in or visiting this massive and vibrant metropolis, the well-known landmarks of San Francisco are unmissable points of interest that draw tens of millions annually and make it one in every of California’s hottest vacationer locations.

Nonetheless, there are smaller cities in California which are nice locations to go to as a substitute of San Francisco, every with distinctive options and points of interest; some scenic, some historic, and a few simply plain and easy enjoyable! These small cities in California could be nice options to San Francisco for varied causes, making them individually attention-grabbing and thrilling to go to.


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7 Los Osos, San Luis Obispo County

Often known as the Valley of the Bears, it’s the entrance to Montaña de Oro State Park and Los Padres Nationwide Forest

About midway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Los Osos is an unincorporated city. It’s residence to quite a few out of doors actions on account of its pristine seashores, state parks, estuaries ideally suited for whale watching or fishing, and loads of climbing trails excellent for exploration.

With over 8,000 acres, together with seven miles of shoreline, Montaña de Oro is likely one of the largest state parks in California. The park’s standout options embody rugged cliffs, secluded sandy seashores, coastal plains, streams, canyons, and hills, together with the 1,347-foot Valencia Peak.

Wildflowers flourish right here within the spring, and tide swimming pools brim with marine life all yr spherical. With its parks and pure magnificence, Los Osos is a implausible various to San Francisco’s bustling and busy metropolis life. The distinctive twisted bushes of Los Osos Oaks include an interesting historical past and are a must-visit for anybody within the space.

The bear inhabitants is centered within the Los Padres Nationwide Forest, which is a few 10 miles away. The 32-acre Candy Springs Nature Protect is one other notable pure space in Los Osos. The Los Osos Wildlife Hall is a pure coastal dune greenbelt surrounding Morro Bay and Los Osos and is designed to protect, restore, and reconnect the gorgeous ecosystem.

6 Capitola, Santa Cruz County

The oldest seaside resort on the West Coast and named probably the greatest seaside cities

The small coastal city of Capitola was named one of many finest seaside cities by Sundown journal in 2012, and it is clear it nonetheless retains the appeal that garnered such esteem all these years in the past. What started in 1874 as the common-or-garden Camp Capitola and the primary seaside resort in California transitioned into an impressive wood-framed Victorian lodge — Resort Capitola, which rivaled the most effective within the enterprise. The romance of the unique seaside resort nonetheless exists within the colourful and quaint vacation spot alongside California’s famed Freeway 1.

The center of the city remains to be alongside Capitola Seaside, which is definitely one of many most underrated however scenic seashores within the US; it provides a panoramic view of Monterey Bay, neighboring Esplanade Park, and the 855-foot pier, lined with wood benches for taking within the spectacular views.

With distinctive retailers, galleries, eating places, and vibrant occasions just like the Capitola Seaside Competition and Capitola Artwork & Wine Competition, the city is a well-liked vacation spot, attracting guests year-round. Lower than two hours from San Francisco, spending a weekend exploring Capitola’s magnificence, historical past, and splendor is a superb various.


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5 Castroville, Monterey County

The Artichoke Heart of the World and residential of the Castroville Artichoke Competition

An unincorporated city about 100 miles south of San Francisco, Castroville is thought for its artichoke crop and the annual Castroville Artichoke Competition. Only a few miles inland from Monterey Bay and surrounded by strong fields of artichokes, Castroville provides the most effective of Monterey Bay with its epic out of doors adventures, considerable farm-to-table eating, famend wine nation, and world-class occasions.

The Castroville Artichoke Competition features a first-rate parade, cooking demonstrations, wine tasting, a automobile present, and plenty of arts and crafts distributors. The small agricultural city and rural setting present a peaceable environment. The picturesque panorama has rolling hills, lush valleys, and considerable wildlife, and is great in its place for a day journey from San Francisco.


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4 Atherton, San Mateo County

The city with the nation’s highest value of residing is close to San Francisco

Recognized for its exclusivity and wealth, in 1990 and 2019, Atherton had the best per capita earnings amongst locations with a inhabitants between 2,500 and 9,999. The realm coated by its ZIP Code (94027) is recurrently ranked as having the best value of residing in america and can also be primary on the listing of the most costly cities to retire in California.

An idyllic city on the San Francisco Peninsula, Atherton is a billionaire’s dream, sparsely populated with greater than sufficient privateness to maintain its luxurious fashionable houses and grand estates. Executives from Silicon Valley and worldwide billionaires like Google’s Eric Schmidt and Microsoft’s Paul Allen have mansions in Atherton. Plus, Fb’s Menlo Park Headquarters is in Menlo Park, lower than 5 miles from Atherton

With its proximity to San Francisco, Atherton is the right various and boasts an outstanding listing of actions and points of interest for guests, like Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz Island, and the world-famous Chinatown.

3 Aptos, Santa Cruz County

Dwelling of the historic Aptos Village and the gateway to the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park

The quaint city of Aptos includes a number of small villages – Aptos Hills-Larkin Valley, Aptos Village, Cabrillo, Seacliff, Rio del Mar, and Seascape. Nestled between bushes and the ocean, the normal Aptos village is a pedestrian-friendly city sq. and offers timeless structure and small-town appeal. The San Andreas Fault Zone passes close by, and Aptos is residence to each the Forest of Nisene Marks State Park and Seacliff State Seaside, California state parks.

The Aptos Historical past Museum homes a set of artifacts and pictures tracing the realm’s historical past. Nisene Marks State Park, protecting 10,000 acres, is a testomony to forest regeneration the place second-growth redwoods coexist with new foliage, whereas Seacliff State Seaside is the right spot for a cookout or picnic, with barbecue grills and shaded tables alongside the sand.

Aptos’ “World’s Shortest Parade” on the morning of the Fourth of July consists of practically each Aptos resident – and pet – wearing pink, white, and blue, and it ends at Aptos Village Par. In brief, Aptos is a wonderful vacation spot for enjoyable and scenic magnificence, and at barely 81 miles from San Francisco, it’s a excellent various to the large metropolis.

2 Stinson Seaside, Marin County

The white sand and oceanfront make this spot probably the greatest swimming seashores in northern California

The coastal city of Stinson Seaside, north of San Francisco, is accessible by way of Freeway 1, providing unmatched scenic views of the Pacific Ocean alongside the best way, or the Panoramic Freeway, which winds via the redwoods of Muir Woods. Folks come right here to benefit from the seaside and the ocean, hike the Dipsea Path to Steep Ravine, and take within the pure great thing about Mount Tamalpais State Park.

Stinson Seaside is a couple of 35-minute drive from the Golden Gate Bridge and is close to essential points of interest comparable to Muir Woods Nationwide Monument, Muir Seaside, and Mount Tamalpais. It has an extended seaside, and the chilly water produces fog all year long. Its proximity to San Francisco makes it a wonderful various to the town, particularly for day journeys to discover California.


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1 San Simeon, San Luis Obispo County

Hearst Fortress, an early Twentieth-century hilltop mansion, is a key attraction

About midway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Simeon is a small city residence to Hearst Fortress, previously often called La Cuesta Encantada (Spanish for “The Enchanted Hill”). Hearst Fortress is a nationwide historic landmark price seeing, with decor from everywhere in the world, unbelievable structure, and big rooms that guarantee it is on any California bucket listing.

Apart from the fort’s opulence, San Simeon can also be a major seaside vacation spot on California’s well-known Freeway 1, an excellent street journey route for exploring the area’s coastal cities. San Simeon seashores are among the many most spectacular in California, and that is saying one thing. The rugged shoreline and pristine panorama are an escape from busy metropolis life, and being in San Simeon is a implausible various to San Francisco.

Additionally, simply 7 miles north of San Simeon, the realm options a big northern elephant sealrookery, the Piedras Blancas rookery. This well-liked spot to look at elephant seals has a boardwalk & viewing areas.

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