When California comes to mind so do cities such as San Diego, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. However, there is more to California than major cities with a lot to offer. Smaller cities outside the major metropolitan hubs may have just what you are looking for on your next trip. From the quirky attractions, to historical sites, and beautiful coasts don’t overlook these lesser-known California cities.


Ontario, CA is known as the gateway to Southern California. It has its own international airport and is a great alternative to LAX when flying into Southern California. Ontario is the perfect hub to access all of the best attractions in L.A., the mountains, theme parks, and Palm Springs. Consider Ontario as the hub your hub to explore Southern California.

Universal City

Technically Universal City is part of greater Los Angeles but it has managed to carve out its own little piece of unincorporated L.A. The main attractions are Universal Studios Hollywood theme park and Citywalk Hollywood. Together they provide the bars, restaurants, shopping, and entertainment in the area. There are a couple of great hotels in Universal City to choose from as well.

South San Francisco

South San Francisco is not to be confused with the Southern part of San Francisco. It is its own distinct city with a population around 65,000 people. Locally it is known as “South City” and offers views of San Francisco Bay. South San Francisco is not known as a tourist destination but Sign Hill Park is a nice place to spend an afternoon. It offers great views of the surrounding area. The city also offers plenty of walking and biking trails to explore. If you are looking for a trip away from the big city for the weekend South San Francisco has plenty of cheap hotels.



Pasadena is probably best known as the home to the Tournament of Roses Parade and Rose Bowl. What you may not know is Pasadena also has many cultural activities, restaurants and gardens. Start your day at the Huntington Library and Gardens before heading over to the Norton Simon Museum. If you are a football fan you might enjoy a tour of the Rose Bowl Stadium. The Arlington Garden and Gamble House are also great stops on your tour of Pasadena. It is only 11 miles northeast of Los Angeles so nearby if you find yourself in L.A.

Santa Cruz

Around forty miles south of San Jose you will find the small coastal town of Santa Cruz. This beach town has a laid back feel and tourist attractions such as the Beach Amusement Park and Boardwalk and the Mystery Spot. One of the biggest draws to Santa Cruz are the beautiful and pristine beaches. Head to Santa Cruz for the summertime vibes, the weather, and laid back lifestyle.

Visiting California’s Lesser-Known Cities

Next time you plan a trip to California consider heading outside the major cities for these lesser-known towns. You might just find a great new restaurant, hiking spot, or perfect beach to relax on.


Disclaimer: This post was posted on Triphackr on 1st February 2016.

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