If you’re planning on spending the summer in the magical state of California, you’re in for a treat! California is a popular destination for people from across the country and beyond. The state of California has a lot of great cities that are often eclipsed by the glitz, glamour and fame of Hollywood. Here are 5 great and unique cities that you should consider fi you’re going to California this summer:

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Image by David M. Simpson via Trover

Ventura

Ventura, officially known as San Buenaventura, is a beautiful city that mixes the modern world with the traditional California. The city is about 70 miles north of Los Angeles.

Ventura’s Main Street has a number of great eateries where you can indulge in the local cuisine. The most popular activity in the city is surfing as Ventura boasts some of the best surfing in the State.

For those wanting something more cultural than the beach, the San Buenaventura Mission offers a museum and a number of church-organised activities. Those artistically inclined can have a look at unique galleries at the Bell Arts Factory and the Ventura Hot Glass Studio.

If you’re planning to stay in Ventura there are many options. I’d recommend theVentura Beach Marriot which is 200 yards from the beach and a mile from the Ventura Pier.

Garden Grove

Garden Grove is a city in the Orange County of Southern California. The city might not be as famous as the county, but it is still the perfect city for those wanting to relax and enjoy some peace and quiet.

The city is great for relaxing, but also offers some cool sites to those visiting. The city’s most popular attraction is the Crystal Cathedral, an impressive structure for those interested in architecture. The city also boasts a couple of popular theaters as well, such as the Stanley Ranch Museum & Historical Village.

Garden Grove has a number of great bars and restaurants for those who enjoy a festive night out. Jak’s Bistro is a favourite amongst locals. Don’t worry if you have too much fun out on the town, there are a plethora of affordable options to lay your head in Garden Grove.

For those wanting some more excitement, Los Angeles is only 35 miles away!

Monterey

Monterey has one of the most beautiful coastlines in California and is a popular resting stop for people travelling to and from San Francisco. Monterey is famously the setting of a number of John Steinbeck novels.

The main activities and sites in this city revolve around the coastline. The rugged waters are worth the trip in and of themselves, as are the large population of sea otters.

The city has a number of intriguing museums, both historical and contemporary. Most interesting is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, an amazing aquarium specializing in local sea life. The entry fee is a little steep, but it goes to a good cause!

An absolute must in Monterey, is renting bikes and cycling along the area’s beautiful coastline.

Monterey has a bustling nightlife and many great restaurants. If you’re looking for a place to stay that has a great view and is within walking distance of just about everything, check out Portola Hotel & Spa.

Orange

As the name suggests, Orange is a city in Orange County, Southern California. Orange is a small city and is only 30 miles from Los Angeles, meaning it is perfectly placed for those travelling around the Los Angeles area.

This is a popular city for sitting back and relaxing. If you feel like going for a walk, the city’s Old Towne Historic District is definitely the place to go. In terms of nature, Orange has the beautiful Irvine Park and Irvine Lake, great for a relaxing day out in the sun. The park also has a great zoo, if you feel like being adventurous.

A popular activity for kids and adults alike, is the Dromo One indoor go-kart ring, where you can race at up to 50 mph.

Orange also has a large number of affordable and accommodating hotels to choose from.

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is one of California’s oldest communities and one of the most interesting cities in the state. The city is located among volcanic peaks, half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles,

In terms of sites, there a number of interesting museums and galleries throughout the city. Tourists also enjoy the famous Bubble Gum Alley, where people from around the world have stuck their chewed up gum. However, the city is most notable for its remarkable natural surroundings. The area is famous for beautiful rolling hills, volcanoes and green valleys. Trekking around the area is great and if you have the time, definitely go to the Montana de Oro State Park, one of the region’s best kept secrets.

San Luis Obispo is a vibrant city in a beautiful area that you can spend ages exploring. If you plan on visiting the city, complement it with a great nights stay at one of its many great hotels.

 

Disclaimer: This post was posted on Traveler Magazine in February 2016.

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