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Top Places to Visit and Live In Within California

Updated on February 13, 2011

California's Best

 The Golden State is really a nation upon itself. Its economy is larger than some countries (as is its deficit). It remains the destination of many and is usually a trendsetter. A fad or other social event occurs here first and permeates across the US.

It is far from perfect. Lots of issues and some of its "allure" has gone. Yet, it remains a good place to live or visit, depending where that is.

There are two California's. Northern and Southern. The distinction between the two is geography. Northern California really begins around San Jose (pronouced San Ho say) and includes the Bay area (San Francisco, Oakland, Hayward, Berkeley (Berk-lee),Walnut Creek, Vallejo (Va-lay-ho), all which are along the water's edge. It extends nortjhwards into the Sonoma and Napa wine country with well over 300 wineries, east to the State's capitol, Sacramento, in the central valley, which includes Fresno, Stockton. The valley produces much of the US vegetables and fruits, is flat surrounded by the mountains of the Sierra (see-air-ah) that rise over 7000 ft to the world's most beautiful lakes, Lake Tahoe (ta-ho), frequented by visitors from across the globe. Further north, are more mountains along the coast and valley, as flat as the eye can see, and forested mountains. The last large urban area north of Santa Rosa (150,000), is Redding (70,000).

Southern California is much less mountainous and contains more rolling, oak studded hills and the central valley expands to even a greater width until the LA basin, ringed by mountains. The basin us huge and home to a large urban mess where one city blends with the other and the only distinction is the road the sign. Air pollution remains, yet very cleaned up when compared to 30 yrs ago. Burbank, Pasadena is along the rim of the San Gabriel Mountains that also contains Big Bear ski resort. The LA basin landmark remains to be palm trees and long, wide sandy beaches that are great during the weekday or if its balmy. However, during a heatwave, they are infested with millions of people and not much fun.

As you move east from LA Basin, you hit flat, dry desert and cities like Riverside and San Bernadino. Moving south from LA, heading towards San Diego (san dee-a-go), the terrain becomes quite hilly and studded with trees. In this area, like in LA, the mountains divide the coastal climes from the desert ones eastwards towards Arizona (Air-ah-zona) State.

Top Places to Live:

  1.  Santa Barbara (1hr north of LA on the coast)
  2.  Santa Monica  (just north of LA on coast)
  3.  Burbank
  4.  Santa Rosa\Napa (Northern Calif)
  5.  Sacramento (North. Calif)
  6.  Escondido (north of San Diego)
  7.  La mesa\El Cajon (east of San Diego)
  8.  Redding (North Calif)
  9.  South Lake Tahoe (North Calif)
  10.  Pleasanton (near San Jose)
  11.  Palm Springs (South Calif)

Must see:

  1. Lake Tahoe (visit the Alps in Calif)
  2. Yosemite Park (Yo-sem-it-tee)
  3. Redondo\Manhatten\Venice beach in LA
  4. San Francisco area
  5. Sonoma\Napa Wine Counties
  6. San Diego
  7. Mojave (Mo-ha-vee) Desert
  8. Lassen Volcanic Park (North Calif)


Sonoma County Vineyard
Sonoma County Vineyard
Lake Sonoma
Lake Sonoma
Redwoods in North Calif
Redwoods in North Calif
Yosemite Half Dome
Yosemite Half Dome
Vernal Falls in Yosemite
Vernal Falls in Yosemite
Wild Deer in Yosemite
Wild Deer in Yosemite
Manhatten beach in LA
Manhatten beach in LA
Lake Tahoe in winter
Lake Tahoe in winter
Ski Lake tahoe
Ski Lake tahoe


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    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      Jason- I agree totally!!!

    • Jason Matthews profile image

      Jason Matthews 

      7 years ago from North Carolina

      I agree with your list, Santa Barbara is certainly the nicest place to live in California, and quite possibly the US. Too bad it is so expensive though. Property and living costs make it very difficult to afford. Great hub...very informative!

    • perrya profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Yes, having been there many times, one never tires of the awesome show nature has there! The hikes are great, as are the vistas. Yosemite is but one must see item, lake Tahoe is another!

    • profile image

      Pierre van Eck 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for sharing your take on California destinations. The images from Yosemite are particularly enchanting!


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