Some of the tucked away gems I've found were the mountains high above Santa Barbara. The views there were astounding, with panoramas from one side of the city to the other. I don't know the name of the mountains, but I basically drove towards the mountains from the ocean (clearly visible there) and drove up.
Idyllwild, near the Coachella Valley, is another town that I've found and fell in love with. It's high atop a mountain range outside of Palm Springs, in between Coachella Valley and the Temecula region.