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California Cities


As the Highway 128 leaves the sunny open fields of grapes, the sun almost disappears you enter a majestic redwood forest, so dense that only slanting rays of light filter through the trees. Upon leaving the forest, Hwy 128 soon merges with the coastal Hwy 1 (about a 60-mile drive from where you... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Amador City and Drytown, the first two towns you encounter after leaving Sutter Creek as you head towards Placerville on Hwy 49, have an old-world charm and are worth exploring. However, following thereafter is a string of commercial towns that are of little interest to the tourist although th... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

At the junction of Hwys 4 and 49 sits Angels Camp, a pleasant town with high sidewalks and wooden-fronted buildings. Today Angels Camp’s fame results not from mining, but from the frog-jumping contests held every May. There is even a monument to a frog taking the place of honor on the mai... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Auburn is one of California’s earliest mining towns, situated in the heart of the Gold Country. During the Gold Rush in May of 1848, a miner by the name of Claude Chana was taking a short cut to meet his friend James Marshall and discovered gold in the Auburn Ravine. Auburn then became a ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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As one travels from San Luis Obispo towards the coast  you will see a sign for the town of Avila. In addition to a lovely white sand beach, nostalgic pier, surf boutiques and restaurants, this pretty little beach town is also popular for its Bob Jones Bike Trail.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Just south of Newport Beach, along the long, thin peninsula is Balboa. In the center of town there is a clearly signposted public parking area next to Balboa Pier: leave your car here and explore the area. The beach is beautiful, stretching the entire length of the peninsula, all the way from t... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Leave Solvang and rejoin Hwy 246, following signs for Santa Barbara. This is another gorgeous region of horse ranches and neighboring vineyards. The towns are small, charming and country-western: Santa Inez, Los Olivos, Ballard—all with a main street, a few charming shops and restaurants,... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Believe everything you ever read about the beauties of the Big Sur Coastline: it is truly sensational. However, hope for clear weather, because on foggy or rainy days an endless picture of stunning seascapes becomes a tortuous drive around precipitous cliff roads. If you choose only one place t... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Leaving Lompoc, follow signs for Buelleton, which has the redoubtable fame of being the home of split-pea soup—you come to Andersen’s Pea Soup Restaurant just before Hwy 246 crosses Hwy 101. The menu has more to offer than soup, but it is still possible to sample a bowl of the food ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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Our favorite Napa Valley town, Calistoga, bounded by rugged foothills and vineyards, is located at the intersection of Hwy 29 and Hwy 128. World-class hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts and resorts are located in town or a short distance outside. The main street, Lincoln Avenue, is lined on both ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Cambria was once a whaling station and a dairy town that shipped butter and cheese to San Francisco. Now the main town lies away from the coast and encompasses two streets of art galleries, gift shops, antique stores, and restaurants. Wonderful hotels, inns and bed and breakfasts can be found n... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Carmel lies just a few miles beyond Pacific Grove and there is no more perfect way to arrive than along the famous Seventeen-Mile Drive, which meanders around the Monterey Peninsula coastline between the two towns. The route is easy to find as the road that leads to the “drive” inte... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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When fog settles on the coastside, sun seekers travel approximately thirteen miles east along the scenic Carmel Valley Road into Carmel. In addition to a beautiful drive through some magnificent horse country, your journey will be rewarded by the charming, intimate country village of Carmel Val... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

A memorable outing from Tahoe is a day trip to Nevada’s silver towns, Virginia City and Carson City. Carson City is the state capital. The town itself has little of interest except for the Nevada State Museum, just across the street from the Nugget Casino on the main road (open 8:30 am to... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

It is an 8-mile drive along Hwy 49, through apple orchards and woodlands, to Coloma where the Gold Rush began. Set on the banks of the American River, the scant remains of the boom town of Coloma are preserved as Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park. It all began in 1848 when James Marsh... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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Leaving Jamestown, continue up the main street and cross Hwy 49 onto Jamestown Road, a peaceful little byway that avoids the congestion of Sonora, and takes you through the countryside to Columbia. Follow signs for Columbia or, wherever a junction is unmarked, continue straight. A 15-minute dri... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Corona del Mar is a ritzy community. Although there is still a quaintness to the area, exclusive boutiques, expensive art galleries, palatial homes, and trendy shops hint at the fact that this is not the sleepy little town it might appear to be.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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While in San Diego take the bridge or the ferry over to Coronado, an island-like bulb of land tipping a thin isthmus that stretches south almost to the Mexican border. Here you find not only a long stretch of beautiful beach, but also the Del Coronado Hotel, a Victorian fantasy of gingerbread t... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Ten miles south of Año Nuevo you come to the cluster of houses that makes up the town of Davenport. Fronting Hwy 1 is the New Davenport Cash Store, which sells everything from handmade jewelry to local pottery and whose restaurant offers a varied and healthful menu with excellent soups a... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Amador City and Drytown, the first two towns you encounter after leaving Sutter Creek as you head towards Placerville on Hwy 49, have an old-world charm and are worth exploring. However, following thereafter is a string of commercial towns that are of little interest to the tourist although th... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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Elk is a tiny old lumber town hugging the bluffs along one of the most spectacularly beautiful stretches of the sensational Mendocino coastline.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Eureka: The area surrounding the 101 is full of fast-food chains, gas stations, and commercial establishments, but a small portion of this large town, the Old Town, is worth a visit (G and D between 1st and 3rd). On the northwestern edge of this restored project lies the ornate Carson Mansion (... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

In Felton you can board an old steam train of the Roaring Camp Railroad, a train that winds up into a redwood forest. The train leaves several times a day from its main station in Felton (except on Christmas) along narrow-gauge tracks built to carry lumber out of the forest. The conductor tells... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Returning to Hwy 101, about a 10-mile drive brings you to the Ferndale exit. Founded in 1852, Ferndale is the westernmost town (more of a village than a town) in the continental United States. Its downtown with its gaily painted Victorian buildings has changed very little since the 1890s. Main ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Just a few minutes drive from Mendocino sprawling Fort Bragg does not compare to the quaintness of Mendocino but it has much to recommend it. The town’s history can be viewed at the Guest House Museum located on the corner of Main (Highway 1) and Laurel streets. Built for the Fort Bragg Redwo... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Travel south from Kenwood on Hwy 12 for several miles before taking a turnoff to the right to Glen Ellen. In the center of this small, quaint, wooded town turn right for Jack London State Park. Before you reach the park, stop to visit the Benziger Winery found on the right.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Grass Valley has a booming economy and sprawls far beyond its historic boundary. Its old downtown buildings housing everyday stores attest to its prosperity. Save town explorations for adjacent Nevada City and concentrate on Grass Valley’s Empire Mine State Park at the southern end of town. T... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Groveland, a handsome old town shaded by pines. The nearby town of Big Oak Flat is little more than a couple of houses and the crumbling IOOF (International Order of Odd Fellows) building strung along the road.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The largest resort along the Russian River is Guerneville. The town is centrally located for exploring redwoods, the river, the coast and local Russian River wines.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Visit Half Moon Bay’s Main Street. Park just across the bridge and visit Half Moon Bay Feed and Fuel, an authentic country store selling saddles, rabbits, chickens, animal feed, and farm implements. Poke your head in the variety of shops, restaurants, and art galleries that line the street.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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Healdsburg, laid out in Spanish style with the old fashioned central plaza is a charming town. The plaza or town square plays host to outdoor concerts, farmers’ markets, serves as the ideal picnic spot and is bordered by quaint shops and restaurants. Make at stop at Oakville Grocery on the sq... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Hollywood Boulevard—Mann Chinese Theatre, Kodak Theatre, El Capitan Theater: There has been a renaissance of the heart of tinsel town. The glitzy new Highland and Hollywood shopping center houses the Kodak Theatre, home to the Academy Awards. You can easily recognize the spot where they unfur... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Idyllwild is a small resort tucked into the mountains high above Palm Springs. Homey little restaurants, antique stores, and gift shops make up the town.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Jackson still supports roughly the same population as it had during the Gold Rush—consequently, modern shopping centers and sprawling suburbs are the order of the day. To visit the old town turn right at the first stop sign in town which curves through the old downtown along Main Street. Set ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The main street of Jamestown is off Hwy 49 and therefore free of thoroughfare traffic. With its wooden boardwalks, balconies, and storefronts, Jamestown has managed to retain much of the feel of the Gold Rush days. Inviting shops, particularly the emporium, merit a browse, the western-style sal... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Jenner is along the Pacific coastline. Jenner offers fine River and Ocean view dining, great vacation rentals, romantic lodging and unique gift shops. Jenner is a short drive from spectacular cliffs and accessible beaches including Goat Rock State Park.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Julian is a small town that can easily be explored in just a short time. What is especially nice is that, although it is a tourist attraction, the town is not “tacky touristy.” Rather, you get the feeling you are in the last century as you wander through the streets and stop to browse at so... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

A lovely town in the Sonoma valley wine region. There are a number of highly regarded wineries both large and small scattered about the Kenwood region.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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Be sure to visit La Jolla, “The Jewel,” a sophisticated town just north of San Diego. Classy shops and restaurants line the streets La Jolla is home to a branch of the University of California and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Another very interesting museum is the Museum of Cont... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Laguna Beach is famous for its many art galleries, pretty boutiques, and miles of lovely sand. In summer, from mid-July through August, Laguna Beach is usually packed with tourists coming to see the Pageant of the Masters, a tableau in which town residents dress up and re-create paintings. Two ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Lake Arrowhead village is a cluster of restaurants and shops along the lakefront. The lake is bordered by magnificent estates. The magnet of Lake Arrowhead is not any specific sightseeing, but rather the outdoors experience: although lakefront and beach access is restricted and private, you can... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Leaving the Mendocino area, continue to follow the coast north and enjoy a treasury of memorable views: sometimes the bluffs drop into the sea, other times sand dunes almost hide the ocean, and at one point the beach sweeps right up to the road. At Rockport, Hwy 1 turns inland and twists and tu... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

As the Highway 128 leaves the sunny open fields of grapes, the sun almost disappears you enter a majestic redwood forest, so dense that only slanting rays of light filter through the trees. Upon leaving the forest, Hwy 128 soon merges with the coastal Hwy 1 (about a 60-mile drive from where you... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Few people are aware that the Livermore area is one of the oldest wine regions in California with its commercial vines dating back to the 1840's. Some two dozen wineries now call the region home. Spearheading the effort to raise awareness of the superb wineries in the region is Wente Winery. ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The vast Los Angeles basin is crisscrossed by a network of freeways, which confuses all but the resident Southern Californian. Frustrating traffic jams during the morning and afternoon rush hours are a way of life. Therefore, plot the quickest freeway route to your destination and try to travel... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Los Olivos has a main street, a few charming shops, restaurants, and the ever-present horse and feed store.... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Mendocino is an absolute jewel: a New-England-style town built upon headlands that jut out to the ocean. It is not surprising that the town looks as if it were transported from the East Coast because its heritage goes back to adventurous fishermen who settled here from New England, and, upon ar... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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Mission Beach is fronted by a beautiful stretch of white sand beach that extends from the Mission Bay channel to the north of adjacent Pacific Beach. A boardwalk parallels the beach and walking, biking and rollerblading are popular activities. There’s a landmark roller coaster at the foot of ... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

The main sightseeing attractions in Monterey are in two areas: the old town and the marina, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium and Cannery Row. A bayside walking and biking path runs from the Marina beside Cannery Row to the Aquarium and beyond to the adjoining town of Pacific Grove. A fun way to ex... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

Leaving the Muir Woods, continue west to the coastal road, Hwy 1. Turn left and then, almost immediately, right. There is a small sign marked Muir Beach, but it is easy to miss. Just before you come to the beach you arrive at the Pelican Inn, a charming re-creation of an English pub that fortun... more

  • Karen Brown Recommended

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