10 Best Places to Live in California
Moving to California? The Golden State, the land of sunshine and eternal summer, California is one of the country’s most beautiful places to live. From the sea breezes of San Diego to the snow capped Sierra Nevada Mountains to the streets of San Francisco and the coast of the Pacific Ocean, the variety and excitement of this state offer endless opportunities. California is what Horace Greeley meant when he said “Go West, young man.” The question, though, is where are the best places to live in California.
Fremont – The Happiest City
Nestled down at the south end of San Francisco Bay, Fremont is a small city with a population of just over 200,000. There are numerous music events and theater companies, cultural events and parks. Four major wildlife preserves offer hiking and biking trails, bird and wildlife watching and kayaking and fishing in some parks. The town has a protected climate, sheltered on the side of the Bay. The outdoors will call you.
Fremont has excellent schools as well as 79 colleges within 100 miles of the city. Since Fremont routinely ranks in the top ten safest cities in America, it is a great place to raise a family. In 2018, Fremont was listed as the third best city to raise a family in the country and as the happiest city in California. Come to find out why.
See also: 12 Best Cities to Raise a Family
Irvine – The City between the Hills
Sheltered between the San Joaquin Hills on the coast and the Santa Ana Mountains to the northeast, Irvine has a mild climate. Originally part of a Spanish land grant, the land was later owned by James Irvine and his descendants. In 1959, the Irvine family sold a large tract of land to the state to build the University of California at Irvine and then designed a master planned community around the school.
The community grew larger than the architects had planned. In the 1970s, the town welcomed a large influx of Vietnamese refugees. The population is over 280,000 now. State parks and wilderness areas border the north and the south with hiking, biking and equestrian trails running through them. Lake Irvine is not far, a large reservoir, with fishing and boating. The Pacific Ocean is only a few minutes away. The schools are excellent. Irvine retains its small town flavor, drawing its residents together with live music events and festivals. Come home to Irvine. You’ll love this city.
Los Angeles – The City of Angels
LA has what many consider the perfect climate, rarely above 75 degrees in the land of constant summer. Beautiful beaches are minutes away for swimmers, surfers, fishermen, and photography buffs. The mountains to the north have hiking and biking trails. Where else can you go to the beach one day and go skiing in the mountains the next?
The heart of the movie industry, LA is home to many famous studios. Within the incredible diversity of this city, you can find restaurants and cafes from practically every culture. If you love professional sports, LA is the place for you with basketball, baseball, and football teams right in town. And there are 106 colleges and universities within 50 miles. LA is a happening city with its own unique rhythm, an exciting place to live.
See also: Moving to Los Angeles
Mill Valley – Redwoods, Sea Air, and Charm
From the Cascade Falls to the Bothin Marsh Preserve, this little town is strewn over hills and down canyons to an inlet of San Francisco Bay. One of the prettiest places in California to live, Mill Valley has a population of only 14,000 and a reputation for friendliness.
The town is right next to Muir Woods National Park. It encircles Pickleweed Inlet with its marina and wildlife preserve. The downtown area is always a delightful place to stop for a meal, coffee, or a game of chess. Come live in the beauty of Marin County, just fourteen miles north of San Francisco. You’ll love Mill Valley.
Palo Alto – Stanford, Silicon Valley, and Nature.
A small city of 66,000, Palo Alto sits in the middle of Silicon Valley, playing host to companies such as Google, VMware, Hewlett Packard, and Tibco Software. It is also the home of Stanford University, one of the premier research universities in the world.
The town offers great shopping and restaurants with many cuisines: Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, Greek, Middle Eastern, Jamaican, and even Georgian. And just as diverse are the recreational opportunities available: live theatre, live music events, nightclubs, nature preserves and parks, San Francisco Bay, and San Francisco itself, only 35 miles away. You can even visit the garage where Hewlett and Packard started their business. A young, exciting, and intellectual town is waiting for you.
San Diego – The Beach City
Seventy miles of beautiful beach, soft sea breezes, sun and sand and surf combine with a sophisticated city with the best in shopping, dining, and nightlife. Seventeen museums, along with art galleries, and the San Diego Zoo will captivate you. If you’re looking for education, there are 50 colleges within 15 miles of the city. If you’re looking for sports, root for the San Diego Padres.
If you’re an outdoorsy type, there are more than 360 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails in the parks in and around the city. From Annie’s Canyon, a sandstone slot canyon for hiking, to Mission Bay for boating, hiking, kayaking, and fishing to the mountains for more rugged terrain, San Diego has it all. Come see.
See also: Moving to San Diego
San Francisco – The City on the Bay
One of the most famous and most loved cities in the world, San Francisco is a tourist mecca. From the Golden Gate Bridge and the city’s iconic cable cars, to the diverse architecture, Chinatown, and Fisherman’s Wharf, eclectic areas of the city offer entertainment, shopping, boutiques, art galleries, museums, and fun.
But the best places to live in the city are the small neighborhoods like Mission Hill, South Beach, and Showplace Square, each one unique. They all have excellent schools and are great places for raising a family. There are fifty colleges and universities in the Bay area, the largest being the University of California at Berkeley. San Francisco is a wonderful place for young professionals. You’d never run out of fun things to do in the Bay area.
See also: Moving to San Francisco
San Jose – The Capital of Silicon Valley
Lying at the extreme southern end of San Francisco Bay, San Jose is flanked by the Santa Cruz Mountains on the west and the Diablo Mountains on the east, where hiking and biking trails abound. With a sunny, Mediterranean climate, outdoors activities are everywhere. Both the Sierra Nevada Mountains, with Yosemite, King’s Canyon and Sequoia National Parks, and the Pacific Ocean are not far away.
Towering skyscrapers dominate the business district. Not far away, however, is the 160 room Winchester Mystery House. A 120 acre flea market and a 930 square foot Monopoly Game board are nearby. San Jose is not just high tech. With excellent schools and great neighborhoods, this city is the place to raise your family.
See also: Moving to San Jose
Santa Monica – The End of the Highway
I-10 starts in Jacksonville, Florida and ends on the pier at Santa Monica. The iconic pier with its Ferris wheel and roller coaster also has restaurants, cafes, and the ubiquitous souvenir shops. It even has an aquarium under the pier. But the pier isn’t the only happening place in this town. With a glorious climate and cooling sea breezes, a seaside amusement park and the 3.5 miles of beautiful beach in Santa Monica State Park, are the fun places.
Downtown offers fine dining, live music, and nightlife. And you mustn’t forget the Third Street Promenade, three blocks, pedestrians only, with 20 movie screens, boutiques, restaurants, and street entertainers. A tourist haven, Santa Monica retains its small town flavor and friendliness. It is a fun place to live.
Santa Rosa – From Railroads to Wineries
Having started out as a railroad town, Santa Rosa’s Railroad Square is a superb reproduction of the depot in the 1870s. Today it services the local train and offers up good food and shopping. The focus now has switched to wineries. In the heart of the Sonoma wine country, wine tasting tours are both fun and educational. State parks and preserves have miles of hiking and biking trails, some running through redwood forests. Annadel State Park has meadows overflowing with wildflowers, as well as a lake for boating and fishing. The golden hills around the town attract artists and the relaxed lifestyle is perfect for retirees. Santa Rosa is a lovely place to live.
California is a wonderful land of natural beauty and exciting places. These ten cities are exceptional places to live and raise a family. Schools, in general, are excellent. Good colleges and universities can be found throughout these ten towns. The climate is generally sunny and pleasant and there are opportunities for outdoor activities from the ocean to the mountains. Come home to California, the land of eternal summer.