I Have Visited Every City In California And These Are My 5 Favorite Destinations

I Have Visited Every City In California And These Are My 5 Favorite Destinations

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They say the West Coast is the best coast and I will back up that claim any day of the week. I may have been born and raised in Texas, but some of the best years of my life have been spent in California.

I’m not going to sugarcoat the frustrations of living here, but at the end of the day, there is no other place I’d rather call home.

view of laguna beachview of laguna beach

And I know so because I’ve left before and the grass truly wasn’t greener both literally and figuratively.

The Golden State may not get everything right, but it’s one of the best places to travel in the country.

I have lived here for 10 years and visited every city. These are my 5 favorite destinations:

5) San Francisco

I know, I know – San Francisco has changed. We even included this awesome city as a place not to visit this year and with good reason.

If Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco today someone would steal it and sell it on the black market.

view of San Francisco from Oaklandview of San Francisco from Oakland

The crime waves and unsightly zombie apocalypse-esque streets are something I’m able to overlook because I love it so much and have never had a bad time.

Even as unfortunate as the city has changed, the cultural neighborhoods, amazing views, fun attractions and phenomenal food scene remains, which is why it barely cracks my top 5.

Having traveled to about 30 countries, my favorite restaurant on the planet is still Terra Cotta Warrior located in the Outer Sunset neighborhood.

tourists at san francisco baytourists at san francisco bay

It’s a no-frills, yet authentic, Chinese restaurant specializing in cuisine from the Shaanxi province. If this place ever shuts down, SF may not even crack my top 10. That’s how good it is!

4) Malibu

Spoiler alert: Los Angeles proper will never crack my favorites list for anything. Personally, I believe it’s the most overhyped city in America, but outside of the city limits is where LA is at its best.

Malibu is so much more than a Miley Cyrus song. This ritzy beach town is a place where average Joe’s like me can blend in and hobnob with the rich and famous, unlike Beverly Hills where I feel looked down on after making a Target run.

view of malibu californiaview of malibu california

Lined with delicious upscale restaurants, really nice beaches and the scenic Topanga State Park for incredible views and hikes, Malibu is an awesome place to visit.

The coastal drive itself is amazing. Just plan ahead for traffic during Spring Break and summer.

Speaking of summer, who is coming to the always popular Malibu Chili Cook-Off with me?

3) Sequoia National Park

My favorite place in California to immerse myself in nature beyond the state’s incredible beaches is without a doubt Sequoia National Park.

While you can fly into Fresno (definitely not a favorite), a road trip makes the adventure more fun with stops in charming small towns like Kernville.

jeep in sequoia national parkjeep in sequoia national park

Sequoia’s backroads are indescribably beautiful. Just prepare better than I did by renting a Toyota Yaris.

Regardless, a trip to Sequoia should honestly be bucket-list worthy. Few places have given me a sense of appreciation for nature more than this park.

Seeing pictures of the mountains and massive trees online are one thing, but seeing them in person is a whole different level.

2) Orange County (Beaches)

Orange County covers a lot of ground in southern California with cities such as Santa Ana, Irvine, and Anaheim, but I’m not here to promote Disneyland anymore than it needs to be.

sunny day laguna beachsunny day laguna beach

Orange County’s quaint beach towns are gorgeous and it’s honestly hard to pick just one. Each of them tends to have its own unique vibe, such as luxurious Laguna Beach to more laid-back Dana Point and San Clemente.

If I had to pick one it would depend on my budget for the day, but it would be a toss-up between Laguna Beach and San Clemente.

You can’t go wrong with either, although San Clemente definitely has much more of a local feel as a surfer’s favorite hangout.

1) San Diego

My home for 10 years and hopefully many more, San Diego is without question my favorite destination in California.

beach in la jollabeach in la jolla

Traveling is my first love and one of few passions in life, but no matter where I am or how long I’ve been there, I always look forward to coming back home to this beautiful city.

Often overshadowed by the gargantuan size of Los Angeles, San Diego is still a major city with plenty to do beyond planning beach days from Coronado to Oceanside.

With historic districts such as Old Town known as the “birthplace of California” to cultural neighborhoods like City Heights where more than 80 dialects of languages are spoken, San Diego isn’t just a “beach town” per se.

san diego skylinesan diego skyline

While it’s definitely no digital nomad haven with a high cost of living, my favorite part about San Diego other than Mexican Food, of course, is you can go hiking in the mountains, hit up the beach and see the snow all in the same day.

There is always something to do outside in the city, but the delightful small towns like Julian being in close reach make for an easy escape for a change of pace when needed.

And after a night in the wild Gaslamp District downtown, you will definitely need a change of pace.

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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com

Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, hotel, airline, or other entity. This content has not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of the entities included within the post.

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