airport_transferbarbathtubbusiness_facilitieschild_activitieschildcareconnecting_roomcribsfree_wifigymhot_tubinternetkitchennon_smokingpetpoolresturantski_in_outski_shuttleski_storagesmoking_areaspastar
Explore your world
Cancel
© Thomas Rejzek / Shutterstock
© Thomas Rejzek / Shutterstock

The 10 Most Beautiful Towns In Northern California

Picture of Lauryn D'Angelo
Lauryn D'Angelo
Updated: 14 June 2017
From north of San Francisco down the coast of California, these 10 towns in Northern California provide some of the most spectacular vistas over the ocean; breathe deep and enjoy.

Sausalito

Sausalito is a picturesque waterfront town with some of the best views looking back into the city. After developing rapidly during the Second World War, Sausalito became an artistic, affluent area, as well as a popular tourist destination, characterized by beautiful homes nestled in the hills lining the bay.

Sausalito is a San Francisco Bay Area city in Marin County, California © f11photo / Shutterstock

Sausalito is a San Francisco Bay Area city in Marin County, California © f11photo / Shutterstock

Bodega Bay

Drive 40 miles northwest of San Francisco, weaving through farmland, orchards and vineyards, and seek out Bodega Bay, a small town in Sonoma County with a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. Bodega Bay is a popular area for hiking, bird watching and gray whale watching from Bodega Head. Visitors also love the beaches, where people surf, kayak or simply take in the view.

Cable car in San Francisco, California, USA © Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock

Cable car in San Francisco, California, USA © Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock

Gualala

Situated in Mendocino County between the Gualala River and sits three hours north of San Francisco. While many escape to this small town for the waterfront views and redwood trees, others opt to take in the impressive art and culture scene; Gualala Arts showcases local artists’ work and offers music, theater and photography classes for adults and children.

Monterey

South of San Francisco, Monterey is an easy getaway from the city, located right by the gorgeous Monterey Bay. Home to whales, seals and sea otters, the shore is lined with 36 breathtaking parks, perfect for hiking or a morning run along the ocean. Locals and visitors alike enjoy beaches along the coastline, and year-around moderate ocean temperatures and plenty of sunshine.

Bixby Bridge (Rocky Creek Bridge) and Pacific Coast Highway at sunset © Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Bixby Bridge (Rocky Creek Bridge) and Pacific Coast Highway at sunset © Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Tahoe

Tahoe is an outdoor-lover’s paradise all year round; and one of the most beautiful areas in California. Situated right on the border of Nevada and California, Tahoe offers activities for just about anyone. Whether it is skiing in South Lake Tahoe during the winter, hiking Mount Tallac in the summer, or spending time on the sandy beaches around the 6,225-foot lake, there’s no shortage of breathtaking views all year round from nearly any viewpoint.

Lake Tahoe Snowy Pier © matt_train / Shutterstock

Lake Tahoe Snowy Pier © matt_train / Shutterstock

Calistoga

Calistoga is less well known than the neighboring towns of Napa or Sonoma, but the drive north of the city of San Francisco is well worth the trip; Calistoga has geothermal hot spring pools, geysers, mud baths and picturesque vineyards with incredible wine.

Historic Calistoga is a popular tourist stop at the north end of Napa Valley wine country © Luz Rosa / Shutterstock

Historic Calistoga is a popular tourist stop at the north end of Napa Valley wine country © Luz Rosa / Shutterstock

Half Moon Bay

A mere 25 miles south of San Francisco, Half Moon Bay makes for an excellent day trip down the coast of California. With beautiful Pillar Point Harbor right at the center of town, locals and visitors enjoy fresh fish and views by the water, and also frequently hike forested hills right nearby. One of the most beautiful vistas can be seen at the Ritz Carlton at Half Moon Bay.

Milky Way at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero, California © Engel Ching / Shutterstock

Milky Way at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, Pescadero, California © Engel Ching / Shutterstock

Santa Cruz

Home to the University of California Santa Cruz, this college town has just about everything: beautiful, busy beaches, a coastal redwood forest, trendy restaurants and a classic boardwalk with carnival games and rides. Natural Bridges State Beach is also not to be missed; it’s a marine protected area conserving ocean wildlife and natural ecosystems.

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk © cdrin / Shutterstock

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk © cdrin / Shutterstock

Pacifica

Pacifica, a six-mile stretch of a city, is located in San Mateo County, on the coast of California between San Francisco and Half Moon Bay. Highly regarded as a popular surfing destination, the city is made up of several small valleys and has the Pacific Ocean to the west. Most visitors and locals spend time at Rockaway Beach, known for its scenic overlook, shopping and restaurants.

Northern California cliffs near Daly City in Northern California © Steve Holderfield / Shutterstock

Northern California cliffs near Daly City in Northern California © Steve Holderfield / Shutterstock

Fort Bragg

This California Historical Landmark was founded before the Civil War as a military garrison; today, it’s popular with tourists thanks to the breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean, rugged beaches, sand duns and coves. Situated right on the coast, the town is small, stretching only 2.8 miles, but well known for Glass Beach, appropriately named and abundant with sea glass, and the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, cozied up right along the coastline.

Railway Bridge, Fort Bragg, California © clintharry / Shutterstock

Railway Bridge, Fort Bragg, California © clintharry / Shutterstock