California is one of just a few states that when you visit you feel like you’ve actually visited several states–maybe even several different countries because the communities and cultures are so diverse. Many cities and communities dot the long California coastline, but some stand out among the rest. If you’ve been thinking about visiting California this summer, be sure you include these four beach cities in your trip.
- The Spanish Influence of San Diego
San Diego is California’s largest southernmost city. San Diego makes the perfect starting place on your journey because from there you can catch a cruise to journey to the remaining cities on this list. On cruises from San Diego you can stop at ports in Santa Barbara, Monterey, and San Francisco. But don’t just use San Diego as a starting point. There is much to see and do here as well. Not only is the climate warm with soothing ocean breezes, but the Spanish influence here is rich, as seen in the architecture and the cuisine. The big must see here is Balboa Park. Balboa Park is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, but it also houses art galleries, museums and beautiful gardens. Plan to spend all day at Balboa Park before you set off on the rest of your journey.
- Santa Barbara and its Abundant Wineries
Where as San Diego’s beauty lies in its rich Mexican influences, Santa Barbara’s magic is found in its wine country. Over 100 wineries flourish in Santa Barbara county, and most can be enjoyed in local restaurants serving eager visitors wishing to taste the latest in California’s rich harvest. Be sure you also get out into the country and explore the rolling hills of vineyards and rows upon rows of lush green vines. If you’re an artist at heart, bring some pastels to capture the color and beauty of this California gem.
- Monterey’s Cozy Beach Community
Monterey has a well-known aquarium, and yes, you should visit it, but don’t miss this opportunity to also explore Carmel-by-the-Sea. This quaint sea-side village offers treasures galore to the shopper seeking the latest in fashion and art. Enjoy lunch at one of its gourmet eateries before walking down the picturesque Ocean Avenue to Carmel Beach. Even if you’re not much for shopping, this is a place worthy of exploration, as you’ll likely never experience another place quite like it.
- San Francisco and the Golden Gate Bridge
There is so much to see and do in San Francisco that it is fitting that it should be your final destination. For getting around, of course you’ll want to hop aboard one of San Francisco’s famous cable cars. But you’ll also want to cross the Golden Gate Bridge, if not for the awe-inspiring size of it, then just to say you did. Hail a cab or rent a bike, but you must cross this bridge!
You’ll also want to visit the world’s largest and oldest Chinatown outside of Asia. Explore the food, shops and culture of this unique city within a city. Depending on the season, you could also catch major league football or baseball games in one of San Francisco’s famous stadiums, home to the 49ers and Giants, respectively. When you think of culture and San Francisco, think of a mixture of cultures in this diverse city where cultures peacefully collide.
There is so much to see and do in just these four cities that you can be sure you won’t see it all, and why not make another adventure of it again next year? California is truly a unique and historic state, renowned not just for its beauty, but for its diverse cultures and communities of different backgrounds. When you start your journey in San Diego and hop about a cruise journeying north with stops at these three ports, you’ll be in for a treat you can savor for a lifetime.