Overlook Los Angeles. Go to These California Cities As a substitute

Ask boosters from anywhere in California and they will all complain about how Los Angeles is constantly in the spotlight. It’s not difficult for LA to do so, especially with its status as ground zero of the world’s largest film and entertainment industry, which is still remarkably challenged after all these decades.

While San Francisco had a major turnaround when its Haight-Ashbury neighborhood became a hippie hub in the flower power era of the 1960s, not even the Golden Gate Bridge can compete for attention against this gigantic Hollywood sign further south.

Because of this, it stands to reason that the Golden State has a lot more to offer than just LA. Its 19th century gold rush remains the largest immigrant influx in American history. And the computer and electronics industry remains the biggest economic engine in California and one of the biggest in the United States

But that doesn’t exactly scream “visit me” the way Hollywood draws visitors. Instead, here are five more cities besides Los Angeles that deserve your attention when it comes to planning a vacation.

You will have the best meal in Fresno

Fresno sign in front of the city buildings / Mexican food with salsa, limes and beer

via: Instagram

As a Californian city, Fresno gets no respect, and not just because it is not as prominent as larger centers in the state. Proximity to Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada Mountains makes Fresno second fiddle to these natural attractions when it comes to recognition.

But it’s still a great setting if you choose to visit the city, one of the most innovative places in California, to see how food production sustainability practices are put into practice. It’s also one of the more diverse communities in the state, which is reflected in its culinary culture, where restaurants serving Ethiopian, Peruvian, Mediterranean, Thai, Indian, and numerous other ethnic dishes are on par.

For hidden finds, head to Forestiere Underground Gardens and the Tower Theater, recognized as the best movie theater in California.

Come to Napa for the wine, stay for the hot air balloons

via: Globe Router

Here is Napa, where the prompt to put a cork in it is treated as a compliment. It has all to do with its location in the Napa Valley, where it is surrounded by more than 300 wineries in the area. Therefore, tours commemorating all that grapes are in the area are highly recommended.

Napa’s recognition as a go-to place for great wines is a relatively young phenomenon in the sommelier world, but it took long enough to energize the real estate industry and kickstart an otherwise sleepy metropolis. Great wine requires great food, and restaurateurs have responded in droves with restaurants worthy of serving local vintages.

Despite the recent hustle and bustle, Napa still has a quaint Victorian flair that is best seen by a hot air balloon. Several companies are available to handle such a request.

Sacramento is an influencer’s dream

Two tourists admire a colorful Sacramento mural / friends drinking beer at a rooftop bar

via: love ponci

Los Angeles may have its movie industry and San Francisco may have cutting-edge music, but where Sacramento, California’s capital city, beats both is in the visual arts. To this end, the rest of the United States also envy the numerous public art murals, largely thanks to an annual festival called Wide Open Walls.

You may need to book a “sac tour” to see all of these works. Not only did these tours help revitalize the city’s downtown area, but the walking tour is also a great way to explore the large number of art museums and galleries, not to mention shops, restaurants, and bars to visit later.

Speaking of which, the food culture is big in Sacramento too, especially if you eat locally. The Farm to Fork events are a must-see where you can enjoy the best of seafood, vegetables and fruits on one plate.

The beaches in San Diego are not getting the credit they deserve

Girl poses in front of the cart that goes through downtown San Diego / blue water and pristine beach

via: Old Town Trolley Tours

The beaches that separate San Diego from the Pacific aren’t as famous as those in You-Know-Where, which is a shame since these sandy shores are some of the most pristine in the state. It’s a place to catch a few rays of sunshine and a little bit of surf, or even watch the abundance of sea lions doing the same thing as their human counterparts.

It is also mandatory to visit the San Diego Zoo, one of the most famous animal attractions in the world. More than 4,000 animals, from gorillas to polar bears, share the space on the 100 hectare facility. A must for boating enthusiasts is the Star of India, the world’s oldest active ocean-going ship, located at the port of the San Diego Maritime Museum.

For a complete view of San Diego, the Old Town Cart is highly recommended and a handy vantage point to find decent places to shop and eat.

If you love oysters, you will love San Francisco

A manicured hand holds up an oyster / Kourtney Kardashian enjoying the nightlife in San Francisco

via: gotceleb.com

Sure, San Francisco has this bridge, Fisherman’s Wharf, and streetcars that add an element of novelty to public transportation, but for those looking for a city that prides itself on offering full cultural immersion, this is the place for you.

Start by eating, especially oysters as the locals are clam-crazy. There are many popular places to eat these delicious treats cheaply, although there is no shortage of places that offer more eclectic seafood menus, including many run by award-winning chefs. And you can’t go wrong with cruising around Chinatown for a decent meal. Recently, Burmese cuisine has emerged as a culinary trend. Many restaurants specialize in serving these dishes.

As for other attractions, the music didn’t end with the deaths of local demigods, The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Numerous nightclubs offer a diverse selection of young talents on stage every evening.

For the more adventurous, hidden finds include shark dives on the Farallon Islands off the coast.

If you’ve ever wanted to feel like an opponent in Queen’s Gambit, this hotel is your chance

About the author

Gene Kosowan
(333 articles published)

Gene Kosowan has been a writer and editor for more years than he would like to admit. He has contributed to Music Express, Avenue Edmonton, Alberta Venture, YP.ca, gigcity.ca, the Edmonton Journal, and several satellite television publications across the continent. He was also the editor-in-chief of SEE Magazine and Vue Weekly for alternative weeklies, and editor for Avenue. Until he came across Valnet Inc, to which he regularly contributes at several locations. Since 2019 he has also been an editor at T8N, a magazine serving a readership in the city of St. Albert.

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