Culture Trip – California Towns

The 10 Most Beautiful Towns in California

When thinking of California, many visitors are familiar with cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego. The Golden State is also home to many picturesque small towns and villages that will inspire every visitor. We’ve put together a list of some of the loveliest places to be found in California, from coastal charmers to mountain beauties.


Located on Catalina Island, which has a rich history that dates back thousands of years,Avalon will remind people of the Mediterranean with its lush vegetation, hillside homes, and beautiful, clear waters. The only incorporated city on the island, George Shatto was the first person who began developing this lovely community into a resort town. More than a million people visit Avalon each year for its outdoor activities, small shops and art galleries on palm-lined streets, delectable eateries with incredible views of the water, and much more. Featuring a temperate climate year round, it is a great place to explore any time of the year.

Avalon, CA, USA


Carmel-by-the-Sea, also known simply as Carmel, is a European-style village on the Monterey Peninsula popular with tourists. Because of its size, it is a great area to explore by foot whether to hike down to the white, soft sandy beach or stroll along the streets to marvel at the charming architecture, boutiques, or delicious eateries. A must-visit for any Carmel guest is the San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo Mission — founded in 1771 by Father Junipero Serra — a compound comprised of a basilica church, several small museums, and beautiful grounds. Home to many creative types over the years, the village also hosts many festivals throughout the year, including the Carmel Bach Festival.

Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA, USA


A historic railroad town in Northern California, Dunsmuir — named after Alexander Dunsmuir, a coal baron from British Columbia — is a serene mountain retreat known for its peaceful ambiance. Its location makes it a prime destination for outdoor lovers as there are so many adventures waiting to be explored from fishing to hiking to mountain climbing. For visitors who would rather take in the scenic beauty from a distance, the Downtown Historic District, with buildings dating back to the early 20th century, is a lovely place to wander and discover boutiques and tasty treats. If visiting during the summer, be sure to visit the city’s Botanical Gardens for a colorful display of flora.

Dunsmuir, CA, USA


A charming Victorian village nestled in between two redwood forests, visiting Ferndale is like taking a step back in time. A dairy and agriculture community, the town blossomed in the late 19th century and is as charming today as it was back then. Take a leisurely walk along Main Street, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, to absorb the beauty of the colorful Victorian buildings that now house a variety of art galleries, specialty shops, and mouthwatering eateries. For those wanting to explore nature, visit the nearby — a five-mile drive — Lost Coast, a stunning section of coastline that has been left the way nature intended, or Russ Park, a closed canopy Sitka Spruce forest that acts as a bird sanctuary.

Ferndale, CA, USA


Founded after the Civil War by those seeking fortunes, Julian is a historic mining-town nestled in the Cuyamaca Mountains among oak and pine forests in Southern California. Today, the town is known for its historic sites and apple orchards, which produce sweet varieties that are in turn created into mouthwatering pies, ciders, and other sweet delights. From specialty stores to art galleries to historical museums to outdoor adventures, it is a town with something for everyone. To learn more about the history of Julian, stop by the Julian Chamber of Commerce to pick up a History Hunt card, which will guide you to various places, including the Pioneer Cemetery and Julian Jail, where you can search for answers to questions all the while learning more about this charming town.

Julian, CA, USA

Nevada City

A California gold rush town located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains’ western foothills, Nevada City, a historical landmark, is an idyllic town brimming with charm. Proud of their history, locals have been very careful to preserve the century-old, Victorian buildings for visitors and future generations. Park the car, walk around the narrow streets to see the beautiful buildings up close and discover art, handmade jewelry, clothes, books and tantalizing cuisine. Many events take place throughout the year as well, including the Nevada City Bicycle Classic, First Friday Art Walks, and Victorian Christmas. Nevada City is also a popular destination for those seeking a base from which to explore the great outdoors.

Nevada City, CA, USA


Located 90 miles north of Los Angeles, Ojai is the perfect spot to escape the hectic city life and enjoy a relaxing retreat. Settled in the 1800s, the town features wonderful Spanish Mission Revival architecture — as seen in the Arcade Plaza, which is filled with shops, restaurants, and art — with scenic backgrounds provided by the Los Padres National Forest and Topa Topa Mountains. An artsy town, the area is brimming with galleries and other arts and culture venues, including the Ojai Valley Museum and Ojai Art Center, along with other must-visit destinations, such as Libbey Park, which hosts the famous Ojai Music Festivaleach year, and the area’s stunning vineyards.

Ojai, CA, USA

St. Helena

Known as Napa Valley’s Main Street, St. Helena is a charming town surrounded by beautiful, hilly vineyards. Known as a wine lover’s paradise since the area produces numerous wines, it is also a culinary mecca, home of the Culinary Institute of America. The town features a historic, picturesque downtown with lovely architectural gems housing a variety of boutiques, galleries, and dining establishments sure to impress anyone. The terrain around St. Helena also offers a plethora of activities from hiking to biking making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts as well.

St. Helena, CA, USA


Solvang is a scenic Danish community found in the heart of Santa Barbara’s wine country. Located in the Santa Ynez Valley, this cultural gem, which means ‘sunny field’ in Danish, was settled in 1911 and boasts delightful architecture, including the Bethania Lutheran Church, which resembles churches found in rural Denmark, flower-lined streets, plus four windmills. Visit the Elverhøj Museum of History and Art and Hans Christian Andersen Museum for more insight on the history of this quaint village or search through the more than 150 shops for unique gifts and tasty authentic treats. Solvang is also home to several restaurants, wine tasting rooms, plus the historic Old Mission San Inés.

Solvang, CA, USA


Another wine country gem, Sonoma is a pretty town planned around a central plaza and surrounded by rolling hills lined with vineyards — it is known as the birthplace of California’s wine industry. Home to the last Spanish mission in California, Mission San Francisco Solano, built in 1824, which is now part of the Sonoma State Historic Park, the town is another great place to discover California’s past. Other areas of interest include the aforementioned plaza, which is home to many unique shops, fine-dining establishments, casual eateries, and incredible art, and the area’s famed wineries. Either way, there is something of interest for everyone from history buffs to wine lovers.

Sonoma, CA, USA

Reprinted from an article by Marcelina Morfin in The Culture Trip.

National Farmer’s Market Week!

If you haven’t had the visual and informative pleasure of reading a copy of Edible Silicon Valley….you are truly going to be pleasantly surprised when you do.  The artistry that is scripted in this publication embraces the love of all things food. From what is seasonally fresh, to where to find it and what recipe to prepare it in, the appealing pictures ignite the desire to prepare all the artisanal recipes. Providing the confidence for each aspiring evening chef with user friendly directions, you can enjoy all the bounty that this beautiful state provides…and not just high real estate prices.

“Edible Silicon Valley celebrates the local, sustainable food sources of the Silicon Valley area. Every season we serve up a combination of profiles, features, and recipes that illuminate the people who work so hard to bring this bounty to our tables. Intertwined throughout the magazine we include food as art through stunning photography and illustrations. Edible Silicon Valley is a feast for the eyes, the intellect and the palate.”

Here is a picture of the quarterly magazine that is available in print  form or on-line. I’ve provided the link below if you would like to subscribe to it. They also feature a newsletter and blog. Some local markets feature the publication. I know Roberts has it!

Hog Island’s New Expansion ~

Hog Island Oyster Company…

located in the Ferry Building, has just completed a three month expansive remodel which allowed them to double the amount of seats they had before. They have completely reinvented the space while still highlighting the soul of the restaurant…the oyster bar!

The first thing you see, when walking into the new space designed by architect Cass Calder Smith is the oyster bar backlit by the San Francisco Bay.

Featured predominately on one side of the new space is a high end, contemporary cocktail bar. Scott Beattie and Michael Jack Pazdon of St Helena’s Goose & Gander are the barmen extraordinare.

Limited menu, until the grill is up and running, which features fan’s favorites…oysters, chowder, Cowgirl Creamery grilled cheese. New entrees will include crudo fish, smoked or cured fish, a new tomato based seafood stew …and yes even a steak!

Hours are 11:30 am – 9 pm. Until 10 pm on Friday and Saturdays. Weekends they open at 11 am.

Photos courtesy of Paul Dyer


Cherry Blossom time!

Thankful for the rain and our emerald hills, our next horticultural experience in this beautiful state is the colorful explosion of the Cherry Blossoms. The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival begins this weekend in San Francisco’s historic Japanese district. With the promise of beautiful temperatures in the city this weekend, a visit to see California’s natural beauty might be just the visceral treat you are looking for.

SF Flower & Garden Show

"Slow Flowers: Four Seasons of Locally Grown Bouquets from the Garden, Meadow and Farm" (St. Lynn's; $16.95). Outdoor living expert Debra Prinzing challenges herself to 52 weeks worth of locally foraged and sourced flowers and foliage in this set out to disprove the notion that one must purchase imported and expensive blooms in order to create alluring bouquets when she came up with this follow up title to her first book, “The 50-Mile Bouquet: Seasonal, Local, and Sustainable Flowers” (St. Lynn's; 2012) is a . In this diminutive hardback, Prinzing challenges herself to 52 weeks worth of locally foraged and sourced flowers and foliage. Photo: St. Lynn's

This year’s San Francisco Flower and Garden Show will feature edible gardens, sustainable plantings for drought conditions and educational presentations emphasizing California grown flowers. The 3rd largest Flower & Garden Show in the nation, the show features 16 different gardens creatively designed with ornamental edibles, drought resistant plants, outdoor dining scapes as well as the fantasy creation, “Jules Verne’s Volcania.”

Each day features a theme:

Wednesday – Florist Demonstrations

Thursday – Meet the Flower Farmers

Friday – Succulents in Centerpiece Design

Saturday – Botanical Couture Authors

Sunday – DIY Bouquet Designs

Early Bird tickets are on sale now @ $15.00. Coupons are also available @

San Mateo Event Center

March 19 – 23






Weekend Blueprint~

After reading an article written by Laura Gaskill about a timeline for the weekend and the rejuvenation benefits recouped,  I was prompted to add my own editorial comments on how to get the most out of your two days of bliss! I’ve highlighted her subscripts and then elaborated with my own thoughts. After thinking about it overnight I realized that without the balance of work and life we really can’t reach our full potential for both our families and our workplace. We need the time to stop and smell the roses so we can afford to buy them during the week!

1. Kick off the weekend right by hiding all things work and stress related. In other words on Friday night don’t go through the list of oh my god I’ve got to take care of ….start to think about things to do over the weekend that you love to get lost in…gardening, cooking, nesting, riding, etc.

2. Saturday morning indulgence. Now for some that might mean sleeping in or reading a great book in bed. Others might enjoy an early morning run, riding your bike to the ocean and surfing, hitting the golf tees with a hot coffee and a granola bar, setting off on a bike trek or getting to the barn with the early morning sunshine steaming from the rails of the turnouts. Whatever your “go to” passion is, indulging in it once a week is such a wonderful thing and tremendously rejuvenating. After all the first thing to do on Saturday morning should be what we work so hard during the week to enjoy.

3. Save up for Saturday treats.   For me that would be a hot apple fritter! Who said once a week would kill you? Corned beef hash with poached eggs, chocolate milk oh – la – la’s, lox with bagels and cream cheese, pancakes with syrup…anything food related starts the day off with a smile for your tummy and makes your heart happy!

4. Schedule Serenity.  Meditation…hmmm…maybe. A quiet walk on the beach, sitting in the sun and thinking about absolutely nothing but how lucky you are (no matter what is going on). Connecting with that little voice that pushes you through the rest of the week and making a deal with him or her to give you a break for 10 minutes! Seriously, leave me alone and let me relax.

5. Set a home-work boundary.  It’s all right to schedule some work time in the late afternoon right before you have a glass of wine. That way you will keep it short because a new vintner’s special is waiting for the uncorking.

6. Pick a weekend high point.  A project that will give you the sense of fulfillment once accomplished. Whether it’s planting a new garden, reorganizing the garage or cleaning the drawers in your closet. Sometimes it’s those little things that make you feel at peace with the rest of the world because you have cleaned your clutter and can start another day fresh and ready to go.

7. Cook a double dinner.  I love to do this all the time. When I can make one meal and morph it into another I feel terrific. It’s like recycling, being green and saving money all in one dish! Who wouldn’t feel great when you can clean the refrigerator and eat something tasty at the same time.

8.Sunday evening checklist.  All right now you’ve had your enjoyment for the weekend and you have to start gearing up for Monday morning. Whatever you need to do to psychologically prepare for the week, by Sunday late afternoon you need to kick it into gear. Papers ready for a meeting, suit pressed, shoes shined, appointments confirmed, emails returned (the ones you’ve been avoiding)…it’s time to check back in, gently! Get ready and then relax for the rest of the evening with a lovely family dinner and a great movie which moves us into….

9.Weekend closure.  In our family it’s Sunday night dinner, which more often than not has been on the stove or in the oven all day. With smells that fill the home, for me it’s always a time to be thankful we have each other. Embracing the ups and the downs, the joys and the sorrows we come together this evening to share.  We light the candles and sit down this night to remember how special we are to each other. And now with a full tummy, dishes done and movie ordered…we move into…

10. Set a positive intention for the week ahead. This one I was in total agreement with Laura. Before heading to bed on Sunday night, give a little thought to what you hope for in the coming week. Think of something positive to look forward to, plan to wear something new or fun to work and have every intention to enjoy and appreciate all that your life is!

If you would like to see her analysis, here is the link: w=300

Napa Valley Wine Train

Photo: We are ready for you.

Wouldn’t you love to enjoy a trip through California’s Wine Country on a meticulously restored vintage train car and enjoy  an exquisite dining experience as well? The 3 hour round trip which originates in the historic town of Napa is a relaxing way to tour 36 miles of California’s beautiful wine country.

As January is Napa Valley Restaurant month, the site “Visit Napa Valley” provides you with a list of Restaurants that participate in this Month’s festivities and offer special dining events.

Need a location for a Special Event or Wedding?

Located 30 minutes south of the Silicon Valley the Devine Ranch is an event venue like no other. Visit their site to see their Gallery of pictures and events that they have previously held at this  Montana framed Home and Equestrian facility designed by Washington D.C. famed architect John Blackburn.