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.

Spring Color

Currently available at Emily Joubert in Woodside ~ Along with candles, table linens, fine crystal, plants, outdoor cafe furniture, stylish planting pots, select table salts, gourmet candies, John Derian plates, freshly pressed coffees, childrens’ gifts and all things home and life related.

Mon – Sat 930-6 Sunday 10-5
3036 Woodside Road
Woodside, CA 94062 650-851-3520
Photos by Katherine Westerman


2015 Color & Palette of the Year

The Colors

Rain forest green; Paradise 6720, Sherwin-Williams.

Naive Peach 6631, Sherwin-Williams.

Salmon Rose, 2003-3C, Valspar.

Stone’s Throw, 28-18, Pratt & Lambert.

Panama Rose, 1181-7, PPG.

Essential Teal, T15-3, Behr.


In honor of National Wine Drinking Day I thought I would share the 2015 color of the year as there is a direct correlation. Pantone has chosen “Marsala,” a warm reddish-brown hue named after the wine, as the color of the year for 2015.

Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute, said in a press release the color will bring us back to our roots: “Much like the fortified wine that gives Marsala its name, this tasteful hue embodies the satisfying richness of a fulfilling meal while its grounding red-brown roots emanate a sophisticated, natural earthiness.”

PANTONE COLOR OF THE YEAR 2015 - Marsala 18-1438

Whether in a flat or textured material, or with a matte or gloss finish, this highly varietal shade combines dramatically with neutrals, including warmer taupes and grays. Because of its burnished undertones, sultry Marsala is highly compatible with amber, umber and golden yellows, greens in both turquoise and teal, and blues in the more vibrant range.

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Kitchen Pleasantries!


Loving every bit of cooking from shopping to table (except possibly dishes if I’m to be truly honest) I discovered these gorgeous blue steel hand forged pans last fall.  Designed and hammered by Patrick Maher and Caryn Badgett’s in their blacksmith shop in Washington they are great for searing and caramelizing while lovely to cook in.  They are hammered and forged, not cast, which makes the pans lighter and easier to handle, as well as less porous and quicker to season. They can take high temperatures and  can go from stove, to oven, to table – where they make a beautiful table presentation.  The blue color is a product of heat treatment, which forms a protective layer of blue iron oxide on polished steel. It is a natural rust deterrent, and combined with organic virgin coconut oil, provides an excellent pre-seasoned surface. They’re iron pans and therefore reactive, so they won’t stay blue – they’ll darken and patina as you cook and season them, aging beautifully as we all do!

Available at Blu Skillet Ironware


Another treat for the esthetically inclined kitchen…. Pineapple cut out colanders.

Available at NoMoreRack.

Stainless-Steel Ultimate Spatula Set, Cool Grey

The shapes and sizes of these stainless and silicone spatulas are convenient and attractive. Paintbrush-inspired handles encourage the ideal angle and grip depending on the desired task. The heads are made of hygienic, heatproof silicone so they don’t melt if you accidentally leave them too close to the flame! I’m particularly fond of the little one.

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Le Creuset Signature Cast-Iron Oval Dutch Oven

My “go to” Dutch Oven for Sunday night dinners is by Le Creuset. The enameled cast iron signature cookware makes the perfect stews, soups and braised meats. I’ve had mine for 20 years now and it’s a seasoned competitor in my kitchen for it’s design and reliability. Still turning out perfect dishes after all these years!

Available at Williams Sonoma.|lecrueset|64|best|4294967203|1|24||24&cm_src=PRODUCTSEARCH||Category-_-Cookware-_-NoMerchRules

All-Clad 3-Piece Stainless-Steel Strainer Set

Whether you are straining stock or finishing a cake with a light dusting of powder sugar…these are definitely the strainers you need. Designed by All-Clad they are designed to position securely over bowls and pots, go straight to the dishwasher and are artistically designed to accent your heart felt creations.

Available at Williams Sonoma.

These are my mixing bowls…they don’t slip… which I love. There is nothing worse than whisking in a bowl that takes on a life of it’s own. The high grade stainless steel bowl is bonded with a non-slip silicone base which keeps them cemented to the counter top (within reason of course).

Available at Chefs.

Just a few kitchen ideas from my home to yours. These terrific additions to your kitchen make the joy of cooking both handy and wonderfully successful!

Bon Appetit!