This page contains affiliate links and is a member of the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. If you make a purchase using one of these Amazon links, I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you. See my Disclosure Policy for more information.

Hidden California Beach Towns Worth Visiting

When traveling through California, there are so many things to explore and enjoy. There are coastal cities here that are must-see, however, don’t forget to stop at some of the quiet California beach towns. You will be absolutely amazed at all the things these charming places have to offer including beautiful views and friendly people. As a bonus, some of the best California beaches can also be found in these locations that you can explore without crowds!

Anett Victoria - Author of SeaSpiration

Written by Anett Victoria

When it comes to a beach vacation, Anett is the person who certainly has tips on where to go and what to do no matter it is a luxury tropical holiday, a romantic seaside getaway, or a fun family trip to the ocean. As a world traveler with years of experience in exploring tropical countries and a water sports fan, she creates this inspiring site where she writes travel guides, reviews and recommends beach gear, and gives travel tips to make planning your trip quicker and easier! Are you curious about where She wanders now? Follow her adventures on IG too!


Eureka is certainly one of those hidden California beach towns that you have to make an effort to visit. It is strategically located between amazing redwood trees and the shoreline. When you stand in the middle of town, anywhere you look is breathtaking.

Kids playing at the beach eureka

You can enjoy a beautiful beach area, the Eureka Zoo, which has Red Pandas among its residents. Venture over to Sequoia Park and see some of the largest redwoods in the state.

Make sure that you take time to go into the downtown area. Here you will find amazing Victorian homes that are as stunning as they are unique. The downtown area is known for its arts district, unique shops, and great dining establishments.

Fort Bragg

Your California beach vacation would not be complete without stopping at Fort Bragg. The City of Fort Bragg is a little community with one of the most unique beaches in the world.

Pacific ocean at Fort Bragg

The most famous beach here is Glass Beach that is covered in sea glass of many different colors. It is amazing to see, and it is free to visit. You can even take a shimmering piece or two home if you like, but it is better to leave it there for others to enjoy.

Fort Bragg California glass beach

Take a ride on the “Skunk Train” through the redwoods, or have even more fun by taking a rail bike through the forest and hiking back on a trail that takes you through some of the largest redwoods in the world.


Mendocino is one of the smallest quiet California beach towns with a population of fewer than 900 people. But don’t let the size fool you. This small beach community has also been a favorite filming spot for movies and television programs because of its picturesque appearance and breathtaking coastline.

Houses in Mendocino CA

This town is home to a film festival each year and has an extensive artist community in the area. Visitors can enjoy museums, art galleries, and Russian Gulch State Park, a popular hiking destination where you can see a 36ft waterfall.

Mendocino coast

Families will sure to enjoy the Big River Beach area that is known as one of the most picturesque warm water beaches in California. Take time to hike through the redwoods or go kayaking with your kids for some quality time. Mendocino also has a few bed and breakfast locations and several unique shops and dining areas to enjoy.

Bodega Bay

The quiet California coastal town of Bodega Bay is most famous for its seafood. Home to a small fishing fleet, you can indulge in some of the most delicious fresh-caught seafood when you visit Bodega Bay.

The second thing you must do when you are in this area is visiting the Bodega Head Peninsula, part of the Bodega Bay Beach. Here you can whale watch throughout the year.

Bodega bay houses by the ocean

The fact that Bodega Bay belongs to the less crowded beach towns in California doesn’t mean that there Is nothing to do here. There are many bike and hiking trails in the area, and many people enjoy just walking the long coastline. It is a town that you must make an effort to visit, even if it is only to stop and look for whales.


Davenport is one of those hidden California beach towns that no one knows by name, but everyone knows by picture. The beach area of Davenport is very rock and has many tide pools that you can explore.

However, the most famous part of this beach is Shark Fin Cove where a large rock jutting out of the ocean right offshore. It is one of the most often photographed rock structures in the world.

Davenport shark fin cove

Davenport is also one of those small beach towns in California where you feel like you already have been there, even if this is your first visit. It is a “beachy” town with cute shops and restaurants and an overall feel of relaxation. Also, make sure to visit some local wineries too that serve some of the state’s best wine!

Carmel by the Sea

When you feel to take a break from faster-paced, big towns, Carmel by the Sea is where you need to go! It is one of those quiet California beach towns that has almost stood still with time.

Carmel Mission Saint Junipero Serra - Carmel by the Sea

The historical town is most well known as an artist colony from the late 1800s and early 1900s and continues to cater to those who desire a peaceful setting to pursue their artistic talents.

Carmel beach - Carmel by the Sea

The beautiful beach area and amazing views make this place one of the most romantic beaches in California. When you are at Carmel by the Sea, you must visit one of the beautiful Spanish missions in the area, and you must go downtown to visit the small shops. The largest road that runs through Carmel by the Sea is SR 1, so you can imagine that it is the epitome of a quaint little town.


Every beach trip should include a visit to Capitola! This small town is located at the end of Monterey Bay and has a Mediterranean feel. The Capitola Venetian Hotel is built right down to the sand and has multi-colored units that give the area a real charming appeal.

Colorful beach houses Capitola

The area is famous for being an art colony and continues to embrace these roots today. In the evenings you can enjoy walking along the brightly painted Venetian-inspired beach bungalows, watching movies on the beach, art shows, and twilight concerts.

You can also visit many different shops, dining areas, and outdoor recreation places. Capitola is a unique area and a place that everyone will enjoy.


Cayucos is one of those beaches in California that is often overlooked or bypassed because, at first glance, you cannot see the beauty from the road. However, if you take the time to stop and look, you will find the amazing Estero bay area that is worth spending a day enjoying.

Cayucos beach - California

The most prominent part of the place is the pier. You can go out on it and fish or enjoy the view. Surfers absolutely love Cayucos and try to keep the name under the radar so that only the locals can enjoy the perfect waves. When you visit the beach, make sure that you save some time to enjoy some fresh seafood at one of the area restaurants.


Carpinteria is one of those underrated California beach towns that you do not want to miss during your vacation. It lies on the southeastern end of Santa Barbara County.

The city beach can almost be considered two separate beaches because of the distinct differences on each end. One end is very sandy and has calm waters perfect for swimming and sunbathing, while the other end has craggy rocks and big waves perfect for surfing.

Sunset over the ocean Carpinteria

You can see the sea lions and seals here during the winter months, and the tide pools are always filled with fascinating sea life year-round. Carpinteria is also the home of the California Avocado Festival, the only festival honoring avocados in the country.

SeaSpiration Tip: should you decide to visit the area, make sure to visit other secluded Santa Barbara beaches too!


Oxnard is a laid-back beach town in Ventura County just west of Los Angeles and has a beautiful sandy beach that extends almost five miles long with very mild waves, making it perfect for swimming. There are also places where you can play volleyball, BBQ, and picnic.

One of the best things about Oxnard that there is ample parking, and a majority of the parking is free. You can usually find great parking spaces throughout the day, so you can enjoy the town whenever you arrive.

Also, there are lots of outdoor activates available: you can walk around and explore amazing wildlife, and there is surf and paddleboard rental available at reasonable prices making this location one of the most affordable California beach towns to visit.

Boats in the canal in Oxnard CA

From the harbor you can easily access the Channel Islands National Park, one of the most famous national parks of the state. These protected five islands are home to unique plants and animals as well as archeological marvels that found nowhere else.

San Clemente

San Clemente is often referred to as the Spanish Village by the Sea. It is one of those quiet California beach towns that can only be described as truly California-esque. It is filled with mansions, missions, and everything in between. President Nixon even had a home here that was referred to as the Western White House.

San Clemente California beach town

There are several beach areas that you can access in the San Clemente area. Many of them -such as Trestles and T-Street- are popular with surfers because of the great waves. Others visit here to enjoy the pier and whale watch.

Whatever your reason for visiting San Clemente, make sure you go into town and enjoy the cultural center; it is housed in one of the most amazing structures on the West Coast.

SeaSpiration Tip: when in the area, explore some hidden San Diego beaches too if you wish to relax without crowds!


Encinitas is a more lively place, but still can be included among those quiet California beach towns that are worth to visit if you wish to spend a nice day by the sea. It’s famous for Swamis Beach that became known from the Beach Boys ‘Surfin’ song.

Beach in Encinitas

The overall appeal of Encinitas is that it has kept its 1960s surf town persona, and going here makes you feel that you moved back in time, even though so much of the area is modernized. It has something for everyone, from historical monuments to restaurants, farmer markets and wineries.

Inspired? Pin it!

Hidden California beach towns