Top 15 Small Cities In California


Arcata
Photo credit: Garrett Albright / Flickr

When thinking of California, many people 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.

15. Arcata

Arcata is home to Humboldt State University; the college’s hilly, laid-back campus is technically part of California State University, but HSU feels like its own, mellow universe, and so does Arcata. It’s the rare college town that’s also very safe, family-friendly and wholesome; according to the relocation tool Find Your Spot, the whole town is known to gather together to watch the Humboldt Crabs, Arcata’s very own minor league baseball team.

According to Frommer’s, part of Arcata’s appeal lies in its diverse and scenic ecosystem, which includes a redwood forest and a marshland full of birds, as well as its mild-to-cool temperatures and quaint downtown square. Arcata even placed sixth on Hardie House’s annual list of America’s “Ten Most Enlightened Towns”; the literary publication called it a walkable and green town.

The San Francisco Gate assured readers that Arcata more than makes up for its rainy, foggy weather. The town continues to stand out for its vintage charm, beautiful redwood forests, and easy-access beaches that are never crowded and always beautiful.

The City of Arcata makes a special effort to preserve that native landscape. Its official website keeps residents updated on volunteer opportunities, such as creek clean-ups and efforts to replace invasive plant life, and lets the whole community decide on eco-friendly initiatives such as a proposed public toilet and a system of bicycle lanes called Arcata Bicycle Boulevards.

Other local efforts to protect the environment include HSU’s solar-paneled dormitories, as well as the work of a local recycled glassware company, Fire & Light Original. According to its website, the company was the first to distribute tiles, decorative décor, and dishware composed of 100% recycled glass.

Arcata might appeal to so many Californians because it represents a microcosm of the state itself. Neither urban nor rural, its diverse population and comfortable climate fosters a sense of community and understanding that isn’t easy to find in the state’s bigger cities.


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