California is always a top vacation destination, but largely because of its big cities and stunning national and state parks. But remember that California is also a huge state with so many diverse and interesting places to explore beyond the top tourist attractions and popular spots. Over the past couple of years, I’ve gotten to know the lesser-known parts of California better and have loved exploring the state’s vastly different personalities. Here are eight of my favorite underrated vacation destinations in California that you might want to check out as well!
San Luis Obispo (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Located along the central coast of California, roughly halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, San Luis Obispo is a refreshing small city with a laid-back vibe and lots to see and do. The traffic and prices are much more manageable here than in the big California cities, and there are lots of opportunities for outdoor recreation too. Set up camp at El Chorro Regional Park, hike the trails there, and visit (or even volunteer) at the free botanical garden in the park. In town, you’ll find a rock climbing gym, several great breweries, open mic nights, and Central Coast Theater for improv shows that will make you laugh. It’s also fun to take a drive over to nearby Morro Rock and Oceano to spend some time on the beach. Also, don’t miss the SLO Farmers’ Market, which takes place downtown on Thursday nights and has everything from live music to food vendors, crafts, and games for the kids.