Eighteen unique towns in Northern California feature some of the most stunning geography, gentle climates, and captivating culture in America. Each offers a getaway that will inspire you to relax in ways that you never can in cities. Whether you are seeking a memorable vacation or a vital new place to call home, these are the foremost destinations beyond the cities of California.
In 2003 the landmark travel guidebook, The Great Towns of Northern California (a 320-page guidebook) described each town's best attractions, restaurants and lodgings, and provided original Weather Rating charts. Quality of Life data were also provided. Considering the housing costs at that time, Napa was declared the Best Quality of Life for the Money in the region. Carmel was declared the Best Quality of Life, Best Weather and (not surprisingly!) the Most Expensive Housing Cost. Monterey topped the Downtown Vitality list and also had the Most Complete Facilities, while Sonoma was the Safest. Complete ratings for all 18 towns in all categories are included in the guidebook.
Fourteen of these towns made the final cut for inclusion among the 100 best that are featured in our 2009 national guidebook, The Great Towns of America.
This regional book and its companion, The Great Towns of Southern California, remain popular especially for their depth and breadth of coverage.
Here are the 18 Great Towns of Northern California: