Premier Summer Destinations in California

Carmel-by-the-Sea | Venti Views

California has countless communities that are sure to appeal to summer visitors. Let’s look at some premier summer destinations in California that are best for a sun-soaked getaway.

South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe, a gorgeous city along the Nevada border, is an outdoor paradise. Located along the shores of the world-famous Lake Tahoe in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, this community sees a significant influx of visitors during the summer. Enjoyable activities in South Lake Tahoe include relaxing on the scenic El Dorado Beach, boating and participating in water sports on Lake Tahoe, and hiking through the area’s many trails.

South Lake Tahoe | Wesley Gibbs


Auburn is an ideal retreat for history buffs. The Northern California city played a key role in the California Gold Rush, and its Old Town area houses preserved buildings and museums dedicated to the city’s unique past. Summer is the perfect time for experiencing Auburn’s surrounding nature, especially at places like the Auburn State Recreation Area, which is a vast preserve with hiking trails, forest scenery, and flowing rivers.

Auburn State Recreation Area | Simon Hurry

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is a vibrant city on the Central Coast that offers travelers an unforgettable California experience. It has top-notch beaches with amazing surfing conditions, a major wine industry with vineyards surrounding the city, and a renowned local food scene. The possibilities for a summer trip there are limitless, whether you want to sail around the coast, experience a Spanish festival, or stroll along the city’s soft-sand beaches.

Santa Barbara | OC Gonzalez


California’s capital is a vibrant cultural hub, making it an ideal destination for anyone seeking a distinctive big-city experience. This bustling city features high-quality museums and Old Sacramento, a historic riverfront district with preserved buildings from the city’s Gold Rush past. Located at the confluence of two major rivers, visitors and residents can conveniently enjoy activities such as white-water rafting, but Sacramento’s main summer event is the California State Fair.

Sacramento | Stephen Leonardi


A charming and historic city with a stunning shoreline, Monterey is undoubtedly among the Central Coast’s most attractive summer destinations. It has magnificent local beaches and trails that wind through bluffs overlooking the ocean. Monterey’s high-quality golf courses further set it apart, and other renowned attractions include the following:

Cannery Row: This converted industrial area now houses boutique shops and delectable restaurants. 

Monterey Bay Aquarium: This oceanfront aquarium showcases fascinating animals and strives to inspire ocean conservation.  

Cannery Row | Mick Haupt

Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is one of California’s best-known year-round destinations. During the winter, this Sierra Nevada alpine town attracts many skiers, but there is also plenty to enjoy in the summer. Mammoth Lakes has renowned trails that meander through majestic mountains and by serene lakes, offering a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts. The area also has several bodies of water, perfect for fishing, canoeing, or kayaking. And for an unforgettable day trip, Yosemite National Park is only an hour’s drive from Mammoth Lakes, promising breathtaking vistas and exhilarating adventures. 

Mammoth Lakes | Kvnga


Carmel-by-the-Sea, a beachy destination on the Central Coast, offers a superb blend of culture and nature. Carmel’s world-class beaches provide fantastic settings for surfing or sunbathing, and nearby nature preserves offer hiking trails that overlook the ocean. Its city center has a fairytale-inspired design and houses art galleries, artisan shops, tasty restaurants, and captivating museums, including the Carmel Mission. This iconic landmark from the town’s Spanish colonial history now serves as an active parish, school, and museum.

Carmel Mission | Joel Durkee

Morro Bay

Morro Bay, celebrated for its postcard-worthy ocean scenery, is a famed outdoor destination on the Central Coast. The area’s most prominent landmark is Morro Rock, a massive volcanic rock that juts approximately 576 feet out of the ocean at Morro Rock Beach. During the summer, this picturesque community sees an abundance of visitors looking to enjoy activities such as kayaking, surfing, golfing, and hiking. 

Morro Rock | Venti Views
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