The Great Towns of Southern California

Eighteen unique towns in Southern 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 2002 the landmark travel guidebook, The Great Towns of Southern California (a 256-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, San Luis Obispo was declared the “Best Quality of Life for the Money” in the region as well as overall “Best Quality of Life.” Coronado was declared the “Best Weather” and also the safest. Laguna Beach topped the “Downtown Vitality” list. Big Bear Lake had the “Most Complete Facilities.” Palm Springs was the “Most Expensive Housing Cost.” Complete ratings for all 18 towns in all categories are included in the guidebook.

Five 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 Northern California, remain popular especially for their depth and breadth of coverage.

Here are the 18 Great Towns of Southern California:

Great Towns of Southern California