Ask boosters of any place in California and they'll all complain about how Los Angeles continuously hogs the spotlight. It's not hard for L.A. to do that, especially with its status as Ground Zero of the world's biggest movie and entertainment industries still remarkably challenged after all these decades.
While San Francisco had a big turn when its Haight-Ashbury district became hippie central during the flower power era of the '60s, not even the Golden Gate Bridge can compete for attention against that gigantic Hollywood sign further south.
That's why it stands to reason that the Golden State has a lot more going for it than just L.A. Its gold rush in the 19th century still remains the largest influx of immigration in American history. And the computer and electronics industry is still the biggest economic driver in California and one of the biggest in the U.S.
But that doesn't exactly scream "visit me" in much the same way that Hollywood beckons visitors. So instead, here's why five other cities besides Los Angeles are worthy of your attention when it comes to planning a vacation.
You'll Have The Best Meal In Fresno
As a California city, Fresno gets no respect, and it's not only because it doesn't get as much profile as larger centers in the state. Its proximity to Yosemite National Park and the Sierra Nevada Mountains renders Fresno as second fiddle to these natural attractions when it comes to recognition.
But they're still great surroundings to take in if you decide to check out the city, one of the more innovative spots in California to see how practices in food production sustainability are put into action. It's also one of the more diverse communities in the state, which is reflected in its cuisine culture that puts restaurants serving Ethiopian, Peruvian, Mediterranean, Thai, Indian and scores of other ethnic fare on equal footing.
For hidden finds, visit the Forestiere Underground Gardens and Tower Theatre, recognized as the best movie theater in California.
Come To Napa For The Wine, Stay For The Hot Air Balloons
Here's Napa, where being told to put a cork in it is treated as a compliment. It has everything to do with its location in the Napa Valley, where it's surrounded by more than 300 wineries in the region, meaning that tours to commemorate everything that is grape about the area are highly recommended.
Napa's recognition as a go-to spot for great wines is a relatively recent phenomenon in the sommelier world, but it's been long enough to energize the real estate industry and put some zip into an otherwise sleepy metropolis. Great wine demands great food and restaurateurs have responded in droves with restaurants worthy enough to carry local vintages.
Despite that recent hustle and bustle, Napa still has a quaint Victorian feel to it, which is best seen via hot-air balloon. Several companies are on hand to service such a request.
Sacramento Is An Influencer's Dream
Los Angeles might have its movie industry and San Francisco might have cutting-edge music, but where Sacramento, California's capital, has both of them beat is in the visual arts field. To that end, its massive array of public art murals is also the envy of the rest of the United States, largely thanks to an annual festival called Wide Open Walls.
You might have to book what locals call a "Sac tour" to catch all these works. These tours have not only helped revitalize the city's downtown area, but the walk is also a good way to scope out the massive number of art museums and galleries, not to mention shops, restaurants, and bars to hit up later.
Speaking of which, food culture is also big in Sacramento, especially eating local. Their Farm to Fork events is a must, where you can get the best seafood, vegetables, and fruits all on a plate for some lovely noshing.
The Beaches In San Diego Don't Get The Credit They Deserve
The beaches separating San Diego from the Pacific aren't as well known as those found in You-Know-Where, which is a shame since these sandy shorelines are among the most pristine in the state. It's a place to catch some rays and a bit of surf or even check out the abundance of sea lions doing the same thing as their human counterparts.
It's also compulsory to visit the San Diego Zoo, one of the most famous animal attractions in the world, with more than 4,000 animals from gorillas to polar bears sharing space on the 100-acre facility. A must for boat enthusiasts is The Star of India, the world's oldest active ocean vessel which can be found dockside at the San Diego Maritime Museum.
To get a full perspective of San Diego, the old town trolley is highly recommended and a handy vantage point to spot decent places to shop and eat.
If You Love Oysters, You'll Love San Francisco
Sure, San Francisco has that bridge, Fisherman's Wharf and streetcars that provide an element of novelty to public transit, but for those wanting a city that's proud to offer a total cultural immersion, you've hit the right spot.
Start with the food, especially oysters as the locals are shell-crazy. You'll find plenty of popular places where you can eat those slurpy delicacies on the cheap, although there's no shortage of spots that offer more eclectic seafood menus, including many operated by award-winning chefs. And you can't go wrong cruising through Chinatown for decent eats. Emerging lately as a culinary trend is Burmese cuisine, with plenty of eateries specializing in serving that fare.
As for other attractions, music didn't end with the demise of local demigods The Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane. Scores of nightclubs offer an eclectic array of up-and-coming talent on stage each night.
For adventurers, hidden finds include shark dives on the Farallon Islands just offshore.