If you’re planning for a long overdue vacation, shouldn’t California be on your radar? After all, the Golden State offers a spectrum of places, from charming whistle stops to prismatic municipalities. While the choice is yours, why not consider visit a picturesque spot where no filter is required? The following are just five of the most colorful destinations in sunny California!

The vacation rentals at the historic Capitola Venetian is one reason why Capitola is among the most colorful destinations in California
Colorful Capitola Venetian in Capitola Village (credit: Randy Yagi)


Of all the vibrant seaside communities along Monterey Bay, Capitola is among California’s most colorful destinations. That’s because of historic Capitola Venetian, a centerpiece at the oldest beach resort area on the West Coast. Featuring several eclectic boutique shops, Capitola Village also offers beachside dining options, like Paradise Beach Grille and Zelda’s. Minutes away is the enchanting Shadowbrook Restaurant, one of the country’s most romantic. Just six miles north is Santa Cruz, known for its admission-free Beach Boardwalk, the oldest surviving amusement park in California. If you need more ideas, try Roaring Camp Railroad or Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park.

Related: America’s Best Seaside Boardwalks

Mendocino, California

The only town along the California coast with a National Historical Landmark designation, Mendocino resembles a vintage New England fishing village. Complete with impressive 19th century architecture, this small community is home to romantic B&Bs and intriguing art galleries. Further up the Mendocino Coast is colorful Glass Beach, in the picturesque town of Fort Bragg. Like Mendocino, Fort Bragg is minutes from towering redwood trees and world-class wineries. Among leading wineries to consider are Fetzer Vineyards, Goldeneye Winery and Navarro Vineyards. Of course in Mendocino you have several dining options from budget eats to upscale. Indeed, Trillium Cafe, MacCallum House and Ravens are all excellent.

San Francisco

From the Golden Gate Bridge to eye-catching street art, San Francisco is awash with a spectrum of colors. Aside from one of the world’s most photographed bridges, San Francisco offers several vibrant spots to see. For instance, there are the iconic Painted Ladies and stately Victorian homes in Haight-Ashbury. The latter is also popular for its vivid street art, along with the Mission District and North Beach. Other splashy spots to enjoy are Fisherman’s Wharf, Pier 39 and Union Square. Golden Gate Park, the neon lights of North Beach and the Bay Lights along the Embarcadero can provide additional photo opportunities. Clearly, San Francisco is among California’s most colorful destinations.

Related: What To Do On Father’s Day In San Francisco


Solvang seems like a magical place straight out of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales. Nestled within the Santa Ynez Valley, it’s a mirror image of an 18th century Danish village. Complete with windmills and timbered structures, it’s no surprise that Solvang is known as the Danish Capital of America. Coupled with Old World charm, Solvang also features a Little Mermaid statue and Danish-influenced hotels like Svendsgaard’s Danish Lodge. Also nearby are several of Santa Barbara County’s finest wineries, including Casa Cassara and Lions Peak. Of course, there are great restaurants in Solvang, like Leonardo’s Ristorante and Copenhagen Sausage Garden.

Venice, California

Named after its Italian counterpart, Venice has its own canals as well as one of Los Angeles’ most famous beaches. While the canals are noteworthy, the Venice Beach boardwalk is the place to see for an array of brilliant colors. It’s also a quirky mixture of shops interspersed with street performers and budding social media stars. Visitors are encouraged to see the Venice Art Walls, then see the basketball action and the world famous Muscle Beach Gym. If time permits, follow the iconic walkway to the family-friendly and colorful Santa Monica Pier.

Related: Best Historic Seaside Amusement Parks

About The Author:

Randy Yagi is an award-winning freelance writer who served as the National Travel Writer for CBS Local from 2012-2019. More than 900 of his stories still appear in syndication across two dozen CBS websites, including CBS New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Chicago During his peak years with CBS, Randy had a reported digital audience reach of 489 million and 5.5 million monthly visitors. Additionally, his stories have appeared in the Daily Meal, CBS News, CBS Radio, Engadget, NBC.com, NJ.com and Radio.com. He is a Media Fellow of Stanford University.

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