A Breath of Fresh Air: 5 California Communities for the Outdoor Lover

The fact that California runs almost the full north-to-south stretch of the United States and enjoys a variety of elevations means it has the most diverse array of climates in the entire country. It has gorgeous deserts, thriving forests, unparalleled beaches, and beautiful countryside for every kind of outdoor-lover. Here are some of the most enticing communities throughout California for people who can't get enough fresh air, sunshine, and natural landscapes.

Los Altos Hills

Image via Flickr by RalphTQ

When most people think of Silicon Valley, they imagine computers, corporate parks, and cutting-edge technology. The heritage of the region is much older and closer to Earth than that, though. Case in point: the rural community of Los Altos Hills. It's next to the small city of Los Altos and takes a slower pace than those famed computer pioneers nearby.

Los Altos Hills is dotted with ranches, gently sloping hills, and some of the most gorgeous sunsets you'll ever see. The town is also dedicated to sustainability, featuring energy-efficient homes and a town solar array that anyone can monitor from a website that updates every 15 minutes.

Redwood City

Image via Flickr by Rebecca Williamson

Those who want the beauty and forward-thinking culture of the Bay Area but prefer a small-town lifestyle often find themselves drawn into the charm of Redwood City. It features plenty of shoreline, easy access to San Francisco, and an adorable downtown area that's truly idyllic. The weather is mild, averaging 77 degrees from spring through autumn, rarely dropping below 65 degrees in the winter. Redwood City is a great mix of casual living and inviting sophistication. It's also just a short drive to the iconic Redwood Mountain region, famous for its towering trees and breathtaking trails.

Napa

Image via Flickr by Abe K

In short, wine has been good to Napa, Calif. Thanks to the rich soil and Mediterranean-style climate of the hills around Howell Mountain, the Napa Valley wine country is one of today's top producers of vintages revered around the world. Though it's known as a prime vacation destination, Napa and its many surrounding communities are home to many, especially those who love the great outdoors.

Nature trails wind through the entire region, passing by homey vineyards, riverside towns, and peaceful mountain retreats. There's nothing quite like trekking through the grape-speckled hills around Lake Berryessa, a pristine body of inviting water with 165 miles of coastline.

Dana Point

Image via Flickr by Justin in SD

Heading south, there are a variety of quiet communities on the coast between Los Angeles and San Diego. Dana Point, a community of fewer than 35,000 people, boasts some of the most alluring stretches of beach on the Pacific Ocean in the entire state. Some prefer the beachfront while others like the views on the bluffs, especially up in the impressive, man-made Headlands looking down on the harbor.

Because those impressive sunset vistas are king in the region, even Dana Point apartments cater to those who are looking for a little extra balcony space. Easy access to two of California's major cities without having to deal with the bustle and congestion of those places makes Dana Point an ideal Southern California community.

Palm Desert

Image via Flickr by rocor

Don't let its name fool you. Palm Desert is more a series of oases than a desolate stretch of sandy dunes. A vibrant community in the heart of the Coachella Valley, Palm Desert attracts plenty of culture and innovation to its budding city atmosphere. There are stunning mountain views wherever you go, a delicious culinary scene in town, and some of the best horse trails in the state are just a stone's throw away. Palm Desert is also a great place for adventure-seekers. It has plenty of space for adrenaline-pumping activities like ballooning, skydiving, and off-road driving.

California offers some of the most refreshing landscapes and easy-going communities in the entire world. These are just a few of the many beautiful places you can visit or call home if you're looking for a clean, naturally appealing retreat from your busy everyday life. It won't take long to go from smitten visitor to proud resident for anyone who thrives on fresh air, healthy Earth, and a keen sense of exploration.

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