The three biggest cities in California may seem similar at first glance — they’re sunny, beachy, and have a chill vibe. As similar as they are, they each have a distinct energy and unique things to experience. If you’re looking to travel to the Golden State and you’re not sure what suits your needs, scroll down to see a rating of Californian cities based on nightlife, family fun, and arts & culture.
The largest city in California, L.A. has more to offer than anyone can fit into their schedule. Among the many highlights of the city are the picturesque beaches and the vibrant nightlife. What it’s truly known for, of course, is Hollywood. Between the star-studded Walk of Fame on Hollywood Avenue and the opulent mansions in the Hills, it’s hard not to get caught up in the glitz and glamour of celebrity life— especially when the biggest movie studios in the world offer behind-the-scenes tours!
Family fun: 8/10
Arts & culture: 10/10
READ MORE: Where to Spot Celebrities in Los Angeles
San Francisco, like L.A., has a great impact on culture— but it doesn’t boast numerous film studios like the City of Angels does. Instead, San Francisco is a technological hub, home to amazing innovators and headquarters of companies such as Twitter and Uber. It also has an amazing atmosphere and vibrant nightlife, with a variety of unique clubs and bars. Beyond that, the city is a strange yet beautiful collision between modern and Victorian architecture, and actually features more than 10 distinct architecture tours throughout the city. We also can’t forget two of San Fran’s most famous landmarks— the Golden Gate Bridge and the former Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary, where you can take a bone chilling tour.
Family fun: 9/10
Arts & culture: 10/10
Also known as the “America’s Finest City,” San Diego is a massive city complete with 70 miles of pristine beaches. Everything about it is scenic, from the expansive golf courses to the flourishing gardens. It’s hard to find a city closer to perfection, especially because of the ample opportunities for family-friendly fun. With the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Safari Park within the city and LEGOLAND California just 30 minutes north, it’s the perfect place to bring your kids— or not. The nightlife in San Diego is incredible, especially in the city’s Gaslamp Quarter, where celebrity DJs are a fixture and there’s no shortage of rooftop bars.
Family fun: 10/10
Arts & culture: 8/10