Cities Journal

Top 15 Small Cities In California

13. Grover Beach
Photo credit: Scott Dexter / Flickr

3. Grover Beach

Grover’s Beach is situated smack in the middle of California’s Central Coast; it offers a convenient middle ground if you love the beach lifestyle but also want to be in close proximity to mountains and colder weather.

The local climate is incredibly mild, according to the city’s official website; its weather resembles the seaside Mediterranean region, with refreshing ocean breezes all summer long, only 20 inches of rainfall per year, and twelve months of golden California sunshine.

With weather that nice, there are plenty of great opportunities to inhale the area’s genuinely fresh air. According to the Arroyo Grande Grover Beach Chamber of Commerce, beachgoers in Grover Beach can choose between an off-highway riding and camping site that promises some serious adventure in the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area.

You can even run the annual “Dune Run Run” through this site; choose between a 5k or 10k to run across both soft and hard-packed sand, as well as the city’s historic streets and beach boardwalk.

The Chamber of Commerce also points out that Grover Beach officials make valiant efforts to keep housing affordable and their community diverse. If you’re interested in living in this beach town, you can find a job in its bustling but hidden agricultural district, and you’ll still be minutes away from beautiful natural scenes such as Lopez Lake and from the Arroyo Grande Valley wine region.

Monarch Grove lures visitors from across the state; the famous North Beach sanctuary is Grover Beach’s walk-in retreat for Monarch butterflies, who come out of their cocoons between November and February to surround you with a lightweight flurry of bold Halloween colors.

The Stone Soup Ethnic Music Faire is another one-of-a-kind attraction, according to the city government, which teams up with the chamber of commerce every year to throw this free festival in sunny Romona Garden Park. You can also attend free concerts in the same park, which includes a gazebo and amphitheater, during Grover Beach’s Summer Concert Series.

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  • Abraham Nader Ammar

    Pretty sure Benicia was the 3rd capital unless you include Monterey. Not a very well written article considering 2 or 3 of the cities are basically Los Angeles. Try to think outside the box.

  • ecb97068

    and if you ever had a nightmare that you died and went to the worst type of tourist town in the world, it was probably South Lake Tahoe

  • nick

    What you failed to mention(and I really mean lied about) the water in Avalon, which is home to one of the most polluted beaches in the entire country. 6 sewage spills into the ocean since 2005? And the water STILL isn’t clean after “remediation” ? That’s unacceptable.

    • Megan

      You guys have clearly not spent enough time in Arcata.

    • BlueLaker54


  • nigel

    Hmmm … if I read this and traveled to Arcata to spend a few nights, I’d feel a bit mislead. The “traveler” (aka homeless) element — there cannot be many other places with a higher per capita concentration of the stoned homeless in the nation — sets a significant and undeniably tone – affecting texture for visitors, certainly worthy of at least brief mention in a blurb aspiring to capture place for the uninitiated … Makes me wonder about other towns mentioned.
    I love Arcata, but also value objectivity and accuracy in travel writing…

    • nick

      Pieces of shit like you are unimportant and that’s why they didn’t mention it, because not every is a douchy asshole like you. Homeless people need help, not to be alienated by assholes like you who think they’re better than people who have nothing. Prick.

      • Kaiser Derden

        by definition they are better than people who have nothing … and most of those people have chosen to have nothing … they are simply lazy … period … and you know it …

    • Meh

      I’m sorry but I totally agree with this statement…Arcata is a party town for the college students and a chill place for homeless people to sit on their ass all day on the plaza. They ask for money or try to steal from you so they can smoke weed and get drunk. Nothing really appealing about that.

    • susanp

      I tried living in Arcata and got tired of almost stepping on human shit on my way to the store in the morning..

  • CrazyB

    I guess if you like cold, rainy and foggy weather throughout the year, this is the place for you. Which is one of the reasons the beaches are never crowded. And it is full of homeless people and punks. Aside from nature itself, all the towns in Humboldt are garbage.

    • Frumboldt

      Thank goodness for people like you. Your misleading comments keep this town nice and small, keep the beaches pristine and beautiful, and the outdoor opportunities uncrowded. Keep believing that the weather sucks in Humboldt buddy – You are helping keep this place the way I like it!

      • CrazyB

        I lived in Humboldt for 5 years, I know the weather. A bunch of hippies, punks and homeless people hanging out at the Arcata square. Did I mention the foul stench as well? Yeah wonderful place to live! SMH.

    • Dumboldt

      The weather allows for the awesome environment including redwoods. It’s not for everyone! I second your comment about towns in Humboldt, though. There appears to be a lack of standards and common decencies! Great place to live if you like giant diesel trucks, camouflage clothing, zero diversity, and complete lawlessness.

      • Bigweezy

        that sounds like a great place

  • skihuntr

    It’s true….. Arcata sucks…. I live next door in a community to the north.. Lived in Arcata and had nothing but problems with students puking in your yard and dumping their trash after partying. The homeless problem is in your face on most corners and especially on the plaza…….Parking sucks HSU does not have enough parking for itself which forces cars into the surrounding neighborhoods …. There is a lack of good dining establishments,… Not to say there aren’t a couple though, but not that reasonably priced… And most of the year the weather sucks, go inland just a few miles to get sun. There are far better places to live in Humboldt than Arcata… The plus side beer.. Arcata sits in the middle of 6 micro breweries

  • FormerArcadian

    The City of Arcata has an ordinance prohibiting more franchises then the nine already existing ones! A very progressive achievement.

  • Susan A

    What “Arcata” are you referring to in this article?

    Certainly not the one I grew up in.

  • Yasmedic

    Whoever wrote this must be from the San Francisco area. Most of the towns are up north. There are a lot of amazing little towns in SoCal that didn’t make the list. I’m surprised the Ojai made it. Towns such a Julian, just to mention one, can give any of those other small towns a run for their money. Small but beautiful with a wonderful energy about it.

    • BlueLaker54

      Don’t know why you have your panties in a wad. While you are correct, most of the towns listed are north of San Francisco…by 1. 8 north of San Francisco and 7 south of San Francisco. You say, “Towns such a Julian, just to mention one, can give any of those other small towns a run for their money.” I doubt you’ve been to most of the towns mentioned so you have no reference. I’m not saying Northern California is better. I grew up in So Cal and my family is still there and I enjoy visiting often.

  • Greg

    Love that El Segundo made the list

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