Cities Journal

Top 21 Small Cities In California

10. El Segundo
Photo credit: Kirk Crawford / Flickr

6. El Segundo

A rarity in Los Angeles County, El Segundo offers relaxing, remote beaches that aren’t usually full of tourists and beachcombers. Waves tend to be rougher, keeping away casual surfers and paddle-boarders who hit the waves as a weekend hobby.

Serious swimmers and surfers, as well as those who just want to relax in the privacy of a secluded beachfront, will choose El Segundo Beach over the sardine-packed shores of Long Beach and Malibu.

Southern California isn’t usually associated with affordable parking or ease of transportation, but El Segundo Beach makes up for the region’s snobbier and less accessible beaches. Secured bike racks, affordable parking meters, and well-placed parking lots are among the perks that reviewers cite most frequently.

El Segundo works hard to keep its beaches clean; according to the City of Segundo’s official website, the city government runs its public beach and parks, not the state. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that residents take pride in the beauty and hospitality of their humble setting; they recently erected brand new bathrooms near one of their main parking areas, and are known to help pick up trash along the beach.

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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 …

      • PVF

        Captured your thoughts well. I agree about your comments regarding homeless people, the homeless got where they are on no fault of their own; however, instead of getting out of their situations, many in my town prefer being homeless, enjoy taking/stealing from others, and consider everyone not like them pricks. Personally, I give money when I can, but trying anything to get off the streets works just as well.

    • 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.

      • Yasmedic

        Actually I have visited a lot of those towns. I’ve traveled extensible throughout California for the past 27 years. I’ve been to just about every little town and national park there is in this state. I love small towns. While others take the major highways, I prefer the smaller two lane highways. You get to see things that you miss while traveling on the major highways. Since I am a photographer, small highways and towns give me a lot of interesting things to photograph.

        Taking about getting my panties in a wad. Talk for yourself. I never said that there are not nice towns up north. I found it odd that the author listed mostly towns from up north. Leading me to believe that the man or woman have never been to many of the small towns in Southern California.

  • Greg

    Love that El Segundo made the list

  • PVF

    Avalon? As in King Arthur times or the tired club in Sac? There is no Avalon up North, sorry.

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