Counties, Cities, Maps, Attractions
The 12 California Regions
in Northern & Southern California
If you're going to travel around the State of California, you'll want to know something about the 12 California Regions. Roughly speaking, 5 regions are located in northern California, 5 regions in southern California and 2 regions in Central California. Each region has its own distinct characteristics and attractions. The geographic boundaries of the regions have been determined by county boundaries or by natural features such as deserts, mountains or bays.
Regional Overviews and California Regional Road Maps: To give you a brief orientation, we've provided the California Regions Map below, which shows the locations of all the regions. We've also listed the 12 regions alphabetically, giving you an overview and photo of each region, as well as its counties, major cities and main attractions. You'll also find links to free printable road maps of each region, which will help you find the region's beaches, highways, national parks and California State Parks. For a free printable map of California Counties, click here.
Map of California Regions
The 12 California Regions
Central Coast Region - Running along the coast of the Pacific Ocean (between the San Francisco Bay Area on the north and Los Angeles County on the south), the Central Coast Region has both urban and rural attractions and is one of California's most beautiful regions: Thriving agricultural areas; World-famous views and scenery along the coast; National and State Parks; Wildlife refuges; and Spectacular beaches. You'll find many opportunities for sailing, kayaking, surfing and other water sports.
Click for printable California Central Coast Map
Counties: Ventura, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Monterey, San Benito
Cities: Monterey, Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Ventura: Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Hollister, Prunedale, Moss Landing, Castroville, Marina, San Juan Bautista, Seaside, Carmel, Gonzales, Soledad, Pacific Grove, Lucia, Greenfield, Jolon, King City, San Ardo, San Lucas, San Miguel, Paso Robles, San Simeon, Cambria, Atascadero, Morro Bay, Cayucos, Santa Margarita, Shandon, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, Santa Maria, Pismo Beach, Grover Beach, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Buellton, Los Alamos, Goleta, Solvang, Ventura, Oxnard, Port Hueneme, Point Mugu, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley, Fillmore, Santa Paula, Newbury Park, Oak View, Moorpark, Camarillo, Cuyama
Main Attractions: Big Sur, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Hearst Castle, Pinnacles National Monument, Cannery Row, Lake Cachuma, Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, Channel Islands National Park, Point Lobos State Reserve, Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara, Ventura, Morro Bay, Monterey, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Ojai, Solvang
Central Valley Region - Running down the middle of the state between the Central Coast Region on the west and the High Sierra Region (i.e. the Sierra Nevada Mountains) on the east, the Central Valley Region is one of the world's largest agricultural areas. Much of the food on your table is grown here. This region produces 99%+ of the nation's almonds, artichokes, figs, grapes, raisins, olives, peaches, persimmons, plums, pomegranates and walnuts. But the fast-growing Central Valley also offers art and history museums, speedway racing, country music and excellent recreation areas for sailing, boating, water sports and fishing.
Click for printable California Central Valley Map
Counties: Portions of Glenn, Colusa, Yolo, Solano, San Joaquin, Sacramento, Stanislaus, Merced, Madera
Cities: Fairfield, Davis, Stockton, Fresno, Visalia: Hamilton City, Orland, Willows, Butte City, Elk Creek, Alder Springs, Maxwell, Colusa, Princeton, Yuba City, Live Oak, Marysville, Olivehurst, Wheatland, Williamsburg, Arbuckle, Dunnigan, Esparto, Capay, Woodland, Winters, Davis, West Sacramento, Clarksburg, Hood, Courtland, Dixon, Vacaville, Rio Vista, Suisun City, Lodi, Galt, Lockeford, Linden, Stockton, Pittsburg, Brentwood, Antioch, Byron, French Camp, Lathrop, Manteca, Ripon, Oakdale, Knights Ferry, Waterford, Riverbank, Modesto, Tracy, Snelling, Turlock, Newman, Livingston, Patterson, Wesley, Atwater, Winton, Planada, Merced, Chowchilla, Aubury, Friant, Clovis, Dos Palos, Madera, Firebaugh, Mendota, San Joaquin, Kingsburg, Kerman, Easton, Coalinga, Huron, Lemore, Hanford, Visalia, Porterville, Exeter, Tipton, Tulare, California Hot Springs, Bakersfield, McKittrick, Tehachapi, Mojave, Gorman, Lebec, Maricopa, Buttonwillow, Arvin, Wasco, Alpaugh, Ford City, Springville, Dinuba, Lindsay, Reedley
Main Attractions: Sequoia National Park, Kings Canyon National Park, Tule Elk State Reserve, Consumnes River Preserve, California Living Museum, Kern River, Merced River, Oakwood Lake Water Park, Lodi Wine country
Deserts Region - The Deserts Region is located in the southeastern portion of the state. It's bordered on the east and south by Nevada, Arizona and Mexico; and on the north and east by the High Sierra Region, the Central Valley Region, Los Angeles County, The Inland Empire and San Diego County. As you can see, it comprises a big chunk of California. You might be pleasantly surprised by the contrasts of the natural beauty and the diversity of activities in the Deserts: Hot springs and art galleries in Palm Desert; Luxury in Palm Springs; Great exploration in the Joshua Tree National Park; and views of the famous Salton Sea.
Click for printable California Deserts Map
Counties: Portions of Imperial, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Inyo
Cities: Barstow, Palm Springs, Palm Desert, Needles: El Centro, Stovepipe Wells, Keeler, Olancha, Panamint Springs, Furnace Creek, Death Valley Junction, China Lake, Ridgecrest, Trona, Shoshone, Tecopa Hot Springs, Baker, Fort Irwin, Goldstone, Johannesburg, California City, Mojave, Rosamond, Edwards, Boron, Barstow, Hinkley, Daggett, Ludlow, Amboy, Needles, Essex, Big River, Earp, Vidal, Blythe, Ripley, Palo Verde, Picacho, Winterhaven, Calexico, El Centro, Calipatria, Westmorland, Brawley, Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Morongo Valley, Twentynine Palms, Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Ocotillo, Imperial, Holtville, Palm Desert, Coachella, Salton City, Borrego Springs, Indio
Main Attractions: Death Valley National Park, Mountains National Monument, Scotty's Castle, Mojave National Preserve, Mitchell Caverns, Old Route 66, Calico Ghost Town, Coachella Valley, Joshua Tree National Park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, Palm Springs, Joshua Tree, Yucca Valley, Twentynine Palms, Borrego Springs, Pioneertown, Palm Desert, Lake Havasu, Lake Mead, Lake Mohave
Gold Country Region - The Gold Country is located between the North Coast Region and the Central Valley Region on the west and the High Sierra Region on the east. On the north, it's bordered by the Shasta Cascade Region. You'll find fascinating reminders of the romance and allure of the California Gold Rush around Auburn, Nevada City and Angel Camp. This is an excellent place for family vacations with world-class fishing, rafting, caving, skiing and kayaking, as well as railroads, mines, wineries, camping and scenic hikes and drives.
Click for printable California Gold Country Map
Counties: Portions of Sierra, Nevada, Placer, Yuba, El Dorado, Sacramento, Fresno, Mariposa, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Amador, Placer, Sutter
Cities: Nevada City, Auburn, Sacramento (State Capitol), Placerville, Sonora: Calpine, Sattley, Loyalton, Sierraville, Sierra City, Nevada City, Grass Valley, Rough & Ready, Alta, Colfax, Penn Valley, Weimar, Foresthill, Applegate, Meadow Vista, Bowman, Auburn, Roseville, Georgetown, North Highlands, Rocklin, Coloma, Placerville, Pollock Pines, Camino, Diamond Springs, Somerset, Citrus Heights, Florin, Elk Grove, Plymouth , Drytown, Amador, Volcano, Jackson, San Andreas, Pioneer, Vallecito, La Grange, Coulterville, Hornitos, Catheys Valley, Coarsegold, Raymond, North Folk, O'Neals and Raymond
Main Attractions: Marshall Gold Discovery State Park, Golden State Museum, Columbia State Historic Park, South Yuba River State Park, Calaveras County Caverns, Eldorado National Forest, Jamestown, Columbia, Coulterville, Coloma, Sacramento, Sonora, Nevada City, Sutter Creek, Auburn
High Sierra Region - The High Sierra Region runs down the middle of the state (between the Shasta Cascade Region on the north, the Gold Country Region and Central Valley Region on the west and the Deserts Region on the south). It borders Nevada on the east. As one of the finest American wilderness areas, it is the home to many natural wonders, such as the world's largest living thing (the sequoias) and the oldest living thing (the bristle cone pine). It is filled with world-famous mountains, lakes and recreation areas and has great outdoor activities such as hiking and camping, mountaineering, snow skiing, snow boarding, boating and fishing. Located here are Yosemite, Kings and Sequoia National Parks; Lake Tahoe; and Mammoth Lakes Recreation Area.
Click for printable California High Sierra Map
Counties: Portions of Inyo, Kern, Tulare, Fresno, Madera, Mariposa, Mono, Yuba, Alpine, Tuolumne, Calaveras, Alpine
Cities: Truckee, Lake Tahoe, Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite, Bishop: Kings Beach, Tahoe Vista, Tahoe City, Northstar, Soda Springs, South Lake Tahoe, Myers, Kyburz, Pollock Pines, Kit Carson, Markleeville, Walker, Bear Valley, Arnold, Pinecrest, Mi-wuk Village, Bridgeport, Bodie, Lee Vining, June Lake, Benton, Bishop, Tom's Place, Mammoth Lakes, Yosemite Village, El Portal, Mariposa, Wawona, Fish Camp, Big Pine, Huntington Lake, Oakhurst, Awahnee, Shaver Lake, Independence, Lone Pine, Grant Grove, Cedar Grove, Giant Forest, Kernville, Weldon, Lake Isabella, Bodfish, Twain Harte and Isabella
Main Attractions: Yosemite, Inyo National Forest, Mono Basin National Forest, Bodie State Park, Calaveras Big Trees State Park, Sugar Pine Point State Park, Mammoth Lakes, Mt. Whitney, Donner Summit, Squaw Valley, Lake Tahoe, Kern River, Mammoth Mountain, Lake Isabella, Silver City Ghost Town, Mariposa, Truckee, Twain Harte
Inland Empire Region - The Inland Empire is "inland" to Los Angeles County, Orange County and San Diego County, and is bordered on the east by the Deserts Region. It's a rural area with mountains, farmlands, orchards and vineyards that's larger than the states of Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware combined. Outdoor enthusiasts will find much to keep them busy in this region: Boating, fishing and water sports at Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead; Skiing in the Jaqunito Mountains; and Exploring in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Click for printable Inland Empire Map
Counties: Portions of Riverside, San Bernardino
Cities: San Bernardino, Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Riverside: Temecula, Adelanto, Oro Grande, Apple Valley, Lucerne Valley, Banning, Big Bear City, Big Bear Lake, Fawnskin, Hesperia, Victorville, Wrightwood, Crestline, Green Valley Lake, San Bernardino, Banning, Beaumont, Redlands, Calimesa, Yucaipa, Cherry Valley, Rancho Cucamonga, Fontana, Rialto, Colton, Loma Linda, Grand Terrace, Upland, Ontario, Mira Loma, Glen Avon, Los Serranos, Norco, Corona, Rubidoux, Riverside, Woodcrest, Morena Valley, Perris, Sun City, Lake Elsinore, Murrieta, Temecula, Aguanga, Cahuilla, Idyllwild, San Jacinto, Hemet, Terra Cotta
Main Attractions: Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, Silverwood Lake, Snow Summit Ski Resort, California Route 66 Museum, Pharaoh's Lost Kingdom, Mt. Baldy, Diamond Valley Lake, Lake Elsinore, Lake Gregory, Mt. San Jacinto State Park, San Bernardino State Forest, Pechanga, California Citrus State Historic Park, Snow Valley, Apple Valleys
Los Angeles County & Catalina - Los Angeles County is bordered by the Central Coast Region, the Deserts Region, the Inland Empire and Orange County. It is the hub of southern California's cosmopolitan scene, this region encompasses more than 4,000 square miles of famous cities, mountains, deserts and beaches. You'll find: Hollywood glitz and glamour; World-renowned museums, architecture, art and restaurants; and spectacular scenery and beaches. In short, there's never a dull moment in this region.
Click for printable Los Angeles County Map
Cities: Los Angeles, Hollywood, Malibu, Pasadena: Santa Monica, Gorman, Quartz Hill, Lancaster, Palmdale, Pearblossom, Acton, Castaic, Valencia, Santa Clarita, Newhall, Sylmar, San Fernando, Tujunga, Pacoima, Burbank, Pasadena, San Dimas, Pomona, West Covina, Glendale, Arcadia, Alhambra, El Monte, Pomona, Los Angeles, Hollywood, Santa Monica, Malibu, Marina Del Rey, El Segundo, Torrance, Carson, Long Beach, Venice Beach, Lakewood, Norwalk, Downey, Whittier, San Pedro, Torrance, Hawthorne, Compton, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, Pico Rivera, Van Nuys, North Hollywood, Studio City, Encino, Industry, and Baldwin Park
Main Attractions: Long Beach Aquarium, The Queen Mary, Chinatown, City Walk-Universal Studios, Olvera Street, Raging Waters, Six Flags Hurricane Harbor, Six Flags Magic Mountain's Bugs Bunny World, Mann's Chinese Theater, Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles Zoo, Studio Tours, Sunset Strip, Angeles National Forest, Catalina Underwater Park, Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, J. Paul Getty Museum, Hollywood, Los Angeles, Long Beach, Santa Clarita, Santa Monica, Burbank, Pasadena, Malibu, Santa Catalina Island, San Dimas, Valencia, Lancaster, Venice Beach, Topanga
North Coast Region - The North Coast Region runs along the Pacific Ocean (Highways 1 or 101) from Oregon on the north to the San Francisco Bay Area Region on the south. It's bordered on the east by the Shasta Cascade Region and the Gold Country. The North Coast Region is a naturalist's paradise and a haven for plants and animals, ranging from the old-growth redwoods to wild salmon, to eagles, elk, whales and sea lions. You'll find seaside villages, Victorian-era towns, nature preserves, vineyards, world-famous wineries and spectacular hiking tails, as well as off-beat of artist's enclaves, excellent restaurants and music festivals. The entire feeling of the North Coast can change depending on the weather: foggy, sunny, misty or rainy.
Click for printable California North Coast Map
Counties: Del Norte, Humboldt, Mendocino, Sonoma, Lake
Cities: Crescent City, Arcata, Eureka, Mendocino, Santa Rosa: Smith River, Gasquet, Crescent City, Klamath, Requa, Orleans, Orick, Weitchpec, Hoopa, Willow Creek, Trinidad,, McKinleyville, Arcata, Blue Lake, Bayside, Eureka, Samoa, Loleta, Ferndale, Fortuna, Rio Dell, Rohnerville, Bridgeville, Scotia, Recrest, Weott, Miranda, Phillipsville, Myers Flat, Honeydew, Shelter Cove, Redway, Garberville, Benbow, Piercy, Legget, Covelo, Laytonville, Westport, Cleone, Fort Bragg, Caspar, Mendocino, Willits, Redwood Valley, Upper Lake, Lucerne, Clearlake Oaks, Lear Lake, Lower Lake, Lakeport, Calpella, Ukiah, Hopland, Elk, Philo, Boonville, Kelseyville, Cobb, Cloverdale, Middletown, Geyserville, Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Rohnert Park, Glen Ellen, Sonoma, Petaluma, Sebastopol, Bodega, Bodega Bay, Jenner and Sea Ranch, Gualala, Point Area, Guerneville
Main Attractions: Sequoia Redwoods, the Skunk Train, Ocean World, Outrageous Waters Water Park, Clear Lake, Sonoma County Wineries, Armstrong Redwood State Preserve, Avenue of the Giants, Russian River, Crescent City, Eureka, Santa Rosa, Petaluma, Bodega Bay, Arcata, Mendocino, Ukiah
Orange County Region - The Orange County Region is located on the Pacific Coast between Los Angeles County and San Diego County on the north and south and the Inland Empire on the east. Orange County has 42 miles of perfect beaches and sunny weather. It's a great destination for nature enthusiasts, hikers, cyclists and water lovers. You'll find quintessential beach towns, lots of water sports, outdoor shopping and dining, luxury resorts, professional sports teams and a variety of theme parks, including the world-famous Disneyland.
Click for printable Orange County Map
Cities: Santa Ana, Laguna Beach, Costa Mesa, Anaheim: Huntington Beach, La Habra, Yorba Linda, Brea, Fullerton, Anaheim, Orange, Villa Park, Anaheim Hills, Placentia, Buena Park, Garden Grove, Westminster, Santa Ana, Cypress, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Stanton, Seal Beach, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, Costa Mesa, Fountain Valley, Irvine, Balboa Island, Laguna Beach, San Clemente, San Juan Capistrano, Mission Viejo, San Juan Hot Springs, Lake Forest, Trabuco Canyon, Corona Del Mar, Tustin, Villa Park, El Modena and Orange
Main Attractions: Disney's California Adventure, Knott's Berry Farm, Newport Harbor, Movieland Wax Museum, Little Saigon, Old Town Irvine, Cleveland National Forest, Crystal Cove State Park, Buena Park, Anaheim, Buena Vista, Huntington Beach, Newport Beach, San Juan Capistrano, Laguna Beach, Corona del Mar, San Clemente, Santa Ana, Irvine, Orange
San Diego County Region - San Diego County runs along the Pacific Coast -- from Orange County on the north, to the Mexican border on the south, to the Deserts Region on the east. It is the largest county in California (4,200+ square miles) and San Diego is the 5th largest city. It has 70 miles of coastline, a year-round temperate climate and is known as "the yachting capital" of California. You'll also find the San Diego Zoo, golf courses, museums, theme parks, great shopping, dining and nightlife, in addition to scenic hiking, biking and equestrian trails, great surfing, camping and wine tasting.
Click for printable San Diego County Map
Cities: San Diego, Oceanside, Escondido, Carlsbad, El Cajon: Fallbrook, Bonsall, Borrego Springs, Pala, Pauma Valley, Warner Springs, Oceanside, Carlsbad, Leucadia, Encinitas, Solana Beach, La Jolla, Del Mar, Coronado, Imperial Beach, San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, El Cajon, Alpine, Pine Valley, Jacumba, Campo, San Ysidro, Julian, Escondido, Ramona, Rancho Bernardo, Rancho Santa Fe, Vista, San Marcos, La Costa, Lakeside, Santee, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Spring Valley, Indian Springs, Dulzura, and Poway
Main Attractions: Legoland, Sea World, San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, Balboa Park, Gaslamp Quarter, San Luis Rey Mission, Antique Gas & Steam Engine Museum, the Embarcadero, Palomar Mountain Observatory, Cabrillo National Monument, Cleveland National Forest, Knott's Soak City, Barona Casino, Viejas Casino, Pacific Beach, San Diego, Encinitas, Oceanside, Alpine, Fallbrook, Carlsbad, Julian, Mt. Palomar, Vista, Del Mar, El Cajon
San Francisco Bay Area Region - The San Francisco Bay area is geographically one of the smallest in California. It is bordered by the Pacific Ocean, the North Coast Region, the Gold Country, the Central Valley Region and the Central Coast Region. However, it is rich with attractions to delight every type of visitor. San Francisco is the most visited city in northern California and you could spend weeks exploring all that the Bay Area has to offer: Arts and culture in the city; Fabulous National Parks and Recreation Areas in San Francisco and Marin; the vineyards of the Napa Valley; and, of course, the free-spirited Berkeley, including the University of California. Beware of San Francisco's trademark foggy mornings and evenings during the summer months.
| Best of San Francisco Bay Area
Click for printable San Francisco Bay Area Map
Counties: San Francisco, Marin, Contra Costa, San Mateo, Alameda, Santa Cruz, Santa Clara
Cities: San Francisco, Berkeley, Oakland, Napa, San Jose: Calistoga, St Helena, Yountville, Napa, Vallejo, Concord, Bernicia, Martinez, Walnut Creek, Clayton, Lafayette, Novato, Point Reyes, Olema, Tomales, Inverness, Stinson Beach, San Anselmo, San Rafael, Richmond, Pinole, Hercules, San Pablo, El Cerrito, Orinda, Oakland, Berkeley, Danville, San Ramon, Alameda, San Leandro, Sausalito, Mill Valley, Tiburon, Emeryville, Dublin, Hayward, Livermore, Pleasanton, Fremont, Union City, Daly City, Pacifica, San Francisco, Burlingame, Foster City, Millbrae, San Gregorio, San Mateo, Redwood City, Palo Alto, Davenport, Half Moon Bay, Ben Lomond, Boulder Creek, Felton, Santa Cruz, Scotts Valley, Aptos, Watsonville, Los Gatos, San Jose, Santa Clara, Milpitas, Menlo Park, Sunnyvale and Mountain View
Main Attractions: Alcatraz Island, Barbary Coast Trail, Embarcadero Waterfront, Exploratorium, Chinatown, Haight Street, Golden Gate Park, Strybing Arboretum and Botanical Gardens, Fisherman's Wharf, Six Flags Marine World, Tri-County Wine Country, Napa Wine Country, Napa Valley Wine Train, Point Reyes National Seashore, Sausalito, San Francisco, Oakland, San Jose, Santa Cruz, Marin
Shasta Cascade Region - Bordering Oregon on the north, Nevada on the east and the North Coast Region, the Gold Country and the High Sierra Regions on the west and south, this is California's northern-most region and includes two famous mountains: Mt. Shasta and Mt. Lassen. The Shasta Cascade Region is serene, beautiful and rugged -- providing a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts. You'll find every type of recreation available -- hiking, rafting, canoeing, skiing and exploring forests, waterfalls and volcanic landscapes. Lake Shasta and Lake Trinity are favorites for house boating and other water sports.
Click for printable Shasta Cascade Map
Counties: Portions of Siskiyou, Modoc, Shasta, Lassen, Tehama, Plumas, Butte, Glenn, Trinity
Cities: Redding, Chico, Quincy, Mt. Shasta, Anders: Happy Camp, Seiad Valley, Horse Creek, Klamath River, Hornbrook, Yreka, Montague, Scott Bar, Somes Bar, Greenview, Grenada, Gazelle, Etna, Sawyers Bar, Callahan, Forks of Salmon, Mount Hebron, Doris, Macdoel, Tule Lake, Newell, Edgewood, Weed, Alturas, Willow Ranch, Fort Bidwell, Cedarville, Canby, Likely, Bartle, Ponderosa, MacArthur, McCloud, Mt Shasta, Dunsmuir, Coffee Creek, Burney, Hat Creek, Old Station, Lake Head, Helena, Weaverville, Redding, Mad River, Ruth, Junction City, Hayfork, Platina, Anderson, Red Bluff, Corning, Los Molinos, Vina, Chico, Gridley, Biggs, Oroville, Berry Creek, Paradise, Quincy, Portola, Chilcoot, Susanville, Westwood, Crescent Mills, Taylorsville, Ravendale, Johnstonville, Paynes Creek, Cottonwood, Palermo and Oroville
Main Attractions: Red Bluff, Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Shasta-Trinity National Forest, Mt. Shasta, Lassen Peak and Lassen Volcanic National Park, Shasta Lake, Lava Beds National Monument, Redding, Weaverville, Burney Falls, Oroville, Cedarville, Chico
| Tours on Tape...
A great idea!
We love "Tours on Tape" and audio books like the one below! They enrich the experience by pointing out "hidden treasures" and telling fascinating background stories!
Give it your best shot! Right or wrong... you're entered in our Prize Drawing for cool travel stuff! Add us to your Favorites, so you can enter again every week! It's fun and you might get lucky! Learn more and find answers on the Fun Facts Quiz page.