California Travel Tips

California Cities and Towns that Live Up to Their Names

Published on: April 23, 2020


California’s 450+ cities and towns have a variety of names, including many derived from Spanish words and saints. If you look at the history of a place it often was called something, then something else, and finally the current name around the time it was incorporated.

Since many of the cities were founded before they became metropolitan areas, their names offer insights into what once was–such as the City of Orange, known for orange groves & citrus packing at one time.

Some names are not unique and can be found in states throughout the nation. There are dozens of cities named Fremont, Fairfield, Baker, Davis and Jackson–and you’ll find them in California!

Some of California’s cities and towns have names that make you want to visit–and stick around. Here are some of our favorite places with names that still have relevance:

  • Oceanside, Calif.–Pictured top left, you really do get the feeling that you’re living beside the ocean. Amtrak service that passes by the Pacific in this San Diego County location enhances the feeling that you’re at the ocean side.
  • Weed, Calif.–While it was actually named for the man, Abner Weed, the Siskiyou County town with beautiful views of Mt. Shasta enjoys a lush environment where everything seems greener. Volunteers pitch in from time to time to trim bushes and pick weeds.
  • Half Moon Bay (right photo)–The first time I arrived in this charming San Mateo County town and took this photo, the sun was going down over the Pacific Ocean as I watched birds and boats in the bay. The scene didn’t portray a “half moon” but the view of the “half sun” setting was good enough to make me want to return again & again. If you’ve never visited Half Moon Bay, you should check it out!
  • Cool, Calif.–Home to the Way Too Cool 50K Endurance Run, it can be a little cool when runners come in the Spring to this unincorporated community in El Dorado County. Located in the Sierra foothills in an area full of trees, trails, camping, and recreational activities, it’s a cool place to be!
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