What comes to mind when you think of California — miles of beaches, Hollywood stars and the most delicious food? A trip might be in the cards if you thought of the latter. Restaurant enthusiasts rejoice — California is one of the best states for foodies to visit.
It’s challenging to box California cuisine into one word — there are ample dining options in a state bustling with cultures and different influences. However, some cities are better than others regarding restaurant choices.
California Ranks for Best Foodie Cities in the U.S.
San Francisco, San Diego and Sacramento found themselves in the top 10 best foodie cities in the United States in a 2022 WalletHub survey. Another 26 cities also made the list — not bad for one state.
Of course, it’s little surprise considering California is home to over 39 million people from around the world who’ve brought their traditions and cuisines with them. The state also boasts 65 schools with culinary programs for those eager to share their talents and tastes with fellow foodies.
Whether looking for franchised hot spots or under-the-radar gems, cities across California whip up excellent offerings. Nothing seems to hold down California’s best dining locations — not even a pandemic and increasing data breaches at high-profile restaurants like Dickey’s Barbecue Pit.
Of course, the restaurant industry isn’t the only one falling prey to cybercrime. The health care industry has dealt with an onslaught of data breaches, including the release of 18,000 Medicare patients’ information at Blue Cross Blue Shield. Nevertheless, restaurants are thriving as diners flock for the best foodie weekend getaways in California.
8 Places for Foodie Weekend Getaways in California
The WalletHub survey mentioned some great cities for foodies to visit in California — but it didn’t cover everywhere. Here are four Californian places that made the list and four that should have.
San Diego should be a priority for a foodie weekend getaway in California. You’ll find endless sunshine along a breathtaking coast, and San Diego restaurants pride themselves on using only the freshest ingredients. Mexican and Latin cuisine truly shine here, especially since San Diego is only 17 miles from the Mexican border. In fact, San Diego food has been dubbed “Cali-Baja” — a combination of California fare and Mexico’s Baja Mediterranean cuisine.
Ojai may not have made WalletHub’s list, but it easily could have. Located in Santa Barbara County, about an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, Ojai is surrounded by beautiful nature and has a village-like atmosphere — ideal for foodies that prefer trendy locales and patio seating with a glass of wine.
Santa Barbara County has plenty of cute towns for foodies to satisfy their taste buds. A relatively short drive will take you to Carpinteria’s California Avocado Festival in October — Santa Barbara County is the third-largest avocado producer in the U.S.
Avocados are full of energy-boosting B vitamins and filling enough to keep you satiated on your California food adventure.
The vibrant city of Sacramento landed at number six on WalletHub’s survey of the best foodie cities in the U.S. Known as the Farm-to-Form Capital, Sacramento first uses fresh ingredients from its own backyard.
It’s also home to the largest farmers market in California, restaurants with seasonal menus and several homegrown foods. Be sure to attend the Farm-to-Fork Festival in September. The festival has celebrated Sacramento’s agricultural industry since 2013, attracting over 100,000 visitors annually.
There’s a reason why L.A. ranked number 15 in WalletHub’s foodie survey. The city is a force to be reckoned with when it comes to the restaurant scene. Los Angeles is full of upscale eateries at renowned celebrity chef digs, bougie patio seating, food trucks, retro diners and fusion food in every cuisine you crave.
With such a diverse food scene, you may want to join a food tour to take it all in. You can explore lesser-known neighborhood joints — such as in Koreatown or Boyle Heights — or combine dining experiences with history and stories about the city’s best eateries.
San Francisco has proven itself worthy of recognition as the best foodie destination in California, with over 60 Michelin-star restaurants — three of which are three-star establishments.
The city’s demographics — mostly liberal-leaning, tech-friendly, young professionals — have built a robust coffee scene. Meanwhile, only the freshest, seasonal ingredients rule menu offerings alongside locally harvested wines, rounding out some truly award-winning meals.
Driving through Palm Springs looks much how you’d expect it — a colorful downtown area smack-dab in the middle of a desert oasis, streets lined with boutiques and eateries, a golf course, and mountain views.
There’s more to the scene than visiting old-timey steakhouses and bars, though — Palm Spring turns dining into a whole experience. Consider joining a walking food tour during your foodie weekend getaway to California. A guide will take you to the best spots for excellent food.
With its summertime Strawberry Festival and Salsa Festival an annual tradition, who wouldn’t want to visit Oxnard? This seaside city is like no other. Known for its old-fashioned hospitality, foodies that visit Oxnard will be delighted to find a wide range of eateries, from vintage diners to white-tablecloth restaurants.
Even the food trucks and taco stands are worth the trip to Oxnard if you’re a passionate food tourist. It’s one place where you’ll never run out of options.
What’s a foodie weekend getaway in California without a stop at Sonoma Valley? Wine lovers won’t want to miss Sonoma County’s 425 wineries, perfect for al fresco tastings with friends.
Although Sonoma Valley has a small downtown area to roam, it has several top restaurants to pair local wines with a satisfying bite. There’s something for everyone in the charming countryside, whether you’re craving French cuisine or Mexican food.
The Best Grub in California Awaits
California has some of the finest food in the country. Consider visiting one of these foodie cities if you’re looking for a fun trip with different culinary experiences.
Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She shares knowledge on a variety of topics related to nutrition, healthy living, and anything food-related. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness trends and recipes.