What makes the perfect summer home getaway in California? Having an ocean, lake or pool just steps from your door sounds about right. Being close to a golf course or two couldn’t hurt. And having the freedom to disconnect from city-life is a must. California has quite a few towns that could full every one of these pre-requisites for summer-home perfection, but we’ve narrowed the list down to five beautiful spots that are perennial favorites with serial vacationers. If you’re in the market for a second home, think about these five amazing destinations to plant your summer roots.

Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is a gorgeous area to adopt as your summer hometown. Between the mountains, lakes, outdoor recreation, and great restaurants, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more beautiful place to spend your summers. Whether you want to relax with a good eBook, golf at one of the great courses, or wakeboard on what USA Today named the “Best Lake in America” (Lake Tahoe), Tahoe really does deliver. For event-lovers, Tahoe has a ton going on for summertime outings as well, including America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride and the Valhalla Renaissance Faire in June and the Tahoe South Lights 4th of July firework displays, which The Today Show recognized as one of the best Independence Day celebrations in the nation. Also make sure to save the date for the American Century Celebrity Golf Championship happening in mid-July. Some communities to consider in South and North Tahoe include Emerald Bay, Cascade Lake, Bijou, Crystal Bay, Alpine Meadows, and West Shore.

Palm Springs

Since the 1920s, Palm Springs (aka: “Hollywood’s Playground”) has been a favorite California escape in every season. The sun shines 350 days a year, and even when temperatures are soaring in the summer months, the area is still an oasis of relaxation with top restaurants, spas, and world-class golfing all within easy reach. Summers are also filled with great local events, including Village Fest in June and First Friday Art Walks happening in July and August. If you’re ready to start second-home shopping, some  neighborhoods to consider are Indian Canyons, The Mesa, Deepwell, Vista Las Palmas, and Old Las Palmas. You’ll find a mix of gorgeous mid-century modern architecture, as well as Spanish-style villas and other attractive designs.  


If you’re looking for a genuine, take-me-away paradise in California, Carmel is it—and it’s no secret: Condé Naste Traveler magazine named Carmel one of the Top Ten Visitor Destinations eight years in the row. One look at the dramatic ocean views and breathtaking scenery, you can understand why. But that’s not all Carmel has to offer; the small community has cultural offerings that rival any big city with great restaurants, wine tasting venues, art galleries, and shopping. The other big plus is the proximity to the rest of the Peninsula, which means easy access to world-class golf in Pebble Beach and visits to the legendary Monterey Bay Aquarium. If you make the move to Carmel-by-the-Sea this summer, you’ll be treated to local events like the Carmel House and Garden Tour and Run in the Name of Love Coastal Run in June and the 4th of July Celebration and Bach Festival in July. And of course, you can’t miss the ultra-cool vintage car parade—Concours Tour d’Elegance—happening in August just minutes away in Pebble Beach. Interested second-home shoppers should look either within Carmel-by-the-Sea or in nearby Monterrey or Pebble Beach.


Coronado Island—or “The Crowned City” as its known in Southern California—is another popular destination for those looking for a tranquil summer home setting. The island location is perfect for those wanting to disconnect from the city, yet it’s only 10 miles back to the San Diego mainland’s hustle and bustle. People flock to Coronado for the resort lifestyle, great restaurants, and the picturesque beach, which was named 2012’s “Best Beach in the United States” by the Director of the Laboratory for Coastal Research and is consistently ranked among the finest beaches in the U.S. by The Travel Channel. If you want a true island summer retreat, Coronado fits the bill. If you’re up for some local fun, Coronado also has some traditional and off-the-wall events happening this summer, including June’s Surf Dog Competition, the city’s 4th of July Celebration (which kicks off with a 15K run at dawn), and the all-summer-long Coronado Ferry Landing Summer Concerts going strong through mid-September. Summer-home buyers can browse through six distinct districts with homes ranging from large estates in the northern section of the island (Country Club Estates) to luxury high-rises south of the Silver Strand isthmus (The Shores).

Napa Valley

Napa Wine Country is prime getaway country for Californians, so making it a permanent summer destination only makes sense. Napa summers are filled with wine tastings, fabulous restaurants, and culture, culture and more culture. This summer, there’s the Napa Valley Jazz and Wine Fest in June, the Miles Davis Art Exhibition in July, Music in the Vineyards in August, and so much more. Napa also makes sure the younger summer residents are having a ball with great summer camp options for kids between the ages of 6 and 14. Some areas to consider for summer homes include the east side of Napa, which is known for its vineyard estates and the Silverado Country Club and Resort, and southern Napa which runs along the Napa River and features marina-style homes and luxury condominiums.

Looking to buy a summer home? Head over to CaliforniaMoves.com.