Discover 7 Cute Small Towns near Sacramento – 2023 Update

We found the best cute small towns near Sacramento for you to visit or relocate to that offer a historic, rustic feel and a great sense of community.

Nicknamed the City of Trees, Sacramento is one of the most affordable places to relocate to and visit in California, which is a state that is well-known for sky-high living costs. 

While some of us can’t get enough of big city living, it might be a deal-breaker for you. In that case, we found some cute towns near Sacramento for you to explore.

Many of the towns that we chose were established during the gold rush in the mid-1800s and are still preserved today. We also made sure to find places that feature a quaint main street and tons of historic buildings around their small community.

So, let’s take a closer look at the best beautiful small towns near Sacramento.

Small Towns near Sacramento – Methodology 

We think tiny destinations deserve equal attention and consideration, so we analyze some of the best small towns near Sacramento based on several criteria.

 We evaluated different aspects that are relevant for travelers and people looking to relocate, including:

  • Things to Do and See
  • Cultural Events
  • Cost of Living Index
  • Quality of Housing Market
  • Quality of Schools
  • Safety Rating
  • Overall Livability

We chose to limit the size of towns on this list to a maximum of 15,000 residents. We also made sure to find small towns that were a max of a 1 hour and 30 minute drive away from downtown Sacramento.

The 7 Best Small Towns Near Sacramento

7. St. Helena


Population: 5,995
Distance from Sacramento: 1 hour, 20 minutes
Location: Check on Google Maps

St. Helena starts off our list of the best small towns near Sacramento. It is a jewel of Napa County, California and is home to approximately 6,000 residents.

It’s a bit secluded and is located about 1 hour and 20 minutes west of Sacramento while the other towns on our list are a bit closer.

But. the town of St. Helena is a safe, family-friendly place with great communities and well-kept neighborhoods. Its safety is rated an A+ and crime rate are 35% below the California average

With lovely weather and an average of 263 sunny days per year, St. Helena offers ample opportunities to enjoy the outdoors as well. The area is known for its active living and a lot of hiking trails and bike lanes. 

Due to its location and its historical background, St. Helena is also a hub for the region’s wine industry

Every year, the town welcomes many visitors who come to enjoy some of the best wines that California has to offer.

Despite the high number of tourists, St. Helena strives to maintain a small-town atmosphere.

6. Grass Valley

Population: 12,861
Distance from Sacramento: 1 hour
Location: Check on Google Maps

Grass Valley is a quaint small town that is about one hour northeast of Sacramento. 

Its population of approximately 13,000 inhabitants is largely made up of families who just adore the town’s gorgeous scenery and outdoor activities.

Additionally, your money is worth a lot more in Grass Valley, with its living cost index being 15% lower than the California average.

Its real estate prices and rental prices are also lower than the average in California, therefore Grass Valley might be worth exploring if you are looking to buy a new house or if you are planning to relocate in a small town near Sacramento.

Meanwhile, Grass Valley offers distinctly small-town vibes and a community that offers its residents and visitors access to museums, art galleries, and theater events.

This small old town is home to many top notch restaurants, farmers markets, and breweries for residents and visitors to enjoy.

If you love outdoor activities, don’t miss horseback riding or a boating experience at one of many lakes and rivers near Grass Valley as well.

5. Sutter Creek


Population: 2,487
Distance from Sacramento: 1 hour
Location: Check on Google Maps

Sutter Creek is a historic town only a 1 hour drive east of Sacramento and also 2 hours from Lake Tahoe.

This wonderful tiny town has a population of just 2,500 residents and is hidden in Amador County.

Its tight-knit community is very proud of its old traditions, which are celebrated each year. For example, the community gathers during the Sutter Creek Duck Races as well as the Sutter Creek Open House during Christmas. 

We think that Sutter Creek is one of the best cute small towns near Sacramento that are perfect for families. It offers good public schools that are rated above California’s average as well as many things to do and see around town.

Additionally, its crime rates are 12% lower and its cost of living is 6% below the California average, making it a great all-around value.

Furthermore, Sutter Creek features a walkable downtown with many restaurants, a park with a playground, and a few churches, too.

4. Jackson

Population: 4,630
Distance from Sacramento: 1 hour
Location: Check on Google Maps

Jackson is a historic town of just 5,000 residents that is located in the hills in Amador County about one hour east of Sacramento.

Compared to other small towns near Sacramento, Jackson is a real hidden gem for visitors and people looking to relocate. 

The cost of living is 17% lower than the state average while real estate prices are 42% lower than the California average. 

Also, the future job growth in Jackson is estimated to be higher than the U.S. average.

The town also offers antique shops, art galleries, jewelry stores, and places to taste the local wine on its Historic Main Street that features original facades dating from the 1800s

The Jackson Rancheria Casino Resort is also located just 4 miles from downtown. 

3. Auburn


Population: 13,858
Distance from Sacramento: 40 minutes
Location: Check on Google Maps

Auburn is the most populated small cute town near Sacramento on this list, with about 14,000 residents. It is located only 40 minutes northeast from Sacramento.

Auburn is a safe city, with crime rates that are 40% below the California average, and a lower cost of living compared to California’s average, which makes it a very appealing small town. On top of that, its estimated future job growth surpasses the national average, too.

There are many things to do in Auburn, whether you are a tourist or a future resident. For instance, Auburn offers many golf courses, wine tasting experiences, and walking trails as well.

For art lovers, this town offers a diverse cultural experience, with its art gallery, a symphony, and several museums.

2. Placerville

Population: 10,540
Distance from Sacramento: 40 minutes
Location: Check on Google Maps

Placerville is a beautiful and safe place and is one of the best small towns near Sacramento to visit or live in. 

This city is located approximately 45 minutes east of Sacramento and only 1 hour, 20 minutes from Lake Tahoe, too.

10,500 residents call Placerville their home and take advantage of its lower cost of living compared to the average in California along with affordable real estate prices as well.

Meanwhile, Downtown Placerville is a reminder of the city’s cultural heritage, with architecture that belongs to the nineteenth century. Here, you can find boutique shops, museums, art galleries, and many different restaurants.

There is also the monumental Bell Tower that is nowadays a meeting point for events that happen on its Historic Main Street.

Additionally, you can relax at one of the many wineries that are located just a few minutes drive from Placerville.

1. Nevada City


Population: 3,117
Distance from Sacramento: 1 hour
Location: Check on Google Maps

Nevada City tops our list as the best small town near Sacramento. This cute town with a population of about 3,000 residents is located 1 hour north of Sacramento.

The good news for homebuyers and for people who wish to relocate to Nevada City is that the cost of living is 7% lower here than the California average and real estate and rental prices are also lower than the state average

The community gathers together during many festivals and events that the city organizes, such as the Nevada City Film Festival and Victorian Christmas. 

Additionally, there is a farmers market that takes place every Saturday from January until April. During the month of April, residents and visitors can also enjoy the tulips in bloom at the Ananda at Crystal Hermitage.

In Nevada City, there is always something to do!

Small Towns near Sacramento – Summary

Are you as enchanted by these cute towns near Sacramento as we are? These family-friendly towns offer a great blend of history, entertainment, and livability and are great places to relocate to or to visit at least once in your lifetime.

Finally, if you are looking for other big cities to visit or relocate to in California, we researched and found these gems that are spread across the state.