The lighter side of real estate

These Are The 10 Most Boring Places In California

When it comes to being exciting, these places lose—and you’ll snooze if you decide to make them your home in The Golden State.

Randy Nelson

Content Manager

119 articles, 53 comments

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From ziplining through the redwoods in Sonoma to spelunking through the caverns that dot the southland, California is rife with places just bursting with exciting things to do, see, and eat. Not everywhere in the Golden State is so brilliant, however. Just like any other state, it has places where the excitement gauge never gets above empty, where the most thrilling things residents do is count the change in their jars marked “vacation fund.”

The Movoto Real Estate Blog has looked at plenty of exciting places—large, mid-sized, small, and suburban—but this time we’re slowing down to a snail’s pace in order to rank the most boring spots in the state of California. Using math and data (both of which we actually find to be quite stimulating) we discovered that the dubious title of most boring in the state goes to the city of Lakewood, a veritable dead zone of fun adrift in the alphabet soup of cities comprising the Los Angeles metro sprawl. Misery loves company though, so it wasn’t alone. These are the 10 most boring places in California:

1. City of Lakewood
2. City of Lancaster
3. City of West Covina
4. City of Victorville
5. City of Merced
6. City of Alhambra
7. City of Ontario
8. City of Modesto
9. City of Hesperia
10. City of Carson

There are some big places, and we’ve used some strong words to describe them, but we’ve got the data to back up our claims. So, if you want to know why Lakewood, Merced, and the rest are so boring, keep reading. Unlike the places, we can promise it will be at least mildly entertaining.

How We Measured Boredom (Without Falling Asleep)

If you’ve read any of our other Big Deal Lists, you’ll know the basics of how we produce ours rankings. If not, here’s how it works. We start by making a list of the largest places in a state, in this case the 100 biggest spots in California. Once we have them, we can find just the right mix of criteria to measure what we’re after. For boredom, we used the same six that have powered our “most exciting” rankings:

  • Nightlife per capita (bars, clubs, comedy, etc.)
  • Live music venues per capita
  • Active life options per capita (parks, outdoor activities, etc.)
  • Fast Food restaurants per capita (the fewer the better)
  • Percentage of restaurants that are fast food (the lower the better)
  • Percentage of young residents ages 20 to 34 (the higher the better)

Unlike those overviews of the most thrilling places in the country, this one required us to flip the table and give high marks for doing poorly in the criteria. We ranked each of the 100 places on our list from 1 to 100 across the criteria, where a one was the most boring number. Then, we averaged these individual rankings into one Big Deal Score, and the lower that was, the more boring as well.

You won’t find any streamers or fireworks (or even a balloon drop) at the end of this post, but you will see a chart down there containing the 50 most boring places in California along with their individual criteria rankings. Before that, though, we invite you to put on a pot of coffee, turn on some loud music, and join us as we dive into the dreariest spots on the lower West Coast.

1. Lakewood

Most Boring Places In California - Lakewood, CA

Source: Flickr user Steve & Michelle Gerdes

Lakewood is home to the first Denny’s, which should be reason enough for it to sit atop our list of California’s most boring locales (although we do always chuckle a little when we think about “Moons Over My Hammy”). Knowing this fact, it should really come as little surprise that  Lakewood is also the absolute worst in the state for fast food per capita (which, despite its name, is terribly boring) and as a percentage of total restaurants (24 percent).

This city also ranked lowest for live music venues and youthful population (22.14 percent), plus it was nearly the worst in our top 10 for nightlife (it managed seventh worst overall). In fact, the only area Lakewood did somewhat well in was activities, where it placed 37th. We’re going to guess that the most popular of these is “getting out of Lakewood to somewhere more exciting.”

2. Lancaster

Most Boring Places In California - Lancaster, CA

Source: Flickr user Thomas Hart

We won’t go as far as Urban Dictionary did in its summation of the city, but suffice it to say that Lancaster is notoriously dull. Situated on a long, flat expanse of the Mojave Desert, it was the headquarters of the modern Flat Earth Society, a group that believes—as its name suggests—our planet is actually flat and not round. How boring is that?

This high desert city of more than 156,000 was third worst in terms of its fast food to original dining options ratio, with the former comprising 16 percent of all restaurants. It was also the eighth worst when it came to nightlife per capita.

3. West Covina

Most Boring Places In California - West Covina, CA

Source: Flickr user Droits

Like Lakewood, West Covina is a city that should really be more exciting, if just for its proximity to Los Angeles and the hustle and bustle of the urban sprawl. As you might expect from such a indistinct Southern Californian locale, there’s plenty of fast food to go around (it ranked 15th per capita).

Rocker Joan Jett spent her teens in West Covina, which makes the fact that it ranked 16th worst for music venues all the more painful. She loves rock and roll, but apparently the city she called home during her formative years doesn’t.

4. Victorville

Most Boring Places In California - Victorville, CA

Source: Flickr user InSapphoWeTrust

With a name like Victorville, you’d expect this city to be full of win, but the most exciting thing about it is that the church scenes from “Kill Bill” were filmed there. The high desert surrounding the city has also been used for filming music videos, although Victorville itself tied with Lakewood for worst in live music venues per capita.

Victorville also ranked poorly for fast food per capita at 24th worst and the 13 percent of all restaurants they make up earned 18th worst for original dining options.

5. Merced

Most Boring Places In California - Merced, CA

Source: Flickr user Russell Mondy

Known as the “Gateway to Yosemite” (a beautiful exciting place, to be sure), Merced is home to the University of California Merced, which, in our research, was described as “in the middle of a corn field” and “insanely boring on the weekends.” Maybe that has something to do with the dearth of nightlife. There’s so little per capita that Merced ranked fifth worst overall for that criterion.

There’s a lake (Lake Yosemite; Lake Merced got bored and moved to San Francisco), but overall the city ranked 19th worst for activities that we looked at. In terms of future opportunities to become more exciting, Merced is due to be a stop on the California High Speed Rail line, but we imagine that most passengers will opt to just zip on through unless things there pick up.

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6. Alhambra

Most Boring Places In California - Alhambra, CA

Source: Flickr user Slices of Light

Alhambra is a Los Angeles suburb of about 83,000 that’s named after a book (“Tales Of The Alhambra” by Washington Irving, to be specific) and that’s about the most exciting thing is has going for it. The least exciting thing has to do with its activities ranking, which was 14th worst overall. That’s the worst performance in activities of any place in our top 10.

Hey, Alhambra, we know you’re probably pretty bummed about being one of the most boring places in California, but at least you’re home to the Los Angeles Department of Public Works. Okay, maybe that sounded more encouraging in our heads.

7. Ontario

Most Boring Places In California - Ontario, CA

Source: Flickr user Joe Wolf

Ask anyone from Southern California what they known about Ontario and you’ll hear one response: factory outlets. Well, and maybe they’ll mention the airport. Otherwise, this sizeable city of 163,000 plus is just another of those places you pass through on the freeway and pay no further thought to.

If you were to exit the freeway, you’d be greeted by lots of fast food. In fact, Ontario was the third worst in terms of fast food per capita on our list. It was also third worst in terms of the percentage of total restaurants that are fast food chains (17 percent). As for activities to work off those empty calories, Ontario places 10th worst in terms of things such as gyms, parks, and outdoor fun.

8. Modesto

Most Boring Places In California - Modesto, CA

Source: Flickr user Wayne Hsieh

Allow me to get personal here for a moment. I lived in Modesto for a few months in the late ‘90s and have been back a couple times a year since then. The most exciting thing in town is the Vintage Faire Mall and (for a “Star Wars” fan like myself) perhaps the statue of George Lucas (he was born there). Fun fact: Lucas’ film “American Graffiti” is based on his early years in Modesto, but wasn’t actually filmed there (it was shot in San Rafael). This is supposedly because Modesto had changed too much over the years, but I think George just wanted to move on.

In terms of our data, Modesto was the worst place in our top 10 for live music (it placed 47th) and also the worst for active life options (it placed 40th). It placed last for ninja parades, despite what The Onion would have you believe.

9. Hesperia

Most Boring Places In California - Hesperia, CA

Source: Flickr user Dave Hill

Another Southern Californian city located in the Mojave Desert like Lancaster and Victorville, Hesperia isn’t quite as boring as those other two places. It is, however, absolutely packed with fast food restaurants (16 percent of the total eating places are chains) which landed it a score of fifth worst for that category.

Hesperia also made it into the top 25 worst places for two other criteria: live music (24th) and activities (23rd).

10. Carson

Most Boring Places In California - Carson, CA

Source: Flickr user nikzane

Carson has appeared in more than a dozen movies, TV shows, and music videos. Not because it’s an exciting place, but primarily because it’s just so nondescript. It looks just like the rest of the L.A. basin. As for things to do, it’s home of… well, there’s a museum devoted to printing presses.

Carson was fifth worst for percentage of fast food restaurants and 18th worst for them per capita. It also had the second worst ranking for young population in our top 10, with only 22.8 percent of its residents falling between the 18 to 34 age range.

Roam And Bored

Like we said earlier, these places might be boring, but there’s still hope for the people who call them home and desire a more exciting way of life. For those in Southern California, the list of much more thrilling locales includes Irvine, San Diego, and Santa Monica, while those up north should  be looking towards the likes of Oakland, San Francisco, and Berkeley. Be warned though: Once you get out, you might never want to go back.

Most Boring Places In California

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posted on: April 8, 2014
424,809 views, 45 comments


  1. R.Pina

    I find it odd that Merced, CA made your list. Saying Merced is boring is like saying Malibu, Palm Springs, and Yosemite are boring. That’s kind of the point. The citizens of Merced celebrate the life of leisure and “the good life.” If you’re looking for urban thrills, try New York City.

    • E. U JR in response to R.Pina

      What good life and leisure? It’s been consistently ranked one of the worst places for finding a job, to do any sort of business. One of the worst real estate markets in the country thanks to the bread and butter known as UC Merced.

      It has one of the worst air pollution rates in the country along with one of the highest rates of crime per-capita in the state of California, including homicide.

      Please take off the rose colored glasses and stop drinking the kool-aid. The only people that find that hell-hole of a town enjoyable live in the outskirts of town in their nice houses and do all of their shopping in either Modesto or Fresno.

      • Kristen in response to E. U JR

        Have you ever been to Merced or do you just read statistics that come from articles like this absurd one? Merced is a beautiful town, with many outdoor activities, and it’s very peaceful. These stats compare it to LA’s violence and crime and rank it higher, which is crazy. A small town of 80,000 with 4 murders outranks LA’s hundreds of murders, etc. in crime? The stats are skewed, and judging from your passionate feelings, you must have been popped for a DUI or something in Merced, lol.

        • Denise Day in response to Kristen

          Well Kristen I grew up in Merced and raised my kids their and I think you are small minded like many in Merced you have probably never left town to see the world. Their is nothing in Merced. The town is broke it has no job industry and nothing to keep the young kids busy and out of trouble and their for high crime rate. It is a dirty broke town. It is sad but true. I left Merced 13 years ago the best move I ever made and things were bad then and are much worse now. Maybe you should open your eyes and look around the town has still got the old fathers running things and they are the ones that have keep the town down for many years, and they thought that the UC might change it what a joke its not Berkeley and never will be get used to it. Its a poor town with a black cloud that hangs over it and will be that way till they stop trying to keep it a small town secret.

  2. Carole Brody Fleet

    Fascinating. The article fails to mention that Lakewood was one of the very first “planned communities” in the United States on which thousands of others were modeled. Its parks and recreations department ranks among the best in the country. It was one of the first cities to have what has since become known as a shopping mall (the original, open-air Lakewood Center). Most interesting is that apparently, the “excitement” of a city is based at least in part on the number of fast-food restaurants?

    I feel pity for an author who can find nothing else about which to write.

    • C. McLaughlin. in response to Carole Brody Fleet

      Agreed! In what world does more fast food restaurants mean more excitement? I guarantee whoever wrote this article has never actually been to Lakewood or half the other cities on this list.

  3. Adele

    As a resident of Lakewood, a city which I love, why would we need all of the items that are important to your rank, when Long Beach is our next door neighbor. What comes with the cool and hip, also comes crime and violence. I will take my boring community to raise my family, something our city prides itself upon, and leave the rest to other cities. And if I want to experience live music and non-boring food (I don’t eat fast food in the first place), I’ll drive the 10 min to a more hip City.

  4. sandy

    Wow….. talk about boring!!!! Dude has nothing better to do with his life….LMFAO! Too many fast food restaurants and not enough bars…..interesting basis.

  5. Jaime

    I have been living in Lakewood 17 years the best place to live, i don’t need the noise and the traffic. Love this city and yes the original owners of Denny,s where my neighbors.I did not talk to them but I was told

  6. Matt Anderson

    Yeah, I call bullshit on Ontario.

    Ontario Mills, Citizens Bank Arena, and the Improv. Those three things alone set Ontario way above the average city in So Cal. I could explain in detail but this writer of this article obviously didn’t do their research and is kind of talking out their ass. I don’t even live in Ontario but lost all credibility for this article when I saw that city listed.

  7. Anon Amoose

    I really don’t see how Lakewood is worse than Lancaster.
    – Lakewood has a mall. Lancaster doesn’t.
    – Lakewood is close to places that are not on the list. To leave Lancaster you have to drive at least an hour… or die.
    – Lakewood is close to an airport that can take you away to nicer places. Lancaster’s closest airport… is closed.


  8. Redd

    Lakewood is riiiiight next to Long Beach so it’s not really a big deal if they dont have much of a nightlife. They can just hop over in 5 minutes if necessary. Ditto for West Covina. Don’t know much about the other cities; those you might actually be correct about seeing as they’re further from more exciting cities.

  9. Brianna

    I actually disagree with Alhambra. I don’t live there myself, but I visit the city for its many shopping plazas and restaurants at least once a week. It has movie theater(s), delicious restaurants, clothing stores, ice cream parlors, I find it hilarious that this article chose to use quantified data rather than actually experiencing these cities for some qualitative data. This article is bunk, laughable and inaccurate.

  10. D.Steele

    I’ve lived here most of my life and Whatever you choose to call Lakewood is your opinion.My opinion is that if Lakewood was 1/10th as exciting as it is now I’d still be more than happy here.

  11. Lu

    Alhambra really?? The strip off main street is awesome alone with the bars, night clubs, movie theater. I suggest you really explore before you knock them.

  12. Johnny

    Yeah, i guess they didnt consider lakewood neighbors long beach. Id rather live in Lakewood then lancaster or medesto or barstow. I can take a bus to somewhere cool like DTLB. I can ride my bike to tbe beach. The city itself may not offer much but its in close proximatey of other cool things. Its not an urban environment where Im supposed to walk everywhere. The author didnt think very critically, did they?

  13. Di

    This report is just ridiculous! It is so biased to age and personality type. It doesn’t matter what city anyone is from, the people who set up this report need to expand their ideas of what the general population find entertaining. Maybe going to a movie, a live play, to the library, a walk in the park, a late brunch with friends and both indoor and outdoor sports, such as TaeKwonDo, Racquetball, Swimming, Health clubs, Tennis, etc…… are all options that many people find FUN and exciting.
    You guys should have done more research before publishing this report.

  14. Roy

    To include Alhambra in the list of most boring cities is absolutely ridiculous. Alhambra is FILLED with bars with great beers, night clubs (about 4 or 5 of them), some of the best food in la county and restaurants are packed every single night. In addition, home to one of the biggest parks in California, and north Alhambra residential area is filled with gorgeous houses and neighborhoods. This is stupid. And no, I’m not from Alhambra but live in Pasadena

  15. jen

    Lancaster actually does have a lot going on in it but you have to know where to look. And although the next “city” over, Palmdale has the mail it’s only a 15-20 minute drive. To us locals in Palmdale and Lancaster we really don’t see the difference between the two cities and tend to mesh them together. As far as nightlife goes, you won’t find hip places like in Los Angeles but you will find Longhorn, Medranos, and the Trap. All have dance music, karaoke, good food and awesome music and various events and bands. For family fun theres a farmer’s market every Thursday with live entertainment on Lancaster Blvd, there’s also Jethawks Stadium, there’s bumper cars at Vinces Pasta and Pizza, theres a really cool art museum, we have the Poppy Festival and so much more to do…n Food: we have many great places to eat at. This includes Katz n Jammers, Miso Sushi, BJs, In & Out Burger and the list goes on. Sorry, but as a resident of Lancaster for over 20 years I can be the judge of what is boring. Lancaster is a city that is not one of them. Lol.

  16. Loren A. Roberts

    I agree with many of these commenters: the listmakers were working with blinders on. Alhambra is minutes away from both Downtown Los Angeles and Pasadena, both teeming with excellent food and entertainment options. Many of these cities are valued for their proximity to other urban centers, and no municipality in Southern California can exist on its own — we’re all one big somewhat-happy family.

    However, the exurb cities on this list (Hesperia, Lancaster, etc.) have multiple problems that are not limited to the excess of fast-food and dearth of entertainment, and they are not alone: once-popular exurb destinations like Temecula have similar issues, including increased crime and gang presence, as people move further out from the urban centers to find affordable housing. But to say those places are boring? I have friends who go clubbing every weekend somewhere in the Antelope Valley, and they never have a problem finding entertainment or nightlife…

  17. Bill

    As someone who was born and raised in Modesto, I find this blog to be the most boring copy I’ve ever read. You stole five minutes of my life that I’ll never get back.

  18. John Marshall

    Clearly, you haven’t considered the Goodyear blimp calls Carson home.
    And another thing, you say Carson ranks low in younger people, was it 18 to 34? Isn’t that the main marketing demographic? Wouldn’t that translate into fewer billboards?
    What about parks, green areas and public swimming pools? Carson has it’s share and then some.
    Obviously, you haven’t eaten at Diana’s La Bonita Restaurant or Domenick’s for Italian food or this ranking would be higher. Or the Stub-Hub Center, venue for bands, boxing matches, and Lucha Libre (Mexican wrestling). I don’t believe you’ve taken these many pluses into consideration.

  19. Patrick Montoya

    Norman Rockwell used Alhambra as inspiration for his paintings.

  20. Laura Dickinson-Turner

    Randy Nelson, Modesto has so much more than just the Mall (which is a pretty “boring” place, if you ask me). There’s no shortage of entertainment: the State Theatre routinely brings in art house films, big name music acts, fantastic speakers, and hosts community events. The Gallo Center for the Arts has Broadway touring shows, amazing artists (Lily Tomlin, Bernadette Peters, Jason Alexander, Martin Short), dance shows, and more. The Prospect Theater Project, which recently moved to a new space on K St, has consistently offered professional-quality productions for over 13 years. Preservation Coffee Co. has a cappuccino that rivals many a Seattle cafe. Stepping into Damon Robbins’ Camp 4 Wine Bar feels like walking into an establishment in NYC’s West Village. There’s Third Thursday Art Walks, the Farmer’s Market, and so much more! Folks who feel “bored” in Modesto must not get out much!

  21. A Rooski

    There are far worse (more boring) places in California. This list is poor at best. Get some better bloggers Movoto, this guy isn’t even trying.

  22. rhonda

    How did you ever miss the city of Needles, Ca for this list? It should have best all of these for first place.

  23. Brian

    Like most of these lists, I’m guessing that the people who wrote this have rarely, if ever, been to these places. Alhambra has some of the best ethnic dining in Southern California. Compare a yelp search per capita and my guess is that Alhambra would be at the top of the list. And yet you put that there is a lack of dining.


    • Other Brian in response to Brian

      He doesn’t say there’s a lack of dining. Cities are punished for having a lot of fast food restaurants, and for having fast food restaurants as a large percentage of the total number of restaurants. If your town is full of great restaurants, then building a Taco Bell will give you a worse score in both of those metrics, even though the great dining is still available. The measurements were chosen because they’re easy to measure, not because they actually indicate the quality of a city.

  24. JBGD

    Ontario???? that is crazy, Ontario has plenty of restaurants to choose from, shoppin, movie theaters…what else do you want??

  25. Dara

    Since when are there caverns in Carlsbad? lol

  26. Dara

    If you’re going to go and edit the article as we go along… you misspelled Carson, near the end there.

  27. Ken

    Couldn’t find a boring town in Riverside, Orange or San Diego counties…o.k.

  28. Calling out fakery

    How does the number of anything per capita signify anything? There’s only one Disneyland, so does that mean it’s twice as boring as two miniature golf courses? Is a city with a giant Yard House restaurant four times as boring as a city with four Denny’s? Is Griffith Park exactly the same as a run down tot lot next to a power line? This is a bogus “study” obviously designed with prearranged conclusions supporting the author’s booze, music and food lifestyle. Theaters? Live theaters? Sports? Shopping? Museums? Nope, it has to been a city of hole in the wall dive bars…

  29. Jeff Scism

    A lot of American Grafitti was shot in Merced.

  30. Ryan

    Ham town #6 represent #thebra

  31. Gretchen R.

    I STRONGLY disagree. We have a great mall, alyssacat3, and the people are just amazing

  32. Ray

    Saying a lot of young people makes a place less boring is an idiotic assumption. I find the current generation of “young people” overall to be some of the dumbest, most air-headed, superficial, narcissistic, immature and BORING ever, with their crappy music, their stupid-a** (literally) but*-crack pants, their childish preoccupation with their electronic toys and their general unwillingness to ever grow up. Give me a town of mature 40-plus adults any day!

  33. Laura

    Living in West Covina and right outside the age margin that this article is speaking about, Im glad to live in a “boring” city. :)

  34. Sarah

    Lancaster is not boring. How I measure that is my family really lives in Small boring Towns in America. Unlike my Sister’s town we have an Imax theater. If you want boring try a small town that only has 1 little theater with 2 screnes and it is only open after 7 PM. We have Baseball Staduim, and we have 2 movie theaters over 10 screens a peice.

  35. Vickee

    Hesperia and Victorville should actually be ranked higher on the list and places like Barstow, Boron, Ridgecrest, Lone Pine and Trona should have definitely been included. Also, the “Kill Bill” church scene was actually filmed in Lancaster (not Victorville) as are various movies, television shows and music videos annually.

  36. T

    This is disturbing that people are being categorized by where they live and all kinds of assumptions are made. I can see the future is going to be terrifying for those with unusual or different circumstances and I am concerned it will create problems that many never imagined or saw coming.

  37. T

    That is cool that you made that comment!

  38. Robert

    Places are judged as fun by how many people in their 20s live there? If there is a more boring age group I would like to know what it is.

  39. sandra

    Please. Almost all of these places have more things to do than where I live. Try living in Banning or Beaumont. Victorville has quite a few eating places, Ontario has a comedy club, a large mall, and a lot of eating places, as well as plenty of other events. West Covina has quite a few things to do and it’s nearby many other cities that have a strong culture, and plenty of dining options.

  40. Claudia

    I grew up in Lancaster, I have a coworker from NYC she asked me “what did you do in Lancaster? There’s nothing out there” my response, “I had a baby at 17 what do you think we did?” However 30 years later still married to the same guy! LANCASTER was a very small town when I lived there. About 30,000 people.


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