California, the Golden state
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California, the Golden state

From Anaheim to Vallejo, 43 California cities rank among the Best for Women -- including two among our top 10 big cities, and four on our top 10 small cities list.

Anaheim, San Diego, Long Beach, Santa Ana, San Jose

#6: Big Cities - Anaheim

Anaheim, founded by Germans in 1857 as an experiment in communal living, is now a magnet for pleasure seekers. The number one resident is Disneyland, drawing millions of visitors to the city each year. In an area once dominated by citrus and walnut groves, the city of Anaheim is one of the most popular tourist and convention centers in the United States.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #169
  • Educational attainment #78
  • Breast cancer #114
  • Divorce rate #64

#9: Big Cities - San Diego

San Diego, located on a beautiful bay that shares the same name, is the second-largest city in California. The city features an easily navigable central area, a scenic bay, 42 miles of beaches and plentiful parks and museums. Portuguese navigator Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claimed the bay for Spain in 1542. In 1769, Franciscan father Junipero Serra established the first California mission, San Diego del Alcala, which today makes for a beautiful day trip. In 1822, Mexico won control of San Diego after it declared its independence from Spain. The city was taken by the United States in 1846 during the Mexican War. San Diego's magnificent climate and proximity to Mexico have made tourism a significant part of the city's economy.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #164
  • Educational attainment #31
  • Breast cancer #125
  • Divorce rate #107

#16: Big Cities - Long Beach

Over 430,000 people inhabit this scenic harbor town on San Pedro Bay, which serves as a year-round resort noted for its long, wide beaches and active marina. Long Beach has grown rapidly as a result of the high-tech and aerospace industries in the surrounding area. Points of interest include an aquarium, the now anchored ocean liner Queen Mary and a historic adobe ranch house, built in 1844, which is now a museum. Four artificial oil islands sit in the harbor and still produce a steady flow.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #188
  • Educational attainment #102
  • Breast cancer #162
  • Divorce rate #71

#17: Big Cities - Santa Ana

Located in the fertile Santa Ana valley of Southern California, this suburb of Los Angeles began as a farm trade and processing center for the surrounding region and was connected to Los Angeles in 1878 by the Southern Pacific Railroad. Santa Ana has a world-renowned museum that displays early Native American and Spanish artifacts.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #141
  • Educational attainment #172
  • Breast cancer #112
  • Divorce rate #5

#19: Big Cities - San Jose

San Jose, the third-largest city in California is located in the Santa Clara Valley, 50 miles south of downtown San Francisco. Founded in 1777 by Spanish colonizers, it was named Pueblo de San Jose de Guadalupe in honor of Saint Joseph and after the Guadalupe River on which the pueblo town was situated. San Jose was the first city to be established in California. After California became a U.S. territory in 1847, San Jose was the state capital from 1849 to 1852 and developed commercially as a supply base for gold. Today, in addition to being home to more than 50 wineries throughout the valley, San Jose is the capital of Silicon Valley, the international center of high technology. Over the last 20 years, San Jose has stepped up the competition with area rival San Francisco at a frantic pace, building new museums, civic centers, lush open-air parks and bringing the city's first major professional sports team, the San Jose Sharks National Hockey team.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #198
  • Educational attainment #44
  • Breast cancer #97
  • Divorce rate #62

 

San Francisco, Sacramento, Los Angeles, Fresno, Oakland

#24: Big Cities - San Francisco
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

Set on a narrow arm on the San Francisco Bay, San Francisco is a welcome mat to different cultures, lifestyles and ideas. A Franciscan father, who was sailing with Sebastian Rodriguez Cermeno, named the bay San Francisco on Nov. 7, 1595. In 1776, the Spaniards established a presidio, or military post, and a Franciscan mission on the end of the beautiful peninsula. In the following year, a little town was founded around the mission. It was called Yerba Buena, Spanish for "Good Herb," because mint grew in abundance there. In 1906, San Francisco experienced the nation's most destructive earthquake, which, together with the fire that followed, practically destroyed the city. The American explorer and soldier John C. Fremont, known as The Pathfinder, named the entrance to the bay the Golden Gate, and the famous bright orange Golden Gate Bridge was dedicated in May 1937. Fisherman's Wharf, Alcatraz, the Legion of Honor, and Pier 39 all make the port of San Francisco one of the world's leading visitor destinations. Yerba Buena Gardens is the site of the new Museum of Modern Art, as well as other galleries, a carousel, film center and children's interactive museum.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #131
  • Educational attainment #16
  • Breast cancer #192
  • Divorce rate #74

#26: Big Cities - Sacramento

Sacramento is the seventh-largest city in California and its capital. In 1839, German-born Swiss citizen John Augustus Sutter obtained a grant from the Mexican governor to establish a colony for fellow Swiss emigrants on a large tract of land that he named New Helvetia or New Switzerland. There, he established Fort Sutter as a trading post. After gold was discovered on Sutter's property in 1848, the settlement rapidly expanded as the prominent supply point for gold prospectors coming from the East. Sacramento is located in the north central part of the state where the Sacramento and American rivers converge and was named after California's principal river. It became the state capital in 1854 and in recent years has grown to big city status with the introduction of an NBA team, the Kings, and many arts and cultural projects. It has a well-preserved Old Town, along with newer suburban sprawl.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #65
  • Educational attainment #66
  • Breast cancer #133
  • Divorce rate #151

#27: Big Cities - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, the entertainment capital of the world, is the largest city in California and the second-largest urban area in the nation with 3.6 million people. The epitome of urban sprawl, it extends more than 40 miles from the mountains to the sea. The city was first settled in 1781 when the Mexican provincial governor, Filipe de Neve, founded "El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de Los Angeles," meaning "The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels." The pueblo became the capital of the Mexican province, Alta California, and it was the last place to surrender to the U.S. at the time of the American occupation in 1847. By the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848, Mexico ceded California to the United States, and Los Angeles was incorporated as a city in 1850. The city's phenomenal growth was brought about by its pleasant climate, which attracted people and industry from all parts of the nation; the development of its citrus-fruit industry; the discovery of oil in the early 1890s; the development of its man-made harbor -- its port is one of the busiest in the U.S. -- and the growth of the motion picture industry in the early 20th Century.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #151
  • Educational attainment #109
  • Breast cancer #156
  • Divorce rate #41

#29: Big Cities - Fresno

The city and county of Fresno are located in the central San Joaquin Valley of California. To the west it is predominantly flat, with thousands of acres devoted to agriculture. To the east, the snow-capped Sierra Nevada Mountains rise out of the low foothills. It is the only county in the country that has three national parks in its backyard. Settled in 1872 as a station on the Central Pacific Railroad, Fresno profited from irrigated farming as early as the 1880s. The Fresno Water Tower, which once held 250,000 gallons of water, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #22
  • Educational attainment #127
  • Breast cancer #21
  • Divorce rate #94

#50: Big Cities - Oakland

Lying on the eastern side of the San Francisco Bay, Oakland is connected to the surrounding area via the Bay Bridge, and its three-county rapid transit system, Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART), which opened in 1936 and 1972, respectively. In addition to having an international airport, the city is home to the Athletics, the Raiders, and the Golden State Warriors, the Bay Area's only NBA team. Culture and recreation opportunities abound at the Oakland Museum, Chabot Observatory, the Morcom Rose Garden, and Jack London Square. The city has a symphony orchestra, notable parks, a state arboretum, a children's museum park, a beautiful waterfront and an impressive zoo.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #88
  • Educational attainment #50
  • Breast cancer #148
  • Divorce rate #118

 

Irvine, Huntington Beach, Santa Clarita, Thousand Oaks, Fremont

#5: Small Cities - Irvine
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

Irvine is one of the nation's largest planned urban communities at over 47 square miles. In 1959, the University of California asked the Irvine Company for 1,000 acres for a new campus. Not officially incorporated as a city until 1971, Irvine is now a thriving, lush cluster of small neighborhoods centered around the hustle and bustle of one of California's finest public universities.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #156
  • Educational attainment #3
  • Breast cancer #118
  • Divorce rate #82

#7: Small Cities - Huntington Beach

Surfers flock to Huntington Beach to surf off its eight and one-half miles of uninterrupted beach. In addition to year-round sun and pristine, sandy beaches, it also has the largest wetlands preserve on the coast of California. There are ocean tide pools, great bird watching as well as a noted aquarium. And to solidify Huntington Beach's status as surf capital of California, surf god Dean Torrence of Jan & Dean fame grew up on its beaches.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #161
  • Educational attainment #15
  • Breast cancer #117
  • Divorce rate #115

#8: Small Cities - Santa Clarita

The Santa Clarita Valley is located 35 miles north of Los Angeles off the Golden State Freeway. A land of rugged natural beauty, Santa Clarita is surrounded by the lofty Santa Suzana and San Gabriel mountain ranges. Made up of eight diverse communities, Santa Clarita offers everything from homes nestled between rolling hills to horse ranches with enchanting sunsets. Surrounding Santa Clarita are some of California's most beautiful natural parks and woodlands, great for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, picnicking and camping.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #137
  • Educational attainment #35
  • Breast cancer #161
  • Divorce rate #38

#10: Small Cities - Thousand Oaks

Thousand Oaks, 39 miles west of Los Angeles and 12 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean, was named for the multitude of oak trees scattered throughout the area. Thousand Oaks lies within the a picturesque Conejo Valley, which has more than 13,000 acres of natural open space and over 70 miles of hiking trails. The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is the largest performing arts center between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #40
  • Educational attainment #12
  • Breast cancer #27
  • Divorce rate #61

#15: Small Cities - Fremont

Located on the southeast side of the San Francisco Bay, Fremont is a city of over 208,000 people within 92 square miles of wide landscaped streets, 46 city parks, the San Francisco National Wildlife Refuge, Coyote Hills Regional Park, and the Ardenwood Farm Historical Park. Mission San Jose de Guadalupe, built in 1797, has been restored as a museum. The house and tomb of President Rutherford B. Hayes are in Fremont's Spiegel Grove State Park.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #69
  • Educational attainment #23
  • Breast cancer #150
  • Divorce rate #69

 

Fullerton, Rancho Cucamonga, Orange, Sunnyvale, Torrance

#17: Small Cities - Fullerton
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

Located 22 miles southeast of metropolitan Los Angeles, in the center of North Orange, Fullerton, a suburban city of 115,000, is named for George H. Fullerton the head of a land company, who arranged to have the San Diego-Los Angeles-Santa Fe Railroad pass through the settlement in 1888. During its infancy, Fullerton was a typical western town. According to the city historians, railroad construction camps brought in a rough element, and early settlers often told of gunfights in the saloons. The early economy was centered first on citrus groves and later on oil and then canning, an industry that continues today. Around its manufacturing base arose homes, schools, parks and cultural offerings. Muckenthaler Center has two symphony orchestras, a theater group, and many well-stocked art galleries.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #177
  • Educational attainment #39
  • Breast cancer #115
  • Divorce rate #66

#18: Small Cities - Rancho Cucamonga

Located 37 miles east of downtown Los Angeles, the city is named after the Shoshonean Indian word "kukamonga" which means "sandy place." Crowned by the scenic San Gabriel Mountains, it is a cluster of planned communities and award-winning architecture on the cusp of the desert. A heritage of vineyards, ranches, orchards and wineries is reflected in historic buildings that complement newer, suburban development.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #16
  • Educational attainment #64
  • Breast cancer #78
  • Divorce rate #58

#19: Small Cities - Orange

It took years of trial and error for the settlers of Richland to find the perfect crop to grow on their chosen land 32 miles southeast of Los Angeles, but when they did, they had a new name as well -- Orange. When grape harvests succumbed to an 1886 blight, local farmers planted orange groves. By 1921, area farmers were exporting $12 million in oranges and thus the name change. But Orange is known for more than just oranges these days, it is also called the "Antique Capital of California."

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #162
  • Educational attainment #36
  • Breast cancer #116
  • Divorce rate #79

#24: Small Cities - Sunnyvale

Sunnyvale is nestled in the Santa Clara Valley, better known these days as Silicon Valley, near San Francisco. The community was first settled in 1849 by Martin Murphy and called Murphy's Station. It profited from an industrial expansion in the wake of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake when manufacturers relocated to the valley. Sunnyvale has been marked by a continued increase in population since the 1970s.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #200
  • Educational attainment #9
  • Breast cancer #98
  • Divorce rate #104

#26: Small Cities - Torrance

Torrance is a major financial and retail center with outstanding medical care facilities, excellent schools and more than 350 acres of open space and parkland that includes the Madrona Marsh, a fresh-water habitat. The city of Torrance has a great beach and 24 parks, including the 44-acre Wilson Park and the 52-acre Columbia Park. In all, Torrance has 300 acres of parkland -- or about two acres for every 1,000 residents.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #142
  • Educational attainment #22
  • Breast cancer #160
  • Divorce rate #63

 

Glendale, Chula Vista, Bakersfield, Escondido, Concord

#33: Small Cities - Glendale
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

Glendale, at the foot of the Verdugo Mountains, spans over 30 square miles. An ethnically diverse city rich in heritage, natural beauty and commercial accomplishment, Glendale is home to nearly 200,000 people. The downtown area is features office towers, the Hilton Glendale hotel and the Glendale Galleria shopping center. It has aircraft assembly plants and other industries that support aerospace. Glendale is also a center of the area's film industry. The city was founded around 1784 on a ranch that was part of the first Spanish land grant in California.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #150
  • Educational attainment #49
  • Breast cancer #158
  • Divorce rate #36

#35: Small Cities - Chula Vista

A port of entry on the San Diego Bay, Chula Vista lies in an area of heavy citrus, fruit, and vegetable production. Boosted by the growth of the aircraft industry in neighboring San Diego, the city has grown considerably, experiencing a population increase of 61 percent over the last two decades. A large percentage of the residents are Mexican-American residents due to the proximity of the Mexican border to the south.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #155
  • Educational attainment #77
  • Breast cancer #124
  • Divorce rate #90

#36: Small Cities - Bakersfield

Bakersfield, California, is located in the extreme Southern portion of the San Joaquin Valley, approximately 90 miles North of Los Angeles, 90 miles South of Fresno, and 90 miles East of the Pacific Ocean. Bakersfield's unique location provides fast and easy access to many of California's greatest resources. Within a two-hour drive you could be basking in the sun on one of California's beautiful beaches, rock hunting in the Mojave Desert, enjoying some downhill skiing in the breathtaking Sierra Nevada Mountains, or weaving in and out of metro Los Angeles traffic. Bakersfield has been a hospitality haven for travelers, since the mid-1800s, when the community's founder, Colonel Thomas Baker, set aside a portion of his alfalfa fields as a resting place for weary travelers and their animals. These passersby began calling the respite "Baker's Field."

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #87
  • Educational attainment #110
  • Breast cancer #59
  • Divorce rate #123

#37: Small Cities - Escondido

This highly agricultural city near San Diego is not only a major producer of cereal products, but home to one of the world's largest avocado processing plants as well. A large wild animal park was constructed just south of the city. To the east is San Pasqual Battlefield State Monument, commemorating the battle fought in December of 1846 between U.S. Gen. Stephen W. Kearny and native Californian Andres Pico.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #174
  • Educational attainment #95
  • Breast cancer #126
  • Divorce rate #103

#44: Small Cities - Concord

A nearby U.S. naval ammunition depot was the site of the devastating Port Chicago explosion in July of 1944 yet Concord's beautiful year-round weather has continued to draw new residents to Contra Costa County. Settled in 1852, this eastern suburb of the San Francisco Bay area is linked to the rest of its neighbors by the Bay Area's Bay Area rapid transit (BART) System. An outdoor amphitheater hosts some of the best concerts and events under the stars.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #100
  • Educational attainment #30
  • Breast cancer #145
  • Divorce rate #145

 

Oceanside, Moreno Valley, Garden Grove, Pasadena, Riverside

#55: Small Cities - Oceanside
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

On the beautiful Gulf of Santa Catalina, Oceanside is a commercial and trading center for an inland farming area and for nearby Camp Pendleton, a large U.S. Marine corps amphibious base. Mainly residential, the city has a large flower and bulb industry. Because of its "oceanside" location, deep-sea fishing and tourism are also big draws. In the 1990s Oceanside began a major redevelopment effort -- the pier was restored, and the city became the home of the California Surf Museum. Nearby is Mission San Luis Rey, which was built in 1798 and is a popular local tourist attraction.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #168
  • Educational attainment #83
  • Breast cancer #123
  • Divorce rate #88

#57: Small Cities - Moreno Valley

Moreno Valley is a dynamic community half-way between Los Angeles and Palm Springs. Nestled between local mountains and Lake Perris, Moreno Valley is well situtated one hour from the mountains, the desert and the ocean. In spite of major reductions in military and aerospace personnel, its population increased from 28,000 people to 220,000 in the 1980s. Moreno Valley continues to grow and as the 2000 Census indicates, is California's sixth fastest growing city (26th nationally).

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #18
  • Educational attainment #130
  • Breast cancer #46
  • Divorce rate #25

#61: Small Cities - Garden Grove

A growing residential suburb of Long Beach and Los Angeles, Garden Grove is located in a citrus fruit area on the Santa Ana River. It was founded in 1877. Many of its residents work in nearby aerospace and defense installations. A city landmark is the Crystal Cathedral, which was constructed with over 10,000 panes of glass.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #163
  • Educational attainment #114
  • Breast cancer #113
  • Divorce rate #56

#65: Small Cities - Pasadena

Lying at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains, Pasadena hosts the annual Tournament of Roses and the New Year's Day college football game played in the Rose Bowl, which seats 100,000 spectators. In addition to the California Institute of Technology, which houses NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena also has a symphony orchestra, a community playhouse, the Huntington Library and Art Gallery, the Pasadena Art Museum, the Pacific Asia Museum, and several gardens noted for their rare flora. Mt. Wilson and Mt. Lowe observatories are nearby and offer amazing views of the stars by night and the valley by day.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #179
  • Educational attainment #26
  • Breast cancer #159
  • Divorce rate #78

#69: Small Cities - Riverside

Birthplace of the navel orange in 1873, this city is still famous for its big and juicy citrus fruit. The tree that produced the first navel orange is still in bloom and is a local attraction. The river that the city sits beside is the Santa Ana. The first produce marketing cooperative, organized in Riverside in 1892, led to the founding of the California Fruit Growers Exchange. Mission Inn, a 200-year-old hotel in a unique mission setting, is in Riverside. The city is passionate about its festivals with a Charles Dickens Festival in February, a spirited Cinco de Mayo, and separate festivals celebrating trees, apples and orange blossoms.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #8
  • Educational attainment #118
  • Breast cancer #45
  • Divorce rate #81

 

Santa Rosa, Lancaster, Vallejo, San Bernadino, Pomona

#70: Small Cities - Santa Rosa
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

Located in beautiful Sonoma County surrounded by wine country, Santa Rosa has in recent years exploded in its night life and arts. Luther Burbank lived there, and his gardens are preserved as a monument. Of interest also is the Church of One Tree, built in 1874 from a single redwood, and now housing the Robert L. Ripley Memorial Museum. Also in the vicinity are the Jack London "Wolf House," Armstrong Redwoods State Park, and many wineries that offer tours and tastings.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #108
  • Educational attainment #37
  • Breast cancer #110
  • Divorce rate #169

#75: Small Cities - Lancaster

Lancaster is a small town nestled in the Antelope Valley on the edge of the Mojave Desert, where poppies spring from dry land. Each April, Lancaster throws one of the nation's largest Poppy festivals. It developed as a trade center for the surrounding irrigated farming areas. Local borax mining and the nearby Edwards Air Force Base, a major military installation, add to Lancaster's economy. The city's Native American Museum is the largest in Northern California.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #1
  • Educational attainment #92
  • Breast cancer #157
  • Divorce rate #72

#77: Small Cities - Vallejo

Vallejo began in 1844, when General Mariano G. Vallejo settled in this spot on San Pablo Bay at the mouth of the Napa River. Twice the site of the state capital in the 1850s, Vallejo grew into an important shipping and naval center. Legend has it that Mare Island got its name after Gen. Vallejo drove a herd of horses across the Carquinez Strait. Established in 1854, Mare Island Naval Shipyard was the West Coast's first shipyard. Closed in 1996, plans for Mare Island include development as an industrial, commercial and residential centerpiece for the city's future growth. The California Maritime Academy, part of the California State University System, is in Vallejo. Nearby are Travis Air Force Base, a state park, as well as Marine World USA.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #10
  • Educational attainment #86
  • Breast cancer #173
  • Divorce rate #68

#80: Small Cities - San Bernadino

Sixty miles west of Los Angeles and a short 20-minute drive west of the Ontario International airport, residents refer to San Bernardino as "the friendly city," partly due to the area's kind weather. Norton Air Force Base, which closed in 1994, is now the site of the San Bernardino International Airport and Trade Center, a complex of commercial and industrial buildings and a world trade center. The city is a gateway to San Bernardino National Forest. Annual attractions include the National Orange Show Citrus Fair and Route 66 Rendezvous.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #13
  • Educational attainment #175
  • Breast cancer #80
  • Divorce rate #137

#85: Small Cities - Pomona

At the foot of the San Gabriel Mountains, Pomona is a diverse mix of a residential, industrial, and commercial use 30 miles from Los Angeles. The city promotes itself as an industrial hub because of its location at the crossroads of the Inland and San Gabriel Valleys, its access to five major freeways, two Metrolink commuter train stations and its proximity to Ontario International, LAX and John Wayne airports. Citrus fruits and vegetables are canned and shipped from Pomona. The city is the home of California State Polytechnic University and each year hosts the Los Angeles County Fair.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #30
  • Educational attainment #157
  • Breast cancer #155
  • Divorce rate #26

 

Oxnard, Modesto, Ontario, Hayward, El Monte

#89: Small Cities - Oxnard
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

The City of Oxnard, situated "Up coast" along the California coastline between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, is a seaside community. Oxnard's name comes from the family that developed one of its first industries, a sugar beet factory. A navy missile range is at nearby Point Mugu. Oxnard is the gateway for visitors to the Santa Barbara Islands and to Los Padres National Forest. For more than two decades, visitors and residents have enjoyed the Strawberry Festival held each spring.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #39
  • Educational attainment #158
  • Breast cancer #28
  • Divorce rate #24

#97: Small Cities - Modesto

Modesto is twice blessed with mild weather year-round and some of the world's richest soil. Part of California's fertile Central Valley, which stretches 300 miles through the middle of the state, Modesto is easily accessible from throughout California. West of the valley and over the coastal mountain range lies the San Francisco Bay Area, a 90-minute drive from Modesto. Eastward are the foothills of the famed gold country that lead to the majestic Sierra Nevada mountain range and Yosemite National Park. Modesto is located in the heart of one of the greatest agricultural areas of our nation -- the San Joaquin Valley. Dairy products, almonds, apricots, melons, tomatoes, wine grapes, peaches, walnuts and poultry products are some of this regions staples. The Farmers Market allows residents to get produce just picked from the nearby fields. Outdoor adventure abounds with white-water rafting on the Stanislaus River, bike trails throughout Modesto, horseback riding at area ranches, and outdoor inline skating or skateboarding at Modesto's newest skate park.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #20
  • Educational attainment #154
  • Breast cancer #14
  • Divorce rate #128

#99: Small Cities - Ontario

Ontario is located in Western San Bernardino County, approximately 40 miles east of Los Angeles and 20 miles west of San Bernardino on a flat alluvial plain at the base of the San Gabriel Mountains. A high-volume agricultural area, citrus fruits are the main cash crop and vineyards surround the city. Founded in 1882, the city is the site of Chaffey College and a new international airport. Ontario has restored many of its original buildings, which date as far back as 1887. Through an active historic preservation Ontario has been able to preserve the history and traditions that gave it the nickname "The Model Colony."

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #17
  • Educational attainment #182
  • Breast cancer #79
  • Divorce rate #65

#107: Small Cities - Hayward

Settled circa 1851, Hayward is an important commercial and distribution center for a lush agricultural area. The city of Hayward has profited immensely from development in the greater San Francisco Bay Area, and in recent decades, has been the site of active middle-income housing growth that spurred a quick population increase. Hayward, 30 miles east of San Francisco, is connected to its neighbors around the bay via the expansive Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) system.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #76
  • Educational attainment #115
  • Breast cancer #149
  • Divorce rate #127

#111: Small Cities - El Monte

A growing residential, industrial, and commercial city in the San Gabriel Valley of Southern California, El Monte manufactures such diverse items as aerospace products, electronic equipment, and plastic and metal products, but is best known for its lush walnut groves. Known as the end of the Santa Fe Trail, El Monte was founded in 1852 by westward-bound pioneers. It is now reachable for three major freeways, the 60, 10, and the 605.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #147
  • Educational attainment #196
  • Breast cancer #154
  • Divorce rate #14

 

Stockton, Salinas, Inglewood

#115: Small Cities - Stockton
LHJ Best Cities for Women 2002

Situated along the San Joaquin River in Central California, Stockton is an inland seaport located at the head of the San Joaquin Delta, which was developed to accommodate oceangoing vessels. The city is also a railroad center and a processing and distributing point for farm products and wines from the San Joaquin and Central valleys. The city was an outfitting center in the gold-rush days, and is presently home to a historical museum, an art gallery and an impressive civic auditorium.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #21
  • Educational attainment #166
  • Breast cancer #88
  • Divorce rate #91

#127: Small Cities - Salinas

The population of this growing city, nestled in the fertile Monterey Valley, has doubled since 1970. The Alisal area (formerly called East Salinas) was settled by migratory farm workers in 1933 and was annexed by Salinas in 1964. Salinas' annual rodeo draws people from all over the world. Make sure to visit the house of John Steinbeck, who was born and is buried in Salinas.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #182
  • Educational attainment #163
  • Breast cancer #91
  • Divorce rate #49

#128: Small Cities - Inglewood

Founded in 1873, Inglewood is a residential and industrial suburb of Los Angeles with a population of over 100,000. Its manufacturing includes machinery, aircraft parts and electronic equipment. The city has greatly benefited from the regional advancement, extension and development of these industries. Northrop Institute of Technology and the Hollywood Park racetrack are in Inglewood. The city is also home of the Great Western Forum, a massive arena that used to host L.A. Lakers basketball games, and still hosts UCLA events, as well as concerts for many well-known musicians and entertainers.

Overall rankings for select categories:

  • Women professionals #132
  • Educational attainment #138
  • Breast cancer #153
  • Divorce rate #85

 
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