Related: 101 Things to Do in San Diego | The Ultimate Bucket List. Venice Canals 5. Visit the aquarium to see a living kelp forest, cute sea otters, penguins, and more! This place is no exception! The Boardwalk also has a great arcade (including laser tag) next door, and a bowling alley across the street. We’re talking about owning 17,000 banana related items and a museum out of it. Tehama County. There are several canals which are inter-connected by bridges and couple of paved roads. Beautiful La Jolla Cove in San Diego. It has starred in a popular film like Into the Wild, this sanctuary remains a secret to most locals and is yet to be visited by many adventurers and explorers, and that’s a reward itself for Leonard Knight who spent around thirty years of his life into creating this landmark. Note that there are whales that come through the Monterey Bay year-round, it just depends on what kind of whale you’re hoping to see. If you have time to SUP over at Emerald Bay, it’s home to Lake Tahoe’s only island, Fannette Island, as well as Vikingsholm, an authentic replica of a Viking castle. Unique places to visit that not everyone knows about. Looking for unusual you will find it … Famous sights on the route include the Lone Cypress Tree, Bird Rock, and Del Monte Forest. When it’s sunny enough to wear shorts in San Diego, there’s nothing better than spending the whole day outside soaking in the rays. The two kings of the North Bay, Tomales Bay Oyster Company and Hog Island Oyster Company are the perfect size to host you and your friends for a chill outing of eating oysters and drinking cold beers. In fact, it’s my favorite spot on the whole California coast. The place was supposed to be self-sustaining Nazi stronghold with electricity generator, concrete walls, water tanks, and a big mansion making it the perfect place for Hitler and his military to plan a plot to take over the U.S. Of course, that didn’t work out after World War II ended quite differently than they expected and LA police raided the place, and shut down the complex. Santa Cruz is known as ‘Surf City’ for a reason (don’t listen to people from Huntington Beach who tell you otherwise), and the two most famous spots for surfing in the city have to be Steamer Lane and The Hook in Pleasure Point. This will allow you to check out the reefs, colorful fish, and shipwrecks that make Catalina so special. Must-sees are the El Prado, the Botanical Building, and the Old Globe Theatre (a replica of the Globe Theatre in London). There’s not much you can feel besides amazement the first time you see the California coastal redwoods. Otherwise, there are plenty of other attractions around the park, including Merced River, Yosemite Falls, Tuolumne Meadows, Tunnel View, and Glacier Point. San Francisco’s Chinatown is truly a sight to behold, with the gilded Dragon’s Gate and glowing red lanterns looming over you at its entrance. If you want a full list of recommended beer spots in California (including my San Diego recommendations), check out my post on the 30 Best California Breweries. This area is surrounded by trailheads, so you have your pick of activities, land or water. If you’re looking for some new experiences to add to your SoCal bucket list, these 11 places are not only thrilling, but they’re also FREE. There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from, but I recommend Escondido Falls for the waterfall or Sycamore Canyon for the ocean views. Although there are a lot of stereotypes about California (and Californians), you really can’t put the people or the landscape in a box – it’s much too varied. Located three hours south east of L.A. Salvation Mountain is truly one of the most remarkable, unique, and fascinating landmarks of Southern California. You can check the Guinness Book of World Record as it is recognized for having the largest collection dedicated to a single fruit. Pro-tip if you want to visit this historical landmark: buy tickets early! If you’re not much into surfing, it’s worth it to spend an hour at either of these spots watching the talented surfers below. Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile road in Northern California is one of the best stretches of highway in all of California, rivaling Big Sur in terms of beauty and eco-diversity. From the north to the south, these are the must-have experiences and best things to do in California no matter what time of year you’re visiting. Planning a trip to San Diego soon? As Mexico’s northern neighbor, California has picked up a thing or two from the culinary king next door, although be forewarned that California Mexican is a completely different experience from what you’ll find down south. If you’re looking for fun places to go in California for those desert pool party vibes, this is the place. But let’s get right to the point: people come here to experience the wine. 22 miles of easy riding along Southern California’s gorgeous coastline awaits you on one of the best paved bicycle trails in the country. Bonus points if you’re a photographer — Joshua Tree is a great opportunity to shoot some beautiful star trail photos! Grab your Alcatraz tickets here + a San Francisco City Tour. One of the most visited American tourist destinations and among the coolest things to do in San Francisco is Alcatraz, which was once a fort, a military prison and a maximum-security federal penitentiary. Mimi founded The Atlas Heart to create a community of travelers inspired to see the world. The pops of green, brown, and yellow colors will blow you away as you wind around the curvy State Route 254 in search of your favorite grove. You might think it’s a dream to see your favorite actors in the flesh, but I assure you, it can be a reality. One of my favorite places to travel in California is Joshua Tree. Besides Urban Light and Levitated Mass (be prepared to feel very, very small), LACMA is home to some incredible exhibits such as Miracle Mile by Robert Irwin. Not only are the caverns recognized for their incredible speleothem (stalactite and stalagmite formations), but for the care in conservation and the surrounding environment. Address: 2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, United States. Plus, there is plenty more to keep you busy … Napa Valley has over 450 vineyards in 14 different appellations (regions), with a wide range of offerings. Related: Best Joshua Tree Hotels and Campgrounds. Sarah Winchester added spirit-warding touches such as decoy bathrooms, the number 13, and spider-web motifs throughout the manor. Well we do not have an answer to that. You’ll also find some random ducks that will walk past you, don’t step on their poop. So how is it a zoo you may ask? Grab your skip-the-line tickets for the San Diego Zoo here and for the Safari Park here. The Albany Bulb showcases that the idea of “trash” is simply just a mindset. Rent a bike and ride over to the Venice Canals for a taste of Italy, California-style. San Diego has had one of the best microbrewery scenes in California for years. And at the end of the day have dinner at one of the local restaurants. Badwater Basin is a special kind of scenic that allows you to experience the beauty of extreme and otherworldly landscapes. Otherwise, I usually recommend at least 2-3 days to properly road trip the PCH and take in all its beauty and attractions off the side of the highway. Kayte Deioma. Non-residents have to pay a $10.25 toll to drive the road but it’s worth it for the beautiful route and stunning views. If you’re looking for unique things to do in Southern California – Salvation Mountain is it. Cap off your day of shopping at the 3rd Street Promenade and biking along the beach by watching the sunset from Santa Monica Pier. Maybe you're a contrarian vacationer who'd rather see things others miss. I set out on a road trip voyage to discover the unique places to visit in California. Add a beautiful outdoor amphitheater, a professional orchestra, an original score, live narration, intricate sets, sophisticated lighting, expert staff, and hundreds of dedicated volunteers, and you have a unique and unforgettable experience. Whether you excitedly jog from ride to ride or slow down to stroll through the neon lights of Cars Land or Pixar Pier at night, you’ll want your day to last forever (especially if you know how to use the FastPass correctly). These canals were created back in 1905 to resemble the appearance of the canals in Venice. Located in Death Valley National Park, Badwater Basin is the lowest point in North America, with a depth of 282 feet below sea level. Each of the Inn’s 110 rooms is uniquely decorated and themed, and the property, built in 1958, has a whole lot of character. And you really can’t go wrong with any of the hiking trails in Yosemite (just make sure to bring a GPS device if you plan to go hiking in the backcountry). Not only can you visit the De Young Museum and admire the nearby botanical gardens, but you can also check out the Buffalo Paddock and see American bison grazing on the wild grasses! It can be defined as anything but normal. The food & drinks scene at the park was revamped recently, so you can also treat yourself to lobster rolls, bratwursts, and nachos. Tripsavvy's Editorial Guidelines. The deep cerulean blue of the lake combined with the pine tree-rimmed shoreline and a backdrop of snow-capped mountains sets Lake Tahoe apart as one of the most unique destinations in the world. The Pageant is one of California's best kept secrets and a Laguna Beach tradition since 1932. Since this spot is BYO other than the oysters, make sure to bring a couple of six-packs, wine bottles, some hot sauce, lemons, and any other accompaniments you enjoy pairing with these bivalves. If you’re camping, I recommend staying at Pfeiffer Big Sur Campground for affordable campsites and cabins and adding in some time for hiking around this beautiful area of California. There is SO much more to discover here than just famous people, sunshine, Hollywood, and Disneyland. While you can explore the Midway and the other exhibits (including flight simulators and the Battle of Midway Theater) on your own with the self-guided audio tour. Well it used to be, but now it’s just abandoned. Inside the ornate building, you’re free to walk the historic rooms, which have been restored to period-era decor to highlight the trends and politics of the time. Upon entering a 300-foot man-made tunnel into the mountainside, you will find yourself immersed in a subterranean wonderland, sure to impress even the most skeptical visitors. If you’re tired of visiting the over-pretentious art galleries, we’d suggest you to visit this place for some true Bohemian art. California local, Constance from The Adventures of Panda Bear, shares some fun things to do in Northern California.. California is well-known throughout the United States as one of the most diverse ecosystems. So where did all this Danish inspiration come from? Tamalpais. A few local favorite breweries include Stone, Ballast Point, Mission, and Green Flash. Just make sure to book your campsite well in advance if you plan on staying overnight on the island. There are so many unique coffee roasters up and down California but for me one of the nicest has to be Verve in Santa Cruz. Natural Bridges is also a great point to look out for shorebirds, migrating whales off the coast, and seals and otters. 55 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles (California) ... And, naturally, the Main Street parades are a big part of the fun, especially for smaller visitors. I like to find hidden gems that few people know about; to find the unique and quirky places and people. The Castle (really, more of a mansion) is a National Historic Landmark and was lived in and owned by the newspaper tycoon, William Randolph Hearst, from 1919 to 1947. Regardless of whether the SF Giants are having a great season or not, it’s always a great idea to catch a game and nosh on those delicious garlic fries at Oracle Park. I created The Atlas Heart with the intention of not only seeing the world, but understanding and writing about cultures from the perspectives of locals – what I call ‘seeing the world through a kaleidoscope lens’. In-N-Out is ubiquitous on road trips up and down the state and in almost every major California city. Since it closed as a prison, it has become a national landmark and home to history exhibits and art installations by world-famous artists such as Ai Weiwei. Whether you drive the entirety of the area along the Pacific Coast Highway or stop in just for a hint of the beauty, Big Sur is where you come to see it all: bluffs, sea, and sky. When you think of the City of Angels, you think of palm trees, movie stars, and the Hollywood Sign beaming from the Santa Monica Mountains. California is just filled with so many random and weird abandoned places. Although we won’t be doing a big Thanksgiving ce, Just finished up a month of living in Tahoe, recon, #ad One of my favorite outdoor date activities in, My face when I’m daydreaming about Al Pastor bur, It’s hard to believe that I was walking through, Walk or Cycle Across the Golden Gate Bridge, Stop at In-N-Out Burger on a California Road Trip, Discover the Hydrothermal Sites at Lassen Volcanic National Park, Soak in the Eastern Sierra Natural Hot Springs, Explore the State Capitol Building in Sacramento, Hike to the Lighthouse at Point Reyes National Seashore, Grab a Bowl of Clam Chowder at Boudin Bakery, Get Spooked at the Winchester Mystery House, Take in the View from Land’s End Labyrinth, Catch a Giant’s Game & Eat Garlic Fries at Oracle Park (Formerly AT&T Park), Visit California’s Most Famous Prison on Alcatraz Island, Explore the Largest Chinatown Outside of Asia, Say Hello to the Bison at Golden Gate Park, Camp on Angel Island & Watch the Fog Roll in Over San Francisco, Visit the Most Famous Ghost Town in California at Bodie State Historic Park, Hike to the Unusual Devil’s Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes, See the Thousands of Elephant Seals at Año Nuevo State Park, Step Inside a Redwood Tree at Henry Cowell State Park, Surf the Waves at Steamer Lane or Pleasure Point, Ride the Giant Dipper at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Witness Thousands of Monarch Butterflies a Natural Bridges, Visit One of the Best Aquariums in the World at the Monterey Bay, See General Sherman at Sequoia National Park, Explore the Pismo Beach Sand Dunes on an ATV, Visit the Lowest Point in North America at Badwater Basin, Take in the View from Griffith Observatory, Go to a Live Taping of Your Favorite TV Show in LA, Watch the Skateboarders at Venice Beach Boardwalk, Go Hiking in Malibu then Spend the Day on the Beach, Visit Hogwarts at Universal Studios Hollywood, Get Religiously Psychedelic at Salvation Mountain, Eat the Best Apple Pie in California in Julian, Witness the Beauty of the Desert at Anza-Borrego State Park, Walk through the Colorful Flower Fields in Carlsbad, Get Wild at the San Diego Zoo & Safari Park, Tour a Decommissioned Aircraft Carrier at the USS Midway Museum, Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe (During Any Season), The Best Things to do in San Francisco at Night, Ride a Steam Train through the Santa Cruz Redwoods, My Favorite Hike in San Diego – Torrey Pines, 8 Best Handheld GPS Devices for Hiking (2020 Buying Guide), Best Heated Gloves for Cold Weather (2020 Buying Guide), 3 Outdoor Date Ideas in the Bay Area (To Enjoy During Quarantine). The best time to visit is in the fall during “crush” season when you have the unique opportunity to see a winery in action! feet of pure skate heaven with no shortage of skaters effortlessly pulling off ollies, grinds, and grabs. If you aren’t near an actual store location, get your fix of delicious frosting and cake from the Sprinkles ATM. A very ‘California thing’ to do is stepping inside (or driving through) a redwood tree. There is something ironic in how Southern California just pave over natural rivers and then create artificial canals well it’s all about that California love, right? Recommended Experience: Hollywood Behind the Scenes Walking Tour. If you’re up for the challenge (and you plan in advance in terms of booking permits) you can tackle the Half Dome hike. LA is without doubt a stylish city and, as expected, the shopping options are excellent. Angel Island is the second-largest island in the San Francisco Bay Area and offers 360 panoramic views of San Francisco, the Marin Headlands, and Mt. Starting at California’s northern border and stretching down to San Diego, the Pacific Coast Highway takes over 10 hours to complete without stops. Although it may be the sunshine state, sometimes bad luck strikes. You can actually see the sunken city from the cliff (Please don’t fall). Or maybe you're looking for a particular place to see or thing to do in California. This windswept point in Central California is not only a scenic spot to while away an afternoon, but also home to a large elephant seal colony that breeds here for a few weeks every winter. Cacti and crystal swimming pools. However, the first phase of restoration is estimated to be completed around March 2019. Posing with a sidewalk star along the Hollywood Walk of Fame is practically a rite of passage for a California vacation – and it’s also one of LA’s most beloved free attractions! 1. Balboa Park is not just any ordinary park. There are a lot of really cool things to do in the San Francisco Bay area really and lots of historic sites. Note: The lighthouse is currently undergoing restoration so the immediate area around the lighthouse is not accessible. It’s actually the oldest surviving amusement park in California and one of the few oceanside amusement parks on the West Coast. Most of the creations you’ll see here are created by him; however, as East Jesus gained popularity, many artists from around the country come here to add their works to the collection. Here’s the quick list and more description with pictures below. The only way to see the elephant seals during the mating season is through a 2.5 guided tour. Insider tip: look up the secret menu on Google before ordering so you can make the most out of the simple menu on offer and enjoy burgers and fries the way locals do. The cool thing is that the cages are left open so you can get in, explore and see how it feels to be stuck in cage. Success! Once inside, you can indulge in some street art or just enjoy a great view of the ocean. Hearst Castle is one of the more quirky places you can visit on a California road trip. If sailing, isn’t your thing, simply spending a day or two exploring Catalina Island is well worth it. We have listed the top 50 things to do across the Golden State including Southern California, the Central and Northern California Coast, the high Sierra’s and the Southern California desert area’s. The San Diego Zoo is easily one of the top things to do in California. Tomales Bay Oyster Company provides grills and ice on top of your oysters, depending on if you like your shellfish raw or cooked. There is a place in San Pedro, California called The Sunken City. Related: Best Things to do in Lake Tahoe (During Any Season). Visiting wine country in Napa Valley is one of the most popular things to do in California. Whether it is a hike, a restaurant, or just a collection of odd things, this list is dedicated to the unique stuff I have found in Southern California (from Kern County down). The equivalent of New York’s Central Park (but much bigger), Golden Gate Park is a hotspot for outdoor and cultural activities. No beer lover’s visit to California is complete without a tour of one (or more) of the famous San Diego breweries. California Outdoor Activities . Otherwise, this is a great group tour to go on if you don’t want to drive yourself. From one of California’s most diverse and delicious food scenes to a romantic hotel with a vineyard attached, here are some of the most fun things to do in Southern California. We have reviews of the best places to see in San Diego. Point Reyes National Seashore boasts some of the most gorgeous coastal views in the Bay Area, which isn’t something I say lightly. You only have to walk half a mile before reaching the formations. So what are you waiting for? You can see my article on places to visit in Northern California here. The world’s most famous sidewalk boasts 2,500 stars (and counting). If you’re a foodie, it’s worth it to go on this food tour to really capture the essence of this beloved San Francisco neighborhood. Although it used to be an immigration station that screened Asian immigrants before they could set foot on the American coast, the Chinese-American community successfully lobbied for the island to be recognized as a National Historic Landmark. With such diverse terrain, it’s not surprising that this region offers practically an endless number of things to do. The Giant Dipper is the park’s star attraction. Really, you can’t not eat Mexican food in California! This place has been the bedrock of the Chinese-American community since the days of the Gold Rush, so it makes sense that its alleys and buildings are rife with history. Many years ago a landslide caused all the houses on the cliff to fall into the ocean. The earlier you book, the better because spots fill up fast. However, in recent years (most likely due to climate change) they’ve left by January. 10 Unusual and Cool Things to do in California By Niraj Kakade on Jan 29, 2019 * Disclosure : This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a commission if you click a link and book something (there is never any extra cost to you for using these links). 50 Most Unusual Places To Stay In The World | Part 2, 9 Most Unusual Cocktails Around The World, 50 Most Unusual Places To Stay In The World | Part 3, 50 Most Unusual Places To Stay In The World | Part 4, 50 Most Unusual Places To Stay In The World | Part 5. What do they mean? This Insta-worthy art installation is one of the hallmarks of the Los Angeles Contemporary Museum of Art (LACMA). You might ask why they are there. Book your tickets online for the top things to do in California, United States on Tripadvisor: See 1,091,462 traveler reviews and photos of California tourist attractions. Sounds like a great location for a Peta campaign, right? 25 Fun Things to do in Southern California! The Murphy Ranch aka the Nazi compound or locally known to as the Nazi House. Joshua Tree is just far away enough from any major cities to avoid light pollution, which makes it ideal for gazing at the cosmos at night. Try out the Impossible burgers on the menu! You can access the Labyrinth by parking at the Land’s End parking lot and walking east on the Coastal Trail towards Mile Rock Beach. Visit top-rated & must-see attractions. The Buffalo Paddock is near the Anglers Lodge in the park just off of John F. Kennedy Drive. Also – if you’re looking for a full guide to road tripping California, I wrote a whole book on it. The project flooded this land and created an 8,360 square miles big lake. California Nature & Parks . If you’re looking for a good tour to take you around to the different wineries so you don’t have to drive, I’d recommend this one. It was started by a man named Charles Russell who used the trash that people dump in the desert land and turned them into beautiful art work. They are located on private property, and accessible by a ten-minute boat ride and shuttle before the mouth of the cave. While most people visit national parks to be surrounded by forest, people go to Joshua Tree National Park to be surrounded by stunning rock formations and the stars. California is a state where you can shake hands with Mickey Mouse and touch an Orca whale in the same day. If you want to explore California by road trip, you’re doing it the right way. While you’re there, don’t miss the salt flats that are 5 miles long and Badwater Pool, which has such a high concentration of salt that nothing can live there. Related: 101 Things to do in Santa Cruz (From a Local). You can find current rates and availability at the hotel here. Hit up Land’s End in San Francisco for an up-close look at the waves and the iconic Labyrinth. Sculptures of Anza Borrego 6. Southern California includes the southernmost ten counties, including famous places like Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Santa Barbara, and Ventura.Southern California is famous for its beaches, wineries, breweries and year-round pleasant climate which makes it a great place to visit. One of the most magical things to see in California is walking through the eucalyptus trees that are filled with thousands of Monarch Butterflies at Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz. This Victorian mansion is the result of decades of architectural oddities, no master building plan, and the whimsical tastes of heiress Sarah Winchester. You can find more information about touring the capitol building here. This infamous lake was accidentally created in early 1900’s (it was a strange time for California). On my list of breathtaking sights and best southern California attractions, walking through fifty acres of dazzling blooms in Carlsbad definitely ranks near the top. Solvang is known for its Danish-inspired architecture (complete with windmills) and wineries, as well as Danish bakeries and the ridiculous amount of Danish flags within city limits. Salvation Mountain 2. You’ll find many paintings which may include many explicit and pornographic images of animals and weird figures of people. Or, if you don’t want to do the hard work, Hog Island has a waitstaff on hand to serve you your oysters just the way you like them. Regardless of which trail you decide to take, each route will treat you to breathtaking views of chaparral, wildflowers, and the L.A. skyline. California is the third-largest state in the nation and will take you through a variety of temperatures and environments. From that point, you can choose to make your way further to Rainbow Falls or the John Muir Trail! It’s the part that most people drive if they don’t have a ton of time and just want to see the highlights. The newer Disneyland California Adventure opened in 2001 and channels the excitement and adventure of the Golden State. There is something truly iconic about this hipster man-mad wonder. However, what make this pace truly unique from all the others are these free standing metal animal sculptures that exist everywhere in the region, total of 129 of them. Sipping these world-famous wines is a fun choice for day trips, bachelorette parties, and couples’ getaways alike. Luckily Southern California has many things to do whatever the weather. It also serves as a playground for kids who have fun crawling and hopping in and out of the cages. The city has never forgotten its roots nor its love for all things Danish since then. You can visit this place just to take that quirky instagram picture. Ever since its humble beginnings during the Gold Rush, Julian has made apple pie making into an art with its many apple trees. Recommended Experience: Ride a Steam Train through the Santa Cruz Redwoods. It’s like a hipster way of recycling. However, if you can fit in both parks over a couple of days, do it! There are three hiking trails that take you up to the famous sign. If you are looking for a particular one, there’s an online tool available called “Star Searcher”. The sculptures, furniture, and decor around the mansion come from all over the world, and there are rare priceless pieces of art that you can see in various rooms. Unusual things to do in Southern California. If you automatically start drooling at the thought of eating some delicious shellfish, oyster-shucking at Tomales Bay is a must-do just north of San Francisco.