California receives the highest number of visitors in the entire USA. It is no doubt that Los Angeles and San Francisco are very popular cities in the Western hemisphere. I know that you are also planning your trip to California, and that is why you want to know if there are any unique places you should not miss out on your trip.

While most travelers dwell so much in the cities and places around, you can decide to explore California in its depths and expense. Nothing hinders you from discovering some of the most hidden treasures that your eyes need to see. Therefore, as you are planning your next trip, remove your focus from the cities and be free to see some of the most amazing sceneries you never thought would exist in the state.

These twelve are the top wonderful places you would want to visit in California. Note that they are not listed in any organized order. You can pick your destination according to your taste, proximity to other places you are touring, and the level of adventure you want to experience.

1. Pismo Beach

Previously known as Alta California, the beach is located on the Central California Coast. It was first visited by Europeans in 1769. Don Gaspar de Portola, a Spanish soldier, and his mates, had toured and camped the area where a village of about 40 Indians settled.

Around the area, there was a form of tar that the Indians identified as “Pismu”, which they gathered from a canyon. The place later adopted the name, and it became Pismo Beach that it is known today. There is a history to behold about the region when you tour it.

The Pismo Beach Pier is a pedestrian bridge that allows people to do some activities like photography, strolling, and fishing. The beach sand is a long stretch that gives you better access to the ocean and lets your imaginations wander in amazement as you enjoy the breezes. The Monarch Butterfly Grove and Dinosaur Caves Park are some of the best things to see in Pismo Beach.

You can go surfing or skimboarding on the beach. However, the waters in the region are a bit cold, and you would need your swimsuit on. You will find restaurants and hotels with dines and take-aways. Some cafes also offer delivery services, and you do not need to leave your place to enjoy a hearty meal.

2. San Luis Obispo

If you are like me, you will opt for a less busy city and more affordable activities and lifestyle. San Luis Obispo is located somewhere about midway in Los Angeles to San Francisco. The town is much smaller than the two iconic cities of California. Due to its less traffic, outdoor activities and recreational services are plenty, and they never overpopulate.

The botanical garden in El Chorro Regional Park is a free activity you can make use of. You can even volunteer to work there as you spend time in the city. There are numerous other activities you will find pleasing like rock climbing and hiking. When you realize that you cannot get enough, you can set camp and spend your nights there, gaze at the skies at night.

If you are looking up to entertainment, you will love the Central Coast Theater for interesting shows. Love it loud? Go to an open mic event. Better still, you can drive to the beach and have a stunning time around the ocean away from the city noise.

3. Gualala

Gualala is a place to be for all people who love sea and river activities. The town is located in Mendocino County, North of The Sea Ranch. Whether you are planning a weekend trip or a holiday off, Gualala has a lot to offer, probably more than you would need for your trip.

Kayaking and canoeing are some of the best activities to try in Gualala. It is the best way to tour the waters and have a spectacular view of the escarpments and maybe come across some sea life. Remember to carry your canoe on your car’s roof racks, together with your paddling gear, and head down to Gualala River for an exceptional paddling experience.

Are you looking for something artistic? Gualala hosts tons of artwork, including sculpture, painting, dance, photography, jewelry, and even pottery. You can as well go hiking in the dunes or play golf. The options are numerous, and you can choose a sport or activity according to your taste.

4. Arcata

ArcataArcata is one of the rare places you can come across in the entire world. The iconic feature Arcata is the redwood forest, the collection of the world’s tallest trees. If you have ever thought about a tall tree, I am sure you have not come across one. The redwood grows more than 100 meters high. Try imagining how many times you can fit on the tree arranged vertically.

The town is located in Humboldt County, and the redwood trees are part of the expansive Redwood National and State Parks. The parks offer so much more than hiking in and seeing the tallest trees in the world. With more than 40 miles of rugged coastlines, riverways, and so much to see and experience, you will so much want to be there.

Apart from hiking in the woods, you can as well go canoeing or camping in the park. I am sure that photography in the Fern Canyon will be a great idea, everybody loves photos, especially when taken at picturesque spots. Are you looking for a new experience? I am sure that the park holds something unique for every visitor. Remember to come with your pet.

5. Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is one of the most-visited places in California, especially because of its spectacular Yosemite waterfalls. Located on the Sierra Nevada Mountains, the waterfalls form as a result of melting ice. The best time to visit is during the warm months of May and June.

Yosemite waterfall is the fifth-largest waterfall in the world. It measures 2,425 feet from its top to the bottom where it hits the ground. Once the snow finishes melting, the waterfall ceases, and you have to wait for Winter when the snow will form, and then when it starts to melt for the water to come down.

For more fun, visit the Yosemite Valley, which formed as a result of glacial activity, and is 7.5 miles long. Pines are the main vegetation of the valley, and it is as much as 3,500 feet deep. If that does not thrill you enough, you can head to the eastern end and climb the Half Dome – a rock that stands above the valley at 4,737 feet. The dome-shaped rock is ideal for spectacular photography and hiking.

6. Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National ParkWhat can you get from nothingness? A lot! That is what the Joshua Tree National Park can prove for all California visitors. The park is a wilderness of two distinct deserts. The area is meant to protect the only tree species – the Joshua tree, which grows throughout the desert area. However, you will not only see the sparsely covered ground.

Visitors of Joshua Tree National Park can engage in so many activities. Hiking is a wonderful way to experience the fullness of nothingness. You can also go rock climbing on the Skull Rock. However, the fascinating adventure in the place is camping. With little vegetation cover, you know that there is little obstruction from the sky and the horizon. Experience the life of gazing at stars from your tent at night as you plan to explore the area in the day.

7. Tulelake

Located in Northeastern Siskiyou County, the city was named after the nearby Tule Lake. The most amazing experience in Tulelake is to visit the 25 tube caves. These caves formed from lava, and you can climb in the tubes to see their outline and amazing looks. The visitor center will help you understand everything you will want to know about the caves and their formation.

You can as well visit the Fairgrounds Museum of Local History to learn about the history of the city through the exhibits. The museum opens every weekday from 9.30 am to 4.30 pm. It is a place you should add to your to-do, especially if you have juniors who want to learn and have fun while touring the city.

8. Fort Bragg

Fort Bragg was previously known as Company Town. However, that was back then. Presently, the place is known for its cool getaway destination for people who need a serene environment for their weekend or holiday off. It is a three-hour drive north of San Francisco.

The glass beach stands out as the most spectacular thing to see. When shattered glasses, liquor bottles, and taillights, among other glass material, were thrown into the ocean, they re-emerged and spread on the shore. The shore sand mixed up with and buried some of the glass materials, changing the appearance of the beach sand, making it glowy in the sun.

9. San Simeon

Hearst Castle is no doubt the most popular destination in San Simeon. It is both a national and state historic landmark. The story of the landmark goes back to 1865. The castle pools, Hearst airport, and the zoo are some of the places you would be interested in Hearst Castle.

However, you may want more than the ordinary, and somewhere quiet to spend your vacation. Beyond the ordinary, you can explore thousands of acres of vineyards. You will also come across many restaurants to taste the best foods in the area like seafood and the local California cuisine.

10. Monterey Beach

Well, it is not exactly Monterey Beach. But in the County of Monterey, there are numerous beaches which cover a large area. The various beaches vary in both size and formation. If you love beach activities, then you should try out a few spots in Monterey.

Because of their variations, beaches in Monterey are best for many activities, including kayaking and surfing. You can also find a spot for diving or throw a picnic for your family. It will be hard to ignore the Monterey Fisherman’s Wharf, where you can watch whales and get involved in various ocean activities. You can as well decide to sit on a bench and watch marine life or hike the Monterey Bay Coastal Recreation Trail.

11. Emerald Bay

Emerald BayAbout four hours North East of San Francisco lies Lake Tahoe. On this lake, there is a small island called Emerald Bay. The island is an amazing place to visit for its beauty, and ideal for photography enthusiasts. Due to its nature, the island has been set aside as a National Natural Landmark.

With two campgrounds on the island, you will not have to worry about where to spend a night while enjoying the beauty of nature in the core of California. Set up your camping tent and rest for the night as you prepare to trek on the foot trail that surrounds the island. You can as well decide to watch the blue waters of Lake Tahoe to finish your holiday peacefully.

12. Napa Valley

When thinking about scenic places to visit, you will want to get an idea of the expected landscape. The formation of physical features makes places unique and attractive. The Napa Valley is the best place to visit to experience the true definition of landscape in California.

Many people associate Napa Valley with its winery, and wine tasting is one of the activities that people get involved in. However, there are so many activities that you can enjoy besides wine. Start by riding a hot air balloon above the vineyards. You can also find decent restaurants to taste some of the best foods around. Wine destinations also offer the best food experience. In the evenings, you can camp at one of the grounds and warm yourself with an open fire.

Summing Up

California is a US state that is well-known around the world. People not only hear about it, but most visitors entering the US have something to try in California before leaving. That is why the state receives the highest number of international visitors in the whole country. These twelve places are an opening of the many hidden gems you should discover the next time you plan to visit the state. Research the activities you love so that you can pick the best options to make a combo and finish your holiday in style.

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