Discovering California‘s underrated treasures unveils a world beyond the usual. Embrace the tranquil allure of Shasta Lake, a haven of pristine waters surrounded by lush woodlands. Point Reyes, a coastal wonder, boasts dramatic cliffs and thriving wildlife, inviting exploration off the beaten path. Boonville’s quirky charm and the allure of Anderson Valley’s wineries create an offbeat experience.
Venture to the Lost Coast for a rugged escape, where untouched beaches and wild landscapes await. The enigmatic Mono Lake, adorned with surreal tufa formations, offers a unique geological marvel. By exploring these lesser-known destinations, you’ll find a deeper, more authentic connection with the diverse beauty and culture that make California truly exceptional.
Situated along the captivating California coast, Capitola is a hidden gem often overshadowed by its more famous neighbors. Despite its low-key reputation, this coastal village has a lot to offer. You can explore its charming streets filled with small shops and boutiques, grab a bite of delicious seafood, or simply relax on the pristine Capitola Beach.
Don’t miss the colorful wharf, where you can enjoy stunning sunsets and a relaxed atmosphere. Capitola’s unpretentious beauty and laid-back vibe provide a refreshing escape, showcasing a quieter side of California’s coastal scene.
Salvation Mountain is a captivating and unique artistic masterpiece located in the Southern California desert. This vibrant and colorful hillside creation is the brainchild of Leonard Knight, who dedicated over three decades of his life to crafting this awe-inspiring monument.
Covered in a mosaic of vivid paint, adobe clay, and recycled materials, Salvation Mountain radiates messages of love and spirituality. As you explore this one-of-a-kind attraction, you’ll be greeted by intricate artwork, intricate details, and a profound sense of devotion.
We bet you haven’t rented a houseboat recently, if ever. A houseboat might be the finest way to enjoy this vast reservoir. Try your hand at all the water sports, including swimming, waterskiing, fishing, jet skiing, and more.
Trinity Alps Wilderness, another great nature preserve in Northern California, amazes tourists with its granite peaks and mountain lakes. It’s a great choice for multi-day backpacking trips like the 18.6-mile Canyon Creek Lakes Trail, as well as day hikes like the Hidden Lake Trail or the Tangle Blue Lake Trail. This location is 200 miles from Sacramento or about 50 miles from Redding, which has a regional airport.
Point Reyes, despite its proximity to San Francisco (about an hour’s drive north), is fairly quiet, especially along the oceanfront hiking trails. Sample local cheeses at the Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company and look for wildflowers and native wildlife along the Tomales Point Trail, which winds nearly 10 miles around this unique, narrow peninsula and offers stunning, misty views of the Pacific Ocean.
The charming village of Hopland, located in the southeastern part of Mendocino County, is a fantastic base for amazing wine tastings. Check into the very beautiful Thatcher Hotel, an 1890 Victorian building that offers a bar, coffee shop and chic rooms. Then plan an itinerary that includes visits to Saracina or Alta Orsa wineries for wine tastings, a day at Vichy Springs Resort for a spa day, or time at Montgomery Woods State Natural Reserve to see redwoods.
Santa Lucia Range
This mountain range extends from below Monterey and Carmel to near San Luis Obispo, just inland from Big Sur, a not-so-hidden gem. The five-mile Big Falls Trail is located near the southernmost point of the range, but due to recent rains, trails are currently closed at Limekiln State Park and Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park.
Boonville in Mendocino County originally had its own language, called Boontling, which is now nearly extinct but still worth a visit for its breweries, cheese, art and antique stores. Spend some time at the 30-acre, family-friendly Anderson Valley Brewing Company, where you can relax on the lawn, play 18 holes of disc golf and sample beer.
The Lost Coast of California is a secluded area stretching about 75 miles from Shelter Cove to Mattole Beach and is a paradise for experienced hikers. It is accessible from San Francisco by car in about five hours. The Lost Coast’s terrain is too wild for anyone to bother taming it with asphalt. Therefore, adventurers hike overland along the coast, often taking three to four days to hike.
Mono Lake, an ancient salt lake on the eastern border of California, is in many ways another world. The only aquatic life in the area is brine shrimp, which attract a variety of migratory bird species along the Pacific Flyway. At Mono Lake, the distinctive limestone outcroppings known as tufa stand out both physically and figuratively.
In Santa Barbara County, California, there is a quaint little town called Solvang. Solvang’s Danish background and architecture set it apart from other small California towns. Although Solvang has a fascinating past and stunning surroundings, it often goes unnoticed by tourists, making it a hidden gem.
Just strolling around and admiring the architecture is one of the best things to do in Solvang. Danish-style buildings line the streets alongside windmills and cobblestone sidewalks. The buildings are home to bakeries, cafes and stores, many of which are still in business today. Traditional Danish pastries, unique stores and even a carriage ride are all available to you.