UNITED STATES—California received 213.5 million visitors in 2021, with over $100 billion in total spending in their time here. Many of the tourists were drawn to the big attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, Hollywood, and Disneyland, but what are some of the underrated activities worth carrying out here?
Fort Bragg and the Glass Beach
Fort Bragg is about three hours from San Francisco and offers some spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. It’s also the starting point for the steam and diesel trains that run along the California Western Railroad. Commonly known as the Skunk Train, this historic route takes you through the forests, and you could even travel it using electric-assisted railbikes.
The glass beach at Fort Bragg is the other major attraction here. This was formed over decades, as the water smoothed out old appliances and other garbage that the residents had thrown out, forming smooth glass pebbles that make this beach unique and so appealing.
You can read more here about the best US museums and experiences in California and the rest of the country. Ideas include some of the sporting events that all American sports fans should attend, including the Rose Bowl that is held in Pasadena, as well as the Super Bowl, which moves around the country and was played in the SoFi Stadium, Inglewood in 2022.
Willow Creek China Flat Museum with Bigfoot Annex
Not as many tourists come across this small but interesting museum in Willow Creek as should do so. It’s located close to Bluff Creek, which is important because that means that it’s close to the place where the famous Patterson-Gimlin video supposedly showing Bigfoot was filmed. So it’s no surprise to find this museum has a Bigfoot Annex with a lot of fascinating items like casts of his footprint and media reports.
The rest of the museum covers a range of antique items with a gift shop also on the premises. However, it’s the chance to find out more about this mythical creature that is likely to entice visitors. There’s even a huge carving of Bigfoot outside, so finding the museum shouldn’t be too difficult once you get to Willow Creek.
The Hollywood Forever Cemetery
The idea of visiting a cemetery might not be high on your list of priorities when you visit California. Yet, the Hollywood Forever center is unlike any other burial place you’ll find anywhere. While it has a conventional cemetery space where Burt Reynolds, Judy Garland, and Rudolph Valentino are among the stars buried there, it also has a cultural event center.
This means that you can visit for events such as concerts and movie screenings. This is also the setting of the biggest Dia de Los Muertos event in all of the US. If you visit from May to September, you can look for the outdoor classic film screenings that are shown after sunset. It makes for a real change of pace from visiting Hollywood’s brighter attractions or making a visit to see the NBA champions in San Francisco.
The Mojave Lava Tube
The Mojave National Preserve is a richly historic space in Barstow, where you can eat, camp, and explore the wonderful terrain. The huge sand dunes and the hiking routes are chief among the attractions, with the Hole-in-the-Wall Trail one of the most interesting parts of the whole complex.
The Mojave lava tube is a hollow tube that was created about 27,000 years ago when lava flowed over this part of California. This has left an interesting type of cave that a stunning shaft of sunlight shines into. The National Park Service doesn’t maintain the tube, though, and you might find loose rocks here, so be careful.
The Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest
Located in Inyo County, this unique spot is where you can find some of the oldest trees anywhere on the planet. The bristlecone pines here are up to 4,000 years old, with many of them twisting naturally into beautiful forms over the centuries in which they’ve been slowly growing.
There’s a visitor center at Schulman Grove where you can find out more about the trees and the self-guided trails you can follow to see them. However, it’s only open in the summer months. The Patriarch Grove is where you want to head to if you plan on seeing the biggest of the bristlecone pines. Known as the Patriarch Tree, it helps to give this area an otherworldly feel that lives long in the memory.
These are just some of the great places in California that not every visitor gets to see but are worth the time and effort needed to explore them.