From the Big Bear Lake to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park , explore these six destinations in California during your next visit and make the most of your trip
These remote and surprising spots fly under the radar for even the most well-versed California travellers. From scenic byways to wine country destinations to historic honky-tonks, these locations make great trips for those who like to explore a little off the beaten path.
Lake Almanor and Lassen Volcanic National Park
Tucked away in California’s northeast Shasta Cascade region are many secret finds, especially for outdoors lovers. Lake Almanor offers classic lake bliss: water sports, family-friendly activities and a tranquil ambience. It also neighbours one of California’s coolest (and most surprising) spots: Lassen Volcanic National Park with its bubbling mud pots and steaming vents.
Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands
Head north to discover the beauty of Point Arena-Stornetta Public Lands, containing 1,700 acres filled with dramatic seascapes. View the rugged coastline from the top of Point Arena’s 115-foot historic lighthouse – the tallest of its kind on the Pacific Coast. Depending on the time of year, you’ll catch glimpses of humpback, blue or gray whales as they migrate between Alaska and Mexico.
California has no shortage of amazing wine country destinations. But if you’re looking for a lesser-known locale for sipping, head to the quaint town of Murphys where more than two dozen boutique wineries are open year-round for wine-tasting. Plus, Gold Country has both deep history and impressive natural features like Calaveras Big Trees State Park and Moaning Cavern, the biggest cavern in the Golden State.
Sierra Vista Scenic Byway
If you are into granite domes, glaciated peaks and twisty scenic roads with barely any people around, drive this 100-mile stretch of road between Yosemite National Park and Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. You’ll immediately get a feel for what California looked like a century ago.
Big Bear Lake
You may have heard that in California, it’s feasible to surf and ski in one day. Big Bear Lake is a place that makes it possible. It sits at 6,700 feet in the San Bernardino Mountains. In the winter, one can go for snowboarding and skiing abound at Big Bear Mountain and Snow Summit. In the summer, it’s all about hiking, cycling and off-road jeep adventures on the 60-plus miles of cross-country trails. Paddle-boarding, kayaking, boating or fishing on the shimmering lake are the other great options.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
You haven’t seen a night sky until you’ve seen it in the remote Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Surrounded by mountains and with a local focus on eliminating light pollution, this is the first International Dark Sky Community in the Golden State, making it a prime spot for stargazing.