California is home to much more than meets the eye. From gorgeous nature getaways to enticing novelty shops, the Golden State hides hundreds of gems all across its land just waiting to be discovered. Here are some of our favorites over at the Daily Cal! You will not be disappointed.
Nestled among the beaches of Point Reyes National Seashore, Alamere Falls is truly a sight to behold. Virtually unknown until a few years ago and only recently increasing in popularity, Alamere Falls cascades down onto the beach and flows into the ocean. The hike is quite long, however, at about 8.4 miles, but the view is definitely worth it. Hikers young and old can be seen walking the trail all the way down, though some parts are steep and require much care when climbing up or down.
Loleta Cheese Factory
If you love quality cheese, this is the place to visit. Located in Loleta in Humboldt County, the factory is well-known locally for its artisan cheese of many unique flavors, such as herb and spice havarti, roasted garlic jack and habanero white cheddar.
Eureka is Victorian house heaven. Home to hundreds of historical, waterfront Victorian-style buildings, Eureka radiates charm inside and out. Be sure to visit the famous Carson Mansion, — the “most grand Victorian home in America” — and stick around for some of the annual events, like the Fourth of July, when you can enjoy super-patriotic waterfront fireworks!
Yet another beach waterfall, McWay Falls is located in Big Sur, Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park. Unfortunately, McWay Falls is not easily accessible by hiking, but there is an overlook with a great view. This waterfall is daintier than Alamere Falls and slightly shielded from the ocean in a cove. Flowing down a cliff and into bright blue water, the scenery looks like part of a picture taken of a lush paradise.
Lava Beds National Monument
Lava Beds National Monument is a gem tucked away in Northern California near the Oregon border. Consisting of hundreds of evacuated lava tubes twisting underground, this monument will leave you in awe. The introductory lava tube is the Mushpot Cave, which is lighted and has informational signs describing how the tubes are formed. Other tubes, which require a flashlight (provided at the visitor center) include the Merrill Cave. The cave has a bed of ice at the end of the tube. Additionally, the Indian Well Cave, a more difficult cave to traverse, is pitch-black, has no rails or trails, and is absolutely breathtaking when you stand in front of it and stare into its black abyss.
Palm Springs Indian Canyons
Palm Springs is more known for Mt. San Jacinto and the nearby Joshua Tree National Park, but the place to look out for is the Indian Canyons hiking region. An oasis teeming with palm trees and with plenty of creeks and streams, Indian Canyons resembles a jungle. Make sure you bring bug spray!
Castle Rock State Park
Castle Rock State Park in the Santa Cruz Mountains is the place to be for rock-climbers. A whole national park dedicated just to various types of rocks, you’ll never be short of things to climb and to crane your neck upward at. Not as popular as other state parks, Castle Rock is relatively undisturbed and left in its natural state, with minor wear from hikers climbing on the rocks. Castle Rock is also where you can find the unique “Swiss cheese” rocks, which have holes that resemble the cheese very closely.
Marianne’s Ice Cream
Established in 1947 in Santa Cruz, the original Marianne’s Ice Cream has been deemed a local landmark. Serving more than 70 flavors, though slightly popular in the Bay Area, Marianne’s will cater to all your eccentric palates and wildest dreams, offering German chocolate, root beer swirl and cardamom pistachio.
Although this seems like a quaint, family bakery, Andersen Bakery has 10 locations all over California that offer freshly made artisan bread made with the finest ingredients. Various desserts range from savory Pisano bread, filled with three cheeses and a tangy tomato sauce, to sweet cream cheese walnut pastries. Andersen Bakery also provides sandwiches, custom-made cakes and clam chowder.
Ghirardelli in San Francisco
The Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop is a fairly popular destination spot. It deserves a mention for its rich, chocolatey desserts including its Midnight Reverie — a dark chocolate lover’s dream ice cream combination — and the black cherry vanilla fudge sundae. One of its most popular ice cream treats is the classic hot fudge sundae. The premium chocolate fudge topping on the hot fudge sundae is the only reason you need to hop on over to Ghirardelli Square to try out the rest of these delectable desserts.
The next time you make a visit to Pier 39 in San Francisco, make sure to stop by Candy Baron, a sweet-treat shop, filled with barrels and barrels of candy. When you first walk into the store, you’re surrounded by candy of all sorts, from saltwater taffy to Harry Potter’s Chocolate Frogs. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for novelty treats, old-fashioned classics or fancy European chocolate, Candy Baron’s the place to visit for all your candy needs.
If you are a normal, sane human being who loves chocolate, you must visit Chocolate Heaven, also located in Fisherman’s Wharf. This cute shop located inside Pier 39 and offers — as its name suggests — quality chocolate of all kind.
There’s always something fun to do at Pismo Beach, including picnicking, hiking or hopping on a four-wheel ATV and cruising through miles of majestic sand dunes. As well as being a popular site for movie settings, Pismo Beach also offers music festivals, hiking, tours, and a sightseeing flight on a World War II biplane. It’s perfect for a fun, relaxing weekend getaway.
Whether you’re in the mood for a relaxing nature hike or a venture into a historic scene, California does not let you down. So while you’re looking for something fun to do this summer, visit one of these hidden gems and discover your new favorite vacation spot!