Sometimes you need a diversion away from the tried and true day trips to amusement parks, beaches and the like. Here are some fun “alternative” day trips to take if you are in Northern California.
Malakoff Diggins State Historic Park (North Bloomfield, CA). Malakoff Diggins is a park like no other. Located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills, it’s the home to California’s largest hydraulic gold mine. Here, you can walk back into history and experience the historic gold rush of the mid-19th century. Instead of panning for gold, miners here set up huge water hydraulics that literally washed away the mountains just to find gold. What’s left are large cliffs that define the area.
Mystery Spot (Santa Cruz, CA). Discovered in 1939 by a group of surveyors, the Mystery Spot in Santa Cruz is a gravitational anomaly where your perceptions of gravity and physics will be questioned. Here, balls roll uphill and chairs sit on walls. It’s one of a dozen or so places in the US where the optical illusions make visitors do a double-take. No one knows for sure what causes it, but speculations run the gamut from UFOs and aliens to a magma vortex or a hole in the ozone layer. Whatever the cause, this is certainly worth the trip.
Old Faithful Geyser of California. While not as big (or well-known) as Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park, this geyser in Calistoga shoots steam about 75 feet into the air every 30 minutes. It’s also a great predictor of area earthquakes – when the eruptions are delayed or diminished, chances are good that there will be an earthquake within 500 miles in the next few weeks. While there, don’t forget to visit some of the local wineries.
Safari West African Wildlife Tours. If you’ve ever wanted to go on safari in Africa, the Safari West African Wildlife Tours in Santa Rosa, CA may be the next best thing. This former sheep ranch has zebras, cheetahs, giraffe, and more. The 3-hour tour led by an experienced guide takes you through the 400-acre preserve. Afterwards, you can see some animals up closer. If you are adventurous and want more than a day trip, you can stay overnight at the preserve in an authentic safari tent! Advanced reservations for the tour are required, so make sure you plan ahead.
Point Reyes National Seashore. A visit to Point Reyes National Seashore is jam-packed with things to do. Take a drive along the Cypress Tree Tunnel. Visit the historical Pointe Reyes Lighthouse. From the lighthouse, walk down the road to the Sea Lion Overlook and catch a glimpse of sea lions sunning on the shore. If you’re ambitious, hike to Alamere Falls where the water falls over cliffs to the beaches below. And don’t forget to take a drive down the Cypress Tree Tunnel!
Bumpass Hell and Sulphur Works. If you’ve ever wanted to explore the wonders and mysteries of volcanoes, this is the place. Located in Lassen Volcanic National Park, the Bumpass Hell and Sulphur Works areas are teaming with boiling springs and mud pots, hissing steam vents and roaring fumaroles. These are all an indication of the volcanic activity below Lassen Peak which last erupted in 1914 and is currently dormant.
Need help planning your day trip in Northern California? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re happy to help you plan a great day!
Southern California is just bursting with things to see and do beyond the usual theme park attractions. The options are endless – from a day at the beach to exploring the mountains or desert. Here are our top picks for a day out:
Catalina Island. Located about 22 miles off the coast of Southern California, Santa Catalina Island is a wonder to explore. Take the Catalina Express from Long Beach, Dana Point or San Pedro and enjoy the 1-hour ride to this island paradise. There you can explore the town of Avalon. Take a glass-bottomed boat tour of the harbor where you can see dolphins, seals, sea lions and, of course, the fish. Or get your feet wet by exploring in a kayak or paddleboat. You can take a walking tour of the Catalina Casino – an art-deco building built during the Great Depression that housed a theater, ballroom and more. And don’t miss the Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden – built by William Wrigley Jr. , the head of the Wrigley chewing gum empire - with 38-acres of California island endemic plants.
Ojai. If you’re looking for a laid-back trip to the countryside, then Ojai is a great escape. Don’t miss the Ojai Olive Oil Company, a family-owned business that produces 3 different types of olive oil from 2,000 trees. Visit the tasting room where you can sample the oils and balsamic vinegars they have for sale. The town is brimming with shops to explore, wineries and more. If you are up for a hike or bike ride, The Los Padres National Forest is right around the corner.
Temecula. For the wine-tasting afficionados, Temecula is Southern California’s answer to Sonoma or Napa Valley. There are more than 30 wineries in the area, which you can explore on your own or take a guided tour from one of the local wine touring companies. Don’t miss the opportunity to take a hot air balloon ride over the wineries either – it’s a spectacular view you won’t want to miss.
Solvang. Solvang is a step back in time to Old World Denmark. Here, you’ll find windmills, quaint shops and even a replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower. Taste some Danish specialties, explore the Christmas shops and breweries. On the outskirts of town you’ll find Quicksilver Ranch with adorable mini horses and OstrichLand to see, pet and feed the ostriches and emus.
Mission San Juan Capistrano. California is dotted with missions founded by the Franciscan order of Catholic priests. The mission at San Juan Capistrano, founded by Father Junipero Serra, is probably one of the prettiest of all the missions. Known for celebrating the swallows migration in February, it’s a wonderful glimpse of life during that time. Take a stroll through town and explore the Los Rios Historic District of historic homes and museums.
Palm Springs. Palm Springs is known for it’s hot springs, luxury resorts, famous residents and great golf courses. Take a ride on the Aerial Tramway up to the San Jacinto Mountains. Explore the nearby Cabazon outlets. Or just relax by the pool, get a massage and enjoy your day.
Julian. The heart of the San Diego gold rush in 1870, Julian is a charming historic town and popular mountain getaway. Shop downtown in historic buildings, explore the hiking trails, or enjoy the self-guided History Walk. And don’t forget to sample their famous apple pie!
Venice of America Canals. What started out as a whimsical experiment, tobacco millionaire Abbot Kenney set out to create his own version of Venice in America – a seaside luxury resort that mirrored its counterpart in Venice, Italy. The network of canals lined with flowerbeds, crossed by charming bridges, and dotted with colorful gondolas fell into disrepair, but after 40 years of neglect, the canals have been renovated and it is now a fun (and funky) place to visit.
Looking for other day trip ideas in Southern California? Give Luxury Destinations Concierge a call at (805) 236-4437. We’re happy to help you plan a great day!
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