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11 Unique Experiences to Have in California

11 Unique Experiences to Have in California

Whatever romance or an adrenaline rush meant to you prior to experiencing it in California, it definitely isn’t the same—trust us.

Roubina Al Abashian


6 min read

September 23, 2021

Is it the salty ocean breeze, the lush green forests, or the starry desert night sky? Whatever the reason, experiences in California hit different than anywhere else. Whatever romance or an adrenaline rush meant to you prior to experiencing it in California, it definitely isn’t the same—trust us on this one. Are you looking for new experiences to rock your world? Search no further because our list of unique adventures to be had in the Golden State will leave you craving more.

The Golden State’s Top Unique Experiences

Bumpass Hell is a hydrothermal area with a trail past mud pots, fumaroles, and boiling springs, as well as spectacular mountain views.

1. Check the Geothermal Pools at Bumpass Hell

Location: Mineral

The geothermal pools at Bumpass Hell are one of the hottest things happening at Lassen Volcanic National Park—pun intended. Considered one of the most stunning national park hikes in the Golden State, the Bumpass Hell Trail leads its visitors to magnificent views of the live volcanic area. On your 2.7-mile hike, you will pass a dozen geothermal and mud pools, some as fiery as 322 degrees. Make sure to visit the trail and check out the hot pools for a hell of a travel experience.

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2. Zipline through the Tahoe National Forest

Location: Tahoe City

Always dreamed of viewing California’s best national forests aerially? Daydream no longer; experience this in real-time at the Tahoe Treetop Adventure Parks. Over 60 ziplines, ladders, and bridges are secured to take you on an extraordinary extreme adventure the thrill seeker inside you craves to experience. Let the views of the gorgeous Tahoe National Forest and Lake Tahoe take your breath away as you enjoy this unique travel experience.

3. Dine Like an Aristocrat Aboard the Napa Valley Wine Train

Location: Napa

For a dining experience like no other, head to Napa Valley and board the iconic wine train. While onboard, you’ll spend approximately three hours touring Napa Valley; prepare for the luxurious foodie adventure of a lifetime. Rated one of the best things to do in Napa, a Napa Valley Wine Train ride makes for a brilliant first date idea in Northern California. If you’re into extra excitement, opt for the Murder Mystery Experience to solve a few crimes and make Agatha Christie proud.

4. Watch Creatures Cross your Path at Safari West 

Location: Santa Rosa

Zoos are amazing, but can be too inhibiting for wildlife enthusiasts. If this resonates with you, then it's about time you head to Safari West, to experience a wilder side of California. Santa Rosa’s Safari West is a spectacular wildlife park, where man meets animal in their natural habitat. There’s no order or guide to lead you from one animal to the next. Rather, you’ll see whichever animal you happen to bump into while on your journey. The next time you’re wondering where to take your kids, head to Safari West and greet cheetahs, buffalos, and bongos—it’ll be such a success, you may just spend the night here as well (what’s the rush to your ordinary human dwelling, anyways?).

5. Catch a Flick and Dine at Foreign Cinema 

Location: San Francisco

If you’re looking to cozy up to your beaux alfresco, under warm heat lamps and romantic amber lights, San Francisco’s fan-favorite restaurant Foreign Cinema is where you should head next. You won’t just be having the best dining experience, you’ll even be able to catch a critically acclaimed movie too—many of which are foreign films; it’s the ultimate cultural experience. Whether you’re looking to impress your date on a night out or just looking for the best brunch spot in Fog City, Foreign Cinema is your new go-to.

Since its construction in 1886, the Winchester Mystery House was claimed by many to be haunted by the ghosts of those killed with Winchester rifles.

6. Hang Out With the Ghosts of Winchester Mystery House

Location: San Jose

We all love a good haunted house story—even those of us who won’t admit it. Luckily, California never runs out of haunted places for visitors to explore. Winchester Mystery House is definitely one of the creepiest. Based in San Jose, the mega mansion was designed by Sarah Winchester—widow of firearm tycoon William Wirt Winchester. Construction of this mansion went on nonstop for 38 years, until Sarah’s passing. With doors that open into walls and inside balconies, Sarah was trying to contain and confuse her haunting, daunting ghosts; those who died by a Winchester firearm haunted Sarah till her death. Curious much? Visit the mansion; you may connect with a ghoul, you never know.

7. Get Lost at Forestiere Underground Gardens 

Location: Fresno

Picture this: it’s Fresno, 1901. Sicilian immigrant Baldassare Forestiere unknowingly purchased 70 acres of unusable land, above ground that is. Since he couldn’t build anything above ground, Forestiere began digging deep, creating underground, heat defiant gardens, rooms, and tunnels. Today, Forestiere’s brilliant creation has become one of Central Valley's top family attractions. If you’re looking for something exciting to do in Fresno, head to the Forestiere Underground Gardens, and enjoy the imaginative handiwork of this extraordinary man.

There's something about Death Valley’s landscape. At first glance, it’s beige and bleak. But upon closer look, the beauty begins to reveal itself.

8. Watch Death Valley Come to Life at Racetrack Playa

Location: Death Valley

Despite its name, Death Valley has a thriving ecosystem—you just may not realize it at first glance. A part of the ecosystem, perhaps overlooked and underappreciated (totally the underdog) are the rocks that adorn the desert landscape. At Racetrack Playa, rocks come to life and move on their own accord. Well, almost, as science would say otherwise. Some of those rocks weigh hundreds of pounds and sometimes travel up to 1,500 feet on the surface of the scenic dry lake, leaving a trail behind. Scientifically speaking, the movement of the rocks is mainly caused by erosional forces and is a rare phenomenon worth seeing. To actually see the rocks in action, head to Death Valley National Park during the winter months and enjoy this spectacular California natural attraction

9. Live Your L.O.T.R. Fantasy At The Secluded Hobbit House

Location: Ramona

If you’re someone who’d rather gift an experience instead of something tangible, first of all, you’re awesome, and second, we’ve got you covered. Now, luxurious hotels are lined up all across the Golden State, but you’re looking for a unique experience, so it’s time to find an incredible California Airbnb. Lord of the Rings fans call the Secluded Hobbit House a mini wonderland, and we couldn’t agree more. Inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s iconic creations, the house will have you and your beloved enchanted. With no electricity and no Wi-Fi, your latest Airbnb adventure will bring you two closer than ever. 

A day at Hotel Coronado starts with a morning surf and ends with catching a flick at the dive-in theater.

10. Enjoy the Dive-In Theater at Hotel Del Coronado 

Location: Coronado

Iconic hotels have iconic dive-in theaters—well, at least in Coronado they do. As one of the top California dive-in theaters, guests can enjoy the best classic movies on the shore of the iconic Hotel Del Coronado. Cuddle up under the starry Coronado night sky, roast marshmallows around a private bonfire, and enjoy the best cinema has to offer. Set the date, ‘cause the destination is Coronado. 

11. Discover Jaws in San Diego

Location: San Diego

Haunted by the classic film Jaws? If not, you’ll be delighted to discover that you can up close and personal with sharks in San Diego. Considering that the California coast has the highest concentration of sharks worldwide, it’s time humanity befriended this intimidating creature. Now that we got your adrenaline pumping, head straight to California Shark Diving for the ultimate cage dive or freedive experience with sharks. Professional photographers, don’t forget to snap your shot, we’d love to have a look.

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