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Curious California: These Are The Weirdest Places in the Golden State

Curious California: These Are The Weirdest Places in the Golden State

California is known for being an innovation and business hub; it also has some of the weirdest places to visit.


5 min read

December 31, 2021

The Golden State is full of incredible sights, both natural and man-made, but not all of them are created equal—a few of them are delightfully strange. The weirdest places to visit in California might be lying in plain sight, concealing themselves as “just another museum,” defying the bounds of physics and gravity, or serpentining below the ground you walk on. The point is, they’re distinct and aplenty; so, whatever you do, don’t stop exploring.

The Strangest Places in Northern California

SF Weekly claimed that Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze is possibly the most psychedelic place one can legally reach within the city limits.

1. Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze in San Francisco

People stumble about San Francisco’s strangest place—the labyrinth—arms outstretched. And even so, they often find themselves smacking headfirst into their own reflection. Shrieking and giggling when they bump into someone else, they ask: “Are you even real?”

The Magowan Infinite Mirror Maze is contained in a nondescript building on San Francisco’s Pier 39. It’s a disorienting dungeon of columns and mirrors, lit by blacklight and flashing neon, and scored by EDM. Once you’ve managed to make it through, the purveyors will most likely recommend you try it again—this time backwards.

2. Devils Postpile National Monument in Mammoth Lakes

Fire and ice: these battling forces make for the weirdest tourist attractions. Devils Postpile consists of over 400 unusually symmetrical columns of basalt and towers six hundred feet high; all of this perched on the eastern side of the Sierras, just outside of Mammoth. The columns began forming roughly a hundred thousand years ago when a large flow of lava from the Upper Soda Springs area began to cool. And as the molten lava gradually cooled, vertical joins—which are huge cracks in the rocks due to expansion—formed the multi-sided columns.

3. Mescaline Grove in San Francisco

Mescaline Grove is a favorite haunt of dinosaur-loving children and adventure-seeking hippies alike. Just across the Conservatory of Flowers is a forest of enormous tree ferns enveloping the perennially damp and winding paths. These exotic tree ferns are one of the weirdest locations in the Bay Area, especially when you realize that most (if not all) of their wildlife is native to Australia and New Zealand. However, it turns out that these trees actually thrive in S.F.’s weather, making for an excellent afternoon for exploration.

Star Wars fans, rejoice! The Yoda Fountain is located just off of Letterman Drive in front of the Letterman Center's Building B.

4. Yoda Fountain in San Francisco

Sitting outside of the Letterman Digital Arts Center in San Francisco’s beloved Presidio is a statue of one of the wisest beings in the galaxy far, far away—and you can receive his blessing for nothing more than a little bit of pocket change. Jedi Master Yoda, known to generations new and old, is immortalized in bronze at over two feet tall. Visitors often follow the fountain ritual of throwing in coins to wish for good luck, although in the case of this weird tourist attraction, it’s most likely going to be a blessing from the force.

5. Court of Mysteries in Santa Cruz 

There are two reasons to build your house in the dead of night, especially when the only things you have illuminated are a small lantern and the moon. Reason number one: you’re an avid believer in Eastern mythology and Occult spiritualism. And reason number two: you’re a bricklayer without a permit working in Santa Cruz in the 1930s and you’d rather not deal with inspectors. When it comes to the Court of Mysteries, these reasons are not mutually exclusive. Built by Kenneth Kitchen—who also went by Claire, Clarke, and Clarence—this attraction in Santa Cruz is one you shouldn’t skip.

The Weirdest Tourist Attractions in Southern California 

Viewing massive metal sculptures in a bleak desert landscape is an experience you should totally add to your bucket list.

6. Desert Sculptures in the Anza Borrego Desert State Park

Driving along State Route 3, you might spy a horse as it rears off to the side of the road. Then, rising out of the flat desert landscape, an elephant appears. And then—gasp—a T-Rex bears its maw alarmingly close by, chasing a saber-tooth tiger. Do not doubt your vision, this is definitely not a mirage; it’s desert art. This weird location is the brainchild of artist and welder Ricardo Breceda, whose sculptures dot Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, located two hours east of San Diego.

7. Museum of Death in Los Angeles

The Museum of Death was originally founded in San Diego in 1995, but proprietors James Healy and Cathee Shultz moved it to its current location in La La Land in 2000. Soon enough, they started working on improving the exhibits. The duo expanded its collection and became the largest of its kind pertaining to serial murderer artwork. You’ll find photos of the Manson crime scenes, original photos from the Dahlia Murder, and other such relics of the violent, fatal, and macabre at this uber-weird place in the City of Angels.

More than 10 miles of service tunnels beneath the streets of L.A. became the conduits of smuggling and the passageways to basement speakeasies.

8. The Underground Tunnels of L.A.

While the rest of the country was forced to go dry in the 1900s, underneath Downtown Los Angeles, the party never stopped. Despite prohibition laws, 11 miles of service tunnels became passageways to basement speakeasies with innocuous fronts above ground. Patrons were able to crawl down under the city, live it up without a care in the world and without the law enforcement expecting a thing. 

9. The Sailing Stones of Racetrack Playa in Death Valley

There’s something magical about the sailing stones of The Racetrack Playa in Death Valley, a weird-named location within its own right. Scattered about the desert are large rocks with mysterious trails left behind them. These rocks have rolled and zig-zagged across the ground, sometimes for as long as 860 feet in distance. As a result, these trails last for years before fading, making it almost impossible to predict when the stones will move or how fast they will move.

Linda Vista Community Hospital has become the subject of several paranormal investigations in the area.

10. Linda Vista Hospital in Los Angeles

Opened in 1909 by the Santa Fe Railroad to serve its employees, the Moorish-style medical facility was a welcome sight in the then-sprawling Boyle Heights. With time, it was rebuilt as a Mission Revival-style, top-notch institute called Linda Vista. The hospital basked in the reputation of “the best care unit in the area” for many decades—however, this certainly didn’t last forever. As the railroad industry, the medical industry, and the very neighborhood itself changed with time, Linda Vista failed to keep up. Now old, dusty, cobwebbed, and still full of the odds and ends of medical equipment and office trappings, this weird location serves an entirely different purpose; a horror film set.

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