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10 Places To Visit In California Before The End of Summer
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10 Places To Visit In California Before The End of Summer

Now is the time to embark on a journey of exploration, creating new memories, and thinking outside the box.

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6 min read

August 02, 2021

You’ve been to all the unique beaches, you’ve seen all the weird spots, you’ve driven past all the quirky roadside attractions; you’ve basically checked off everything on your summertime bucket list. But there’s still something missing—it’s like, you’ve been everywhere, but something’s not right. You can’t help but think: “Is there something I’m forgetting?” 

To answer this question, yes, you probably are. Now is the time to embark on a journey of exploration, creating new memories, and thinking outside the box. From cool boardwalks and haunted spots in L.A. to free places in NorCal and just straight-up awesome must-visit locales, it’s time to compile one last bucket list of places to visit in California to end this summer with a bang. 

Unique Places To Visit In Southern California

Approximately 200,000 sailors served aboard the USS Midway, known for several naval aviation breakthroughs as well as several humanitarian missions.

1. USS Midway Museum

Location: 910 North Harbor Drive, San Diego

History enthusiasts, this is one of the places you want to visit in San Diego. Along the shores of San Diego Bay, the USS Midway Museum floats proudly at Navy Pier. Here, you’ll get an insider look at the longest-serving American aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Visitors explore the 29 restored aircraft at the museum, some of which have flown in World War II and the Korean War.

During the tour, you'll see the crew's sleeping quarters, ship's jail, engine, and flight control room. Take the self-guided audio tour of the San Diego museum or let the volunteers tell you all the ins and outs of this naval aircraft. Enjoy, sailor!

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Bart's Books is such an iconic bookstore that it has been featured in documentaries, television news programs, newspapers, and Hollywood movies.

2. Bart’s Books

Location: 302 West Matilija Street, Ojai

The valley town of Ojai is home to a gem that not many people acknowledge its value—Bart’s Books, the world’s largest outdoor bookstore. Established in 1964 by Richard Bartindale, this bookstore now has over 130,000 books on its shelves—you’re going to want to see this place in California

Today, Bart’s Books is divided into three parts—the sidewalk, outdoor patio, and house interior. The “honor system” is applied on the sidewalk, meaning you can take whatever you like and leave any sum of money in the coffee cans. Want to enjoy the smell of new books? You know where to go. 

3. Franceschi Park

Location: 1510 Franceschi Road, Santa Barbara

In the heart of the American Riviera is another magnificent place to visit in Southern California. The 15-acre Franceschi Park is named after renowned Italian horticulturist Francesco Franceschi, who owned a 40-acre parcel of land in the area. Franceschi created a garden with plants imported from all around the world—soon, it became a botanical garden and nursery. 

Nowadays, Franceschi Park serves as a place to wander, ponder, and spend time in the great outdoors. Here, you can simply relax and observe the beauty of Santa Barbara and the ocean below—a much-needed peace of mind after a busy summer.

Built in 1978, Whale House is an artful expression of a vision that blends design and nature's beauty. Photo courtesy of Paradise Retreats.

4. Whale House

Location: 999 Adante Road, Santa Barbara

Whale House in Santa Barbara is a hidden gem and one of those unique places to visit in California. This nature-inspired fantasy villa was designed by architect Michael Carmichael and took three years to complete. Its large, gray, and shingled exterior replicates—you guessed it—a whale. There are no flat walls or straight lines in the house.

Curious to know how Pinocchio felt? The Whale House is available for rent, so hurry up and book now.

Breathtaking Places To Visit In Northern California

5. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs

Location: Mammoth Lakes, Mono County

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And when nature gives you a spa, you take a dip. Out of all the hot springs in California, Wild Willy’s in Mammoth Lakes is one of the must-visit places in Northern California. Around 750,000 years ago, a massive volcano erupted in the area, resulting in many of the regions’ natural landmarks we now enjoy. Wild Willy’s Hot Springs, along with the Sierra Nevada, were a byproduct of the eruption.

Today, visitors can find two pools in the area that are around 50 feet apart. The mineral springs are generally 97 degrees, but the smaller pool can heat up to 107. We don’t know about you, but we’re totally down to (re)treat ourselves

While Bodie is down a dusty, bumpy, slow, 13-mile long road off State Highway 395, it’s amazing how many people are aware of this once glorious town.

6. Bodie State Historic Park

Location: California State Route 270, Bridgeport

During the California Gold Rush, Bodie was a thriving mining town with a population of almost 10,000. The town attracted fortune hunters from all over the state. However, by the late 1800s, Bodie’s fame started fading away until it was completely abandoned. Now, it’s merely a ghost town in California that people visit every now and then. Almost 200 structures remain standing, and many of their interiors are in their original state. To step back in time, make sure to visit this town and enjoy its once functioning cars, machinery, barbershops, and houses.

7. Church of 8 Wheels 

Location: 554 Fillmore Street, San Francisco

If you’ve been looking for an abandoned church-turned-roller skating rink, look no further than the holier-than-thou Church of 8 Wheels. What was once the Sacred Heart Catholic Church is now one of the coolest rinks in San Francisco—you know what to do the next time you’re in Fog City. As one of the coolest places to visit in California, this spot is one you just can’t miss. Glide across the wooden floors, under disco balls, and led lights; the stained-glass windows depicting Jesus and Mother Mary will probably be impressed with your moves.

As if roller skating wasn’t fun enough, a DJ will make sure your spirits remain high as you skate to the beats of disco, funk, and pop music. Make sure to get there early—it gets packed.

The mainstream media's coverage of hippie life in the Haight-Ashbury drew the attention of youth from all over the United States.

8. Haight-Ashbury 

Location: Haight-Ashbury District, San Francisco

Welcome to one of San Francisco’s most expensive neighborhoods that just so happens to be its most striking. Known as a prominent area of the hippie and counterculture of the 60s, Haight-Ashbury is lined with impressive Victorian-style structures painted in bright colors. While the neighborhood has undergone many changes since the Summer of Love, it still preserves much of its persona.

You need a full itinerary as to how to spend your day in the neighborhood—check out these ideas. Check out the stores along Haight Street for some awesome wall art, tapestry, and books. And don’t forget to visit Hippie Hill on the east end of Golden Gate Park.

The oldest public Japanese garden in the United States, this complex features plants and trees pruned and arranged in a Japanese style.

9. Japanese Tea Garden

Location: 75 Hagiwara Tea Garden Drive, San Francisco

Prepare to be enchanted by the beauty of cherry blossoms and well-groomed trees—another unique place to go in California is the Japanese Tea Garden in Golden gate Park. Here, you’ll find the oldest public Japanese tea house in the entire nation. 

The garden was created as part of the California Midwinter International Exposition of 1894. While parts of the garden are demolished now, structures like the Drum Bridge continue to stand proud. If you’re still wondering about places to travel in California, this garden tops every must-visit list.

10. Confusion Hill

Location: 75001 Highway 101, Piercy 

As the name suggests, visiting Confusion Hill will leave you puzzled. Located in the forests of Mendocino County, this amusement park opened in 1949 and has been causing trouble ever since. Among the illusions to experience include standing on a wall and throwing a ball out the window and watching it return to you—just like a boomerang. The Gravity House is designed to give the impression that people need to stand upright when they already are. As for people who go loco for locomotives, don’t forget to go on a ride amidst the woods. Now that’s one of the best places to visit in California!

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