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There are a lot of exotic places in California that are picturesque and worth a visit. It has the world’s most exquisite and diverse landscapes. Many people have their ideal California experience, but narrowing down what makes this state so unique is hard.
You will find breathtaking natural beauty in this place. But if you want more than just scenic beauty, there are plenty of interesting cultural experiences to discover.
Whether you like hiking through redwood forests or enjoying ice cream at an artisanal gelato shop, California has something for everyone! Read on for our top picks for unique and exotic places in California:
Exotic Places in California
Check out these exotic places in California that are mentioned below. Some must-visit places in California are listed in this article. These exotic places in California will amaze you!
1. Yosemite National Park
This national park, located in the mountains of Sierra Nevada in California, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park is known for its granite cliffs, waterfalls, clear streams, meadows, forests, and backcountry trails.
Yosemite was founded as a national park in 1890 as the result of an agreement between President Benjamin Harrison and his Mexican counterpart Porfirio Diaz to protect Yosemite Valley from development pressures by private land speculators led by John Muir, who had been leading conservation efforts since 1875 when he assisted with the creation of Sequoia National Park (now Kings Canyon).
2. Sequoia National Park
Sequoia National Park is a national park in the southern Sierra Nevada east of Visalia and south of the Fresno metropolitan area in California. There are groves of giant sequoia trees here that are protected. These trees are the largest living single-stem trees in the world.
The park was established on October 1, 1890, as the second U.S. National Park to preserve ancient redwood forests and their associated plant and animal life.
The area had been used for timber extraction by miners since 1852 when gold was discovered nearby; this process continued until 1878, when Congress passed an act prohibiting it from further use except for scientific research purposes only.
3. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is a United States national park in southern California. This park is named after the Joshua trees. It is located in the Colorado Desert, in southeastern San Bernardino County, approximately 130 miles east of Los Angeles.
The relatively arid climate has allowed Joshua Tree National Park to retain many natural habitats, including desert scrub, woodland, and riparian communities, preserved by their isolation from human development.
The park contains Death Valley National Park and Mojave National Preserve, forming an area known as the Mojave Desert or Great Basin Desert Region (GBDR).
Deep valleys characterize these areas carved out by rivers flowing through narrow canyons called washes, extensive stands of giant Sequoia trees, and high-elevation peaks such as Wheeler Peak.
4. Humboldt Redwoods State Park
Humboldt Redwoods State Park is one of the exotic places in California that you must visit. Humboldt Redwoods State Park is home to some of the world’s tallest trees, and it takes about an hour to hike through all of them.
The redwood trees are ancient and incredibly splendid. Some of them are said to be very old, over 1,000 years old. Some trees were cut down to make way for development, so now we have fewer than what we started with.
The forest is well preserved as human interference in this forest is minimal. Visitors to this park can experience hiking among these old giants. If you enjoy the outdoors and nature trails, this will be one of California’s most exotic places to visit.
Humboldt Redwoods State Park offers visitors different activities for enjoyment. The forest is well preserved as human interference in this forest is minimal. Picnic areas and campsites allow visitors to stay overnight or spend a few days relaxing in nature.
5. Big Sur
It is a region of California (Central Coast). At this place, the Santa Lucia Mountains rise from the Pacific Ocean. The area is extremely rugged and scenic, with deep canyons, massive redwood trees, and sweeping ocean views.
Big Sur stretches from Carmel-by-the-Sea to San Simeon along the Pacific Coast Highway. It’s best known for its many hiking trails offering spectacular views over Monterey Bay and into Canada.
You will also find numerous state parks—including Henry Coe State Park, which has one of only two fishing piers in California!
The Big Sur River also flows through this region, home to some historical sites, such as Fort Ross State Historic Park, where Russian fur traders settled in 1812.
6. Lassen Volcanic National Park
This national park is in California. It contains the largest volcano in the Cascade Range, Lassen Peak, last erupted between 1914 and 1917. The park has dozens of other volcanoes, such as Mount Shasta and Mount Tehachapi.
7. Big Basin Redwoods State Park
This State Park is in the Santa Cruz Mountains, (north of San Jose). It is one of the most popular parks and exotic places in California. It has various ecosystems, including coastal Douglas fir forest, riparian woodland, grassland communities, and chaparral shrublands.
The park also has six miles of hiking trails that offer access to an impressive variety of wildlife, including black bears (although rarely seen), American mule deer, gray foxes, and even red-tailed hawks if you’re lucky enough to spot them!
8. Channel Islands National Park
Another national park in California is the Channel Islands National Park. It has five islands: Anacapa Island, Santa Cruz Island, Santa Rosa Island, San Miguel Island, and Santa Barbara Island. They are stunning and can be listed as exotic places in California.
The Channel Islands archipelago comprises about 1/3 of the California Coast Ranges land area and lies between San Diego County on the mainland and Ventura County to its south.
The United States federal government manages the islands as part of mainland California’s Channel Islands National Park. However, they have been administered separately from other parts of this national park since 1937.
They are considered part of their unique ecosystem and environment that differs from that found elsewhere in North America (including Hawaii).
9. Mount Shasta and Castle Crags State Park
Mount Shasta is a popular mountain. It is located in the Cascade Range, close to Mount Shasta. It is best known for its snow-covered peak, seen from a distance when approaching the area from Siskiyou County, California.
Native Americans used these mountains as a burial site & sacred place for a long time. Today, visitors enjoy hiking trails through forests full of ancient redwoods that were once giants themselves thousands of years ago.
The park offers camping spots along with backpacking trails that lead through some stunning natural beauty around this area:
- Mount Shasta itself—a hike up onto its slopes provides amazing views over nearby towns, including Mount Shasta City.
- Castle Crags State Park is a scenic drive-through forested area with jagged peaks rising above them.
- Ash Mountain Recreation Area—this campground offers amenities like shower facilities, etc., and beautiful scenery like waterfalls flowing into streams below rocky ledges along paths winding uphill towards higher elevations where temperatures drop rapidly during winter, making it colder than usual.
10. South Fork Kings River
This River is a tributary of the Kings River in Kings Canyon National Park, California. It arises from snowmelt on Mount Goddard and Mount Dade, which lie in central California’s southern Sierra Nevada range. The river flows east through canyons to join with its parent river at Lee Vining Canyon.
The river has been designated as a Wild and Scenic River by Congress since 1968, making it one of only four such rivers in California—the others include Upper Kern River (1977), Middle Fork Feather River (1985), and North Fork Smith River (1992).
11. Valley of the Giants
The Valley of the Giants is a very popular and one of the most exotic places in California, and for a good reason. It’s about 50 miles north of Sacramento, with a large visitor center and many exhibits about giant sequoia trees. These trees have a long life, can live for 2,000 years and more, and are said to grow up to 30 feet!
Wildflowers bloom in spring and fall, making them the best seasons to visit this national park. In addition to viewing some beautiful scenery and enjoying nature walks through the park itself (which has trails all around), plenty of activities are available, like horseback riding or hiking along nearby mountain trails—all without leaving town!
If you are looking for something else in this area, consider checking out Yosemite National Park across Highway 120; it is only an hour away by car but offers terrain similar to VOT, and being closer sounds appealing. Then, give them both a try!
12. Death Valley National Park
Another magnificent national park in California is Death Valley National Park. It is located on the southern fringe of the Mojave Desert and encompasses around 1 million acres (4,000 km2). The park protects many large valley bottoms, including badlands, dunes, and cliffs. The variety of heights in this desert environment may be witnessed daily by driving or biking through its coves and valleys!
13. Kelso Dunes
Kelso Dunes are said to be the largest dunes in the Mojave National Preserve. The dunes are made of sand and rock, some as high as 300 feet. The area covered by these dunes is about 40 square miles, making it one of California’s most impressive natural wonders.
14. Mount Whitney
The Mount Whitney Trail begins on the east side and ends at its summit. The highest point in the lower 48 states, at 14,505 feet above sea level, Mount Whitney is reached by foot or by car.
To get there from Lone Pine Canyon, you’ll have to pass through one of two entrance gates: one for hikers and another for bikers only—both require a permit; otherwise, you will not be allowed to enter their respective areas (the trailhead is part way up Lone Pine Canyon).
Once you reach the top, there are various ways to explore it: hiking around its perimeter will take about three hours; taking photos may take longer because they need time on film if they turn out well!
15. Bodie State Historic Park
Bodie is a ghost town located in Mono County, California. It was once a thriving gold mining community with an estimated population of 9,000 during its peak in the mid-19th century.
Bodie State Historic Park preserves the historic buildings and landscapes left behind by this former boomtown, one of America’s most famous ghost towns. Historic Park is one of the most exotic places in California you can visit while traveling there.
The park offers tours of historic buildings such as saloons and hotels and guided hikes through some very remote parts of the landscape where you can still find evidence from Bodie’s past life.
Special events are held throughout the year, including concerts at Miners Union Hall, built around 1900; also check out their annual Old Time Christmas Celebration!
16. Lake Tahoe
South Lake Tahoe is located in California, Nevada, and Oregon. Lake Tahoe is famous for being the second deepest lake in North America. The lake is a popular tourist destination where you can enjoy boating and fishing in its calm waters.
The location of Lake Tahoe makes it ideal for skiing or snowboarding during winter months when other areas may be too cold to enjoy such activities (or they might not want to). It would be excellent if you visited Lake Tahoe, one of California’s most exotic places.
18. Muir Woods National Monument
This redwood forest is near Mill Valley in the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, California. The Muir Woods National Monument was named after conservationist John Muir, who founded the Sierra Club.
The trees are part of an ancient stand that dates back over 2,000 years. Visitors can walk through this beautiful landscape or take one of several hikes ranging from easy to difficult trails that will take you past magnificent sights and ponds with waterfalls cascading down them into pools below where many animals live, including deer who often come out at nighttime looking for food so keep an eye out! Sound amazing, right? Muir Woods National Monument is one of the exotic places in California that you must visit.
19. Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve
Antelope Valley is a great place in California to see wildflowers. The flowers bloom from April through July, making it the best month to visit, with some exceptions during winter when they may only be seen during springtime—the Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve in southern California.
The park includes over 1,000 acres of land where you can enjoy walking trails, viewing areas for wildlife watching, or photography opportunities!
20. Devil’s Postpile National Monument
The Devil’s Postpile rocks contain striations caused by flowing water over time and weathering processes. That is the reason for so many colors on the rocks! This place has multiple hiking trails and different activities for its visitors.
21. San Francisco Bay Area
The San Francisco Bay Area is in California and consists of seven counties: Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, and Santa Clara. The Population in this region is more than eight million people. You can find everything from hipster cafes to high-end boutiques in the San Francisco Bay Area.
The area is home to world-renowned universities, including Stanford University, UC Berkeley, and many technology companies. The Bay Area is quite a popular choice among residents when owning or renting houses. It’s close to the mountains and ocean and has many great parks and beaches.
The San Francisco Bay Area is home to some of the most important technology companies in the world. The cost of living is also pretty high here.
22. Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park is a geologically diverse park in central California. The park contains two types of giant sequoia trees at Pinnacles—the Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia—coastline during an ancient sea.
This Pinnacles National Park is rich in flora & fauna. It is a home to different plants and animals. Some examples include:
- Living fossils: Pinnacles contain dozens of rare species that have not changed since they first appeared in their current form millions of years ago (or even more). For example, two giant sequoia trees at Pinnacles—the Coast Redwood and Giant Sequoia—grow to over 300 feet tall! Other examples include redwood trees up to 100 feet high with trunks up to 12 inches thick; giant cottonwoods; mountain mahogany trees; manzanita bushes with feathery leaves that turn bright red during fall color season; wildflowers like Indian paintbrush or bear grasses (which look like daisies but grow from underground roots). You can see these amazing sights from various hiking trails throughout the park’s 265 acres.
23. Crystal Cove State Park
Crystal Cove State Park is one of the most exotic places in California to visit. This place not only offers natural beauty but remarkable history as well.
It is known as one of the most beautiful beaches in California, with a secluded cove protected from the ocean by a sandstone cliff for thousands of years.
Before we finish, here are honorable mentions worth visiting: Golden Gate Bridge, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Emerald Bay, Pfeiffer Beach, hiking trails of both northern California and snow-capped mountains, and its famous national natural landmark of San Diego.
Last Updated on November 27, 2023 by Sathi Chakraborty