Travel Tips USA

Our Top 5 Secret Destinations in California

Written by Rachel Simpson

California is an enormous place full of secrets and hidden gems. Here are five of the very best often overlooked treasures of California:

Fort Bragg’s Glass Beach

You’ve probably seen pictures of this place before, but didn’t know where it is or why it exists. Until 1967, it was actually legal for people to dump their garbage into the ocean here. That trash included bottles, windowpanes, and even whole cars. Well, the cars have mostly rusted away, but all of that glass has remained. It’s been pounded and polished smooth by the waves crashing it, together with the rocks and sand over the years. Now, the beach is a glassy rainbow of colors, which visitors can see and even touch. Don’t take any of the glass home with you, though; leave it for others to enjoy.

Franceschi Park’s Hidden Staircases

Succulent, drought-tolerant plants have been fairly trendy in recent years, especially in California, but did you know that they were first introduced to the area by just one botanist, and that he has a whole park named after him? In the Santa Barbara Riviera there exists a four mile hiking trail that leads to Francesco Franceschi’s namesake 15-acre park. The trail and park are made up of secret stairways that zig-zag through gardens lined with the plants that he brought with him. They run alongside fountains and Indian trails nestled among beautiful homes on the hillsides.

Avila Beach’s Sea Cave

Many San Luis Obispo locals don’t even know about this place, even though it’s completely free to access. You just have to hike off the main road a bit, but once you’re there, you’ll be amazed at the views from within and atop the cave. The vistas over the Pacific ocean from this spot are incredible, and visitors have been known to fish from the cave’s platforms.

The Shipwreck at Coronado Shores

How about a treasure hunt? Rumor has it that there’s still over $150,000 of silver coins in the buried slot machines of this wrecked offshore casino. Used for gambling and prostitution back in the 1930’s, the S.S. Monte Carlo broke free of its anchor and drifted ashore in 1937, where nobody ever claimed it due to its illegal nature. It rotted away and sank into the sand, supposedly before anyone had a chance to secretly recover the silver. Its remains are still visible at low tide.

Badwater, Death Valley

Everything else on this list is close to shore, but not this place. This is the lowest geographic point in all of North America, and one of the hottest places in the world. It’s an almost alien landscape that is sometimes known as “hell on Earth.” The bottom of an ancient dry lakebed, the only water that ever flows into it just leaves behind an even thicker and stranger salty crust. It’s a great spot to visit with a really unique view.

Here’s a map to help you get your bearings:

Looking for more? Check out our blog posts on secret spots in NorCal and SoCal too! Do you know any secret spots? Share them in the comments!

And now that you know all our favourite secret spots, it’s time to start planning your next road trip to check them out. Maybe you’ll find a few of your own! Book a private RV with Mighway, and let the journey unfold.

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