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Hidden Gems in the Golden State: 4 Under-the-Radar California Adventures

California has plenty of established and world-famous landmarks. Those are fun to visit, but sometimes an off-the-beaten-path vacation can create memories you just can’t get at Disneyland. If you prefer something a bit less traveled, check out some of these little-known adventures.

Death Valley National Park
Image: flickr.com/photos/davaodude

Death Valley National Park

Don’t worry about being fried to a crisp in Death Valley. The perception of this desert is quite often skewed, and there are many parts of Death Valley that are actually pleasant to humans. If you love ghost towns, then there are quite a few to choose from in the valley. Visit the ruins of Pantamint City, which used to be known as the “toughest, rawest, most hard-boiled little hellhole that ever passed for a civilized town”. While not much is left of the town, the little that still remains echoes the town’s reputation. Bad Water Basin is also fascinating. It’s the lowest place in all of North America and the water that has long since disappeared has left behind intriguing traces of salt.

Little Naples, Long Beach

If you prefer a more languid adventure, consider this little-known area of Long Beach. This sleepy little town sits on three islands in Alamitos Bay. The canals that divide the islands give it a decidedly Italian feel while the large fountain in the center of town seals the deal on its Italian influences. Take a gondola tour through the canals or play in the bay on a stand-up paddle board. Enjoy authentic gourmet pizza at Russo’s before you watch the sun dip below the water from Overlook Park.

Cayucos, CA

Perhaps one of the sweetest little beach towns in California, it has escaped the tacky invasion of mass-produced souvenirs and the smog of the valley. The main street still retains its 19th century charm while the pier constructed in the 1800s still stands today. Head into Duckie’s Chowder House for some mouthwatering seafood or have a romantic dinner at the Historic Cass Inn and Restaurant. Fish off the historic pier or purchase freshly caught fish from the docked Bonnie Marietta.

The Secret Sea Cave of Cabrillo

After you’ve recovered from your San Diego Viejas Casino and Resort, put on some comfortable hiking shoes and head to Cabrillo National Monument at low tide. On the west side of the monument is a spectacular sea cave. This is a slightly intense hike but the end reward is more than worth it. You’ll carefully edge along the cliffs, cross a tide pool, and encounter two secret beaches before you find the sea cave.

California’s well known destinations are quite the treat, but your vacation will be even more unique if you get off the beaten path and try things fewer people visit. Whether you’re a loner or you like to have memories that will last you for years, these relatively untraveled spots are exactly what you’ve been pining for.

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