Sometimes, it can seem there is little left to the imagination in the mind’s eye of most Americans when thinking of California. After all, it’s one of the most popular destination spots for vacationers in the United States.
A disproportionate number of entertainment products, movies, and TV shows beamed and streamed into American homes come from or are set in its southern confines — from Hollywood Boulevard to Malibu. And that’s only one part of the state!
In northern California, featured attractions like the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz in San Francisco and Yosemite and Sequoia National Park further up are some of the most recognizable sites the world over.
Therefore, it’s incumbent on any curious traveler to go deeper and find the slightly more concealed treasures The Golden State has to offer — there are multitudes!
California is rich in history, first as Indigenous people’s land for centuries before becoming a part of Mexico before the Mexican-American War. Later, the Gold Rush in the 1840s led to westward expansion that pushed white settlers from the East into the new American West. California became a sort of mecca in the desert for millions looking for a better life.
Add to this deep history that California is as diverse topographically as any state in the Union. As the third largest state, its massive size nearly spans the south-to-north expanse of the western seaboard!
There is so much to see, do, and experience in the great state of California, and its State Parks system offers a multitude of options to all who head west for a visit.
Below are some can’t-miss California attractions!
Castle Crags State Park: This California hidden gem is as stunning as it is daunting, yet it still ranks as one of the state’s favorite off-the-beaten-path destinations. The namesake 6,000-foot granite spires that anchor Castle Crags State Park are only the main attraction. There is so much to see and do under the shadow of the foreboding jagged range. The site has more than 25 miles of hiking trails to some of the breathtaking views of the Crags and neighboring Mount Shasta, not to mention that the Sacramento River runs right through. It would be hard to find a more awe-inspiring natural tableau than the one at this destination.
Photo Courtesy parks.ca.gov
Columbia State Historic Park: This park preserves what was once considered the “Gem Of The Southern Mines.” During the mid-19th century, more than $1 billion in gold was pulled from the hills around Columbia, CA. Unlike other mining towns, it was never truly deserted, leading the state to officially christen it a State Historic Park in 1945 to protect the memory of the great gold rush towns. Today, visitors can enjoy all the tourist attractions like the historic saloon, candy shops, and boutiques and even take a stagecoach ride, giving all who go wandering a taste of the real old west.
Photo Courtesy Columbia State Historic Park
Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve: For those seeking a less-traveled peek at the majesty that is a California Redwood Forest, Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve is just what the doctor ordered. The rustic beauty of these forests harkens the visitor back to a pre-civilized time when the world’s largest trees, indeed the tallest living thing growing on the planet, were untouched, unbothered, and as wild as the sky above them. Today, the natural reserve offers its visitors a chance to hike or drive through its confines and commune in one of the most unique places in the world.
Photo Courtesy parks.ca.gov