From the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles to the laid-back, bohemian vibes of San Fransisco; California has something for everyone. But if you find yourself overwhelmed by options in the city, head out on one of these day trips into the majestic Cali countryside. Whether you want to relax on a beautiful beach, hike through an ancient forest, or climb rocky crags, California has it all.
Deep Creek Hot Springs
You can find the Deep Creek Hot Springs two miles down the trail from Apple Valley Ranch. The hot springs are great for relaxing and admiring the lovely Californian landscape. When you get too hot, cool off with a refreshing dip in the river. This is a great place to spend the afternoon with your friends. Just remember to bring your own refreshments – the spring water is not for drinking.
Big Bear Mountain
Just east of L.A, you will find Big Bear Mountain, the best-kept secret of local hikers and mountain bikers. Get your fill of local wildlife while hitting the trails, and check out the base camp activities for wall climbing, ziplining, and more!
Fallen Leaf Lake
Lake Tahoe is a bustling tourist destination all summer long, but there are some great secret spots to get away from the crowd. Around the South Lake, you’ll find many lovely hidden beaches, including Fallen Leaf Lake. Named for its leaf-like oval shape, this 3-mile lake features Mount Tallac Trailhead where you can find hiking trails to work up a sweat. Cool off in the crystal clear waters and soak up some sun.
Although this arid desert park is well known as a bouldering, hiking, and rock climbing destination; Joshua Tree is also packed full of hidden gems and secret spots to explore. If camping in the desert heat doesn’t appeal to you, check out Hicksville Trailer Palace – a hidden bohemian oasis with eclectic decor. Then tour the ten acres of environmental art installations in the Noah Purifoy Desert Art Museum for a cooky and creative photoshoot.
Redwoods National & State Parks
It wouldn’t be summer in California without a hiking excursion through the Redwood National & State Parks. For a great day of hiking, check out Fern Canyon in Prairie Creek Redwood State Park. The fern-covered canyon was a set location for the Jurassic Park franchise, and you will feel transported back in time as you hike through the lush undergrowth. When you get tired of trekking, check out the Trees of Mystery SkyTrail. Suspended more than 700 ft in the air, you will have a birds-eye-view of the forest throughout the ten-minute ride. Or, head out from Fort Bragg on a railbike tour through the sunshine-dappled forest floor.
The South Yuba river, just outside of Nevada City, is a great place to cool off on a hot California day. Splash around in the deep emerald swimming holes and the gushing river water while soaking up the sunshine and scenery. This is a popular place for locals so if you want to get a good spot, arrive early in the day.
Photographers, artists, and nature-lovers flock to Point Lobos state nature reserve to capture the natural beauty of the headlands, caves, and rolling meadows. However, the park is also a perfect location for snorkeling and scuba diving. Grab your mask and keep your eyes peeled for seals, sea lions, sea otters, and migrating gray whales around the area. Click here to find information about scuba and snorkel tours.
For a taste of history with an unusual twist, hike the abandoned Donner Pass Railroad Tunnels. Named after the ill-fated Donner party, these tunnels are rich with historical significance and offer a cool, shady alternative to sunny summer hikes. Park at the Donner Ski Ranch and traverse the small hill to find the mouth of the tunnels and make your way through to find a great view of Donner Lake.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com