How to Cure Wanderlust in California
An unknown author once said, “We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” For those who identify with this statement, the ideal place to vacation is California. The wide variety of landscapes that the beautiful state has to offer is not lost on those with a sense of wanderlust.
From rural scenery to glamorous cities, from mountain peaks to warm beaches, California has a little something for everyone. We have below for you the top ten most highly regarded natural attractions, sourced from none other than California locals. California residents recommend these destinations to any travelers looking for more than just the average vacation spot. Read on to find out what makes these locations so exceptional.
1. Mission Trails Regional Park - San Diego, CA
One of the largest urban parks in the entire nation is nestled in the area outside of San Diego. Incepted in 1974, Mission Trails encompasses roughly 7,220 acres of varying California terrain. Some areas of the park are developed for recreational purposes while others remain completely natural. Bring the whole family and enjoy a complete immersion of nature.
Children can enjoy nature classes while the adults take on the adventurous five-peak hiking challenge. The entire family can come together and enjoy horseback riding, boating, or fishing along Lake Murray. Stay overnight at one of the park’s 46 campsites. At Mission Park you’ll have your pick of activities and you’ll be able to explore the vast beauty of California all at the same time.
For more information, visit the Mission Trails Website here: www.mtrp.org
2. Sunol Regional Wilderness - Sunol, CA (SF Bay Area)
Another large and fun park is Sunol Regional Wilderness. Consisting of 6,859 acres, this park offers most of the same opportunities as Mission Trails, however it is located in the Bay Area, about 7 hours north of San Diego. Visiting Sunol will create memories to last a lifetime. Enjoy hiking along a scenic gorge fondly nicknamed Little Yosemite. From there, you can get in your trunks and enjoy some swimming, or go biking, horseback riding, and even golfing. Sunol has a monthly agenda packed with fun-filled activities for the whole family to enjoy.
See available activities at Sunol on their website: http://www.ebparks.org/parks/sunol
3. Brand Park - Glendale, CA (Los Angeles)
For the nature lover who enjoys being entertained, take a hike to Brand Park in Glendale. Located amidst the foothills of the Verdugo Mountains, Brand Park was once a family estate inhabited by the Brand Family. What is now known as Brand Library was built in 1904 as the home for Leslie Brand, who passed on in 1925 and donated the estate with the intention that it be turned into a park. His wishes were fulfilled and since then, the park has brought joy to all who visit. Among the attractions are the library, a museum, art gallery, the Brand Family Cemetery, Chinese Garden, soccer and baseball fields, and, of course, hiking through the Verdugo Mountains. This park will not only offer you sightseeing but also a lesson on the history of California.
While this 31 acre park may be small, it still has plenty to offer. Check out more by clicking here: http://www.glendaleca.gov/brand-park
4. Fryman Canyon Park - Studio City, CA (Los Angeles)
Some travelers want to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city and enjoy a quiet hike to clear the minds. With Fryman Canyon Park, that is exactly what you get. Located right outside of Los Angeles, on the edge of the Santa Monica Mountains, you’ll find 122 acres of shaded hiking trails that offer incredible views of the city below.
If this sounds like something you’d like, you can learn more here: http://www.lamountains.com/fryman-canyon-park
5. South Yuba River State Park - Penn Valley, CA (Sacramento/Tahoe)
Those who are looking for a leisurely day of hiking and swimming can find it in Penn Valley at South Yuba River State Park. Tour this park and breathe in the bounty that nature has to offer, while enjoying a relaxing day of exploration. Covering a distance of 20 miles, this riverside park is scattered with historic bridges and swimming holes. There is also a wheelchair accessible nature trail for those who aren’t able to make the trek on foot. Seasonal activities offered in the park include bird watching, wildflower walks for those who’d like to immerse themselves in nature, and historic tours with gold-panning demonstrations for those who’d like to learn about the history that made South Yuba what it is today.
Find out if this highly recommended park is right for you by visiting their website: http://www.southyubariverstatepark.org/
6. Eaton Canyon Nature Center - Pasadena, CA (Los Angeles)
Perhaps one of the best places to learn about nature and wildlife in California, Eaton Canyon Nature Center in Pasadena is perfect for family outings. The nature center was opened in 1998 to replace the original building that burned down in 1993. At the center are displays containing native wild animals and various other resources to help you learn about the animal and plant life of the surrounding area.
When finished at the nature center, explore the 190 acres that encompass this zoological, geological, and botanical preserve. Enjoy a hike to a natural rock waterfall, and take in the glory of all of the wildlife you may find along the way. You will not regret paying a visit to the nature center and expanding your knowledge.
You can find more information on the nature center here: http://www.ecnca.org/
7. Mount San Jacinto State Park - Idyllwild, CA (LA/San Diego)
What makes this park so interesting is that it can be accessed by a tram ride from beautiful Palm Springs. Visit this granite mountaintop at 10,384 feet above sea level and greet yourself with breathtaking views that can only be found from the second highest mountain range in the whole Southern California area.
Check out the accommodations this state park has to offer here: https://www.parks.ca.gov/mtjacinto
8. Alviso Marina County Park - Alviso, CA (SF Bay Area)
Getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the SF Bay Area can cause you to lose sight of the natural beauty that surrounds the city. Just outside of San Jose lies Alviso Marina County Park. Explore all 20 acres of wetlands by hiking, biking, or even kayaking. Since Alviso Park borders a wildlife preserve, many visitors prefer to bird watch or sightsee. Not all civilization is lost in these marshy waters, boardwalks are available throughout the park.
Learn more about Alviso here: https://www.sccgov.org/AlvisoMarina
9. Moro Rock in Sequoia National Park - Tulare, CA (Fresno/Bakersfield)
Although Sequoia National Park is beautiful in its own right, one of the more coveted attractions of this park is Moro Rock. This magnanimous granite rock formation boasts astonishing sights of Crescent Meadow and King’s Canyon. The very isolated Moro Rock can be accessed by climbing a stairway that’s been etched into the rock itself. Climb all the way to the summit and take breathtaking photos that you will treasure forever.
View more pictures of Moro Rock here: https://www.nps.gov/gfmoro
10. Redwood National and State Parks - Humboldt
Arguably one of the most beautiful sights in all of California is Redwood National and State Parks. The staggering statistics of the silent giants that make up the forest are awe-inspiring in and of themselves. Redwood trees can grow to nearly 400 feet tall with a girth of 24 feet in diameter. The Redwood trees can live for nearly 2,000 years, but that doesn’t mean you should wait any longer to go visit them. Inside the National and State Forest you’ll find a hiking trail aptly named “Damnation Creek” which is reserved for more skilled hikers. The risk, however, is greatly rewarded with ocean views teetering on the edge of Redwood territory. If you are looking for a more leisurely trek, visit the Tall Trees Grove and engulf yourself in the landscape. Lose yourself in the beauty of the trees with a visit to the Redwood National and State Parks.
For more info on attractions that can be found inside the Redwood Forest, click here: https://www.nps.gov/redw
The smell of the salt water and sand between your toes, or the thin air and brisk mountain breeze, California has something to offer each and every person who’d like to explore the beauty of the world around them. As famous author J.R.R. Tolkien once said, “Not all who wander are lost.”