Unique Places in California

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Most Viewed Off The Beaten Path in California

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    STOP: in Kettleman City for Old West Bravoland

    by marinarena Written Mar 3, 2015

    Love the old west look and feel? Want to pretend to go in the 19th century California during the gold rush days? Come here! Seek out Bravoland, in Kettleman City. KC is home to Bravoland, a rustic theme attraction that finished completion in 2014. The complex, which costs about $3 million.

    Kettleman City is a quaint town that serves as a popular rest point for Bay area trips to more popular cities like San Francisco and Fresno. I came upon the town as a break point of the Megabus I had gone aboard from San Jose. KC is home to Bravoland, a rustic theme attraction that finished completion in 2014. the complex, which costs about $3 million. The rustic complex include a Bravo Farms grocery, Wild Jack's Tex-Mex BBQ restaurant, a huge gift shop, cheese shop, "Doc Bernstein" ice cream shop, other shops, a wine tasting room for adults and open picnic area with a kid-friendly play area.

    Bravoland, kettleman City, California Bravo Farm store, Kettleman City, CA Marinarena smiling at Bravoland/ Kettleman City MarinArena at Bravoland/Kettleman City Western themed Bravoland family area, California
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    Hill's in Malibu

    by Ackbadshidad Written Apr 2, 2013

    I am not well traveled yet, but one of the places I could stay forever was Malibu. I guess it wasn't that off the beaten path but from the RV park I wandered up into the hills at night and just watched the world go by. Watching the sun set and the non stop air traffic arriving and departing at LAX, it was beautiful. Till in the morning I seen a sign said watch for Rattle snakes, oh well.

    Long exposure from the Hill's
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    STONE'S throw away from L.A. - San Gabriel Valley

    by marinarena Updated Nov 11, 2012

    2.5 out of 5 starsHelpfulness

    San Gabriel Valley- includes communities like Pasadena, Covina (which has a charming downtown), West Covina and Pomona.

    Pluses: has some good communities for living, diversity, mountain views.

    Minuses: perhaps too ordinary to brag about; not much to see here as a tourist, aside from Pasadena.

    Check out my take on Pasadena

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    Great Used Boots and the Wierdest Swap Meet in CA

    by ricknkat Updated Oct 23, 2012

    We were passing through Twentynine Palms/Yucca Valley en route to Palm Springs and was turned on to this fantastic swap meet after we asked a local business owner where we could by a pair of used cowboy boots. 2 hours of enjoyable conversation later we had made friends with Dakota Bob at his used boot shop/shanty inside the Sky Village Market/Swap Meet in Yucca Valley. If you're in the Palm Springs area and like meeting interesting, unique people, it would be well worth the 40 min drive to meet Dakota Bob and sift through his thousands of pairs of vintage boots and western wear. PS: I wear my fancy $60 boots with pride and they fit like a glove.

    Dakota Bob’s Western Wear



    Open every Saturday and Sunday

    Hours: 8 am-2 pm

    (760) 808-0985 cell

    great blog on the Sky Village Swap Meet:

    Read more: http://members.virtualtourist.com/m/1eec0/b8a76/#ixzz2AAXL0HWo

    Swap Meet at the Old Drive In Theater
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    Point Reyes - Heaven on Earth!

    by Annada Written Jan 10, 2012

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    Ever since my baby was born, motherhood had kept me busy for the initial 4 months. Was bored staying indoors and was wondering what place to visit with my family. I had already been to most places around the Bay Area and was looking to visit some place very pristine which is stroller accessible (since I had to take my baby with me). Hence began my google search for places around Bay Area. Among places like the Muir Beach, Muir Woods and the Marin Headlands was this place called the Point Reyes National Seashore. Photographs of the place looked pretty alluring, but I wondered if the place was worth the drive (almost a 3 hr drive from Mountain View ) .
    Well, my desperation to travel provoked me to pack my backpack for the journey. Still unsure of the journey, we set out on our trip to point Reyes at 10 am in the morning. We went en route the Golden Gate Bridge to further take the California Highway 1. Celebrated for its scenic beauty, Highway 1 was the route that would lead us to Point Reyes National Seashore. Point Reyes is the only national seashore of the West Coast located approximately 30 miles from San Francisco.
    After crossing the Golden Gate Bridge we found ourselves on Highway 1.At first we crossed Marin City to enter the Tamalpais Valley. All we saw in front of us were tall trees with the road meandering its way through the valley. Once the view in front of us cleared, the landscape was breathtaking! Ahead of us was the panoramic view of the Muir Beach. Highway 1 indeed does justice to its notoriety, I thought to myself. All I could see to my left was the endless vast Pacific Ocean. This was certainly not the first time I had seen a beach but I must admit that the winding roads and the steep rocky cliffs made the scene more awe-inspiring. To add to it, was the 11o’clock sun which shone right above the ocean. It made the water look like precious diamonds, whose sheen even the most shimmering earthly diamond could not match. The rocky cliffs could anytime mimic the cliffs of Ireland!The Muir beach was only the beginning of the beautiful stretch that we were to embark the rest of the journey on.For the next 7 miles, we were having an on and off view of the cliffs overlooking the ocean. It was as if the ocean was playing hide and seek with us. The next landmark we encountered was the Stinson Beach swathed in white sand. We did not stop at any of these beaches since our main destination was the Point Reyes Lighthouse. The Point Reyes Lighthouse has existed for over 130 years now and has provided direction to countless mariners in that expanse of the Ocean. Like any other lighthouse, this lighthouse is positioned approximately on a 300 feet high cliff that overlooks the Ocean.
    Now coming back to our journey, after the Stinson beach we came across a picturesque lagoon called the Bolinas Lagoon. After we crossed the Bolinas Lagoon, we came across a series of little towns like Five Brooks, Olema and Iverness. Olema onwards Highway 1 took a minor turn which lead us to Sir Francis Drake Boulevard at the very end of which is located the Point Reyes Light House. From this point we had to drive another 22 miles to reach our destination. On the way to the Lighthouse, we saw the Tomales Bay Ecological Reserve followed by the petite town of Inverness. From Inverness Sir Francis Drake took a left turn and thereon we were taken to a land of open pastures. These vast pastures seemed endless with extensive green grasslands inhabited by grazing cows. The Sir Francis Drake just did not seem to end. The drive seemed everlasting escorting us straight to no man’s land! Although we had a map with us, I for an instant, doubted my sense of direction. We stopped to ask a biker if we were on track, to which he nodded yes. After the assurance we continued on the road, but still the Lighthouse was nowhere to be seen. I felt relieved when at a distance I could see the rising sandstone cliffs of the Drake’s Bay. I knew that from here the Lighthouse was barely 5-6 miles.
    At last we reached the parking lot, from where the Point Reyes Visitor Centre was a 0.5 mile walk uphill. The view from the Parking lot was magnificent and could be seen mostly throughout the walk uphill. Lighthouse was another 0.1 mile descent down some 300 odd stairs. I lost all control over myself on seeing the panorama before me! Down below was the Light house, positioned at the tip of the cliff with the infinite Ocean in the background. The waves glistened in the sunlight, slamming against the rocky bottom of the cliffs, splashing back and forth. The sun above the horizon shining at its fiery best, created a silhouette like effect making the shadowy frame of the Lighthouse visible to us. Upon reaching the bottom of the stairs a gust of cool wind welcomed me. I went and stood near tip of the cliff (fenced of course)It felt somewhat like a dream. I could not help but feel that I was nothing but a mere speck in comparison to the Ocean yet the Ocean of Consciousness within me was equally cosmic as the Ocean that lay in front of me. .I felt physically, mentally and spiritually rejuvenated. I spent some quality lonesome time at the Lighthouse, took some photographs and climbed my way up. I agree the quick descent was triggered by the view , however the climb up the hill to the visitor center did not look appealing. And so it lived up to its expectation. The ascent uphill was very tedious although satisfying. Wanted to take my baby downhill but refrained from doing so as I did not want the winter chills to affect him. We thought of visiting the Drake’s bay too but planned otherwise since we wanted to reach home before dusk
    Some essiential tips to the travel enthusiasts around Bay Area - I urge you to not limit your travelling instincts to San Fransisco and Golden Gate Bridge since there are lot of beautiful places to visit beyond the Golden Gate Bridge itself. Of which the Point Reyes National Seashore is one place. If planned appropriately one can easily cover the Point Reyes Lighthouse and Drake’s Beach overlooking which are magnificent sandstone cliffs. One can easily take babies to the Point Reyes Lighthouse with the help of a Baby Carrier and stroller (strollers can be taken uptill the visitor center only beyond which they need to be taken in a carrier). Also one needs to bear in mind that there are no eating joints at this place and the last moderately commercial place on the way is Olema and Inverness. Hence if one needs carry some food or visit the gas station, Olema is the place to do so. The Parking lot itself is a good picnic spot and is equipped with restrooms (although I will not speak for the hygeine maintained at the rest room.)
    I now feel very content to have chosen a place like Point Reyes Lighthouse to travel to after spending a long engaging stay at home. I certainly agree that the Point Reyes Lighthouse is indeed one of the blissfully divine places I have ever visited!

    Waves at Muir Beach Fiery Sun above Point Reyes Cliffs The Lighthouse Itself
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    Long Driving

    by joiwatani Written Oct 20, 2011

    This is a nice plan. My husband and I went for a road trip for two weeks to California and we dropped the plan to go to San Diego because it will take us anothee 8 hour-drive from where we were. So, we opted to go to Monterey Bay instead.

    Over there, we saw the Monterey Aquarium, the biggest aquarium in the United States and where the University of California base their marine department. We also visited the Ansel Adam's store. Over there, you can see most of the famous replicas of Ansel Adam's photography.

    Also, we side tripped on Bodega Bay where we dined at this restaurant along the bay and can watched hundreds of birds feeding on the bay. This was the location shooting of the Alfred Hitchcock's famous horror movie, The Birds.

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    Portola California and Humbug Creek

    by Roadquill Written Sep 3, 2011

    OK, so this is not a big, important place to go in California, but if you want to frown your mug at Humbug Creek, this is the place to do it. Located in Portola California, NW of Lake Tahoe, Portola is a charming little mountain town. Fishing and Hiking in the summer and snow sports in the winter.

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  • JREllison's Profile Photo

    Carmel Mission Basilica

    by JREllison Updated Apr 4, 2011

    On June 3, 1770, Father Serra founded Mission San Carlos Borromeo at the site of the present presidio Chapel in Monterey. A year later the padre separated his Indian charges from the Spanish soldiers, moving the mission five miles away to the Carmel Valley, on the other side of the Monterey Peninsula.

    This Mission is an active Catholic Church with daily Mass. However the Carmel Mission is open to the public on Monday through Saturday from 9:30 AM to 5:00 PM and on Sunday from 10:30 AM to 5:00 PM. Please call the Mission at (831) 624-1271, extension 210 to check on the holiday schedule. The all-inclusive admission fee to visit the Mission grounds, Basilica and Museums is as follows: Adults: $5; Seniors: $4; Children under 17: $1. These funds are used to support the continued restoration of the Carmel Mission.

    Carmel Mission Basilica
    3080 Rio Road
    Carmel, CA 93923

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    Underappreciated Arts & Crafts Architecture

    by typhoidmary Updated Apr 4, 2011

    The houses of Charles & Henry Greene in Pasadena offer some of the best examples of Arts and Crafts architecture and interior design. The Gamble House, Currently owned by USC, is open for public tours Thurs-Sun. from 12-3:00 for $10 per person. 2 pm tours must be reserved 1 week in advance, but all other times are first come first served.

    You can also see their exteriors in Arroyo Terrace, which was once only their designs and at 2 Westmorland St., next door to Gamble house

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    Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area

    by goingsolo Updated Apr 4, 2011

    California has several National Parks, but the most popular of these are several hours drive from Los Angeles. But LA has its own mountain destination and National Park of sorts.

    The Santa Monica mountains NRA is located just north of Los Angeles and stretches from the border of the city northward to Malibu. This area is divided into a series of small parks which are great for hiking. Here you can escape the crowds and the trappings of Hollywood and enjoy the view from above the freeways (and away from the California drivers.) There are numerous short trails in canyon areas and parks that are perfect for half day or shorter hikes.

    The recreation area is located between highway 101 (the Ventura Freeway), which forms its northern border and the Pacific Coast highway which borders the southern portion of the park.

    The National Park Service website has information on specific parks in this area as well as detailed maps and trail information.

    Santa Monica
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    Castle Air Museum

    by Tom_Fields Updated Apr 4, 2011

    This is the best air museum on the West Coast. It has nearly every US Air Force plane of the post-World War II period, including many obscure, little-known types. It is at the former site of Castle Air Force Base (now closed). If you have any interest in military aviation, check it out. And if you're hungry, try the Bomber Burger--just about the best burger anywhere.

    Entrance to the museum C-46 Commando transport from World War II Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird Boeing B-47 Stratojet bomber Republic F-105
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    California Colonial History

    by grandmaR Updated Apr 4, 2011

    The missions in order of founding were:

    Mission San Diego de Alcala (1769)
    Mission San Carlos Borroméo de Carmelo (1770) where Fra. Serra's grave it located.
    Mission San Antonio de Padua (1771)
    Mission San Gabriel Arcángel (1771)
    Mission San Luis Obispo (1772)
    Mission San Francisco de Asís (1776)
    Mission San Juan Capistrano (1776)
    Mission Santa Clara de Asís (1777)
    Mission San Buenaventura (1782)
    Mission Santa Barbara (1786)
    Mission La Purisíma Concepción (1787)
    Mission Santa Cruz (1791)
    Mission Nuestra Señora de la Soledad (1791)
    Mission San José (1797)
    Mission San Juan Bautista (1797)
    Mission San Miguel de Arcángel (1797)
    Mission San Fernando Rey de España (1797)
    Mission San Luis Rey de Francia (1798)
    Mission Santa Inés (1804)
    Mission San Rafael Arcángel (1817)
    Mission San Francisco de Solano (1823)

    Carmel Mission and grave of Fra. Sierra San Antonio de Padua San Francisco mission church San Juan Batista
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    Why jump out of a perfectly good airplane?

    by Pounder73 Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    I had the time of my life. I jumped out of Paso Robles, which is almost the halfway point between San Jose and Santa Barbara, on the 101 Hwy.

    Somewhere in the middle of my college career, about 1995, a bunch of us decided to go skydiving. It was easy, not too expensive, and something you will never forget! There were about 15 of us that went, and so we got the group discount. (About $125.00, at 12,500 ft (3810 meters) - less at 10500 ft and extra for pictures and/or video - I would assume prices have risen some) I would recomend first timers going tandem. You basically don't have to worry about a thing, and when you are doing it, the person is behind you, so it is like you're there solo.

    Many people have asked me if I was scared? And all I can say is, it doesn't matter what you feel before you take the jump, but once you do, all you anxiousness or nervousness goes right out the door too. Once you are "flying" or free-falling, you are not worried about a single thing in the world, not even if your parachute will open. You?re just alive.

    Once the chute pops open, there is a huge "BANG" and then - silence.

    I attached a link to different skydiving locations around the state and country. Give it a try. I liked it way better than bungee jumping.

    My Brother and
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    Tehachapi Loop

    by WFTR Updated Apr 4, 2011

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    The Tehachapi Loop is a section of train track that goes around a big hill and doubles back over itself. In the 1800's, the engineers building this trackage from Bakersfield, California to Tehachapi had to negotiate steep hills and maintain a 2.2% grade or less. They reached a point where they could only meet these specs by builing a loop and having trains double over their own cars. This section of trackage also includes and ten or fifteen each of bridges and tunnels. The whole line is a great engineering feat.

    I was in Bakersfield on business for a month or so in 2001, and some guys at work told me about this sight. It's not the most exciting attraction, but many people think it's kinda neat to see a whole train double over itself. I went twice to see it.

    The best access to the loop is from the Keene, California exit on Hwy 58 about an hour from Bakersfield. Signs will point towards the viewing areas for the loop. As one approaches the loop, there is a point at which the tracks run to the left of the road and go through a small tunnel in a small hill. From this location, one can watch the train from the side and slightly below as it passes over its cars. The road then climbs a hill to a location where one can view the loop from above. There are two markers and a wide spot for parking along the road at this point.

    The markers say that about 36 trains do the loop every day. As a general rule, a wait of less than an hour will allow one to see a train do the loop. However, sometimes, a problem will stop traffic completely, and no trains will come for a couple of hours.

    I have numerous photos and a much longer (than 2047 characters) write-up on a personal page on my non-VT site. I also have links to other sites associated with the loop. One of my photos was once included in a California Water Association newsletter.

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    Visit a Geyser

    by sirrogue58 Written Jan 26, 2011

    Whilst driving through the Nappa Valey in March (nothing much to see growning that time of year) we took a detour to visit "Old Faithful" You may be a bit confused as I was. As I thought Old Faithful was in Yelowstone National Park over 900 miles away!!

    From their website: "The Old Faithful Geyser of California is one of three geysers in the world with the designation "old faithful." These are the geysers that perform at regular intervals. A geyser exists only where conditions are right. These conditions include a natural deep subterranean supply of water, a source of heat and a series of fissures, fractures and cavities that provide a path to the surface of the earth. Surrounding rock formations must be strong enough to maintain continual onslaughts of the intense pressure of steam and water explosions."

    It's only a small place with a small animal petting area for the kids but if you are in the area it's worth a visit for the chance of seeing an "Old Faithful".

    Open 7 days a week
    Adult: $10
    Senior: $7
    Children 6-12: $3
    Children under 6: Free

    Old Faithful - California Old Faithful - California
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California Off The Beaten Path

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