15 Weird Places to Visit in California (2023)

15 Weird Places to Visit in California (1)

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Between its strange tourist attractions and unique landmarks, California is full of surprises. Here are the state's weirdest places to visit

By Annie A.

6 min read

September 02, 2020

Think you’ve seen it all in California? Sure, you may have been to the famous landmarks and tourist attractions—Yosemite National Park, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), and the ghostly Winchester Mystery House—but the Golden State has so much more to offer. Between its strange attractions and unique landmarks, California is full of surprises. So, if you're bored of the ordinary, check out our list of 15 weird places to visit now.

1. Mosaic Tile House

Location: 1116 Palms Boulevard, Venice

A 1940s home that's been completely transformed into an art piece, the Mosaic Tile House is a hidden gem in Venice. The jewel-covered building explodes with vibrancy; all the colors make it seem as though you’re inside a coral reef. Artist Cheri Pann and her husband Gonzalo Duran created this one-of-a-kind masterpiece using mainly recycled donations. With every detail colorfully crafted over a two-decade construction period, this eccentric house is one of California’s weird places to visit and is a must-see when in Los Angeles.

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2.Harper’s Topiary Garden

Location:3549 Union Street, San Diego

When art meets nature, the limits of creativity become endless. Inspired by their travels around the world, Edna Harper and her husband, Alex, shaped their shrubs into pyramids, dinosaurs, a Buddha, and a whale. Harper’s Topiary Garden looks like a scene from Edward Scissorhands. With new shapes regularly added to the whimsical garden, the grounds should definitely be on your list of weird places to visit. Admire Edna’s imaginative leafy creatures as you stroll the garden.

3. Albany Bulb

Location: 1 Buchanan Street, Albany

A no man’s land in the San Francisco Bay, the Albany Bulb is a former landfill that was taken over by graffiti artists, dog walkers, and environmentalists. Geographically unorganized, the Bulb is one of California’s strange and anarchic places. As time passed by, nature took over and migrating birds became frequent visitors. The uncertainty of its future is what makes it an odd place. Now, the Albany Bulb is an art installation, music venue, dog park, and community. Distinctive art pieces include large driftwood sculptures, a concrete TV, and a dragon sculpture. Explore the Bulb and expand your horizons in the unruly abstract landfill.

4. The Queen Mary

Location:1126 Queens Highway, Long Beach

One of the most haunted places in America, the historic Queen Mary lets you peek into an era when the most elegant way to travel was by ship. The Queen Mary is a strange place to visit due to its haunted encounters. Upon nightfall, spirits roaming the ship come out to play. Legend has it there is a ghost of an engineer who died in the engine room and a lady in white who frequently frightens visitors. But the scariest of them all? The children haunting the first-class pool. Take a ghost tour at this strange tourist attraction that will make your skin crawl.

5. Bob’s Crystal Cave

Location:7028 Theatre Road, Yucca Valley

Among California’s weirdest tourist attractions is Bob’s Crystal Cave—a magical oasis of love and meditation. Bob Carr transformed the space using foam and gemstones, converting it into a sanctum of bliss. The rainbow-hued cave blooms with crystals, and the sparkling waterfall is a pot of gold. With just one glance at the cave, prepare for a transcendental experience and revitalization of your soul.

6. Potato Chip Rock

Location:Lake Poway Park, 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway

15 Weird Places to Visit in California (3)
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Potato Chip Rock is a rock so thin that it looks like it’s about to break at any given moment. The iconic rock formation is named after its resemblance to, you guessed it, a potato chip. To reach the summit, go on a scenic hike via the Mount Woodson Trail. The unique rock is an obscure place to visit, but the view from the top makes it worthwhile. While you’re there, snap a pic for the 'Gram.

7. Bubblegum Alley

Location:733 Higuera Street, San Luis Obispo

Who would've thought that chewed bubblegum can be used to decorate a pathway? Bubblegum Alley is a weird tourist attraction in Downtown San Luis Obispo that encourages people to participate by creating bubblegum graffiti. Little is known about how it all began, but every time it’s cleaned up, the alley is quickly covered in bubblegum once again. The Instagrammable alley is a germaphobe’s nightmare. However, fascination with chewed bubblegum art is definitely a reason to visit this weird place.

8. Lake Berryessa Glory Hole

Location:Lake Berryessa, Napa

15 Weird Places to Visit in California (4)

Thanks to its inverted fountain, the Lake Berryessa Glory Hole resembles a giant whirlpool and is genuinely a terrifying sight. The massive spillway is one of the largest of its kind and is a mesmerizing spectacle when the water is high. Come and watch Lake Berryessa being sucked into a black hole, and experience the phenomenon in action.

9. Dapper Cadaver

Location:7648 San Fernando Road, Sun Valley

When at Dapper Cadaver, you won’t be able to distinguish between the real and the fake. This is Hollywood's go-to horror movie prop shop—its lifelike severed arms, heads, and replica specimen jars will make you shudder. Halloween fanatics and horror-movie buffs visit this weird place to purchase grotesque merch year-round. Build a cabinet of curiosities this Halloween, and terrify your guests with your new twisted props.

10. Salvation Mountain

Location:Beal Road, Calipatria

15 Weird Places to Visit in California (5)

A man-made mountain designed to spread a message of love, Salvation Mountain is a national treasure in California’s desertland. The combination of religion, art, and love resulted in the visionary environment created by Leonard Knight. Over the years, Knight has spilled over 100,000 gallons of paint to form this religious monument. The unique landmark is made of adobe bricks, discarded tires, windows, and automobile parts. The folk-art sight is a colorful testament of faith. Whether you visit for religious or aesthetic reasons, appreciating the marvel of Salvation Mountain is inevitable.

11. East Jesus

Location:23 Sidewinder Road, Niland

East Jesus is a desert community of artists who thrive off of each other’s energy. The unusual landmark is a refuge for artists, musicians, scientists, and builders. Inhabitants of East Jesus continuously create art pieces and encourage guests to do the same. Mammoths made of worn-out tires, shrines created with colorful glass bottles, and blue mannequin legs sticking out of cars are a few of the attention-grabbing things you'll find here. Visit this art installation to experience what it feels like to be in California's “last free place.”

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12. The Chemosphere House

Location:7776 Torreyson Drive, Los Angeles

The octagonal spaceship you’ve seen in the San Fernando Valley is the Chemosphere House, which was designed by John Lautner in 1960. The futuristic-modernist house is located on a 45-degree slope in an earthquake-prone region. Made of steel, timber, and laminated wood, the Chemosphere is a unique landmark dubbed “the most modern home built in the world” by Encyclopedia Britannica. So foran out-of-this-world experience, head here to see the closest thing you’ll find to a flying saucer.

13. Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze

Location:Pier 39, Building O-11, San Francisco

A weird place to go in San Francisco is Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze. Confusion and hilarity ensue the second you set foot inside. The neon-glowing maze is a trippy, kaleidoscopic labyrinth with columns and mirrors disorienting you from finding your way out. For the ultimate experience, complete the maze once more, but this time, start from the end.

14.The Center of the World

Location:1 Center of the World Drive, Felicity

15 Weird Places to Visit in California (6)

Who knew that the "center" of the world was in a small town called Felicity? With no scientific reasoning behind the name, the Center of the World was founded by Jacques-André Istel and marked by a pink granite pyramid. Istel continued to expand the unusual landmark by building an old-fashioned chapel and decorative stairs that lead to nowhere. Here, you can also find a series of triangular granite blocks where the history of the world is engraved. Make sure to add this to your list of weird places to visit to embark on a journey to the faux Center of the World.

15. The Flintstone House

Location:45 Berryessa Way, Hillsborough

This whimsical, experimental house is bound to grab your attention thanks to its vivid orange hue and cartoon-like sculptures. Loved by tourists (yet disliked by its neighbors), the Flintstone House is certainly a weird place to visit. The prehistoric animal statues stand high and mighty in the backyard of this quirky home. Stroll around, and you’ll also find Fred Flinstone (yabba-dabba doo!) welcoming you to the estate. Stop by this unofficial unique landmark, and live out your childhood dream of being a cartoon character.

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FAQs

What should you not miss when visiting California? ›

Top Attractions in California
  • The Getty Center. 14,636. Speciality Museums. ...
  • Alcatraz Island. 55,840. Historic Sites • Islands. ...
  • USS Midway Museum. 25,310. ...
  • Pacific Coast Highway. 1,670. ...
  • Disney California Adventure Park. 15,660. ...
  • Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. 9,390. ...
  • Monterey Bay Aquarium. 14,347. ...
  • Santa Barbara County Courthouse. 2,988.

What is the number 1 attraction in California? ›

1: Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is one of the top attractions in California. This gorgeous wilderness rests along the Sierra Nevada mountains. Its granite cliffs and waterfalls are the kind of beauty that only exists along America's West Coast: immense, majestic, and breathtaking.

What fruits can you not bring into California? ›

One large category of prohibited items might surprise you, and that's all citrus plants. California is particularly serious about barring all of it, including loose pieces of citrus fruit, from being brought into the state.

What is the most isolated place in California? ›

Slab City, California
Slab City
LocationSonoran Desert, California (4 miles northeast of Niland)
Coordinates33°15′27″N 115°27′45″W
Operated byChasterus foundation
Established1942
3 more rows

What is the nicest part of California to live? ›

Best Places To Live In California In 2022
  • San Francisco. Population. 815,201.
  • Los Angeles. Population. 3,849,297. ...
  • San Jose. Population. 983,489. ...
  • Vallejo. Population. 124,886. ...
  • Oxnard. Population. 201,879. ...
  • Modesto. Population. 218,771. ...
  • Fresno. Population. 544,510. Median home price. ...
  • Bakersfield. Population. 407,615. Median home price. ...
26 Oct 2022

What is the most luxurious place in California? ›

Atherton. Located 45 minutes south of San Francisco and 20 minutes away from Silicon Valley, Atherton is an incorporated town in San Mateo County. Not only is Atherton is the most expensive town in California, but it also holds the title of most expensive in the United States.

Is there a charming town in California? ›

La Jolla, CA

One of the most upscale yet charming villages filled with galleries, shops and cafes along the Pacific Coast is located in San Diego County.

What is the coldest city in California? ›

Using existing weather data, Bodie is officially the coldest spot in California, but colder temperatures do occur on the highest peaks of the Sierra Nevada and White mountains.

What is the most visited city in California? ›

No surprise here: Los Angeles is the ultimate star-studded destination for global travelers. There is almost too much to do in the vast Southern California city.

What's the number 1 city in California? ›

Los Angeles

Why is citrus not allowed in California? ›

A fatal plant disease called Huanglongbing (HLB) is threatening backyard citrus trees throughout California. HLB can be spread by a dangerous pest called the Asian citrus psyllid (ACP) as it feeds on the leaves of citrus trees.

What Cannot be sold in California? ›

The common feature of the enumerated products or services is that they are illegal to actually sell to minors in California, such as tobacco, alcohol, firearms, fireworks, spray paint, lottery tickets, tattoos, or (so appropriately Californian) tanning bed services or tanning devices.

Can you bring bullets into California? ›

Well, you can buy ammunition out of state, but to bring it into California, you first have to ship it to a licensed California ammunition vendor so they can perform a background check and hand your ammo back to you. The law does not limit the fee the vendor can charge for this service.

What is the happiest place on earth in California? ›

Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California is where the Disney dream began in 1955 and it's still the 'Happiest Place on Earth', never failing to impress with fun attractions for every member of the family.

What is the cheapest city to live in California? ›

Cheapest Places to Live in California
  • Bakersfield. With a median home price of just $254,430, Bakersfield is a surprisingly cheap place to live in California. ...
  • Stockton. The notorious boom and bust town of Stockton, CA continues to offer cheaper house deals. ...
  • Fresno. ...
  • Clovis. ...
  • Sacramento. ...
  • Fontana. ...
  • Chico. ...
  • Eureka.
21 Sept 2022

Where in California do most celebrities live? ›

Celebrities can be found in all kinds of places in the US and abroad, but the highest concentration of famous people is still in Hollywood Hills.

What is the dirtiest city in California? ›

Bakersfield most polluted city in California
By ozoneBy year-round particle pollution
1. Los Angeles-Long Beach1. Bakersfield
2. Bakersfield2. Fresno-Madera-Hanford
3. Visalia3. Visalia
4. Fresno-Madera-Hanford4. San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland
6 more rows
11 Sept 2022

Where do most blacks live in California? ›

The Black community is prevalent in Alameda, Contra Costa, San Francisco, and Solano Counties in the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento County, and San Joaquin County.

What is California's largest abandoned city? ›

Eagle Mountain, California, is a modern-day ghost town in the California desert in Riverside County founded in 1948 by industrialist Henry J.
...
Eagle Mountain, California.
Eagle Mountain
CountryUnited States
StateCalifornia
CountyRiverside
Elevation1,365 ft (416 m)
6 more rows

Where do the rich live in California? ›

Much of that wealth is concentrated in the San Francisco Bay Area, where 116 of the state's billionaires reside. That includes the state's richest residents: Google cofounders Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Where is the cheapest but safest place to live in California? ›

Sacramento: one of the safest places to live in California

As the state capital city, Sacramento is also surprisingly one of the cheapest places to live in California. Downtown Sacramento is not that cheap, however, there are lots of smaller surrounding suburbs that have affordable rent and real estate prices.

What is the richest street in California? ›

Nimes Road, CA: $11.445 Million Median Home Value

One of the borders of the original Bel Air Estates, Nimes road is located north of Sunset Boulevard and has a median home value of $11.445 million.

What city in California has the most millionaires? ›

What city in California has the most millionaires? With a total of 255,600 individuals with a net worth of at least $1 million, Los Angeles has the highest number of millionaires in California.

Where are the most hippies in California? ›

San Francisco is the most hippy town in California, nay all of the United States.

What's the cleanest beach in California? ›

Which Beaches In California Have The Clearest Water?
  • Coronado Beach.
  • Russian Gulch State Park.
  • Picnic Beach.
  • McWay Falls.
  • El Matador Beach.
  • Gaviota Hot Springs.
  • Big Pine Lakes.
  • Pismo State Beach.
11 Mar 2022

What is the safest beach in California? ›

Coronado Beach is also the safest beach in California for swimming. Towards the shore, the waves are very gentle, the waters are usually calm and clear that you can easily see what you're stepping on. It also features numerous lifeguard stations, making the area safer.

What is the oldest town in California? ›

Old Town San Diego is the city's oldest settled area and the site of the first European settlement in California. Founded in 1769, it's considered the birthplace of modern-day California and includes many well-preserved historic buildings and museums.

What city in California looks like Italy? ›

Venice, California

The Venice Canal Historic District was built in 1905 by developer Abbot Kinney who wanted to recreate the look and feel of Venice, Italy. Another set of canals were built south of the original canals and they were known as the New Amsterdam Canals.

What is the cleanest town in California? ›

Only one California city ranked among the list of top 25 cities with the least amount of particle pollution: Salinas in Monterey County. The ten U.S. cities with the cleanest air, free of particle pollution are: Urban Honolulu, Hawaii.

Where is the most snow in California? ›

Kirkwood - Snow Score - 82.7

For this reason, Kirkwood should be recognized as the undisputed king of snow within the state of California. Kirkwood is part of the Tahoe region, but it's well south of Lake Tahoe itself, making it a bit harder to get to compared with ski resorts closer to the Lake and I-80.

What is the snowiest place in California? ›

Tamarack also holds the record for greatest seasonal snowfall in California: during the winter of 1906−1907, it received 883 or 884 inches (22,400 or 22,500 mm) of snow.

Where in California does it not snow? ›

Sacramento, California

Freezing temps are rare in Sacramento, and the city averages 0 inches of snow per year.

What month is the cheapest to go to California? ›

High season is considered to be June and July. The cheapest month to fly to California is January.

What is the cheapest time to visit California? ›

Best Time to Visit California for Cheap

Crowds and prices drop for a cheaper California vacation on the coast and in the mountains in the shoulder season (April – May, and mid-September – October). Along the coast, rates drop even further in the winter season from November to March.

How much money do you need a day in California? ›

In total, expect your average California trip cost to be about $95-155 per person per day if you want to visit on a budget. While there are certainly ways that you can cut down on costs and not spend that much, this is the budget to stick to if you want to cut costs in some ways and splurge in others.

What do I need to know before going to California? ›

What to Know for Visiting California
  • You'll have connectivity everywhere. ...
  • You'll pay for shopping bags. ...
  • Beat your credit card fees. ...
  • Plan for day trips. ...
  • You'll want a car. ...
  • Check the weather. ...
  • There are special-needs-friendly attractions. ...
  • Stop and enjoy the wine.
28 Feb 2020

What do you miss about California? ›

Fresh seafood, stunning coastal views, and a natural regulator for a mild climate. Having the Pacific as your neighbor has endless benefits. It isn't until you leave the coast and are in a landlocked state that you realize how much you miss the salty ocean breeze and being able to drive down the PCH at sunset.

How many days is enough to visit California? ›

How Many Days You Should Spend in California? Five days in California is enough to see major attractions in San Francisco and Los Angeles. We recommend spending at least ten days in the state, as you can visit additional places like Big Sur and Lake Tahoe, as well as major national parks like Yosemite.

What should I take on a trip to California? ›

What to Pack for California
  • 1. California Guidebook. ...
  • Sunglasses. ...
  • Sunscreen. ...
  • Flats (or Sneakers) ...
  • Boots. ...
  • Reusable Bags. ...
  • Water Bottle. ...
  • Light Jacket or Rain Shell.
22 Feb 2021

How should I dress to go to California? ›

So layers are the key to dressing for California's climate. It can be cool in the morning and hot in the afternoon or vice versa. So start with something thin, like a t-shirt. Then add a button-up shirt or sweater.

What should I be careful of in LA? ›

There's a good chance that if you ignore your surroundings, you'll fall victim to common crimes in L.A. Los Angeles is generally a safe city. You should stay alert when visiting crowded tourist attractions, landmarks, beaches, and parks. There are areas full of pickpockets and scammers.

What attracts people to California? ›

Vibrant cities, beaches, amusement parks, and natural wonders like nowhere else on Earth make California an intriguing land of possibilities for travel. The gateway cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles are home to some of the state's most well-known sites, from the Golden Gate Bridge to Hollywood and Disneyland.

What is the best month to go to California? ›

The best time to visit California is summertime from June to August. This is the peak tourism season for the state for good reason. Every part of the state is accessible, making hikes and outdoor adventures in the northern regions possible with mild, comfortable temperatures.

What food is California known best for? ›

California produces almost all of the country's almonds, apricots, dates, figs, kiwi fruit, nectarines, olives, pistachios, prunes, and walnuts. It leads in the production of avocados, grapes, lemons, melons, peaches, plums, and strawberries.

What can you do in 4 days in California? ›

A perfect Pacific Coast Highway 4 day itinerary: 16 stops you...
  1. Start in Malibu. ...
  2. Check out the Malibu Sandhills. ...
  3. Overnight in Santa Barbara. ...
  4. Head inland to Solvang. ...
  5. Onto San Luis Obispo. ...
  6. Be amazed by the opulent Hearst Castle. ...
  7. Sunset at Elephant Seal Vista Point. ...
  8. Overnight in Cambria.
3 Apr 2018

What food should I try in California? ›

10 things to eat in California
  • Ramen Burrito. ...
  • Ramen Burger. ...
  • Sushirrito. ...
  • Fish Tacos. ...
  • Mac and Cheese Pizza. ...
  • Carne Asada Fries. ...
  • Triple A. ...
  • In-N-Out Burger.
5 Feb 2016

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