When you think of California what do you first think of? San Diego, Los Angeles, Hollywood probably come to mind. That’s the California we all know. Sure, you could visit some of the more normal sights and attractions in California. But how about visiting the weird, strange, and tantalizing instead? There are tons of strange and wonderful places to explore in California. From old abandoned railroads and strange lakes to sunken ships and pygmy forests, these attractions are sure to entertain. We’ve rounded up 16 must-see unusual places in California for anyone interested in the unusual and obscure.
Weird and Unusual Places In California
1. Bodie Ghost Town
This is one of the most well-preserved ghost towns. This quirky place in California is managed by the National Park Service. This old mine town was abandoned after the gold rush due to a fire that burnt down over half of the town. Today, the ruins are still kept and preserved as if nothing has changed. You will feel like you are traveled back in time and see what it was like back then. The none existent of graffiti, trash, shops, and conveniences make this abandoned town a truly unique experience.
Address: Bridgeport, California.
2. Fort Bragg
Set along the spectacular Mendocino Coast, Fort Bragg is about three hours north of San Francisco off of Highway 1. This unusual place to visit in California used to be a former army garrison built during the American Civil War, it boasts a spectacular Northern California coastline with views of the Pacific Ocean. Fort Bragg has a pleasant, mild climate all year and is perfect for a few days getaway. While there, be sure to take a walk along Glass Beach, a former glass dump site that is now a fascinating state beach. You should also stroll along the coast at MacKerricher State Park – keep your eyes peeled for tide pools and seals! You can also take a ride on the historic Skunk Train or ride a horse along the beach.
Address: Fort Bragg, California 95437, USA.
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3. Salton Sea
One of the largest lakes in California is the Salton Sea. Every summer, the oxygen in the water becomes so scared that it creates a massive die out. Dead tilapia fill the shore and the beach is covered in fish bones. Abandoned buildings are scattered along the shore. Once this unique place to visit in California used to be a popular vacation spot and now it turned into a scene from a post-apocalyptic movie.
Address: Salton Sea, California, USA
4. Pismo Beach
Pismo Beach is an area often overlooked by those touring the state who focus on either the San Francisco Bay Area or the LA Basin but that is not without its own hidden gems. This one of the weirdest places in central California located on the Central California Coast. The area was named after the Chumash word for tar, “Pismu”, which was gathered in a nearby canyon. The Spanish were the first Europeans to travel through the area, at the time called “Alta California”, which has been inhabited by westerners since then. This long, wide beach is beautifully surrounded by cliffs and the expansive Pacific Ocean. Check out Dinosaur Caves Park and browse the local Pismo Beach Farmers Market for a snack. Let the ocean breeze refresh you and the waves relax you.
Address: Pismo Beach, California, USA
5. Desert Sculptures Of Anza Borrego
The most southern desert park in California is Anza Borrego. Near the town of Borrego Spring, there are dozens of art installments place throughout the desert. These animal metal sculptures are created as a ploy to attract tourists. These sculptures are truly fascinating. There are dozens of them from horses and elephants to dragons that can be found here in this weird place in northern California.
Address: Palm Canyon Dr, Borrego Springs, California
6. Museum of Death
The Museum of Death is a collection of morbidly fascinating stories and disturbed souls. Although the space is not large, the artifacts and displays are well-consolidated in each of the rooms. Some highlights of this weird place in California are severed mummified body parts, the taxidermy collection, a detailed timeline of the Manson murders, autopsy videos, and artwork from John Wayne Gacy who murdered 33 people. According to the staff, the most popular subject is the letters from Jeffrey Dahmer, along with his biography that might stir some sympathy. There was speculation on how Jeffrey Dahmer may have switched overnight from a young, happy boy to a psycho, all from hernia surgery in his childhood.
Address: 6031 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90028, USA
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7. Redwoods in Arcata
Arcata is adjacent to Arcata Bay and home to Humboldt State University located in Humboldt County. A former logging town, Arcata survived the flux of the industry to resist becoming a ghost town and the university has kept it busy. Except for the townspeople and students, very few people stop in to visit this charming town, even though they pass right by when visiting the iconic Californian redwoods. One of the big attractions of Arcata and one of the strange places to visit in California is its proximity to the Redwoods National Forest. Explore the coastline or hike through the trails winding among the redwoods.
Address: Park Dr, Arcata, CA.
9. Underground tunnels of LA
This 11-mile long, 40 feet underground tunnel was once the clandestine drinking spot for Los Angeles. There is a public debate about whether it’s open to the public or not. The answer is yes, during daytime business hours and with very tight security. The 1920’s ban on alcohol was a time of religious movement and the “dry crusade.” Because of this campaign, the resistance created an underground demand for alcohol to rise, and supplying drinks outside the law became profitable, including hidden local speakeasies. Today, unusual places to see in California is part of the municipal buildings and its utilities. Visitors can walk through the corridors accompanied by the hissing sounds of engines and pipes.
Address: Los Angeles County Hall of Records 222 N Hill St, Los Angeles, CA 90012, USA
10. Cabazon Dinosaur
This is where you will find the largest dinosaur in the U.S. On your next drive to Las Vegas make sure to stop and pay a visit to one of the most popular road stops near Palm Spring. This dinosaur gift shop sells a lot of quirky toys and dinosaurs souvenir. If you or your kid a fan of little foot and t-rex, you don’t want to miss this weird place to visit in California.
Address: 50770 Seminole Dr, Cabazon, CA
11. The Houdini Mansion
The estate is not owned by Harry Houdini, but by Ralph Walker, a close friend of Houdini. Having gone through some brush fire, the current mansion is a restoration of the classic, palatial European house with stone carvings, waterfalls, exotic plants, and French gardens. Situated in Laurel Canyon, this unusual place to see in California was once a lookout mountain where Houdini used this place to practice his underwater routines. But there were unconfirmed documents or pictures of the man himself being photographed here. The rumor of ghost sightings, therefore, might not be related to Houdini, but to the scandalous murder cases that happened here before Houdini’s time.
Address: 2400 Laurel Canyon Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90046, USA
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12. Hearst Castle
California is known for its grand mansions in Malibu, but one rarely thinks of castles when they picture this sunny state. Hearst Castle, built-in Cambria, California, defies these expectations. This unusual place in California was designed by architect Julia Morgan, one of the first major female architects, for newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst. He worked with Julia to bring to life the different styles he’d seen in Europe and the bungalow he originally envisioned morphed into a sprawling estate of expansive gardens and 3 houses – the main Casa Del Mar and two guest houses, Casa del Monte and Casa del Sol.
Address: 750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA
13. Old LA Zoo in Griffith Park
The old LA zoo used to house only 15 species of animals. Opened in 1912 and officially closed in 1966, the zoo lacked proper funding while the animals faced cramped living conditions, starvation, and death. Hence, the new LA Zoo was moved 2 miles down the road with bigger and better infrastructure, along with improved and humane living space. The most photographed area is the chimpanzee pit with manmade cave structures and small, abandoned, graffiti-lined cages.
Address: Griffith Park Dr, Los Angeles, CA 90189, USA
14. Desert Christ Park
Hundreds of faithful Christians traveled on the easter day of 1951 out into the desert near Palm Springs to observe the installments of dozens of ministry statues. These statues have a combined weight of 7 tons. You’ll imagine them being very hard to move back within the ’50s. Today, the statues are still standing strong and can be visited by any visitors and the unique history of it make it one of the strangest places in California.
Address: 56200 Sunnyslope Dr, Yucca Valley, CA
15. Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch on route 66
Millions of trips are made between Los Angeles and Las Vegas every year, but more than 99% of the people will miss one of the coolest sites and weird places to see in California right the middle between the two cities. Elmer Long spent years turning in his front yard into an incredible forest of bottle trees. These art installations make Elmer’s Bottle Tree Ranch one of the coolest roadside stops in the country.
Address: 24266 National Trails Hwy, Oro Grande, CA
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16. Noah’s Purifoy’s Desert Art Museum
Noah Purifoy was once tired of city life and seek to find a place big enough to express his great creativity. The desert of Joshua Tree is the same place where he picked to spend the next several years creating large scale artworks. Today, visitors can stop by this outdoor art museum that is also known as one of the unusual places to visit California to appreciate dozens of art installments in the middle of the desert. This place is located near the town of Joshua Tree and only a few miles from Joshua Tree National Park.
Address: 62975 Blair Ln, Joshua Tree, CA
So far we have discussed the top unusual places in California, which contains the proper information regarding all the famous strange places in California. I hope you might have loved reading this article and if you love to know more about California kindly head to our other articles as well which will help you to get knowledge about.