Green living is good for the planet — we know that and you probably do too — but it’s easy to forget what we’re fighting for. Reconnecting with nature is a great way to remind yourself why you live sustainably. For those of us in the Golden State, it’s even easier. Many of the best places to visit in California are also breathtaking natural wonders.
Yosemite, Lake Tahoe, and Death Valley are all awe-inspiring places, but they’re also incredibly popular. Oftentimes large throngs of people can disturb the natural ecosystem as well as your peace of mind.
For this reason, it’s becoming more and more important to find low-traffic, high-quality natural wonders.
Today, we’re taking you off the beaten path to some of the best places to visit in California where you can enjoy nature in peace!
Sunset Cliffs, San Diego
San Diego is already one of the best places to visit in California with several natural attractions like whale watching and sea caves. However, residents of San Diego know of other natural wonders that aren’t overrun by tourists.
Lofty cliffs, vast ocean views, and rugged coastline characterizes Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Although it’s a beautiful place to visit at any time of the day, as the name implies, the real magic happens at dusk.
When the sun starts to go down, Sunset Cliffs reveals its most popular trait: heart-stopping, wondrous sunsets. These sunsets are some of the most beautiful of the entire West Coast.
Trona Pinnacles, Ridgecrest
About 3 hours north of Barstow — in the thick of the Southern California desert — there are 14 square miles of natural stone spires. These calcium carbonate tufa, as they’re called, make up the Trona Pinnacles.
Since the Trona Pinnacles are so remote, large crowds usually aren’t a problem. In fact, the biggest obstacle you’ll face is trying to see all of the spires — there are more than 500 of them.
The Trona Pinnacles make it easy to forget you’re not in a Tolkien novel. The mystical spires projecting out of the desolate landscape make for one of the most unique views in North America and are definitely one of the best places to visit in California.
Pfeiffer Beach, Big Sur
Nestled in the rugged, mountainous coast of Monterey County, Big Sur has it all. Among its strenuous mountain trails and stunning coastline views, you‘ll find peace, serenity, and a refreshed appreciation for nature. However, there’s one place in Big Sur that stands above them all: Pfeiffer Beach.
A favorite for locals, Pfeiffer Beach is a hidden gem that’s largely unknown to tourists. The offshore rock formations and unusual purple sand make it a great place for a fun day at the beach. As the day turns to evening, though, it’s the setting sun that will truly take your breath away.
Just before the sun falls below the horizon, it’s framed perfectly within Keyhole Arch as it illuminates the beach in a warm orange glow. It’s this magnificent sunset that earns Pfeiffer Beach its spot as one of the best places to visit in California.
Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County
One of the best places to visit in California, Point Reyes National Seashore is home to pristine beaches, hidden waterfalls, and soaring redwoods. There’s also a menagerie of native species that call Point Reyes home — including a particularly spectacular type of algae.
Dubbed Nature’s Night Lights by the National Parks Conservancy Association (NCPA), these tiny lozenges of light have adopted a natural glow to ward off some predators. When night falls on Tomales Bay, movement in the water can trigger this natural defense. As a result, the dark water begins to glimmer a brilliant blue.
This phenomenon — known as bioluminescence — is not uncommon in algae. However, it remains a unique, little-known bonus of exploring Point Reyes.
Burney Falls, Shasta County
This final Californian natural wonder is more popular, but it’s too amazing not to include. Burney Falls in Shasta County is surely one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the continent.
Although it’s not the tallest waterfall in the state, Burney Falls is by far the most breathtaking. In fact, President Teddy Roosevelt rightfully declared Burney Falls as the 8th Wonder of the World. However, with these accolades comes lots of tourists during the late spring and summer months.
Every day, more than 100 million gallons of water flow through the falls. Since it’s supplied by underground volcanic springs, Burney Falls is perfect at any time of the year. If you’re not afraid of chilly temperatures, visit in the winter or early spring, and you’ll be able to avoid slews of tourists.
The Best Places to Visit in California
California is full of amazing natural wonders. Unfortunately, tourists flock to many of these places throughout the year. Multitudes of people tend to damage the natural environment and hinder your ability to enjoy yourself.
Luckily, there are plenty of breathtaking natural wonders in California that are largely untouched by humankind. By visiting these places, you can remind yourself why you live sustainably and check a few places off of your green bucket list, too!
What are your favorite little-known natural wonders? Leave a comment and let us know!