Must See California Places Off the Beaten Path
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you picture California? Is it the Hollywood sign? Perhaps Napa Valley or San Francisco? Or is it the grid-locked traffic of the busy cities? As one of the largest states in the contiguous U.S., California is much more than meets the eye. In just over 163,000 square miles, one can find beaches, forests, deserts, mountains, eight national parks, 118 state parks, and so much more. With so many places to see and enjoy, it’s no wonder that California is one of the most popular U.S. states for RV camping.
Because there is so much to do here in California, finding quieter and more secluded places to camp is actually much easier than you would expect. Continue on for a full list of beautiful, off-the-beaten path places for you to visit on your next RV trip to California
1. Monterey Bay
Our first stop brings us to Monterey Bay on the central coast of California. While this area attracts a fair amount of tourists, it’s still much less busy than other locations along the coast. This charming area has something for almost everyone with its seemingly endless list of activities, which includes whale-watching, scenic drives, golfing , pristine beaches, and, of course, the famous Monterey Bay Aquarium.
One of the first things that might come to mind with Monterey Bay is the iconic Fisherman’s Wharf. This historic pier was constructed in 1845 and is now a commercial restaurant and shopping district. While you’re visiting Monterey, we recommend you reserve a night’s stay at Bayonet Black Horse Golf Course. This high-end golf course and Harvest Host location is ranked #10 in the state and has four reservable spots to park your RV of any size. Be sure to upgrade your Harvest Host membership to include golf resorts before booking this site.
2. Town of Fort Bragg, CA
Continuing up the coast, you will stumble upon the beautiful town of Fort Bragg. This scenic getaway is best known for Glass Beach. What began as a popular place to dump garbage, has been turned back into something wonderful by nature. All the littered glass has been naturally formed into sea glass that is scattered across the beach.
In addition to the famous Glass Beach, there are also several museums, a winery, and lots of outdoor activities. While visiting Fort Bragg, Hidden Pines RV Resort is an excellent place to park your rig and retire for the night. This campground offers an ocean view along with lots of other amenities.
3. Hearst Castle
If you are in search of a unique trip, then look no further than Hearst Castle. This enchanting National Historic Landmark was constructed throughout the time period between 1919 and 1947 and features a legendary art collection that fills the 165 rooms. The castle offers a variety of tours including ones around the holidays. They also offer a special evening tour where the staff dresses in 1930s attire and you get to see the castle come to life.
Aside from the castle, the town of Cambria is home to the beautiful Moonstone Beach, which derives its name from the moonstones that periodically wash up on the shores. While visiting the beach, it’s not uncommon to spot otters and other wildlife. Here, the tide pools are also teeming with life. When you’re ready to call it a day, Hearst San Simeon State Park offers two campgrounds that aren’t too far from Hearst Castle.
4. Weed, CA
What used to be a booming lumber town has now graduated into a tiny tourist destination while still maintaining its early 1900s charm. This town is conveniently located near Castle Crags State Park, Lava Beds National Monument, Lower Klamath National Wildlife Refuge, and Mount Shasta, which is the second tallest volcano in the Cascade Mountains. But don’t worry, it only erupts every 800 years.
If you are looking to blow off some steam as well, then the perfect spot is Lake Shastina Golf Resort, where you can play twenty-seven challenging rounds of golf and also park your RV for the night with your Harvest Host membership. The course has three reservable spots and can accommodate RVs of any size.
5. Point Reyes National Seashore
While California’s national parks may receive quite a bit of attention, it is also home to one of the nation’s seven national seashores. Point Reyes National Seashore has several visitor centers which will provide you with all the information you need to hike and explore this magical area.
Activities range from horseback riding, hiking, beach picnicking, fishing, kayaking, and so much more. With all the beautiful areas waiting to be discovered, it’s recommended that you stay at least a few days in order to take it all in. When planning your trip, Olema Campground is a great place to set up camp.
6. Lassen Volcanic National Park
This is one of the less popular National Parks to visit, but we can’t figure out why. With the variety of hiking trails, star-gazing, biking, and ranger-led programs, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers all the same amenities that you’ve come to expect from the other larger parks. While there are still active volcanoes located here, don’t worry- Lassen hasn’t erupted since the early 1900’s and is actively monitored. Similar to Yellowstone, there are hydrothermal areas here surrounded by boardwalks for you to safely view them.
Everyone knows the best way to experience a National Park is to camp in them. Since this park is lesser known, the campgrounds don’t tend to fill up as quickly. Five of their campgrounds can accommodate RVs and have various operating dates and amenities.
7. Quincy, CA
If you are wanting a break from the coast, then Quincy, California is a relaxing town that comes highly recommended. What began as a gold rush town has been maintained and restored to feature an array of charming downtown buildings. This town also has a museum and an art gallery, along with lots of dining options.
To really take a step back from all the hustle and bustle that can tag along with California, we’ve selected a unique Harvest Host location that we think you would love: New England Ranch. This working ranch offers horse boarding, horse camps, and ranch tours. If waking up to a view of beautiful meadows with a mountain backdrop sounds appealing to you, then reserve their one spot, kick up your boots, and relax without a skyscraper in sight.
If you’ve never visited California or have only stuck to the most popular destinations, then we hope this provided a new insight for you. As the third largest state, California has more to offer than we could fit onto a single list. So get out there and discover your next adventure off-the-beaten-path!
Do you have a favorite California hidden adventure? Tell us about it in the comments!
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We recently stayed at Klinker Brick Winery in Lodi, CA. They have a lovely Harvest Host spot out back in the vineyard. Lodi is an interesting little town with lots of wineries and others fresh farm delights.
Twisted Oak Winery up in Vallecitos, CA is another wonderful Harvest Host hidden treasure! It’s in the “gold country” near Angels Camp and Murphys-fun to visit old mining camps and caverns in-between wine tasting and enjoying beautiful CA weather!
49er RV Ranch in Columbia, CA is tucked away up in the hills-between Angels Camp and Sonora. We walked to the Columbia State Historic Park-a living gold rush town with horse drawn stage coach rides and an old-school general merchandise store!
CA is full of fun things to see!
Hey Dawn! Thanks so much for all these recommendations. Stoked to hear you’ve been enjoying our California HH locations. 🙂