10 Unusual and Cool Things to do in California

By Niraj Kakade on Jan 29, 2019
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California  is a state of many beautiful things. It can be defined as anything but normal. So the next time you plan your vacation there would you really want to explore it like a tourist and visit the popular clichéd places, or would you like to explore it as a traveler and go where the locals go? Well look no further we bring you a list of top 10 offbeat and unusual things to do in California.

1)  Contribute something to the Salvation Mountain 

Image Source: Brian/Flickr
There is something truly iconic about this hipster man-mad wonder. Located three hours south east of L.A. Salvation Mountain is truly one of the most remarkable, unique, and fascinating landmarks of Southern California. It has starred in a popular film like Into the Wild, this sanctuary remains a secret to most locals and is yet to be visited by many adventurers and explorers, and that’s a reward itself for Leonard Knight who spent around thirty years of his life into creating this landmark. You can be part of this legacy by helping this mountain grow with anything you do not use right now. It’s like a hipster way of recycling.

2) Catch the sunset at the Lost Sunken City

Image Source: Sergei Gussev/flickr.com

No we are not talking about Atlantis here. There is a place in San Pedro, California called The Sunken City. Many years ago a landslide caused all the houses on the cliff to fall into the ocean. You can actually see the sunken city from the cliff (Please don’t fall). What were left behind were ruins of roads, broken pipes. But that didn’t stop the spirit of California from dwindling. Now this place serves as a hub for street art and beautiful graffiti. Once inside, you can indulge in some street art or just enjoy a great view of the ocean.  

3) Visit the empty cages in Griffith Park


Image Source: Mark Fischer/Flickr  

Who doesn’t like zoos? But if you’re in L.A you know that it is always overcrowded over the weekend. In that case you may want to explore a different zoo with less people in it..and no animals either! So how is it a zoo you may ask? Well it used to be, but now it’s just abandoned. The cool thing is that the cages are left open so you can get in, explore and see how it feels to be stuck in cage. Sounds like a great location for a Peta campaign, right? It also serves as a playground for kids who have fun crawling and hopping in and out of the cages. And no one is stopping the adults from doing the same thing, while taking some good Snapchats, doesn’t it sound like the perfect place to use that dog filter? Oh and the best part about this place is it’s completely free! Even the parking! 

4) Take cool photos at the Abandoned Water Treatment Tanks & Animal Sex Painting 

California has always been about people expressing their feelings via art, no matter how weird that turns out. This place is a good example of that. While visiting the Salvation walk up to the top, you will see in the near distance two giant walls with colorful paintings on it. It might not look that interesting, but we’d suggest you to go ahead and check them out. You’ll find many paintings which may include many explicit and pornographic images of animals and weird figures of people. You’ll also find pictures of Dinosaurs and brands like McDonalds, GM, etc. What do they mean? Well that’s up to you to figure it out. If you’re tired of visiting the over-pretentious art galleries, we’d suggest you to visit this place for some true Bohemian art.

5) Stroll through Venice Canals in South California


Image Source: Sylvain Leprovost/Flickr  

There is something ironic in how Southern California just pave over natural rivers and then create artificial canals well it’s all about that California love, right?  These canals were created back in 1905 to resemble the appearance of the canals in Venice. There are several canals which are inter-connected by bridges and couple of paved roads. You’ll also find some random ducks that will walk past you, don’t step on their poop. We’d suggest you take few hours to just explore and walk around. And at the end of the day have dinner at one of the local restaurants. 

6) Buy a souvenir from the Banana Museum: World’s Largest Collection of Banana related items

Image Source: Yelp.com

If you hate Bananas look away! Many people have no idea how much a person can like a fruit. No, we’re not talking about eating several bananas a day. We’re talking about owning 17,000 banana related items and a museum out of it. Don’t believe us? You can check the Guinness Book of World Record as it is recognized for having the largest collection dedicated to a single fruit. Located southeast of Palm Springs in Mecca, CA, it was started by a guy named Ken Bannister (no seriously) who calls himself the ‘Top Banana Man” who has written books about Bananas, been on talk shows about bananas and featured in numerous newspapers and radio stations because of...Bananas! The museum consists of every banana-related item from toys, key chain, jackets, shirt, a photo album and everything banana related you can imagine.  

7) Stare at the Metal Creature Sculptures


Image Source: Tim Buss/Flickr

Borrego Spring desert region is already fascinating and awesome on its own with many peaks to climb, and numerous slot canyons to explore. However, what make this pace truly unique from all the others are these free standing metal animal sculptures that exist everywhere in the region, total of 129 of them. You might ask why they are there. Well we do not have an answer to that. But there’s no reason to complain when you have 100's of dinosaur sculptures just lying around. You can visit this place just to take that quirky instagram picture. Or if you are just into the art of metal sculptors.

8) Explore The East Jesus Desert Post Apocalyptic Art Paper

Image Source: Pixabay.com

We have already established that California has some "interesting” places to practice your art. This place is no exception! Located a mile away from the Salvation Mountain this outdoor art exhibition is called East Jesus. It was started by a man named Charles Russell who used the trash that people dump in the desert land and turned them into beautiful art work. Most of the creations you’ll see here are created by him; however, as East Jesus gained popularity, many artists from around the country come here to add their works to the collection. It is a modern way of recycling. So if you’ve got lot of trash, bring it over and make something out of it. 

9) Visit Salton Sea: Post Apocalyptic World 


Image Source: oliver.dodd/Flickr  

Largest body of water in California situated in the middle of desertsounds like Big Bear in Palm Spring? Nope, more like thousands of dead fish and abandoned ruins. This is Salton Sea, considered to be one of the strangest and coolest places in California. This infamous lake was accidentally created in early 1900’s (it was a strange time for California). This was an engineering disaster and a fail attempt at bringing Colorado River to California. The project flooded this land and created an 8,360 square miles big lake. As expected realtors wanted to take advantage of this strange creation, homes, shops, and resorts were popping up like mushroom along the sea. However, it wasn’t too long before the water became saltier than the sea due to pollution and high temperature level, which resulted in millions of dead fish flooding the shoreline

10) Visit the Abandoned Nazi Camp

Image Source: Edgar Alfonseca/flickr.com

California is just filled with so many random and weird abandoned places. You’d think that a sinking town and an abandoned old zoo are not weird enough, how about a 50 acres Nazi compound in the Santa Monica Mountain which is minutes away from the popular third street promenade.
The Murphy Ranch aka the Nazi compound or locally known to as the Nazi House. This complex was built by Nazi sympathizers in America. Winona and Norman Stephens and their followers took over the canyon and started to build this compound. The place was supposed to be self-sustaining Nazi stronghold with electricity generator, concrete walls, water tanks, and a big mansion making it the perfect place for Hitler and his military to plan a plot to take over the U.S. Of course, that didn’t work out after World War II ended quite differently than they expected and LA police raided the place, and shut down the complex. Today, the ground is open for the public to go and explore. 
So what are you waiting for? Go out there and live your strange California dream!
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