Hi fellow travelers! I’m Jeanine Romo – a travel blogger who loves exploring the outdoors and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Thanks for stopping by my travel guide on the best hidden gems of California. I was born and raised in California and grew up in a suburban city in Los Angeles county.
Ever since I was little, I have loved taking road trips, going on hikes and being outside. My love for travel evolved just after I graduated from university. I traveled as much as I could and figured out how to do it more often and for less money. The more I traveled, the more I fell in love with it.
I had always loved taking photos during my travels but I didn’t get into photography until a couple of years ago. The more I traveled, the more I learned about the intricacies of photography. After traveling for a while, I started to get many questions from friends and people on social media.
People wanted travel tips and to learn about different destinations. They would ask me how I traveled and where I got the money to travel. All of these things weren’t a secret. It just took time and research to figure out. So I decided to write my own travel tips and destination guides.
I have been writing on my travel blog for almost four years now. My podcast has been up and running for the past two years as well. Photography and content creation is something I started dabbling in a few years ago but recently have been doing it more actively. It has been an amazing journey!
Why California is Amazing
California is a special state. We have hundreds of miles of beautiful coastline, majestic mountains and some of the best national parks in the world. It’s a state full of bustling cities and kitschy small towns – but also somewhere where you can easily get outdoors and feel at one with nature.
I love being able to do a bit of everything within one state. You can visit the desert, mountains and beach on the same day if you want to. One of my favorite places in Cali is Mono Lake. It looks like another planet and is still a hidden gem. I have been there several times now and never get tired of it.
Best Hidden Gems of California
Death Valley National Park, Alabama Hills and Palomar Mountain State Park are the three hidden gems I recommend checking out in California.
Death Valley National Park isn’t really a hidden gem anymore but I don’t think the park gets the credit it deserves. Anyone going there should visit Artist Palette, Badwater Basin and Zabriskie Point. Although Yosemite and Joshua Tree get a lot more hype, Death Valley just has a unique feel to it.
The Alabama Hills, on the other hand, offer incredible rock formations and eroded hills set between the peaks of the Sierra Nevada. Here you can enjoy outdoor adventures such as hiking, rock climbing, visiting photography spots and hunting for wildflowers that bloom in spring.
Then there is Palomar Mountain State Park in San Diego. Discover pine and cedar trees in the midst of a beautiful forest. The park has camping facilities where you can sleep in nature and enjoy all the recreational activities you want such as hiking to lookouts and fishing for trout.
Experiencing the Hidden Gems of California
The best way to experience the hidden gems of California is by doing it like a local and preferably with a local. If you don’t have a friend who lives in California opt for an Airbnb or homestay. Renting a car and going on a road trip is a great way to see a lot of places like the gems mentioned above.
Airbnbs offer a unique experience. Some of my favorite stays have been in Airbnbs. I once stayed at an alpaca farm in Catheys Valley. I would also encourage visitors who love the outdoors to check out HipCamp.com. They have cool properties where you can camp, stay in an RV or even a cabin.
If you are staying in a larger city, try to live like a local. Skip tourist traps. They are likely to disappoint you or leave a big hole in your wallet.
Awesome Food Scene of California
The food is pretty amazing in California. In Los Angeles you have an eclectic mix as it’s such a melting pot of a city. If you’re in the mood for a specific type of food there’s probably a neighborhood or small area just for that.
We have Koreatown, Little Tokyo, Little Ethiopia, Thai Town, Little Armenia and more. To enjoy a variety of what the city has to offer, head to an event called Smorgasburg LA. This is where you can find a good mix of food trucks, food stalls and other small businesses that you can sample from.
California is a huge state with a lot of diversity. I think for anyone visiting they should immerse themselves in the food. There are so many different cultures and a great way to dive in is through the food. I encourage visitors to eat at family-owned restaurants, eat street food and try new things.
Tips for the Hidden Gems of California
One thing to keep in mind for your visit to California is to always check the weather. The state is diverse and varies in temperature everywhere you go.
Some mountain roads close during winter. So it’s good to know which ones in order to plan your road trip and be prepared for those detours. Most importantly, have fun! California can be pretty laid-back and even though there is a lot to see – don’t try to cram too much into an itinerary.
Thanks for reading and enjoy exploring the hidden gems of California!