The Big List of Northern California Strange & Unique Spots

After writing about my favorite strange spots in Southern California, I realized that there are a lot of people that like exploring the more unique stuff like I do. While I haven’t traveled to Northern California as much as I would like, this post will continue to grow and expand as I find new places to visit and new unique things to see. Be sure to leave a comment in the post below if you have a recommendation for me, and don’t hesitate to dive into all the awesome places below (counties listed in alphabetical order, click the photo to read the post about the location).

Amador County

Black Chasm Caverns

Black Chasm Caverns 4

A beautiful cavern that you can go down into and explore. You can only see it by taking one of the tours, but it is so amazing with massive rooms and rock formations that it is worth taking the trip to see it.

Indian Grinding Rock State Park

Indian Grinding Rock State Park 14

This park is exactly as the name implies; it is a MASSIVE rock that was used by the Indians that lived in the area to grind their food on. I have honestly never seen a rock in the ground like this and of this size, definitely worth checking out.

Butte County

Honey Run Covered Bridge

Honey Run Bridge-6

This covered bridge outside of Chico is one of the most unique bridges in the entire state. Be sure to add it to your list, especially if you are a photographer.

Calaveras County

Moaning Cavern

Moaning Cavern-11

A cave the size of the Statue of Liberty that you can repel into, Moaning Cavern is a spot that should be on every adventurers list.

Del Norte County

Fish Hatchery

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Located only 15 minutes from the Oregon / California border is a fish hatchery that is open to the public where you can observe the life cycle of fish. They even have tours during the day where you can listen to them talk about why a hatchery is needed and show you how the process works.

Fresno County

Forestiere Underground Gardens

forestiere underground gardens-14

This fantastic spot in Fresno allows you to tour a historical set of underground caves created by one man in the early 1900’s as a way to escape the Fresno heat.

Humboldt County

Eternal Treehouse

Eternal Treehouse-7

At the North end of the Avenue of the Giants sits the Eternal Treehouse. While there is not much to do here, it is still an awesome treehouse made at the bottom of a massive redwood. You can walk inside and even sign the guest book.

Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree

Chandelier Drive Thru Tree-7

The most popular of the three drive-thru trees, this tree in Leggett, CA has been attracting visitors for decades. You will probably wait in line to drive through it, but it is worth it.

Trees of Mystery

Tree of Mystery-1

Redefining what a roadside attraction should be, the massive Trees of Mystery should be a stop on everyone’s list. As soon as you see the 60 foot tall Paul Bunyan and his Ox, pull off and explore all of the crazy trees they have in the park and take the sky tram up above the trees for a spectacular view.

Mendocino County

Glass Beach

Glass Beach-7

An infamous spot on the California Coast, Glass Beach has been attracting visitors for years. The beach is full of tiny glass pebbles that washed up after the city threw its trash into the ocean decades ago. It is a unique stop.

Pygmy Forest

Pygmy Forest-4

The pygmy forest near Mendocino is home to tons of minuscule 100-year-old trees. Due to science that I do not fully understand the trees are not able to fully develop. It has an awesome walkway that takes you through the trees to explore the area.

Napa County

Old Faithful Geyser

Monterey Wax Museum-6

The Spirit of Monterey Wax Museum is located right in the middle of Cannery Row and it features a dated yet still cool way to explore the areas history. I even learned that they used to fight bulls and bears here as well.

Napa County

Old Faithful Geyser

Old Faithful Geyser-8

In the city of Calistoga sits this unique old geyser that still erupts every hour for 4 to 8 minutes. It is a super fun place to visit for the whole family and is known as the Old Faithful of California.

Petrified Forest

Petrified Forest-19

Only about 10 minutes from the Old Faithful Geyser sits this collection of some of the best petrified trees in the entire United States. There is a half-mile loop trail that you can take which allows you to see a whole bunch of them.

Castello di Amorosa

Castello di Amorosa-24

If trees and geysers are not your thing then be sure to check out the castle winery called Castello di Amorosa, which is a fantastic spot to spend a half day exploring.

Nevada County

Donner Summit Railroad Hike

Summit Tunnel at Donner Pass 26

Located near the top of the Donner Summit Pass, the old abandoned railroad tunnels are a spooky but unique place for a hike. I walked through them for a mile or so but wish I would have had time to see more.

Kentucky Mine Museum

Kentucky Mine Museum 23

This museum is one of the best maintained gold mines in all of California. It is 4 stories tall and the belt-based system is still functional to this day. They also have a ton of bats that live in the stamp mill and if you are lucky you can see those as well.

Sierra Buttes Fire Lookout

Sierra Buttes Fire Outlook 4

As one of my favorite hikes in the entire state, this is a must do for the adventure seekers. Let me warn you though, it is pretty crazy when you get to the top of this old fire lookout and have to climb a series of staircases with big drop offs on either side.

Sacramento County

The Squeeze Inn

Squeeze Inn-6

This burger joint has been making burgers for over a decade with a cheese skirt. The cheese is piled on then ice is used to keep it from burning, creating a crazy and unique burger.

Fanny Anns Saloon


Located in Old Town Sacramento this fun restaurant is an overload of your senses. It is full of artifacts and history from the state capitol and has a selection of crazy types of hamburgers that you can partake in.

Old Town


Old Town itself is a fun place to explore in Sacramento. The city streets are designed to look like the historic days of California and they are full of shops, food spots and museum. You can easily spend a half day exploring here.

Toad’s Hollow

Toad Hollow-4

An underpass designed specifically for toads, allowing them to make a safe crossing at a major street.

Sutter’s Fort

Sutter Fort-3

A well built historic fort right in the middle of bustling Sacramento, Sutter’s Fort is a stop that will help you learn about California’s past.

San Francisco County

Mosaic Steps

Mosiac Steps San Francisco

The mosaic steps in San Francisco are one of those places everyone has seen in an online photo, but no one knows where they actually are. When you see them for the first time, you will be blown away by how beautiful and artistic this small community project ended up turning out.

Cypress Tree Tunnel

Cypress Tree Tunnel-3

One of the most beautiful spots in the entire county for photos, the Cypress Tree Tunnel in Point Reyes National Seashore is a must visit.

Mt Diablo

North Peak Mt Diablo 12

Mt Diablo is known as one of the best places in the United States for views. On clear days, it seems like you can see forever. This mountain is accessible via a road you can drive all the way up, or you can hike one of the trails if you so desire.

Wave Organ

Wave Organ San Francisco 10

The wave organ is a unique art installation in San Francisco. It is said that when the waves crash against it, you can hear different sounds like an organ. When I have been there, I have never heard anything, but it is a fun spot and has great views of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Palace of Fine Arts

Palace of Fine Arts 11

Another place where you will have a hard time believing that it is in San Francisco, the Palace of Fine Arts is a stunning spot. I love just strolling through the park and walking under the central dome. It is like seeing Europe in the USA.

Sutro Baths

Sutro Baths-7

These historic swimming pools were once a huge attraction in San Francisco. All that is left now is the rubble, but it is a great spot to explore and to watch the sunset at.

San Joaquin County

A&W Root Beer Birthplace

Original A W Root Beer-9

Explore the birthplace of this famous fast food establishment in the city of Lodi.

Santa Clara County

Winchester House


I visited here a long time ago, but the tour of this crazy eclectic house is something that everyone needs to go on at least once. The house is so big and convoluted that you actually walk a full mile while on the tour.

San Mateo County

Ano Nuevo State Park

Ano Nuevo State Park-8

A park where you can hike and get up close to elephant seals in their natural habitat. It is a lot of fun and provides many hiking trails to explore.

Devil’s Slide

Devils Slide Trail-15

This old section of Pacific Coast Highway was closed to drivers but open to hikers and bikers. It is a great spot for a really fun hike along the old road.

Taco Bell on the Beach

Taco Bell Beach-3

Not much to say about this spot other than that it is a Taco Bell that is pretty much right on the sand in the city of Pacifica. If you want a cheap taco and a view it is hard to beat.

Shark Fin Cove

Shark Fin Cove-10

This awesome beach has a massive rock out in the water that looks like a big shark fin. It is one of my favorite places to explore in the are and a great stop on any road trip.

Santa Cruz County

Egg Vending Machine

Glaum Egg Vending Machine5

In the city of Aptos near Santa Cruz sits a vending machine that sells eggs. Yes, a vending machine. It is attached to an egg farm and when you buy your eggs a curtain rises and you get to see a fun musical show.

Bigfoot Discovery Museum

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In the hills overlooking Santa Cruz, you can talk to some people who are 100% sure Bigfoot exists. This small two-room museum is home to a ton of information on Bigfoot as well as souvenirs and maps of where he has been seen.

Sunken Ship

Seacliff Shipwreck Pier 12

At the end of the pier in Aptos is a massive sunken cement ship from the WWII era. It is a fantastic place to take photographs and a unique site to see. It is located in Seacliff State Beach.

Mystery Spot

Mystery Spot Santa Cruz 2

One of Santa Cruz’s most famous attractions, the Mystery Spot is a place you need to experience on your own. I could tell you about it but it wouldn’t really make sense, if you are interested then just go see it.

The Giant Dipper

Giant Dipper from sea

No trip to Santa Cruz would be complete without a ride on one of California’s oldest roller coasters. It is located right on the Santa Cruz boardwalk.

Shasta County

Weed Gift Shop


The small town of Weed is home to an amusing gift shop. You can tell that a lot of college students come up here just for a new Facebook photo but some of the stuff they had there made me laugh as well. It is right off Highway 5 and is an easy stop.

Sundial Bridge


Located in Redding, this famous bridge is both loved and hated. Regardless it is a beautiful bridge and a great place to explore. I for one like that it is so unique.

Siskiyou‎ County

Skull Cave

skull cave-3

One of the most impressive caves in California, Skull Cave is a must visit in Lava Beds National Monument.

Tehama County

Bumpass Hell


The geothermal pits in Lassen National Park are a total trip. They stink, are strangely colored and are really hot. It is like what you would see in Yellowstone, only in California. It is a place you need to have on your list.

Olive Pit


The Olive Pit is on here since I just always love stopping at it while I am driving in Northern California. It usually has 20 different samples of olives and another 20 samples of olive oils. It is a fun spot to go hungry too.

Tulare County

Bravo Farms

Bravo Farms 9

My go to stop while driving on Highway 99 is Bravo Farms. This magical roadside attraction has everything from shopping and restaurants to a full seven story tall tree house that you can explore. There are even animals to feed out back if your children want to do that. I can easily spend an hour just looking at all the crazy stuff they have here.

Kingsburg Jail

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This historic jail located right off Highway 99 is a fun little stop. The jail itself is only a few rooms and it sits under a massive Swedish Coffee Pot Water Tower. Yes, another thing you need to see to believe.

Sun-Maid Store

Sun Main Store 10

The Sun-Maid Raisin store, which is located adjacent to the distribution center, holds the world’s largest raisin box on its hallowed grounds. The store also has a ton of samples that you can partake in as well and is a fun stop for a few photos.

So there you have it, my list of strange and fun places in Northern California. This list will continue to expand as I explore more, and I would love to hear what you think I left off in the comments.

Also, read all about my Southern California spots here.


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About JoshMc

Thanks for checking out the blog, I am happy to be sharing my adventures with you! You can get to know me by reading my about me, which includes a video and additional information on the site, myself and my full disclosure. Also, follow along on Twitter here or read all of my posts on this blog here.

  • Amanda

    Also. The Top of Mt. Diablo is a fun trip. A lot of people make the trek to ride their bikes up that steep windy mountain, but we’ve driven our car up, and the view from the top is incredible.

    • Great idea! I added that to the list!

      • Amanda

        Cool! Thanks 😊👍.
        I really like your site. I’ve lived in Northern CA my whole life and there’s still so much to see! I’ve only been to a handful of places on this list.

        • Thanks! I agree, I still have hundreds of things to see in California!

  • Walt

    Learn to spell! There vs their???
    Sorry, my pet peeve.

  • Brandon Taylor

    A few corrections:
    1. The Kingsburg Jail is actually in Kingsburg, which is in Fresno not Kings County.
    2. Bravo Farms is in Traver, which is in Tulare County.
    2. The Sunmaid Rasin store is also in Kingsburg, in Fresno County.

    Really enjoyed the list. Thank you!

    • Thanks for the fixes!

    • Pamela Forman

      Also, Highway 1 is referred to as Highway 1 in Northern and central California, not PCH or Pacific Coast Highway – that’ only in SoCal. BUT, love this site and thanks for all the work you do!

  • L

    Bidwell mansion in Chico along with the amazing Chico state and downtown areas

    • Good recommendation, thanks!

  • Milo

    Forestiere Undergound Gardens in Fresno

  • Gregory Go

    Wow this is awesome! Wish I found this before I had to spend years discovering this on my own… Looking forward to reading the SoCal version!

    • Thanks for the comment and it is fun to discover them on your own as well 🙂 do be sure to check out the SoCal one as there is a lot more recommendations!

  • Thanks for the comment Marcus, I have been there and it is a fun spot! I need to write a post about it one of these days!

  • Alison

    Very fun list! I have lived in Marin County for 25 years and travelled a lot around CA, and there are several things on this list I did not know about and now plan to visit. I’ e been following your blog for a while and it is always an enjoyable read. Thanks!

    • Thanks for the comment and glad there were a few new spots for you to explore!

  • Thanks for the comment, have fun exploring!

  • Paula Gunnings

    Heading down from WA state next summer on motorcycles…wondering if these places are accessible via sport bikes??
    I’m from NorCal but haven’t seen most of these places and I’m super excited to check some of them out.

    • Most all of these are on the main roads and only a few require some hiking to get to them. Let me know if you have any specific ones you have questions about.

  • Kaylee Dogtree

    Thanks for making these, you rock 🙂

    • No problem! Glad you enjoyed it

  • giri

    Awesome list!

  • Cheryl Hamil

    Thank you – this was exactly the type of list I was looking for!!