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).
Black Chasm Caverns
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
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.
Honey Run Covered Bridge
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.
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
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.
Forestiere Underground Gardens
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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.
Old Faithful Geyser
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.
Old Faithful Geyser
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.
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
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.
Donner Summit Railroad Hike
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
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
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.
The Squeeze Inn
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 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.
An underpass designed specifically for toads, allowing them to make a safe crossing at a major street.
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
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
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 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.
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
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.
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
Explore the birthplace of this famous fast food establishment in the city of Lodi.
Santa Clara County
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
One of the most impressive caves in California, Skull Cave is a must visit in Lava Beds National Monument.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.