California vacations generally consist of Disneyland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, the beaches, surf, and sand – and, typically large crowds. Here are five incredible places in California most people never see.

  1. Lassen Volcanic National Park

Hiking on an active volcano? Lassen Peak is a wonderful spot for cross-country skiing in the winter and hiking at other times. The most interesting section of the park is Bumpass Hell. Wooden walks take you past bubbling mud pots and colorful hot springs. Fishing, boating, and most water sports are available at Lake Almanor a few miles away.

  1. Mono Lake

Close to Yosemite National Park, Mono Lake is straight out of a sci-fi movie. This weirdly beautiful lake is one of the oldest in the world, a salt-water lake with no outlets, where almost nothing lives in the lake except algae and brine shrimp. Boating and swimming are allowed. The alien landscape is delightfully photogenic. Tufa towers, formed from limestone, stand near the south bank where springs enter the lake. During the spring and autumn migration periods, flocks of birds descend on the lake to feed on brine shrimp.

  1. Point Arena Lighthouse

A scenic drive up the coast from San Francisco, Point Arena offers incredible views of the ocean and coastline. Great for hiking, exploring, and photography. In the nearby town you can arrange for whale sighting tours. Check out the food and fun at Point Arena pier. Don’t miss Bowling Ball Beach and Glass Beach.

  1. Bodie State Historic Park

Between the Nevada border and Yosemite lies the ghost town of Bodie, thirteen miles down a dusty road The town is worth the trip. Over 100 buildings still stand. The state has maintained the buildings in the same dilapidated state they were in when the town was turned into a park in 1962. Gold was discovered there in 1959. In 1880 it had a population of 10,000 with 65 saloons in town.

  1. Sacramento

California’s capital has lots to offer. The state history museum, a railroad museum, and an aerospace museum are all both fascinating and fun. Check out the animals at the Sacramento zoo and tours of the capitol building. The city is noted for its home grown food and excellent restaurants.