The New Year has arrived, and that means it’s time to load up your backpack and cross more adventures off your bucket list.

For the average person, California is the home of celebrities, hanging ten and tech start-ups. But for the avid adventurer traveller, it is so much more.

Imagine yourself in the heart of redwood forests, camping underneath the stars or roasting marshmallows on the beach. The possibilities are endless while out in the California wilderness.

From hiking through picturesque National Parks to swimming in hot springs, or exploring the rugged coastline, there are seemingly endless ways to enjoy the natural beauty of California!

If you are ready to have an epic adventure in the Golden State during your next vacation, here are eight outdoor activities you do not want to miss out on!

1. Explore The Redwood Forests of California

Backpack your way through California’s incredible landscape and sleep amongst some of the tallest trees in the world. The Redwood National Park is one of the best places to visit in California also home to vast prairies, oak woodlands and nearly 40 miles of rugged coastline.

Best Outdoor Activities For California Vacation

Whether you are looking to experience the park in a few minutes or you want to take all week, there are numerous hikes to suit your needs and four developed campgrounds if you choose to stay longer.

It is the perfect outdoor weekend escape and a chance to lose yourself in nature for as long as you want. Who knows, maybe you will even run into Sasquatch?

2. Go snorkeling around Catalina Island

Catalina Island is located just off the coast of California and forms part of the Channel Islands archipelago. It is known for its wildlife, dive sites and Mt Orizaba as its highest peak.

Best outdoor activities

The island is only a short one-hour boat trip away from the mainland, making it the perfect day-trip option for adventure enthusiasts. The waters around the island are protected making them ideal for snorkelling and scuba diving. Keep an eye out for tall kelp forests, healthy coral reefs, an abundance of tropical fish and even shipwrecks!

And if a few hours there is not enough for you, the island boasts hotels and campgrounds for those who want to rough it.

3. Camp at Wild Willy’s hot springs

Imagine waking up to pockets of steam rising from a plain surrounded by mountains in all directions. That’s exactly what you will find when you camp at Wild Willy’s Hot Springs.

Situated in the Long Valley Caldera south of Mammoth Lakes, Wild Willy’s is the most accessible hot spring to travellers in the area. The natural hot spring is found at the end of a boardwalk and is surrounded by a dramatic backdrop with temperatures ranging between 95 to
105 degrees.

Best Outdoor Activities for california vacation

Camping in this pristine environment is one of best outdoor activities you can do in California. It gives you the perfect opportunity to enjoy this natural wonder at any time of year while taking in the stunning views of the Eastern Sierra.

Just remember to practice No Trace principles when visiting areas like Wild Willy’s to ensure the environment remains clean and can be enjoyed by outdoor enthusiasts for generations to come.

4. Visit Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree is a place where two deserts meet. The distinct desert ecosystems of the Mojave and Colorado bring together a fascinating variety of wildlife and an extraordinary landscape. It is one of the most incredible places to go in California. The park is nearly 800,000 acres that is shaped by strong winds and dramatic climate changes.

Best Outdoor Activities for California Vacation

Joshua Tree is the perfect refuge for travelers looking to get away from the city, out into nature and experience pure silence. Whether you are after a short nature walk, a strenuous backpacking trip or a ranger-led tour, the park will satisfy your outdoor wanderlust and then some.

Make sure you plan a stop at Skull Rock, Cottonwood Spring, Black Rock Canyon and Keys View which has a panoramic lookout over Coachella Valley.

5. Hike the Bear Flat Trail:

Just an hour outside of LA, lies the tallest mountain in the county, Mt. Baldy, standing at 10, 064 feet.

Best Outdoor Activities For California Vacation

The 13-mile hike offers views of the San Gabriel Mountains, has a nearly 6000 ft elevation gain and will only take you a full day to complete. The Bear Flat Trail is also one of the less travelled trails to the summit of Mt. Baldy which means it is a tougher hike, but you get to avoid the crowds. It’s a great trail for spring and fall, and even winter if snow has not yet fallen.

Summiting Mt Baldy is a California outdoor activity not for the faint of heart and one that deserves a spot on your bucket list for sure!

6. Rock climb at Saddle Peak:

Picture yourself rock climbing the Santa Monica Mountains, staying for sunset and enjoying the incredible views of Malibu down below. This is what lies in store for you at Saddle Peak.

Best Outdoor Activities for california vacation

Saddle Peak offers fifteen bolt protected sports routes ranging from 5.5 to 5.10d which require traditional supplemental gear depending on your skill level. After a short hike, you will find yourself in prime position for some excellent climbing. Climbers will find the routes are all mainly on a slant which makes it a perfect spot to bring a beginner to learn top rope.

All the routes range from 50-60′ high, but just remember to bring sunscreen or a hat once you have reached the top of the rocks to avoid descending as a human lobster hybrid.

7. Discover the lesser-known beaches with your bike:

Get outside and off the beaten track by exploring some of California’s lesser known beaches on your bike.

It’s a great way to avoid the crowds on popular beaches like Venice and Santa Monica and explore the quieter, but equally charming beach communities of Manhattan, Hermosa and Redondo.

Rent a bike, a lock and ride around the iconic Marvin Braude Trail, known to locals as “The Strand”. It is 22 miles of coastal scenery with a path that runs under palm trees and licks the beach sand.

Beach in california

The trail starts at Will Rogers State Beach and continues past famous surf breaks, under the Santa Monica Pier, and all the up to the lesser known beaches before ending at Torrance County Beach.

8. Camp by the ocean at San Elijo:

What screams a California trip more than waking up on the beach and grabbing your surfboard to hit some waves?

The San Elijo campground is located on a cliff overlooking the ocean and next to San Elijo Lagoon, making it a prime location for a bunch of outdoor activities. From hiking, running or surfing not only is it one of the best places to visit in California, but it’s also an outdoor lover’s dream come true!

Don’t know how to surf? Sign yourself up for some classes at the surf school. Another great perk about camping here is that it’s nearby numerous coffee shops and fast food outlets. All you need to do is simply walk across the road to rediscover civilization.


Camp by the ocean at San Elijo

California’s landscape is remarkable and an affordable getaway for all kinds of outdoor travelers. Whether you are looking for challenging hikes, scenic bike rides or lazy days snorkeling in clear blue water, the Golden State sure knows how to deliver an action-packed outdoor holiday.

Has your desire for adventure kicked in yet? Which of these epic outdoor California attractions will you be adding to your bucket list in 2017?