Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known Destinations in California We Love

Culture Call: Five Lesser-Known Destinations in California We Love

land of squishy avocados, juicy oranges and even juicier
celebrity gossip, how we love you. Los Angeles and San Francisco
might be the most common bookends of a romp across The Golden
State, but to really get a feel for this West Coast megalith, we
suggest plotting some more alternative destinations on your
itinerary. We’ve picked out five of our favourite stop-offs perfect
for those planning a long weekend or looking for a less obvious
pit-stop on that once-in-a-lifetime road trip you’re planning post


California, United States

Why we can’t wait to visit again: Don’t let
it’s small, village-y vibe fool you; Ojai has a lot going on.
Beyond the art galleries and New Age shops that huddle in the
stucco collonaded town centre, a valley riven with vineyards and
desert spas opens up. This place is one for bohemian types who
prefer to go slow – a fabulously hippy antidote to nearby Los

Where we’re staying: The Capri Hotel

Before you go: Listen to The
, a musical husband-and-wife duo comprised of
Florence and Benjamin Clementine who live out on Ojai’s remote,
dusty plains.


California, United States

Why we can’t wait to visit again: Smothered in
red pines and scored by the snaking Russian River – which was awash
with log-laden rafts back in the day – Guerneville’s surroundings
are very old-school Cali. It’s a buzzy little town with a sandy,
riverside “beach”, a glut of hiking trails and a patchwork of
diverse, LGBTQ+-friendly bars where sun-baked revellers unwind long
into the evening.

Where we’re staying: Boon Hotel + Spa

Before you go: Pick up a copy of Joan Didion’s
Where I Was From, a collection of essays on
California’s cultural evolution over the past half a century or


California, United States

Why we can’t wait to visit again: It’s coastal,
but don’t expect any beaches. The westward perimeter of Mendocino
is a jagged fringe of rugged rocks which beg to be walked, though
those feeling exceptionally Californian can join locals in a spot
of clifftop yoga, of course. Instead of taking a room in one of the
town’s hotels, we suggest giving the Russian Gulch State Park the
attention it deserves by camping out under its dense forest canopy.
Don’t leave without taking in the iconic Russian Gulch Bridge which
spans the canyon.

Where we’re staying: Mendocino

Before you go: Watch the 1955 film adaptation
of Steinbeck’s East of Eden, featuring a smouldering James Dean as
Cal Trask. It’s vintage Hollywood at its finest and filmed largely
in Mendocino County.


California, United States

Why we can’t wait to visit again: If you’re in
San Francisco, it would be criminal to not hop over the Oakland Bay
Bridge to Oakland, the neighbouring city credited with kickstarting
the Bay Area’s now-legendary hip-hop scene back in the 80s. Music
hums through the city, but there’s more to it than that. We’re
stopping by the Chapel of the Chimes – a dark but beautiful
Moorish-gothic cemetery – taking a circus class in one of the
city’s cavernous old warehouses and spending the evening at
Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon, a dive bar built from the
remains of a whaling ship.

Where we’re staying: Oakland’s not overflowing
with hotels, but the Z Hotel Jack London Square will do the job.

Before you go: Refresh your playlists with some
original Oakland hip-hop. Try Cassidine

Slab City

California, United States

Why we can’t wait to visit again: We’ve ogled
the mellifluous Salvation Mountain at Slab City for so many years
we’re unsure as to whether it really counts as a ‘”less-obvious”
destination, but we’re including it anyway. Just over an hour’s
drive from Palm Springs, it’s a glorious stand-alone oasis in the
middle of the Imperial County desert designed by local resident,
Leonard Knight. Don’t just climb the mountain, take a pew at the
Slab City Library and stroll about the Edge Road Rest Area Memorial
Park. Sunscreen is a must.

Where we’re staying: Orbit In

Before you go: Get a feel for the eccentric
Slab City community by reading this
by Charlie Hailey and Donovan Wylie.

Aerial shot of the town of Bisbee in Arizona

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