The new year is here, and we’ve gotta start it on the right foot! Here are some amazing ideas to add to your bucket list this year, some of which are local and some of which are further away. Don’t forget to click on each item to learn more about it.
1. Plan ahead to catch Yosemite’s rare glowing ‘Firefall’
Every year from mid to late February, for a few fleeting moments, if the conditions are exactly right, Yosemite’s Horsetail waterfalls illuminate into a spectacular orange spectrum as the water reflects the setting sun. For this to happen though, the temperatures need to be within a certain range, so that there’s a sufficient amount of snow and water flowing. Additionally, the skies need to be perfectly clear so nothing interferes with the rays of light which makes it quite a rare sight indeed.
2. Pay a visit to this peaceful, lesser-known Bay Area monument
The Bay Area is home to some of the most recognizable landmarks in the world, but even locals may not know about the Pulgas Water Temple, a tranquil monument and reflecting pool in the countryside of Redwood City. San Francisco built this monument back in 1938 to celebrate the engineering marvel that carried water from the Sierra Nevada mountains on a 160-mile journey to the Bay. Only 2 other such water temples exist in the United States.
3. Check out UC Berkeley’s T. rex skeleton
This T. rex skeleton at UC Berkeley is one of the most complete ones to date! The specimen, affectionately named Osborn, is about 90% complete, only missing a few bones from its tail. It has proudly stood on the building’s ground floor since 1995, when a team of professors, sculptors, and undergraduate researchers carefully constructed it piece by piece.
4. Search for this heart-shaped street hidden in plain sight
San Bruno christened itself as the “City With a Heart” as a result of this heart-shaped housing tract in a neighborhood near Bayshore Freeway. Some might see it as romantic, and others might think it’s tacky, but there’s no denying that this heart hidden in plain sight is extremely unique!
5. Experience an unforgettable yoga class inside Grace Cathedral
Every Tuesday spiritual worlds unite in a darkened cathedral, illuminated with colorful light trickling in from the stained glass windows. Multicolored mats cover the floors of the vast cathedral as a yoga session begins, accompanied by beautiful live instrumentals. It’s fair to say that yoga sessions at Grace Cathedral are simply divine.
7. Walk among the redwoods at this skywalk in Eureka
Sequoia Park Zoo revealed this brand new Redwood Sky Walk this year, and it’s seriously blowing us away! The breathtaking pathway is suspended from the redwood trees themselves, hanging at a whopping 100 feet above the ground at its highest point. Visitors will stroll through the biggest and tallest trees in the world, about a third of the way up into the 250-foot canopy.
8. Take a ride on this alpine coaster with stunning views of Lake Tahoe
9. Trip out at this psychedelic mirror maze at Pier 39
Magowan’s Infinite Mirror Maze is the ultimate fun house, outfitted with 77 mirrors and dozens of black lights so as to really step up the difficulty of escaping the labyrinth. Not only do the lights flash through different neon colors, but the whole experience is accompanied by blasting ’80s music!
10. Take a spin on this 100-year-old wooden roller coaster
The Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk has been entertaining generations of Californians for decades since it was founded in 1907. Easily its most famous ride is the Giant Dipper, a legendary wooden roller coaster with amazing views of the beach and a fascinating history!
11. Visit some wonderful lesser-known museums in San Francisco
Here is an entire network of lesser-known museums and collections specializing in everything from LSD blotter art to model boats! We rounded up a great list of 20, but here are some of our favorites:
12. Treat your taste buds with these weird and wonderful menu items around the city
Who’s hungry?! With all the creative people living in this amazing city, San Francisco has an enormous amount of unique and delicious food to offer. Check out our roundup to learn all about the weird, wacky, and wonderful menu items in San Francisco that you have got to try at least once. In the meantime, here are a few of our favorites:
- Doomsday sandwich from Ike’s Sandwiches
- Grasshopper tacos from La Oaxaqueña
- Ube sourdough from Rize Up Sourdough
- Matcha soft serve with edible gold from Matcha Cafe Maiko
13. Check out one of the world’s largest displayed blue whale skeletons
Did you know that one of the world’s largest displayed blue whale skeletons can be found just down the coast? ‘Ms. Blue‘ is an authentic blue whale skeleton clocking in at 87 feet, and she’s quite the sight to behold. You can find this skeleton at Seymour Marine Discovery Center at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, California.
14. Pay a visit to SF Botanical Garden’s incredibly rare albino redwood
This coastal redwood tree, or Sequoia sempervirens, has a rare mutation that creates albino shoots and leaves containing no chlorophyll. This means they have a ghostly white, skeletal appearance at the tree’s base, and cannot photosynthesize.
15. Take a trip around NorCal to see these natural wonders
This list of essential places to see in NorCal includes both small- and large-scale natural wonders, so there may be a few you haven’t heard of! Here are some of our favorites:
- Burney Falls in Shasta County
- Bumpass Hell in Lassen Volcanic National Park
- Glass Beach in Fort Bragg
- Fern Canyon in Redwood National Park
Featured image: Eddy Alexander on behalf of the City of Eureka. Courtesy of Redwood Sky Walk