In the previous post about Outdoor Locations in New York, we uncover the many backdrops with stunning natural scenery less than a mile from the average New Yorker. In this post, we explore the incredible outdoor locations in Cali.
Are you looking for some fun outside in The Golden State? Check out these outdoor locations in California on Backdrop — and highlights of the fun things to do at those places.
For more information on any location (such as the full address, opening hours, parking information, and much more), download the Backdrop app and click the image to view Key Details.
1. Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine, California
The Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine is, as the name implies, a spiritual centre, a serene location perfect for meditation and reflection. This place is just right for someone looking for some personal time. Sitting in quiet contemplation in one of the meditation gardens is unsurprisingly the most common activity that the shrine’s callers engage in. Several beautifully tendered gardens are open for exploration before and after your meditation. The memorial to Mahatma Gandhi is also worth visiting, allowing people to reflect on his teachings and legacy of peace.
A tranquil lake surrounds the shrine, and visitors can take a boat ride. The regular services are open to the public. The teachings can then be buttressed by spiritual and inspirational items for sale – books, music, and souvenirs – sold at the gift shop. Regular yoga classes are also open to all interested individuals, providing a unique path to connecting body and mind in a pleasant setting. The Lake Shrine has several picnic areas where one can enjoy a peaceful meal surrounded by nature at its most tranquil.
📝 Things to do at Self-Realization Fellowship Lake Shrine: Meditating, exploring the gardens, taking a walk, visiting the Gandhi World Peace Memorial, taking a boat ride, attending a service, visiting the gift shop, having a picnic, taking pictures, practising yoga.
2. Vaillancourt Fountain, San Francisco, California
Vaillancourt Fountain is a unique public art installation that never fails to get people whipping out their phones and cameras to capture its distinctive design. The fountain is in a beautiful area with views of the bay and the city skyline. It is also a busy public space, making it an excellent spot for people-watching. Outdoor performances, protests and rallies over the years are held occasionally, holding one’s attention as well.
The fountain is designed to allow visitors to play in the water; even adults enjoy splashing around. Surrounded by lots of grass, there are several perfect picnic spots.
📝 Things to do when visiting the fountain: People-watching, playing in the water, listening to live music, having a picnic, taking pictures.
3. Cave of Munits, California
Cave of Munits is a popular natural attraction with several hiking trails and stunning views of the surrounding area. The tracks range from piece of cake to whew! So there is something for hikers of all skill levels. The park's main attraction is the Cave of Munits itself: an ancient cave with fascinating geological history. It is beloved by explorers, and the area around the cave is famous among rock climbers, especially experienced ones who want to take on its challenging routes. Various wildlife – including birds, squirrels, and coyotes – call the area home.
Staying open at night, the park is an excellent spot for stargazing. It also has several picnic areas to relax and enjoy meals with friends or family. Cave of Munits is an important cultural site for Native American tribes, and there are guided tours that teach visitors about the cave's formation and geological and cultural history.
📝 Things to do at the Cave of Munits: Hiking, exploring the cave, rock climbing, watching the wildlife, taking pictures and videos, joining a guided tour, stargazing at night, and having a picnic.
4. Indian Canyons, Palm Springs, California
Indian Canyons is a stunning natural area with spectacular views of the surrounding landscape from its many hiking trails. The trails range in difficulty, so there is something for hikers of all skill levels. For those seeking a more adventurous activity, there are rock climbing opportunities for experienced climbers. You can also take a guided horseback ride through the park and experience the beauty of the canyons from an elevated perspective — or take a guided jeep tour through the park. The Canyons are especially popular among landscape photographers, but portraits and even selfies look great against this backdrop.
The park is home to various birds, including eagles, hawks, and owls. Don't forget your binoculars to see how many different species you can spot. The guided tour helps learn about the Native American history and culture of the area. Indian Canyons has several campgrounds where you can spend the night and enjoy the park's beauty under the stars.
📝 Things to do at the Indian Canyons: Hiking, having a picnic, riding on horseback, taking pictures, bird watching, joining a guided tour, camping, and rock climbing.
5. The Waterfront Venice, Venice, California
This popular spot is on the beach, guaranteeing fun in the sun. The Waterfront Venice is a great spot to take a surf lesson. Several surf schools in the area offer classes for all levels. The Venice Beach Boardwalk is an ideal walk or bike ride path. There are several bike rental shops near The Waterfront Venice. It is also known for its street performers, including magicians, and live music on the weekends.
The Waterfront Venice bar serves various drinks, from beer to cocktails as beautiful as the sunset. The Waterfront Venice has several beach volleyball courts that are free to use. The Venice Canals are located just a few blocks from The Waterfront Venice. Take a stroll along the canals and enjoy the beautiful homes and gardens. The area has several art galleries, including the Venice Art Crawl. Take a stroll and enjoy the art on display.
📝 Things to do at The Waterfront Venice: Have a beach day, walk the boardwalk, watch street performers. have a drink, listen to live music, play beach volleyball, rent a bike to ride, take a surf lesson, visit the Venice Canals, enjoy the art.
6. Moorten Botanical Garden, Palm Springs, California
Exploring a desert garden is a truly unique experience that you can get at Moorten Botanical Garden. As a remarkable visual adventure, the garden is a perfect backdrop for picture and video content. It's a great place to see unique and unusual plants up close. The Cactarium, for example, is a greenhouse filled with cactus and succulent plants from around the world. There is also a plant nursery on site where you can purchase a variety of cacti and succulents to take home with you.
They offer guided tours through different garden areas, teaching you about the different plants and their history. You can also participate in scavenger hunts organised for kids and adults alike: a chance to explore the garden and learn about the different plants in a fun and more interactive way. Workshops on desert plant care and cultivation are also available as an opportunity to learn how to grow your own desert plants at home. Special events such as plant sales and art exhibits are held throughout the year. On such occasions, you can learn about the Moorten Family: Patricia and Chester Moorten, who founded the garden in 1938. There is a general picnic table area for visitors at this peaceful oasis in the desert, too, so you can take some time to sit and bask in the beauty of the garden and the scenic view of the surrounding mountains.
📝 Things to do at Moorten Botanical Garden: Take a guided tour, explore the Cactarium, attend a workshop, picnic, shop for plants, scout for shoot locations, attend a special event, view displays and exhibits, go on a scavenger hunt, enjoy the view.
7. Blue Ribbon Garden, Los Angeles
The Blue Ribbon Garden is a beautiful downtown public garden adjacent to the Walt Disney Concert Hall. The variety of plants and distinctive architectural design satisfy even a lone explorer. And after, you can stop at the picturesque seating areas to have a snack, relax and even make a few videos to put up as Moments. With a reflecting pool and a koi pond, this place is also perfect for water lovers like me.
📝 Things to do at Blue Ribbon Garden: Take a self-guided tour, have a picnic, enjoy the water, taking pictures.
8. Angels Flight Railway, Downtown Los Angeles
Angels Flight Runway is a pedestrian-friendly retail and dining destination which also is a fun and unique way to see the city. It is a historic funicular railway connecting the complex to the top of Bunker Hill. The retail stores range from high-end fashion boutiques to unique craft shops. The complex has several other outdoor spaces, including a courtyard and a rooftop terrace, where you can bask in the California sun. There are also guided tours where you can learn about the history and architecture of the area.
📝 Things to do at Angels Flight Runway: Shopping at the stores, soaking in the Cali sun on the courtyard and rooftop terrace, riding the Angels Flight Railway, joining a guided tour, and taking a walk.
9. Botanica Restaurant, Los Angeles, California
Botanica Restaurant and Market is a popular spot for its blend of food, drinks, and shopping. Botanica's cocktail menu is one of its top highlights, featuring drinks made with fresh ingredients and unique flavour combinations. There are also occasional wine tastings where you can learn about different wines and try new varieties, so if you like your booze, this is the place for you. The menu is full of fresh and flavorful dishes, some of which you can learn to make at their cooking classes by talented chefs. They also host workshops on flower arranging, natural skincare, and meditation. You can learn new skills and connect with like-minded people with live music from local musicians and performers playing in the background.
The market section of Botanica offers a wide selection of products, including thoughtful gifts, like books, candles, home decor items, houseplants, natural skincare products, and artisanal foods. Also, fresh produce, meats, cheeses, pantry staples, and gourmet items can all be purchased here.
📝 Things to do at Botanica: Trying cocktails and natural wine, shopping for groceries, gifts and other unique products, enjoying a meal, attending a cooking class, listening to live music, and connecting with new people.
10. Yosemite National Park
Famous for trails such as Half Dome, Yosemite Falls, and the Mist Trail, hiking is one of the most popular activities for visitors to this national park. There are also biking trails, and when winter rolls around, different tracks become perfect for fun in the snow, like skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing. Yosemite has over 1,000 campsites, and this part of the country is known for really dark night skies that make the stars shine bright. So, this is one of the best places to spend a night in the great outdoors, despite its wildlife variety, including black bears and coyotes. The explorable areas are well-fended from the wildlife habitat, though sightings are part of the fun, too.
Yosemite National Park is also known for some of the best rock climbing in the world, with routes for all levels, from beginners to experts. The incredible landscapes are also paradise to content creators, from the dramatic mountains to the rivers and lakes you can swim in. Ranger-led programs offer visitors a great way to learn about the park's history and wildlife.
📝 Things to do at Yosemite National Park: Hiking, camping, wildlife watching, rock climbing, photography, swimming, ranger-led programs, biking, winter sports, stargazing.