The West has more than its share of secret spots, and we’re guessing there are a few you don’t know about—yet. In a nod to 1930s WPA guidebooks, we offer these updated Alta California Guides to wacky, wonderful, and off-the-grid sites you shouldn’t miss across 10 regions of the state. (And be sure to pick up the Summer Issue—we even created a beautiful foldout map to help you find your own way!) Just check ahead to make sure your destinations are open, given the fluid nature of things—and keep your eyes on the road. There is much to see, if you know where to look.

This article appears in the Summer 2021 issue of Alta Journal.
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Alta California Guides

alta california guides
Michael Schwab

North Coast

The remote northern coastline is a foggy, funky place, filled with art and oddities and enchanting open land.

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alta california guides
Michael Schwab

Gold Country

Centuries-old towns and hidden mines survive to prove it: this is where the state’s boom began.

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Michael Schwab

Bay Area

It’s become synonymous with tech innovation, but food, art, and all that water are what define the Bay.

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alta california guides
Michael Schwab

Central Coast

Dense forests, plush vineyards, and, oh, that stretch of Highway 1, which offers postcard-perfect vistas.

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Michael Schwab

Central Valley

Beyond the farms that feed the country, you’ll find a diverse landscape of communities rich in history.

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Michael Schwab

Sierra Nevada

From cold slopes to hot springs, one of the world’s most spectacular ranges is a land of contrasts.

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Michael Schwab

Owens Valley

Journey into our prehistoric past—and hike to one of the oldest living things on the planet.

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alta california guides, the deserts
Michael Schwab

The Deserts

The good life endures in the remote desert, despite some of the hottest temperatures ever recorded.

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alta california guides, los angeles
Michael Schwab

Los Angeles

Forget the glitter-and-asphalt clichés: the nation’s most populated county is full of unexpected delights.

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alta california guides, san diego
Michael Schwab

San Diego

The laid-back surfer life meets the by-the-book military life, yet somehow it all works together in harmony.

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