Getting Back to Normal: Outdoor Activities to do Now in California

Social distancing doesn't mean you can't enjoy the best coastal views in the golden state.

California was one of the first states to go into lockdown amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. After many months, the state is finally reopening for socially distanced activities. Such a large state has plenty of opportunities to engage in diversions safely. Local Californians and visitors alike are finding fun from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

 Lands End Coastal Trail is a favorite of Bay Area residents | WhereTraveler

Hiking is the Unofficial California Pastime

Stout Memorial Grove Trail

Californians love their wilderness and find ways to get out into nature as often as they can. On the northern coast, visitors and residents enjoy the Stout Memorial Grove Trail for a hiking adventure. The trail runs through a majestic 44-acre redwood grove where the trees are 300 feet tall! Alongside these behemoth trees, hikers can wander along the Smith River. The cobbled beaches are great for picnicking and the river is warm enough for a swim in the summer months. Some visitors bring along a canoe and paddle the river to take in the majesty of the ancient trees from the water.

Lands End Coastal Trail

California’s central coast is the perfect place for urban hiking. Lands End Coastal Trail is a favorite of Bay Area residents. The trail along the coastal bluffs is excellent for hikers and cyclists. It offers excellent views of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Marin Headlands. The trail also dips through a tranquil blue gum eucalyptus grove before meandering down to the beach. Mile Rock Beach is a beautiful cove that can only be explored during low tide so guests are advised to plan their visit accordingly.

Iron Mountain Trail

Iron Mountain Trail is the gem of the San Diego area. The 5-mile trail is excellent for cyclists and hikers. The highest elevations of the trail offer stunning views of the northern part of the city. On a clear day, guests may even be treated to a view of Mount Woodson or the Catalina Islands.

Pfeiffer Beach, near Big Sur, is a secluded beach oasis off the beaten path | WhereTraveler

Beach Days

Pfeiffer Beach

Some of California’s more popular beaches are bound to be crowded with folks escaping their homes for a bit of sun. However, there are plenty of secluded beach oases off the beaten path. Pfeiffer Beach, near Big Sur, is one of those jewels. At low tide, the tide pools are wonderful places to explore and get to know the marine life of the area. On the northern end of the beach, the sand is purple! The rare purple sand comes from manganese deposits in the rocky slopes. Sunsets are particularly spectacular at this beach because of a large, natural rock arch where the last rays of daylight shine through while the waves crash beneath. 

Natural Bridges State Beach

Natural Bridges State Beach is the perfect coastal destination for animal lovers. Visitors to this beach can expect several species of sea birds and, during the right times of the year, migrating pods of whales swim off the shore. At low tide, the tidal pools are filled with life! Children and adults can find sea stars, crabs, anemones, and other colorful marine animals. The grassy areas and salt marshes farther up the beach are rife with vibrant wildflowers most of the year.

Unplug and get out of the city in a Getaway House | WhereTraveler

Glamping and Wellness Retreats

Getaway House

After months stuck at home, a change of scenery is a welcome escape. Unplug and get out of the city in a Getaway House. These tiny, modern houses have all the essentials and are spread out over 60 acres making it very easy to remain socially distant. Each cabin is equipped with a fire pit, grilling grate, and picnic area for outdoor cooking and dining. The inside has cozy beds, a kitchenette stocked with cooking necessities, and a hot shower. If guests truly want to disconnect and center themselves, each Getaway House has a box to lock away your phone. No more texts or alerts to distract for the stunning views out of the full-length picture window.

Yoga Retreat

Travelers can improve their health and wellness with a coastal yoga retreat. Solo travelers and couples can disconnect from daily life with 7 days of mindfulness, yoga, and meditation near San Diego. Daily hikes in the surrounding mountains with views of the Pacific are supplemented with antioxidant-rich meals carefully curated by in-house chefs. This retreat is good for all yoga skill levels, from those just starting their personal mindfulness journey to those who practice in their daily life.

Mt. Whitney Base Camp

Mindfulness means different things to different people. For athletic folks looking to center themselves, the Mt. Whitney Base Camp offers a climbing and yoga retreat. The weekend retreat includes morning yoga sessions and guided climbing instruction in the afternoon. All equipment and meals are provided. In the evening, get in touch with nature by camping under the stars.