The best California experiences, according to Californians

This is part of “California 101,” our guide to the best experiences statewide.

Go east, Californians.

This is the announcement I heard after we published the 101 Best California Experiences, my big list of things to do across the state.

Many readers have shared with me their own favorite places. And whether it’s nature or culture they’re thinking of, much of it heads east of I-5, away from the beaches that have dominated so many California stereotypes.

But beyond that, their offerings are as diverse as you’d expect in a country of 39 million people. Here are a few destinations that readers believe should be on the list.

Bodie . State Historical Park
Mono . Beads

Bodie was a ghost town that had its busiest days especially in the 1870s and 1880s, when its population was close to 10,000. By the 1960s, the town had become empty. That’s when the state stepped in and turned it into a park. “Time has been suspended. It’s been many years since we visited. Our kids love it too,” writes Carol Vyn of Newport Beach.

Almost all visitors come in the summer because the park’s elevation (8,375 feet) makes it inaccessible by car in the winter.

Old Pine Forest Bristlecone, Bishop
Inyo County

This forest, Bryan Mack of Bishop writes, “has the oldest living things in the world. It’s a wonderful walk, deserted and old groves full of trees over 3,000 years old. [Actually, the U.S. Forest Service thinks some are more than 4,000 years old.] Unlike redwoods, these trees look old, bony and squishy due to the harsh terrain and climate. It’s a beautiful and unique sight that you really can’t experience anywhere else. ”

The main attractions of the forest, Schulman Grove and Chief Grove, are part of the Inyo National Forest.

Text speak "California 101"

Laguna Bowl and Water Tank Road Loop, Laguna Beach
Orange County

Aliso Viejo’s Marc Smith spoke out for the site, calling it “a strenuous hike with stunning views of the snow-capped mountains” in winter and the Pacific Ocean year-round. “The first slope deserves to benefit from this view.” The route is 3.9 miles round-trip, according to hiking website, with an elevation of 918 feet. (There is no dog.)

Noah Purifoy Open Air Museum, Joshua tree
San Bernardino County

Leslie Kelly, now on the road in a 23-foot motorhome, writes that Purifoy’s work in this Joshua Tree complex “makes the desert landscape part of its canvas, a sprawling work of The ‘found object’ becomes a work of art that shows us how much minutiae is in our messy world. It’s haunting and beautiful.” It’s open daily, from dawn to dusk, and is free.

Competition Ramona, Hemet
Riverside County

Kay Gilbert of Manhattan Beach writes: “It’s not historically accurate, but Ramona Pageant is a collection of romantic, legendary California chronology that has been sold to generations of people in the ‘back east’ and for the Californians themselves.” This annual ceremony, with its own amphitheater, the Ramona Bowl, grew out of the 1884 historical California romantic film “Ramona,” written by Helen Hunt Jackson. This year’s shows take place on April 23, 24, 31 and May 1. Next year’s edition will mark 100 years since the first Ramona competition.

Virginia Robinson Garden, Beverly Hills
Los Angeles County

The Robinson Mansion sprang up in 1911 – one of the first mansions in Beverly Hills. (If you remember the Robinsons department stores, you know where the family fortune came from.) When Virginia Robinson died in 1977, she left the six-acre estate to Los Angeles County. Nancey Kredell of Seal Beach writes that the gardens “have wonderful documents with lovely stories to tell about Virginia. One side of the property has ferns and palm trees and is 15 degrees cooler than the west side.” It’s open to docent-led tours ($15 for adults, $11 for seniors 62 and older). The best California experiences, according to Californians

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