I’ve never been to California, but I feel like my heart belongs there. As much as I love New York, London, and Paris, I might be looking at it from rose-tinted glasses but I love the sun, I love the beach, the fact that it would be considerably easier to eat vegan there. I don’t usually care much about generic tourist attractions. So, naturally, I came up with an alternative California bucket list.
California is full of tourist attractions like the Hollywood Walk of Fame, the Hollywood sign, the Golden Gate Bridge, but it has much more to offer, especially for those on the alternative side. Most of the things on this ultimate alternative California bucket list are in LA, but because some venture outside the city, I decided to make it state-wide.
Ultimate Alternative California Bucket List
Check Out The Independent Bookshops
Bart’s Books, and the Last Bookstore are two quirky independent bookshops in California. They both featured on my bookshop bucket list.
Bart’s Books is in Ojai which is quite a trek from Downtown LA which is where you’ll find The Last Bookstore.
1. Bart’s Books
Bart’s Book’s is the oldest outdoor independent bookstore in the US, opening its doors in 1964! You can browse for books in the sun, but please adhere to their honour system when paying.
2. The Last Bookstore
The Last Bookstore in LA opened with the goal of keeping physical books alive and in print. Located in an old bank, the store makes the most of it’s big grand rooms and ceilings with the art installations. They offer second-hand and new books, so you’re sure to find something.
3. Be A Killjoy In The Desert
If you’ve been reading this blog for awhile or follow me on Twitter, then you’ll know by now that I adore My Chemical Romance. Although they’re originally from New Jersey, LA is important to the band.
Their 4th studio album, Danger Days The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, was set in California 2019 (but came out in 2010). It’s set in the desert of a post-apocalypse world where Better Living Industries have taken over what’s left of the world. BL/ind run a regime where emotions and individuality are forbidden, which is why the Killjoys live in the desert and fight against them. Think 1984 meets Mad Max.
The diner from their Na Na Na video was the Four Acre movie set in the Californian desert. Lady Gaga and Beyonce also filmed Telephone there AND Avril Lavigne’s Rock n’ Roll was also shot in the same place.
I really really wanted to do this in 2019, but I unfortunately couldn’t go to California that year, so my inner 14-year old is devastated.
The California desert is unique as Joshua Trees only grow in California, Nevada, Arizona, and Utah. So even if you’re not out there for the movie sets, then you’ll appreciate the views. In the meantime, you can read the comics.
Do All Things Disney
California is technically the home to all things Disney. Not only is their headquarters in Burbank, but most movies are recorded and animated in California too. Although Disney isn’t alternative, I’d still consider Disney during Halloween to be one of these alternative things to do in California. After all, a lot of Disney adults are goth.
4. Pixar Pier
Pixar Pier and Paradise Gardens Park is at the Disney California Adventure. Although it’s technically not a pier but a waterside area, but it was based on the old Victorian boardwalks in California.
It has fun rides like the Incredacoaster, Jessie’s Little Critters, and what I got a good chuckle off; the Emotional Whirlwind.
Disneyland California was the first-ever Disney theme park opening way back in 1955!
Both Disneyland California and Pixar Pier are in Disney California Adventure, but Disneyland is so big that you couldn’t possibly do both in one day. I’d love to see everything in the Disney California Adventure but the big ones for me are Disneyland itself and Pixar Pier.
The US Disney resorts make Paris look tiny so it would take more than a day to get through the whole of California Adventure!
It’s Halloween Every Day
Despite Halloween actually originating in Ireland, America goes all out for the holiday and I love it! The American Disney resorts get ready for Halloween in August. I was disappointed when I was in Disneyland Paris finding no Halloween stuff knowing Florida was in Spooky Season already!
Outside of Disney things, some of California is spoopy all year round. There are lots of Halloween alternative things to do in California!
6. Halloween Town
Halloween Town is a year-round Halloween store in Burbank. Although there are a lot of Halloween shops in LA, I’ve been following this one for a long time so it would be nice to actually pay them a visit.
7. Drink Rad Coffee
While America is overflowing with Starbucks, it’s important to support independent businesses which is a big reason for heading to Rad Coffee. Rad Coffee is in Downtown Upland, and is a spoopy coffee heaven. They offer standard coffee drinks but also wonderfully weird concoctions.
I found that coffee in America is much nicer than it is here so I have high hopes.
8. Go To The “Helena” Church
My Chemical Romance’s iconic Helena music video was filmed in the Immanuel Presbyterian Church on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The video was directed by Marc Webb, who went on to direct the Amazing Spiderman films. It is the very same church that Gwen’s funeral was in.
Churchs and cathedrals are very common tourist attractions worldwide, and I’ve seen many in my time. Even though Helena would be in my head the entire time, I’d urge visitors to be respectful, and not to show up during ceremon time.
9. Rock Out At Emo Nite
Emo Nite was a monthly party that began in LA, which has since become a phenomenon almost worldwide. They run events across the whole US, and Dublin even had it’s own Emo Nite not too long ago.
However, the LA Emo Nite is the original. It’s basically like being in a night club that plays nostalgic 2000s emo songs, which is my kind of night.
Plenty of famous faces show up at Emo Nite LA like Demi Lovato, Debby Ryan and more, and it’s one of the alternative things to do in California I wish I could do at home! You might be asking, is emo dead?
Have you ever been to California? Have you done anything on this ultimate alternative California bucket list?