In the hills above Santa Cruz, two miles north of Hwy-1, the Mystery Spot (465 Mystery Spot Rd., 831/423-8897, daily, $8 per person and $5 per car) is one of those fortunate few tourist traps that actually get people to come back again.

Like similar places along the Pacific Coast, the Mystery Spot is a section of redwood forest where the usual laws of physics seem not to apply (trees grow in oddly contorted corkscrew shapes, and balls roll uphill). Among those who study vortexes and other odd geomantic places, the Mystery Spot is considered to be the real thing, but you don’t have to take it seriously to enjoy yourself.

Map of Pacific Coast through San Francisco.
Map of Pacific Coast through San Francisco.