California Hidden Gem: Bridgeport

We stumbled across Bridgeport, California during one of those travel trips that was not going as planned. We were camping our way through the Sierra Nevada and, due to multiple forest fires, we kept having to change our plans. Bridgeport is a little town nestled in the Sierra Nevada that serves as a quiet gateway to camping and outdoor recreation opportunities. It serves up some great food and quality customer service. 

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These are the most impressionable spots to visit while in Bridgeport, California:

1. Travertine Hot Springs

It takes less than 10 minutes total (driving and hiking) to get to Travertine Hot Springs from downtown Bridgeport. The Outbound has fantastic directions on how to get here.

From the parking lot, hike over the ridge (less than one minute) and you will immediately see the first of the pools. They are so easy to get to! We were there in the middle of the week during the summer and we only saw four other people. I’m sure it has busy days but the middle of the week was great! According to The Outbound, you can camp for free in the road pullouts near the hot springs. There are absolutely no ammenities but this would make for a fun, relaxing weekend!

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2. The Donuts at Nugent’s High Sierra Bakery

I’m going to start this by laying all my cards on the table. These are the best donuts I have ever had. Period. And I have had a lot of donuts. Donuts are pretty much a staple of a midwesterner’s diet. I was born and raised in Minnesota and thus, raised on donuts. I have two long-standing favorite donut shops in Minnesota and this one blew it out of the water (sorry, my fellow Minnesotans!). I had the cinnamon cake donut. The secret – buttermilk goodness! If you find your way near Bridgeport, this place is worth the stop! The owner/head baker is really friendly and loves to chat about the best spots in Sierra Nevada!

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3. Hamburger Stands

Bridgeport has multiple delicious burger stands. We heard from MANY locals that we had to eat at The Barn. So many people swore up and down that this was the best burger in town. The only problem – it was never open when we were there. Please try this place for us and let us know!

Since The Barn was closed we ended up at Jolly Kone. DELICIOUS! They have burgers, burritos, tacos, ice cream, and malts all in and old-fashioned walk-up style location. The malt was incredible. I really enjoyed my burger but there was some debate amongst the rest of our group. If you get a chance to try both the Jolly Kone and The Barn, let us know what you think!

4. Twin Lakes

Twin Lakes does not feel like California. It is quiet, remote, and stunning. There are family homes lining the shores of upper lake and the road ends in a hoppin’ RV Resort. There are a handful of National Forest campgrounds sprawling away from lower lake. And yet this area maintains a certain level of serenity. It is a hiking, boating, swimming, camping paradise. Find out more about it here.

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There is also plenty of hiking opportunities in the area. We wished we would have known about this place sooner so that we could have taken better advantage of all the beautiful places. I can’t wait to go back! 

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