Northern California Arts & Entertainment, Day Trips, Explore, Farms & Wildlife, Fun Adventures, Museums, Natural Wonders, On The Water, Shopping, Small Towns, State Parks, Trips January 23, 2023
Get Away From It All Each Month Of The Year With These 12 Magnificent Escapes In Northern California
Resolve to have more adventures in 2023! There is so much to explore in Northern California. Whether you want to take a day trip, a weekend trip, or an extended vacation, we have some travel inspiration for you.
This list includes mostly out-of-the-way places so you can get away from it all. But we know you may not have all the time in the world to drive to out-of-the-way places, so a few places on this list are easy to get to but feel remote.
Sierraville is often overlooked for one of the other nearby towns of Truckee, Graeagle, or Downieville. There is not much of a downtown, but you will find a gas station, a coffee shop, and hotels. The first thing you might notice about this bucolic area is all the old barns that dot the yellow fields.
The area has many activities for visitors who want to escape the hustle-and-bustle. One of the big attractions to the area is the
Sierra Hot Springs
. The hot springs is clothing-optional, but the resort has strict rules regarding conduct to help ensure safety and comfort for all guests. Smartphone use is banned in the pool areas. Imagine soaking in a hot spring that overlooks a vast valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
Sierraville, CA 96126, USA
If you want a quieter stay, check out this quaint one bedroom apartment located in the downtown area.
up to four people. It is fully ADA accessible and makes an excellent home base to explore the area.
Take in some nature with a hike on the Cottonwood Creek Trail. This easy two-and-a-half mile trail starts at the Cottonwood Creek Campground and winds through the Tahoe National Forest. Parts of this trail are uphill but overall is an easy hike. Dogs are welcome on the trail but must be on a leash.
If you’re a cyclist, you’ll enjoy the
Sierra Valley Barn Quilt Trail
. This map will guide you all over the Sierra County area to see the old barns decorated with quilts. The barn quilt patterns honor the valley’s Swiss-Italian heritage, and also make for some beautiful photographs.
Sierraville, CA 96126, USA
Located about an hour-and-a-half north of San Francisco, Tomales Bay is a great place to enjoy fresh seafood and beautiful scenery. Tomales Bay is known for several things, but mostly it is known for oysters. Arrange an oyster shucking experience with one of the Tomales Bay oyster farms. This is a fun group activity! The bay is about 15 miles long and one mile wide. It’s a great spot to kayak and go Stand-Up Paddleboarding.
Tomales Bay, California, USA
Just a 30 minute drive from Tomales Bay is Point Reyes National Seashore, where you can walk through the famous Cypress Tree Tunnel and take in breathtaking views of the ocean. This area has so many different landscapes! The surrounding hills are home to dairy farms, making the Tomales Bay area a good place to
taste local cheeses, too.
Whether you’re a solo traveler, a couple, or traveling with a group, there are many beautiful VRBO rentals in the area. We love
this VRBO home
with a view of Tomales Bay and Elephant Mountain. The house sleeps six people and each room has a bay view.
We bet you haven’t heard of Samoa. Samoa is a small area located on a peninsula in Humboldt Bay. It’s a sleepy area with a lot of history.
It is a small area to explore, with a beach, dunes, historic buildings, plus a famous cookhouse. The Samoa Cookhouse was built in 1893 and originally served lumber workers in the area. At the time, all logging communities had a cookhouse; today the Samoa Cookhouse is the only one still remaining. The restaurant is still open to the public and even has a museum with tools from logging and mill operations. The history of this restaurant is fascinating! This all-you-can-eat restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Check out the Timber Heritage Association, a rail museum that tells of timber history in the area and its connection with the rail system. There is also a lot of nature to see: Walk around the Samoa Dunes and Wetlands; explore Samoa Dunes Recreation Area, and relax on Samoa Beach. Don’t forget to check out the North Jetty for some beautiful photo opportunities of waves crashing onto the rocks. Want some action in your day? See if the Samoa Drag Strip has any upcoming races.
Samoa Cookhouse, 908 Vance Ave, Samoa, CA 95564, USA
If you want more than a day in Samoa, check out this
beautiful VRBO rental near the Samoa Dunes.
It comes with a hot tub, outdoor shower, and is pet-friendly (for an additional fee).
Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park
With more than 16 square miles of towering redwoods and trails, this park is unlike any other in the world. Located next to Crescent City, the northernmost beach town in California, this park is great for hiking, camping, and enjoying all the Smith River has to offer. Fun fact: the Smith River is one of the cleanest rivers in the United States. This incredible park feels prehistoric and is a must-see sight. There are 17 different hiking trails in the park.
Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Crescent City, CA 95531, USA
this VRBO with views of the Smith River.
Located in Hiouchi, just outside the park, this house sleeps 14, so make it a group trip. The hosts live locally and are happy to provide suggestions for things to do.
This tiny town buried in Scott Valley in the northernmost part of California feels far away from it all. For such a small population (around 680) this little town has a lot going on. Check out the
distillery and restaurant
, Denny Bar Company, that serves homemade spirits and food. The restaurant and distillery is housed in an old brick building constructed in 1880 when it functioned as a general store for local gold miners.
Etna is located at the base of the Marble Mountain Wilderness, where there are tons of trails and even some high mountain lakes to explore.
Spend some time in this special town and stay at the
Historic Collier Hotel.
You can rent out the hotel, which sleeps up to 14 people.
Quincy was founded during the Gold Rush, but previously was the ancestral land of the Maidu peoples. The town has a ton of beautiful Victorian architecture. Learn more about the town’s history with this self-guided
walking tour map
Immerse yourself in the area’s Gold Rush and native history at the Plumas County Museum. You’ll find dozens of exhibits, including a restored gold miner’s log cabin, a horse-drawn hearse, native baskets and much more.
Go shopping on Main Street, where you’ll find a toy store, several gift shops, and more! End your shopping trip with a brew from Quintopia Brewing Company. You can also enjoy hiking, biking, and snowmobiling in the nearby Plumas National Forest.
Quincy experiences all four seasons– in the summer it is warm but usually not too hot; the spring and fall are very colorful; and in the winter the town is covered in snow.
just minutes from Quincy. Located in a park-like setting, this VRBO rental sleeps up to eight people. If you want something in the center of town, the owners of this VRBO say to ask about their new loft in the historic downtown.
Plumas County Museum, 500 Jackson St, Quincy, CA 95971, USA
Surrounded by several small towns, Clear Lake is the perfect day trip for anyone in the Bay Area. This natural freshwater lake is located about two-and-a-half hours from San Francisco. You’ll find tons of outdoor activities to do in this Lake Country area.
Being just slightly northeast of wine country, you’ll find wine tours on many to-do lists for this area. If you don’t want to venture too far from the lake, there are many wineries in the Kelseyville area, on the west side of the lake.
With numerous communities surrounding the lake, there are also a lot of restaurants, hotels &
, and places to shop.
Clear Lake, California, USA
Isleton is a small town on the Delta that hosts several festivals each year, including the popular Crawdad Festival. This small town is one of the oldest historical towns on the Delta.
The area experienced a large influx of Chinese and Japanese immigrants in the 1870s. Isleton has both a historic Chinese District and a historic Japanese District.
The architecture is really unlike anywhere else in California.
If you’re coming from the north, you’ll drive over the Isleton Bridge, built in 1923. This historic truss bridge is a great place to get a good view of the Sacramento River.
Today, the Delta area is a great place to fish, take boat tours, and enjoy the waterfront towns and restaurants.
This small town attracts visitors year-round. At 4,000 feet Twain Harte is a great place to enjoy fresh mountain air and outdoor activities.
Twain Harte is a census-designated place in Tuolumne County. North of Yosemite National Park and south of Calaveras County, where the towns of Angels Camp and San Andreas are located.
Take a short hike through the woods right next to town on the Sugar Pine Railroad Grade trail. In the summertime enjoy Concerts in the Pine in Eproson Park in the middle of town. Have a drink and some pub food at The Rock of Twain Harte, a rustic bar and restaurant right downtown.
There are a lot of cabins in and around Twain Harte. Check out
this VRBO rental
on a ⅔ acre lot near downtown Twain Harte.
This quaint town right off of Highway 5 is a great place to experience small town life for a day or weekend. People often drive by Williams but there is so much to do and see in the small town and surrounding nature areas.
This town is surrounded by farms, so expect to see fresh produce stands while driving around the area. Williams also attracts hunters who want to hunt large and small game in the surrounding nature areas.
Williams is home to the well-loved and highly rated Granzella’s Restaurant. The old-world Italian restaurant has a gift shop attached to it that sells specialty items and gelato.
Ukiah is the largest city in Mendocino County and has a ton to do– from wine tasting, to hiking in the redwoods, to visiting a monastery. Located about two miles from Ukiah, the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas monastery is one of the first Chan Buddhist temples in the United States. On site, you’ll find a bookstore, restaurant, and many beautiful structures. The monastery is open to the public from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. daily.
Many Californians do not typically travel to Ukiah to taste wine– it is more out-of-the-way than the major wine country towns. Visit the RIVINO Estate Vineyards & Winery in Ukiah. The tasting room is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For a relaxing day, visit Vichy Springs Resort and Inn to soak in the hot springs.
The springs are less than 10 minutes from downtown Ukiah. Inquire about their various day use passes. For two hours, a day pass is $35 per person.
Vichy Springs, CA 94558, USA
Located in the very northern part of California, the lake is known for its many arms. Locals enjoy water skiing on this glassy lake, as well as fishing.
Trinity Lake is a man-made lake that is actually one of the largest reservoirs in California. There are many beautiful campgrounds around the lake, as well as several boat ramps.
Trinity Lake, California, USA
The VRBOs and hotels in this area of the state are very reasonably priced– making this perfect for a big family vacation.
at this cabin
in the town of Trinity Center, just one half mile to the lake.
Trinity Lake, California, USA
What are your favorite Northern California escapes?
Address: Trinity Lake, California, USA Address: Ukiah, CA 95482, USA Address: Twain Harte, CA, USA Address: Isleton, CA, USA Address: Isleton, CA, USA Address: Clear Lake, California, USA Address: Quincy, CA 95971, USA Address: Samoa, CA 95564, USA Address: Tomales Bay, California, USA Address: Sierraville, CA 96126, USA Address: Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, Crescent City, CA 95531, USA Address: Trinity Lake, California, USA Address: Vichy Springs, CA 94558, USA Address: Williams, CA 95987, USA Address: Etna, CA 96027, USA Address: Samoa Cookhouse, 908 Vance Ave, Samoa, CA 95564, USA Address: Plumas County Museum, 500 Jackson St, Quincy, CA 95971, USA Address: Sierraville, CA 96126, USA Address: Samoa, CA 95564, USA
OnlyInYourState may earn compensation through affiliate links in this article.