Northern California December 16, 2021
The Heart And Soul Of Northern California Is The Small Towns And These 7 Have The Best Downtown Areas
In general, small towns hold a certain kind of charm. However, if you’ve spent any time exploring Northern California, then you know small towns in the Golden State are something special. It’s impossible to list all of the great little communities you should consider visiting across your NorCal adventures, but these seven make for a pretty great place to start. From their lively downtown areas to their proximity to nature, you’ll want to plan on making a trip to one of these delightful communities sometime soon!
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
If you're looking for charm, you can't do much better than Ferndale. This quaint Victorian village is nestled between California Redwoods and the rugged Lost Coast, making it a spectacular basecamp for your next outdoor adventure. However, those who opt to spend their time in-town will find that it has much to offer, including a historic main street that's filled with Victorian buildings, boutique shops, and awesome restaurants.
2. Fort Bragg
The town of Fort Bragg is nestled along the scenic Mendocino Coast and is filled with character and things to do. Established as a military garrison and then a lumber town, Fort Bragg is now a bustling coastal destination with lots to offer. Spend your time exploring the downtown area where you'll find an abundance of boutiques, galleries, and restaurants. Then, plan an adventure at the nearby Glass Beach, Noyo River, or on the world-famous Skunk Train!
Located along the upper Sacramento River, Dunsmuir is a charming mountain town that's a popular tourist hub for its scenic setting and opportunities for adventure. After a day of hiking, biking, or fishing, nothing beats spending the evening exploring Dunsmuir's historic downtown. Looking like something straight out of a time capsule, you'll find that the Downtown Historic District is filled with shops, antique stores, eateries, and unique destinations (like a hardware store that doubles as a museum!) Spend some time in Dunsmuir where small-town charm and natural beauty collide.
The mountain town of Truckee is a hotspot of outdoor activities, particularly winter recreation. However, it's not just a scenic setting and proximity to Tahoe that Truckee has going for it! In town, you'll find numerous restaurants ranging from breweries to trendy eats. You could spend an entire day exploring the town's shops which feature locally-made goods including art, clothing, and so much more. Simply put, there's never a dull moment in this lively mountain town.
Tucked away in the heart of California's Gold Country is where you'll find the hidden gem of Sonora. An old mining town that was founded during the Gold Rush, there's plenty to love about this lovely little town. Sonora's historic downtown is home to shops, restaurants, fascinating museums, and an authentic Gold Rush vibe. We recommend taking on the Downtown Sonora Walking Tour to make sure you don't miss a single highlight about this treasure of a downtown area!
Heralded as a "Gateway to the Redwoods", there are many reasons to consider paying a visit to the town of Willits. You'll find the town's downtown area, located just north of Highway 20, is filled with gems including cozy restaurants, award-winning wineries, and the type of hospitality you'll only find in a small town. Whether you spend a day or a week, you'll be enamored with this awesome town where you can shop, dine, and explore.
7. Nevada City
Nevada City is another town that combines natural beauty with historic charm. Are you sensing a pattern? This exuberant city is known for its Victorian structures and proximity to the Sierra Nevada. Its downtown area alone is worth the visit, filled with friendly merchants, wine tasting rooms, and tranquil inns and lodges. You can't help but feel like you're in a living postcard while walking down these streets!
Have you visited any of these fantastic small towns in Northern California? What’s your favorite small-town destination in NorCal? Let us know in the comments below!