Rural Northern California towns are the best of the best. Not only are they usually spectacularly scenic, they are usually full of fun, friendly people. It’s nearly impossible not to fall in love with the incredible places on this list.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
This friendly but tiny town is in part of Sierra County known as the "lost Sierra." It is a popular destination for outdoor recreation, most specifically fishing, mountain biking, back country jeeping and motorcycling, kayaking, hiking and nature walks, and gold panning,
Another popular destination for outdoorsy folks, Dunsmuir was originally a major hub for the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific Railroads. It was the last stop before trains prepared to cross the steep pass. Now it is popular for fishing, skiing, climbing, and sight-seeing.
Also known as Old Hangtown, Placerville has a colorful heritage and was the epicenter of the Gold Rush. It's a fun place to go for history buffs and wine enthusiasts alike.
Known as the gateway to the Lost Coast, the beautiful and hard to access remote coastline of Humboldt County, Ferndale is a quaint but hopping coastal community. It's located on the edge of a wide plain near the mouth of the Eel River.
Tourism also puts McCloud on the map, especially fishing. Visitors have access to the nearby McCloud, Sacramento and Klamath Rivers, as well as hiking, climbing and biking. This Siskiyou County community is home to about 1000 souls.
6. Nevada City
Before the Gold Rush, Native Americans inhabited the area that would later become Nevada City. Unlike most Northern California towns, it hasn't seen a ton of growth since early 20th century. In both 1900 and 2000, the population hovered around 3,000 people. It's know as an artsy community and has some truly scrumptious restaurants.
7. Sutter Creek
Often called the "Sausalito of the foothills," Sutter Creek is just plain cute. It's known for its nearby natural wonders and burgeoning wine industry.
8. St. Helena
This community in Napa County is all about the wine. The 5,000 person town boasts 416 vineyards and includes 6,800 acres of planted vineyards.
Another popular destination for wine and viticulture, Calistoga also has a natural hot spring to thank for tourists who visit this area. There's also a geyser to take a look at.
10. Grass Valley
Also part of the Gold Rush, Grass Valley was one of the first areas to be settled. Farmers took advantage of the fertile soil and ranchers began to bring in livestock, and this rural region is a popular stop for farm to fork enthusiasts.
Another gem of the Gold Rush, Jackson was also originally settled by Native Americans and is registered as California Historical Landmark No. 786.
This small Sonoma County town is consistently ranked within the top 10 of small towns in America. Its got a great wine scene (of course) and is a very popular destination for regional, national, and international visitors.
Originally known as Coburn station, Truckee has a very exciting history, first as the Donner Party disaster and later as a major railway hub in the Sierra. In 1960, the nearby unincorporated community surrounding the Squaw Valley Ski Resort, now known as Olympic Valley, hosted the winter Olympics. It's been a popular recreation destination ever since.
This tiny Alpine County town draws visitors who are looking to fish and experience the mountains, but it's primarily claim to fame is that it is way off the beaten path. If you are looking for a place that is quiet and remote, then Markleeville might be just the ticket.
Yreka also draws outdoor enthusiasts who fish, hike, swim, and do everything they can in this beautiful area. Key your eyes peeled, however, because you might not be alone out in the wild. This is definitely bigfoot country. It might be ideal to give this supposedly gentle giant a wide berth.
There’s nothing like a Northern Californian small town, and one stop in any of these charming, tourist friendly towns proves it. Which is your favorite on this list and why? Be sure to share with us on Facebook!