11 Historical Landmarks You Absolutely Must Visit In Northern California
Do you love history? If you do then you’ll love Northern California. There are
historical places in Northern California to keep you busy and feed your love of history for weeks. We are known for pioneering the railroads and our past also includes Spanish built missions and industrial man-made wonders that will keep your mind busy and your love of history happily satisfied.
1. Home of Jack London
Jack London Square, 472 Water St, Oakland, CA 94607, USA
Jack London was a famous and gifted author.
Jack London Square
in Oakland is named after him. This is the home in Sonoma where he lived from 1915 until his death.
2. Mare Island Naval Shipyard
Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, CA 94592, USA
You're looking at the first Naval facility on the west coast during World War II. This is where nuclear subs were stationed as well. The
Mare Island Naval Shipyard
is a very historical place for our west coast military.
3. John Muir House
John Muir House, Haddington EH41, UK
lived here in this very house in Martinez from 1890 until his death in 1915. In that time he spearheaded the beginning of the Sierra Club and the National Park system.
Almaden Quicksilver County Park, 21785 Almaden Rd, San Jose, CA 95120, USA
This is also known as New Almaden. You're looking at one of the oldest and most abundant mercury mines in the USA. Located in Santa Clara,
now a part of the Almaden Quicksilver County Park.
5. San Francisco Presidio and National Cemetery
Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA, USA
Would you believe from 1776 - 1995 this was a fortified military base used by Spain, Mexico and the United States? The
San Francisco Presidio and National Cemetery
is nearly 30 acres and filled with fascinating history, the remains of the former Letterman Army Hospital, and maybe even a haunted spirit or two.
6. Old Customhouse
This tiny adobe building in
, was built in 1827 and is still standing. Believed to be the oldest still-standing public building in California, it's where the American flag was raised proclaiming California as a part of America.
7. Room 307, Gilman Hall, University of California Berkeley
University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, USA
Plutonium was discovered
here in 1941 by Glenn T. Seaborg. Why the name Plutonium? Uranium was named after Uranus and Neptunium after Neptune - thus, Plutonium after Pluto. The joke's on them: Pluto is no longer considered a planet.
8. Paramount Theater
Paramount Theatre Oakland, 2025 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612, USA
Oakland is where you can find the theater that was the largest on the West Coast when it opened in the 1960s. Now home to the Oakland Symphony and the Oakland Ballet, there's no place in NorCal quite like the Paramount Theater.
9. San Francisco Cable Cars
The iconic images we know and love of our San Francisco almost always have a
in the photo somewhere. Would you believe the cable car system you get to ride for a small fee is the ONLY cable car system in the whole world?
10. Santa Cruz Looff Merry-Go-Round and Giant Dipper Wooden Roller Coaster
Giant Dipper, 400 Beach St, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, USA
The Looff family were manufacturers of merry-go-rounds all over the USA back in the early 1900s. Only five remain today and one is here on the
. The Giant Dipper Roller Coaster is the oldest of only two wooden roller coasters still remaining on the West Coast. It's been around since 1924.
Sonoma Plaza, Sonoma, CA 95476, USA
The largest plaza of its kind in California, the Sonoma Plaza is a lively destination that exudes history and culture. Considered the heart of this quiet Wine Country town, you'll uncover something new to love about it with every visit.
Decked out with authentic buildings from the 19th century, it’s no wonder the plaza is considered the town’s crown jewel. If you’re looking to spend a lovely day soaking up history, this centuries-old plaza is just the place to be.
We told you there were historical places in Northern California that you’d just love! History is alive and well in NorCal, friends!
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More to Explore
Historical Places in Northern California
What are the best history museums and historical places in Northern California?
If you're a history buff, you'll be delighted to discover these amazing history
: museums in Northern California
Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum. Lauded as "one of the finest museums in the Sierra Nevada", the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum is dedicated to preserving the history and artifacts from the county's railroad era. Open year-round, visitors can take advantage of a docent-led tour, tour the rail yard, and even check out the restoration shop. It's a must-see for train enthusiasts of all ages.
Fort Crook Museum. Originally known as Camp Hollenbush, Fort Crook was a U.S. Army post established in 1857. Today, visitors can relive its history at the Fort Crook Museum. No original structures from the fort have survived over the past 150 years, but a reconstructed round barn makes for an interesting jaunt back in time.
Placer County Museum. Located inside of a historic courthouse, the Placer County Museum exudes history both inside and out. The museum gives a general overview of Placer County history stretching back to the early Nisenan inhabitants. It also contains a large gold collection which pays tribute to the region's rich gold mining history.
Lake Tahoe Historical Society Museum. When exploring Lake Tahoe, take some time to learn about the region's fascinating history with a visit to this humble museum. Featuring exhibits dedicated to the area's first inhabitants, the Washoe, along with the mining, railroad, and gaming industries, this museum offers a little bit of everything. It will definitely give you a newfound appreciation for the Tahoe region as a whole.
Even better? Admission to many of these amazing museums and historic places in NorCal are free! Happy exploring, friends!
Explore Northern California