Let’s face it, we are lucky to live in one of the most amazing destinations in the world. There is just so much to do in Northern California! We know it, and now the rest of the world is starting to as well. Here’s a list of life changing experiences that you can have right here in Northern California. Give them each a shot and report back! We can’t wait to hear about how much you loved these places.
1. Sleep in the restored train cars of a historic train resort, a popular destination we featured in
"The Train Resort in Northern California Everyone Needs To Visit At Least Once."
The Railroad Park Resort has been reliving the glory days of trains since 1968. It was founded by Bill and Delberta Murphy, who describe themselves as “local descendants of pioneering railroaders.” In addition to logging and mining, California’s history was also shaped by the railroads that made this part of the world much more easily accessible to the rest of the country. In addition to restored vintage trains, this spot also features a campground, RV hookups, a restaurant, and a gift shop.
2. Camp out just around the bend from Burney Falls, one of the most spectacular sights in all of Northern California. We featured this destination in
"This Magical Waterfall Campground In Northern California Is Unforgettable."
The McArthur-Burney Falls State Park is an amazing place to camp and view an incredible waterfall, located just a short hike from where you’ll set up home for the night. Teddy Roosevelt once called the McArthur-Burney Falls the “eighth wonder of the world.” You’ll have to come camp and hike here for yourself to discover why! The highlight of the McArthur-Burney Falls Memorial State Park is Burney Falls, a majestic 129 foot waterfall.
3. A ride on the historic Skunk Train, as seen in
"5 Incredible Northern California Day Trips You Can Take By Train."
When was the last time you took the train out of the city and into the countryside for a fun afternoon or evening? For most of us, the answer is probably never! Luckily, Northern California offers several day trips on trains that are sure to delight you. This region stays true to its locomotive steam engine roots, so get out there and take advantage of the really amazing experience that these train rides offer. The world famous skunk train is one of the longer day trips in Northern California, running 40 from Fort Bragg along the coast to Willits. You’ll cross about 30 bridges and trestles as well as go through two mountain tunnels on this route. The train got it’s name from the original gas engines that were smelled long before you would see one coming around the bend. It was originally built as a logging train and much of the scenery you’ll see on your ride is the same as when the lumberjacks passed through this area. It offers dinners, overnight excursions and can be chartered for weddings and private events. Book your train ride by calling 866.457.5865 or visiting www.sierrarailroad.com.
4. Drive or walk through this majestic Tunnel of Trees in Point Reyes, from the article
"Most People Don’t Know Northern California Has A Tunnel Of Trees And It’s Enchanting."
Located along the dramatic coastline of Northern Calfornia, the Point Reyes National Seashore is home to some of the most beautiful cliffs and beaches along the West Coast. This area is also the site of an amazing tunnel of cypress trees that you will have to see to believe.
The magnificent tunnel of trees is beautiful and evokes a good deal of prestige. Not only is it cool to look at, but this area is also historically very significant.
5. Explore the abandoned train tunnels at Donner Summit, which you can read more about in our article,
"There’s No Other Hike In The World Quite Like This One In Northern California."
The abandoned train tunnels at Donner Summit are hands down one of the coolest places to explore. History, nature, and modern evidence of human visitors are all rolled into one here.
The tunnels are located toward the top of Old Highway 40 above Donner Lake near Truckee. They are almost 1,700 ft long and were completed in 1867.Built primarily by Chinese immigrant workers in the 1800s, this was the first railroad line to traverse the Sierra Nevada. A new route through this area was built in 1993, and since then the route was abandoned and hikers have been exploring this area.
6. See the natural geysers at Lassen Volcanic National Park, highlighted in
"The Underrated National Park In Northern California Everyone Should Visit At Least Once."
There are so many people who know and love Lassen Volcanic National Park here in Northern California that it is hard to call it underrated, but if you compare it to the much more popular parks in this state, like Yosemite and Death Valley, you’ll be amazed at the relative lack of crowds. The dramatic landscape and volcanic activity are just as beautiful, but also less crowded, than the overwhelming busy Yellowstone, and it’s located right here in our state!
The park is home to active volcanoes and hot springs that are available to see year-round. It's great for avid hikers, with more than 150 miles of trails.
7. Ride this sky trail through the breathtaking California Redwoods, which we first wrote about in
"Everyone In Northern California Needs To Take This Unforgettable Gondola Ride."
If you spend your childhood scaling the treetops and love the idea of viewing the Northern California Redwoods from a birds’ eye view, then you absolutely need to take a ride on the Trees of Mystery Sky Trail. It’s a magical gondola ride that lets you soar high above the tree tops in the Redwood State and National Parks. The SkyTrail is a nearly 1/3 mile journey through the forest tree tops. There's nowhere else in the Redwoods, or the world, where you will get such an amazing up close and personal view of these majestic trees.
8. Visit this fern filled canyon we wrote about in
"The Unrivaled Canyon Hike In Northern California Everyone Should Take At Least Once."
There’s something magical about hiking in a place like Fern Canyon. Steep walls surround you on all sides and the lush flora and towering Redwoods make you feel like you are in another world. This easy, quick hike is a beautiful spot to get outside and relax. Contemplate your life and just breathe in the misty rain forest air as you relax in this one of a kind forest. It's easy to see how Fern Canyon got its name. The steep walls are covered with at least five different species of this amazingly green plant.
9. Eat great food and meet friendly folks in this one of a kind foothill town featured in
"The Delightful Small Town In Northern California You Probably Don’t Know Exists But Should Visit ASAP."
Nestled in the foothills between Lake Tahoe and the Central Valley, there is a delightful small town called Nevada City. It’s got plenty of rural charm and a surprising amount of sophistication for such a small community. If you are drawn to the artsy, creative culture of large cities but crave the countryside’s charisma and slower pace of life, then Nevada City is the place for you. Take a stroll through the heart of Nevada City and be dazzled by its small town charisma. Old buildings from the 1800s will remind you of a wild west town and the mid century design of town hall hearkens back to a slower, simpler time.
10. Spelunking in the caves at Lava Beds National Monument from
"There’s No Attraction In The World Quite Like This One In Northern California."
There are some pretty spectacular sights here in Northern California, but there is nothing quite like the Lava Beds National Monument. Located near Tulelake, California, Lava Beds has amazing natural lava tubes as well as unique history like no where else in the world.
The Lava Beds National Monument is located in Siskiyou and Modoc counties in the far northeast corner of California. Below the earth's surface are numerous lava tube caves. 25 of these are marked for public access and exploration. The caves are a huge draw for visitors to the national monument. Pictured here is the Crystal Ice Cave, which is only open for the public on ranger led tours.
11. Walk along a closed stretch of Highway 1, the Devils Slide Trail, which was the topic of
"Take This Hidden Coastal Trail In Northern California For An Absolutely Breathtaking Experience."
Did you know that there is an old stretch of Highway 1 that is now only open to pedestrians and cyclists? It’s called the Devil’s Slide Trail and is located in San Mateo County between Pacifica and Montara. If you are a fan of the Pacific Coast Highway (aren’t we all in Northern California?), then you absolutely have to check out this one of a kind trail! There’s nothing like it anywhere else in the states.
The trail was once part of a stretch of California State Route 1 that was famous for closures thanks to rock slides and other perils. In 2013, the Tom Lantos Tunnels were opened to provide a safer route through this steep terrain. Because this stretch of highway was so spectacularly beautiful, however, San Mateo County railed to keep it something to be enjoyed by the public.
12. Meet elephants and other exotic creatures at this one of kind interactive zoo, as seen in
"The One Park Near Northern California That’s Unlike Any Other In America."
Have you ever wanted to go on a safari and see exotic animals up close, but have never traveled to Africa to actually see this dream come true? Luckily for us here in Northern California, your wildest dreams can come true just a short drive away in Monterey County.
At Vision Quest Ranch in Monterey County, these majestic animals will walk right up to your front door and say good morning.
13. Swim through an underground tunnel featured in
"This Underground Swimming Hole May Be Northern California’s Best Kept Secret."
Natural Bridges in Calaveras County is an amazing and relatively unknown swimming hole that will blow your mind with how cool it is. The caves are beautiful no matter what time of year you visit, but in order to fully appreciate their beauty, you should at least dip your toes in! The limestone caverns were carved by the steady flow of Coyote Creek. The cave gets darker and the water gets deeper the further you go in, so be reasonable about your swimming abilities. Some people are afraid of dark water, but there's nothing here that will harm you beside maybe a few sharp edges on the rocks. We suggest wearing old tennies or other water shoes to protect your feet as you wade in.
Okay, we are pretty curious about what you think of these unique destinations. They will probably make you see the world with new eyes, so schedule that adventure today!