Northern California is perfect for day trips. We have cool cities, quaint towns, and beautiful scenery. Drive anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours and you may find yourself in a completely different climate. It’s an amazing place, so next weekend when you are sitting around with nothing to do, hop in the car and discover these amazing opportunities to have a great time.
During these uncertain times, please keep safety in mind and consider adding destinations to your bucket list to visit at a later date.
1. Tour Gold Country
Whether you drive through it or stop to hike or walk through the charming small towns throughout the gold country region of Northern California, you will have the time or your life. The people are friendly, the towns themselves have plenty of Old West and rural character, and the scenery is lovely. Don't know where to start? For Gold Country 101, drive up Highway 50 to Placerville, then cut North on the windy but scenic Highway 49. It will take you through the towns of Coloma and Cool before bringing you to Auburn. You can toodle around there before hoping on Highway 80 to head home.
2. Take a Walk Among the Redwoods
Whether you make up to the Redwood State and National Parks in Humboldt County or explore some of the groves farther south, walking among these graceful giants is an absolute must for any Northern Californian.
3. Visit Sutter's Fort and Historic Old Sac
Our state's capitol is a really interesting mix of old and new if you know where to go. Old Town Sac hasn't changed much since the Gold Rush, and at the Sutter's Fort State Park there are living history reenactments and other family friendly activities.
4. Go For A Hike... Anywhere!
Whether you like to bag the highest peaks or walk the forested trails, there are about a million places you can get out and about in Northern California.
5. Get Lunch and Listen to Music in Nevada City
This historic Gold Rush town is known for its fine dining and small town charm, but did you know that it also has an up and coming music scene? Especially if you like bluegrass music with a lot of twang, you will be impressed with all this town has to offer.
6. See Volcanic Activity in Lassen
There's no need to drive all the way to Yellowstone to see an amazing national park with thermal geysers and other interesting features. We have one right here in Northern California, and it's one of the coolest places you will ever visit.
7. Dine At a Waterfront Restaurant
There are hundreds of amazing Northern California waterfront restaurants that you should definitely check out if you like dining with a view. We would like to suggest View 202 in Redding, which overlooks the Sacramento River and is just breathtaking at sunset.
8. Rent a Kayak and Paddle in An Alpine Lake
Paddling on the lake on a bright, sunny day is an experience not to be missed. We like Lake Tahoe for the ease of rentals and because it is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Northern California, but there are tons of amazing lakes in the mountains where you can find a little more solitude for your paddle.
9. Pick Apples and Pumpkins at Apple Hill
Apple Hill is a network of farms located in Camino, which is on the Highway 50 corridor just east of Placerville. Get your farm fresh produce right from the source here. There are also several wineries and even a brewery or two to stop in at. This vibrant farming community is like no where else in Northern California.
10. Walk on Mendocino Beaches
The Northern California coastline is a must see. Take in the dramatic views from atop the majestic cliffs or explore the tidepools and interesting rock formations on the beaches below.
11. Eat Northern California Artisan Cheese
Loleta's Cheese Factory is another really interesting experience that you can only have here in this region of the country. Stop in at this small cheese factory and sample their products while looking through the glass at how cheese is made. You will learn a lot about the process and come away with a cheese lover's high.
12. Go Wine Tasting in Amador County
Amador County is one of the regions in Northern California that you don't hear a ton about...except for when it comes to their wine! They are producing some of the finest vintages around.
13. Explore An Abandoned Ruin
With the interesting Gold Rush, Logging, and Railroad History of Northern California, we have a lot of old ghost towns and places to explore. These photos are of some old, abandoned structures from the Tower House Historic District in Shasta County at the El Dorado Mine.
14. Go See Burney Falls
If you haven't yet visited these incredible falls, book a trip today! They are majestic and one of the crowning highlights of Northern California. Which is saying a lot, because we have some pretty spectacular places to choose from.
15. Discover Your Own Backyard
Chances are that if you live in Northern California, there is something worth discovering right out your back door. Get outside and appreciate it!