Northern California has it all. If you’re a city-lover you get recharged by a visit to San Francisco or by living in Sacramento or Santa Clara. But more and more of us are opting for the smaller towns to live and raise our families. Why? Because we like knowing our neighbors and not battling traffic to and from home. These small towns offer us what the big cities just can’t: a huge helping of peace and quiet. Here are a few of our favorites to remind you to put your feet up and stay awhile.
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:
McCloud--no, we're not talking about the 1970s TV drama. This is a town that's small and peaceful. Located on the southern slope of Mt. Shasta, it's a mecca for hikers, cyclers, and peace-seeking folks.
It's been called "The Next Napa Valley." Once known as "Murphys Camp" for its gold mining fame, fire was the bane if this early town's existence. Three fires in the late 1800s burnt the city to the ground. The town rebuilt again and again--and nature loves on this area pretty well. It's gorgeous and quiet here.
3. Meadow Valley
Meadow Valley is a small sleepy town with a lot of natural beauty. Looking to fish, hike, get off the grid, or just relax in a peaceful setting--Meadow Valley's got you covered!
Loleta gets its name from its name from lalōekā, the Wiyot Indians name for the trail on the top of Table Bluff. Potato farming was a big thing here in the late 1800s. According to one source, "The town was renamed Loleta in 1897. The name was reported to mean "pleasant place at the end of the tide water" in the language of the original Wiyot native inhabitants."
Peaceful little Jamestown is another gold-mining town that popped up in the 1800s. Petticoat Junction, The Wild Wild West and scenes from the movie Hidalgo were filmed here and close by.
Once a gold-mining town, it became a sleepy farm town. When the Tuolomne River became a big deal around here more and more folks no longer drove on past--but actually stopped. It's usually visitors on their way to Yosemite.
Historically a mining town, it's been known for its lumber mills. Once there were two here and now there's one. You can find Sonora tucked in between HWY 40 and HWY 108.
Arnold is named after Bob and Bernice Arnold. They opened "Ebbets Pass Inn" in 1927. Calaveras Big Trees is close by and In 1928, Camp Wolfeboro was founded as a Boy Scout Camp. Which is still going today!
The Truckee River comes from Lake Tahoe and runs for 100 miles. American Indians are the earliest history here--but the Donner Party from the 1800s is the story they're known for now. The Donner-Reed party headed out west from Illinois and met their demise when winter hit fast and hard. And...there was cannibalism--so there's that, too.
Another sweet gold-mining town from the 1800s. This town got its name from Quincy, Illinois--which took their name from President John "Quincy" Adams. A pretty cool presidential name for a serene little town.
Located in the gorgeous Shasta Valley in Siskyou County. Once known as "Thompson's Dry Diggins" it eventually took on the name Yreka from Shasta language /wáik'a/, for which Mount Shasta is named. The word means "north mountain" or "white mountain" Did you know Mark Twain has been through these parts, too?
12. Sutter Creek
Once known as "Suttersville," this charming town has been called "The Sausalito of the Foothils" since it's pretty far from the Pacific Ocean. Sutter's Creek is peaceful and quaint. Come by and stay in one of their darling B&B's. You'll love it.
13. Twain Harte
Twain Harte gets its name from TWO famous authors: Mark Twain and Bret Harte. Mark Twain lived in these parts and, well, you know who he is. But, Bret Harte was originally from Albany, New York and moved to California in the late 1800s. He married his wife in San Rafael and was known for his short stories about gold miners, gambling and 49ers! (Not the football team.)
The serene little town of Etna was once named "Rough and Ready." I just love that! But, a statute in 1874 changed the name to "Etna" after the local flour mill. Located at the foot of Marble Mountain the whole town is less than a mile in size and a magnet for hikers and anyone looking for a little peace and quiet!
15. Shelter Cove
If you've been to Black Sands Beach or Seal Cove then you've been to Shelter Cove. It's picturesque and extremely peaceful. But, there's lots of fog around here. Back in 1907 a steamer named "Columbia" collided with a steam schooner named "San Pedro," 88 passengers met their death in this foggy cove. Today it's just known as a dreamy coastal town that brings serenity by the bucketful!
When was the last time you stopped by one of these towns for a visit? Which one would you move to if you could?