The 11 Best Backroads Around San Francisco For A Scenic Drive
When you live in California you’re surrounded by stunning scenery. But if you want to get a real picture of the wondrous and diverse natural beauty of our state, then you definitely need to take a drive or road trip! Northern California’s scenic byways are bursting with sights, from beaches and Redwoods to rock formations, picture-perfect lakes, and everything in between. Here are just a few of the prettiest Bay area backroads around San Francisco and beyond that will delight you. Buckle up and hit the pavement!
While nowhere near a complete list of scenic byways in Northern California, these gorgeous Bay area backroads are the perfect place to start! And since you’ll find plenty of camping opportunities along the way, go ahead and grab yourself an RV for easy off-grid exploring.
Have you ever taken a road trip down one of these? For another scenic drive in Northern California, Route 3 through Weaverville is full of history, beauty, and crowd-free sights.
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Northern California Scenic Byways & Related Info
What are some unique museums in Northern California?
Views aren't the only thing NorCal has to offer. While California is full of spectacular art and history museums, travelers can also peruse a more…unique side of NorCal with a visit to one of the state’s weirdest museums. From memorialized Pez dispensers to warehouses of vintage toys, these eclectic specialty museums in California are definitely worth a visit:
- Bigfoot Discovery Museum, Santa Cruz
- Bolt's Antique Tool Museum, Oroville
- Don & June Salvatori California Pharmacy Museum, Sacramento
- Essig Museum Of Entomology, Berkeley
- Hand Fan Museum, Healdsburg
- Humboldt Bay Maritime Museum, Samoa
- Ira F. Brilliant Center for Beethoven Studies, San Jose
- Musee Mecanique Museum, San Francisco
- Museum of 3D Illusions, San Francisco
- Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum, Fremont
- The Roseville Telephone Museum, Roseville
- Truhlsen Museum of the Eye, San Francisco
- Willow Creek-China Flat Museum, Willow Creek
You'll also find quite a few more unique museums hiding in Fort Bragg, CA!
What are some fun things to do in Northern California?
From picturesque shorelines and vibrant Redwood forests to man-made wonders and everything in between, there's nowhere in the world quite like California. NorCal is particularly filled with fun, unexpected, and family-oriented things to do both by water and by land.
For a casual escape into nature with no hiking required, a botanical garden is the best place to visit! A few of the best botanical gardens in Northern California are:
- Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens, Dunsmuir
- The Gardens at Heather Farm, Walnut Creek
- Hakone Estate and Gardens, Saratoga
- Humboldt Botanical Garden, Eureka
- Jensen Botanical Garden, Carmichael
- Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, Fort Bragg
- Sonoma Botanical Garden, Glen Ellen
- Turtle Bay Exploration Park, Redding
- Quarryhill Botanical Garden, Glen Ellen
For even more unique day trips in California, check out our official guide.