Over the last year, we’ve covered a variety of exciting adventures, beautiful places, and delightful restaurants here in Northern California. This list is a recap of all the amazing ideas locals contributed to and readers loved.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Preston Castle, Amador County
There is nothing more terrifying than an old abandoned prison, except for maybe a correctional facility that housed troubled youths for over half a century. The Preston School of Industry was a correctional facility in Northern California and is still open for tours to this day.
2. Fairytale Town, Sacramento
Fairytale Town is an amazingly magical playground located right here in Northern California. You and your loved ones will be transported right into your favorite fairy tale classics! These themed parks used to be very popular back in the 1960s and we're lucky to still have one just a short drive away.
Fairytale Town is a nonprofit and located in William Land Park in Sacramento, right across from the Sacramento Zoo.
3. The Placerville Hardware Store
Not only is Placerville Hardware oldest hardware store in Northern California, it's the oldest general store west of the Mississippi. It's a great place to stop in for those random nick nacks you just can't seem to find anywhere else! You'll find everything from gold panning supplies to postcards to useful household items.
4. The Avenue of Giants
The Avenue of the Giants is a 31-mile scenic route on Highway 101 that takes you through Humboldt Redwoods State Park. You'll be astounded by these ancient redwood trees as you make your way through this amazing and scenic slice of Northern California. The drive thru tree is an incredible opportunity for a photo!
5. Donner Pass Railroad Tunnels near Truckee
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.
6. Burney Falls
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!
7. The Sundial Bridge at Turtle Bay in Redding
This stunning and unique footbridge is also functional. The spire casts a shadow that is a working sundial in one of the prettiest settings around.
8. Plumas County Hot Air Balloons
9. Natural Bridges in Calaveras County
Looking for a place to cool off on a hot day or just want to experience one of the many natural marvels Northern California is known for? Your search is over. Natural Bridges in Calaveras County is an amazing and relatively unknown swimming hole that will blow your mind with how cool it is.
10. The Samoa Cookhouse
The only still operating cookhouse in North America is located right here in Northern California. The Samoa Cookhouse, near Eureka, is a historic relic leftover from the days of logging the state's North Coast. Family style breakfasts, lunches and dinners are still served here like they were when the building began feeding hungry lumberjacks in 1890.
11. Trees of Mystery Sky Trail, Redwood State and National Parks
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.
12. Sweetie Pies breakfast joint and cafe
Sweetie Pies is a small breakfast nook in the charming town of Placerville. The oldest establishment on Main Street, it’s known around the world for its giant cinnamon roles and olallieberry jam. The staff are friendly and locals show up in droves at this beloved local cafe.
13. Trinidad State Beach
The dramatic cliffs, the isles that are home to coastal birds and marine life, and the stunning beach itself make this state park a must see for any Northern Californian.
14. Arcata Oyster Festival
Ever summer, seafood enthusiasts flock to Arcata, for the annual oyster festival. Attendees enjoy impeccable shellfish and other food as well as local beer, wine and dancing.
15. Subway Cave, Lassen National Forest
Northern California is a trove of natural treasures. There are forests, mountains, beaches, and more to explore, but did you know there is also an amazing volcanic cave in Lassen National Forest? Subway Cave is a short, 1/3 mile trail that takes you underground and through a lava tube. It's one of the largest and most accessible caves of its kind in the world, and luckily for us it's right here in Northern California.
Here’s to hoping this list helps you adventure, laugh, and eat your way through 2017! We have a feeling it’s going to be a very, very good year. Happy New Year!