Northern California is so well loved, some of its more popular destinations have a tendency to feel loved to death. Luckily for those of us who love exploring the northern half of the Golden State, there are plenty of places left to discover. Here are a few of our favorite destinations that are a little off the beaten path and less likely to be crowded if you are interested in visiting them this summer.
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:
1. The Lost Sierra
This remote region of the northern Sierra Nevada in Sierra and Plumas counties didn't receive this name for no reason - It's not an area of the state many people are familiar with. Amazing places within this region include the Lakes Basin, the Sierra Buttes, golf courses, and charming small towns.
2. Lake Almanor
This Plumas County reservoir is surrounded by the Lassen National Volcanic Forest and boasts 52 miles of shoreline. The opportunities for nearly every type of outdoor recreation in this area are endless.
3. The Humboldt Lagoons
Many visitors who make it up to Humboldt county just visit the redwoods without exploring the beaches. It's a shame, because the lagoons located south of Orick but west of the national park are a sight like non other. They are the largest system of lagoons in the U.S. and are a moody, misty and windswept landscape.
4. Crescent City
As the farthest north city along the coast of Northern California, Crescent City sees a surprising amount of visitors for how far north it is. Still, many people turn around in Humboldt County before making their way this far north, making this remote city a undiscovered gem for many tourists.
Located along Highway 101 and home of Humboldt State University, Arcata is one of the larger communities in Humboldt county. It's a surprisingly walkable and fun filled town, as well. Visitors who take the time to explore here will be enchanted by the friendly folks and good eats to be discovered.
Walk the historic Guerneville bridge, hike though the nearby redwood forest, or simply relax on Johnson's beach.Whatever is your favorite activity, be sure to experience the lovely little streets of downtown Guerneville. It may be a tourist town, but it has stayed true to it's unique and colorful personality over the years.
7. Apple Hill
An apple growing region east of Placerville with a burgeoning wine scene, Apple Hill is your go-to spot if you want to pick up farm fresh veggies and fruits right from the source. Pick up a fresh baked pie or a caramel apple from one of the many farms and bakeries scattered throughout this picturesque countryside.
8. Whiskeytown Lake
This national recreation area is located in Shasta County and is less well known than some of the Shasta-Cascade's more popular attractions in this region. It's beautiful crystal-clear waters are surrounded by mountain peaks. You won't be bored here - entertainment includes gold panning, hiking, discovering abandoned structures, swimming and more.
9. Point Arena Stornetta Public Lands
One of the newest swaths of protected land in Northern California, these two miles of coastline include interesting rock formations, the estuary of the Garcia River, and plenty of beach. It's a perfect place to spend a leisurely afternoon walking along the ocean.
10. Lassen Volcanic National Park
With its teeming fumaroles, meadows freckled with wildflowers, clear mountain lakes, and numerous volcanoes, it's surprising that this unique National Park is rarely visited by locals here in Northern California. It's an incredible sight to behold, however, and belongs on everyone's bucket list - even if it is quite a drive!
11. Turtle Bay Exploration Park
If you have heard of Turtle Bay, it's likely because you are familiar with the incredibly scenic Sun Dial Bridge, which stretches across the Sacramento River in Redding. Many people don't know, however, that this park is also a 300-acre gathering place that includes a museum, forestry & wildlife center, arboretum and botanical gardens. It's the gateway to the Sacramento River Trails, too.
Established by Sam Brannan in 1862, Calistoga is known for its hot springs and spas including mud baths using ash, though it is also a part of the Napa Wine Country. All of the geothermal activity and soil conditions are derived from nearby Mount St. Helena, the highest mountain in the area and a part of the Clear Lake Volcanic Field. Calistoga is a wealthy and successful resort town, but those looking to tour Napa County's famous wine region will find this town is quaint and a little more off the beaten path than others.
13. Patrick's Point State Park
Patrick's Point is a 640 acre park in the heart of the California coast's redwood country. The park's dense forests of spruce, hemlock, pine, fir and red alder stretch over an ocean headland with lovely wildflower-festooned meadows and a dramatic shoreline ranging from broad sandy beaches to sheer cliffs that rise high above the Pacific Ocean offer great opportunities to explore tide pools, search for agates and driftwood, and watch whales, sea lions, and brilliant sunsets.
What are your favorite destinations on this list? What would you add that we might have missed?