Last Updated on August 26, 2023 by Jerardo Gomez
As a Sacramento native, I’ve had the pleasure of exploring the beautiful landscapes and hidden gems of Northern and Central California. While there is no shortage of things to do in Sacramento, sometimes we all need a change of scenery and a chance to explore the great outdoors.
That’s why I’ve put together this blog post highlighting the best day trips from Sacramento. Whether you’re traveling with family, embarking on a solo adventure, or looking for a fun outing with friends, these destinations offer something for everyone. From scenic hikes and camping trips to quaint towns and historic landmarks, these day trips will allow you to experience the best that Northern California has to offer. So pack your bags, fuel up the car, and get ready for an unforgettable adventure!
Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular day trip destinations from Sacramento and for good reason. Located about a two-hour drive from the city, this stunning alpine lake offers a vast variety of activities and attractions that cater to all interests and ages.
Because the Lake Tahoe region has a whole variety of things to do, I have included just a variety below:
There are several regions within Lake Tahoe, each with its own distinct character and charm. On the North Shore, you’ll find charming towns like Kings Beach and Tahoe City, which offer quaint shops, restaurants, and lakefront parks.
The South Shore, on the other hand, is home to popular destinations like South Lake Tahoe and Stateline, which boast a more lively atmosphere with bustling casinos, nightlife, and entertainment options.
Water sports are a popular choice, with swimming, boating, kayaking, and stand-up paddleboarding among the top options. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try parasailing or jet skiing. For those who prefer to stay on land, there are plenty of hiking and biking trails that offer stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. Emerald bay state park is also great.
In the winter, Lake Tahoe is a haven for skiers and snowboarders. Snow season lasts from about October – April. With several world-class ski resorts located around the lake, including Squaw Valley, Northstar, and Heavenly, you’ll have plenty of options for hitting the slopes.
Renting your own cabin is something friends and families love to stay for accommodation. What you can do here is really endless with the Lake Tahoe National Forest around.
San Francisco is a world-famous city located in northern California, approximately 90 miles from Sacramento.
San Francisco could have hundreds or articles written about but lets just take a brief dive into the city.
One of the most famous landmarks in San Francisco is the iconic Golden Gate Bridge itself. This iconic suspension bridge spans 1.7 miles across the Golden Gate Strait and offers stunning views of the city and the bay. It’s a great place for photos.
Another popular attraction in San Francisco is Alcatraz Island, which was once home to one of the most infamous prisons in the world. Today, you can take a ferry to the island and explore the prison and its grounds, learning about its history and the infamous inmates who were once held there.
San Francisco is also known for its vibrant neighborhoods, each with its own unique character and culture. The colorful houses of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood were once home to the city’s hippie counterculture, while the Mission District is known for its vibrant Latino culture and street art. You can spend a day exploring the city’s neighborhoods, sampling the local cuisine, and soaking up the atmosphere.
For those who love the arts, San Francisco offers several world-class museums and galleries. The San Francisco Museum of Modern Art is home to an impressive collection of contemporary art, while the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park showcases American art from the 17th through the 21st centuries.
There are also festivals all the time throughout the year of everything you can think of such as anime, food, concerts, culture, and more. San Francisco Bay is a great place to view the city from.
I will have to add one last bit. San Francisco has unfortunately gone downhill in terms of crime and homelessness. I will like to add this as a warning because it really can make the experience not good if you are unfortunate to run into these things. Driving here is also bad.
Napa Valley is a beautiful region in northern California, approximately 55 miles from Sacramento, known for its picturesque vineyards, world-class wineries, and gourmet food. It’s a popular destination for wine lovers and foodies alike.
One of the best ways to experience Napa Valley is by taking a scenic drive through the countryside. The valley is home to over 400 wineries, ranging from large, well-known brands to small, family-owned operations.
Many wineries offer tastings and tours, where visitors can sample a variety of wines and learn about the wine-making process. Try the Napa Valley wine train while you are there.
In addition to wine, Napa Valley is also known for its culinary scene. The region boasts several Michelin-starred restaurants, as well as many casual eateries and food trucks. Visitors can enjoy farm-to-table cuisine, artisanal cheese, and fresh seafood, among other delicacies.
For those who love the outdoors, Napa Valley offers several hiking and biking trails, as well as hot air balloon rides that provide stunning views of the valley.
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite is a place I hold near my heart, as it was a place I would visit during college a lot.
Yosemite National Park is about 3 hours away from Sacramento and is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, approximately 150 miles from Sacramento. Known for its stunning granite cliffs, waterfalls, and ancient sequoia trees, Yosemite attracts millions of visitors every year.
One of the most popular attractions in Yosemite is Yosemite Valley, a glacially carved valley surrounded by towering cliffs and waterfalls.
Visitors can take a scenic drive through the valley, or hike one of the many trails that lead to stunning viewpoints and waterfalls, such as Yosemite Falls and Bridalveil Falls.
Another must-see attraction in Yosemite is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias, which features some of the world’s largest and oldest trees. Visitors can walk among the massive trees and even take a tram tour through the grove.
For the more adventurous, Yosemite offers world-class rock climbing and hiking opportunities. The park is home to some of the most challenging and iconic climbing routes in the world, such as El Capitan and Half Dome. Hikers can also explore the park’s backcountry, which offers remote wilderness areas and stunning views.
Finally, Yosemite offers a variety of recreational activities, such as fishing, cycling, horseback riding, and winter sports. The park has several campgrounds and lodging options, including rustic cabins and luxurious lodges, making it a great destination for a weekend getaway or extended vacation.
Mendocino is a small coastal town located in northern California, approximately 180 miles from Sacramento (~1.5 hours). The town is nestled on a bluff overlooking the Pacific Ocean and is known for its stunning natural beauty, charming architecture, and artistic community.
One of the most popular things to do in Mendocino is to explore the town’s coastline. There are several state parks in the area, including Van Damme State Park and Mendocino Headlands State Park, which offer miles of scenic hiking trails with stunning ocean views.
If you’re a foodie, Mendocino won’t disappoint. The town is home to several excellent restaurants, cafes, and bakeries, offering a variety of cuisine options. You can indulge in fresh seafood, artisanal cheeses, and locally sourced produce, all while enjoying the beautiful ocean views.
Another popular attraction in Mendocino is the Point Cabrillo Light Station. This historic lighthouse dates back to 1909 and is still in operation today. You can take a guided tour of the lighthouse and learn about its history and significance, or simply enjoy the views from the surrounding gardens.
Finally, for those who love wine, Mendocino is part of the Anderson Valley wine region, which is home to several wineries and tasting rooms.
Sonoma County is a beautiful and diverse region located just north of San Francisco, approximately 60 miles from Sacramento. Known for its world-class wineries, picturesque coastline, and stunning landscapes, Sonoma County offers a variety of activities for visitors of all ages and interests.
Visitors can take a scenic drive through the rolling hills and sample some of the world’s best wines, including chardonnay, pinot noir, and cabernet sauvignon. Many wineries also offer tours and tastings, allowing visitors to learn about the winemaking process and sample a variety of wines.
In addition to wine country, Sonoma County offers a stunning coastline that stretches over 55 miles. Visitors can explore the rugged coastline and enjoy activities such as hiking, kayaking, and whale watching. The region’s beaches are also a popular attraction, offering opportunities for swimming, surfing, and sunbathing.
For outdoor enthusiasts, Sonoma County boasts several state parks and nature reserves, including Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve and Salt Point State Park. These parks offer hiking trails, camping sites, and picnic areas, allowing visitors to experience the natural beauty of the region up close.
Sonoma County is also home to several charming towns and villages, such as Healdsburg, Sebastopol, and Guerneville.
Point Reyes National Seashore
Point Reyes National Seashore is a stunning natural gem located in Marin County, approximately 100 miles from Sacramento. This 70,000-acre park offers a unique combination of rugged coastline, rolling hills, and picturesque beaches, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers.
One of the most popular attractions in Point Reyes National Seashore is its diverse wildlife. Visitors can spot a variety of species, including tule elk, gray whales, elephant seals, and sea lions. Birdwatchers also flock to the park to observe over 400 species of birds, making it a prime destination for birding enthusiasts.
Point Reyes also offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, and beachcombing. The park boasts over 150 miles of hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks, allowing visitors to explore the stunning natural beauty of the region up close. The park’s beaches are also popular destinations for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing.
Muir Woods National Monument
Muir Woods National Monument is a breathtaking natural wonder located just 17 miles from San Francisco in Marin County, California. This protected area is home to some of the world’s oldest and tallest redwood trees, making it a popular destination for nature enthusiasts, hikers, and photographers.
The highlight of Muir Woods National Monument is its towering redwood trees. Visitors can stroll through the park’s many trails and admire these majestic giants, some of which are over 1,000 years old and can reach heights of up to 260 feet. The park’s famous Cathedral Grove is particularly awe-inspiring, with its soaring redwoods reaching up toward the sky.
In addition to its natural beauty, Muir Woods also offers a variety of recreational activities. The park also offers ranger-led programs, guided tours, and educational exhibits, making it an ideal destination for families and school groups.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park
Calaveras Big Trees State Park is a stunning natural wonder located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California. The park is known for its giant sequoia trees, which are some of the largest and oldest trees in the world. These majestic trees can reach heights of up to 300 feet and can live for over 3,000 years, making them a unique and awe-inspiring sight for visitors.
The park offers a variety of recreational activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, and picnicking.
There are over 80 miles of hiking trails in the park, ranging from easy nature walks to challenging backcountry treks.
One of the park’s most popular trails is the North Grove Trail, a 1.5-mile loop that winds through a grove of giant sequoias.
Calaveras Big Trees State Park also has two campgrounds, with a total of 129 campsites. The campgrounds are open year-round and offer a variety of amenities, including restrooms, showers, and fire pits.
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park is a beautiful national park located in northern California, approximately 200 miles from Sacramento. The park is known for its unique geological features, including volcanic activity, geothermal hot springs, and beautiful landscapes.
One of the most popular attractions in Lassen Volcanic National Park is volcanic activity. The park is home to several active volcanoes, including Lassen Peak, which last erupted in 1917. You can explore the park’s volcanic features by hiking through the Cinder Cone Trail or the Lassen Peak Trail, both of which offer stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
For those who love geothermal activity, Lassen Volcanic National Park offers several hot springs. The Bumpass Hell Trail is a popular hiking trail that leads you to a geothermal area with bubbling mud pots, steaming vents, and hot springs. You can also visit the park’s other hot springs, including the Drakesbad and Warner Valley hot springs.
Lassen Volcanic National Park is also known for its beautiful landscapes. The park is home to several lakes, including Manzanita Lake, which offers excellent fishing and swimming opportunities. You can also explore the park’s meadows and forests by hiking through the Lassen Peak Meadows Trail or the Kings Creek Falls Trail.
Santa Cruz is a coastal city located in northern California, known for its beautiful beaches, laid-back vibe, and rich history. The city is situated on the northern edge of Monterey Bay.
Not only is it known and popular for its college town and students, but also for many Californians who visit the town.
One of the main attractions in Santa Cruz is the beach. The city has several beautiful beaches, including Main Beach, Cowell Beach, and Natural Bridges State Beach. These beaches offer a variety of activities such as swimming, surfing, sunbathing, and picnicking.
Another popular attraction in Santa Cruz is the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, which is a historic amusement park located on the beach. The boardwalk features several classic rides, including the Giant Dipper, which is a wooden roller coaster that dates back to 1924. The boardwalk also has several arcade games, food vendors, and live entertainment.
For nature lovers, Santa Cruz has several state parks and natural reserves, including Big Basin Redwoods State Park, Henry Cowell Redwoods State Park, and Wilder Ranch State Park. These parks offer miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as opportunities for wildlife viewing and camping.
Monterey, California is a coastal town that is a great day trip destination from Sacramento. It is located approximately 150 miles south of Sacramento, which takes about 2.5-3 hours of driving time, depending on traffic and route.
I have been to Monterey so many times because of how scenic it is, and I think it’s one of the best coastal towns in California. I have written another article about a Monterey Itinerary which you can find here.
Once you arrive in Monterey, there are plenty of activities and attractions to keep you entertained. One of the most popular attractions is the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which is home to a variety of marine life including sharks, sea otters, and penguins. The aquarium is located right on the water, so you can also enjoy stunning views of the bay.
Another popular attraction in Monterey is Cannery Row, a historic street that was once home to sardine canning factories. Today, it is a bustling area filled with shops, restaurants, and galleries. You can stroll along the row and check out the colorful buildings and historic plaques, or stop at one of the many seafood restaurants for a fresh meal.
For those who love the outdoors, Monterey offers plenty of opportunities to explore nature. The Monterey Bay Coastal Trail is a scenic path that runs along the coast for 18 miles, offering stunning views of the ocean and the surrounding hills. You can also take a hike in Point Lobos State Reserve, which offers several trails through coastal forests and along rocky cliffs.
Carmel-by-the-Sea, also known simply as Carmel, is a charming coastal town located in Monterey County, California. The town is known for its stunning natural beauty, quaint European-style architecture, and rich history.
One of the main attractions in Carmel is its beautiful beach, Carmel Beach. The beach offers miles of white sand and crystal-clear water, making it the perfect spot for swimming, sunbathing, and surfing. There are also several parks and reserves in the area, including Point Lobos State Natural Reserve and the Carmel River State Beach and Lagoon, which offer opportunities for hiking, wildlife viewing, and birdwatching.
Carmel’s downtown area is also a major attraction, with its quaint and picturesque streets lined with boutique shops, art galleries, and cafes. The town is known for its unique architecture, with buildings that range from traditional Spanish-style villas to storybook cottages with thatched roofs and white picket fences. The Carmel Mission Basilica, a historic Spanish mission founded in 1770, is also a popular attraction in the area.
I love Big Sur for many reasons because it’s one of the most unique places on the West Coast. If you want to read more, I have written a travel guide to Big Sur.
Big Sur is a rugged stretch of coastline located along the central coast of California, between Carmel and San Simeon. It is known for its stunning natural beauty, with towering cliffs, rocky beaches, and majestic redwood forests.
One of the most popular attractions in Big Sur is Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park, which offers miles of hiking trails, picnic areas, and campgrounds. The park is also home to the iconic McWay Falls, a 70-foot waterfall that drops into the ocean from a granite cliff.
Another popular destination in Big Sur is Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park, which features the McWay Cove and Overlook Trail, a stunning coastal trail that offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. The park is also home to a large stand of redwood trees, which can be seen on the park’s many hiking trails.
The Bixby Creek Bridge is another iconic landmark in Big Sur and is considered one of the most photographed bridges in California. The bridge spans Bixby Creek and offers spectacular views of the ocean and coastline.
Mount Shasta is a majestic mountain located in Northern California, near the border with Oregon. It is the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range and is considered a spiritual and sacred place by many Native American tribes.
Mount Shasta offers a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking, skiing, snowboarding mountain biking, and mountain climbing. One of the most popular hiking trails is the Mount Shasta Summit Trail, which offers a challenging ascent to the mountain’s 14,162-foot peak. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding wilderness and is a popular destination for experienced hikers.
In the winter months, Mount Shasta is also a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding. The mountain has several ski resorts, including Mount Shasta Ski Park, which offers a variety of runs for all skill levels.
Aside from outdoor activities, Mount Shasta is also known for its spiritual and mystical properties. Many people believe that a mountain is a place of healing and transformation, and it has become a popular destination for spiritual retreats and workshops.
The town of Mount Shasta, located at the base of the mountain, offers a variety of shops, restaurants, and accommodations for visitors.
Redding is a vibrant city located in Northern California, at the northern end of the Sacramento Valley. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains, lakes, and rivers, making it an ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts.
One of the main attractions in Redding is the Sundial Bridge, a pedestrian bridge that spans the Sacramento River. The bridge is an architectural wonder, featuring a 217-foot-tall sundial and a glass deck that allows visitors to see the river below.
Another popular attraction in Redding is Turtle Bay Exploration Park, a 300-acre park that includes a museum, botanical gardens, and a wildlife center.
The park offers a variety of exhibits and activities, including interactive displays, live animal exhibits, and walking trails.
For those who love the outdoors, Redding is also a great destination for hiking, fishing, and boating. The nearby Whiskeytown National Recreation Area offers miles of hiking trails, scenic waterfalls, and beautiful lakes for fishing and boating.
Lake Berryessa is a large freshwater lake located in Napa County, California. It is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as fishing, boating, hiking, and camping. Just about an hour away from Sacramento, it’s a great place for hiking at the lake.
I used to hike all the time at Lake Berryessa, it was very easy with great weather and was a great place to have a picnic.
The lake is known for its clear blue waters and stunning scenery. It is surrounded by the picturesque hills of Napa Valley, making it a popular spot for picnics, family gatherings, and romantic getaways. Visitors can enjoy swimming, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
One of the most popular attractions at Lake Berryessa is the Monticello Dam, which creates the lake and is known for its unique “glory hole” spillway.
For hikers and nature enthusiasts, Lake Berryessa offers several scenic trails, including the Lake Berryessa Trail and the Smittle Creek Trail.
Camping is another popular activity at Lake Berryessa, with several campgrounds located around the lake. These campgrounds offer tent and RV camping, as well as amenities such as picnic tables, fire rings, and restrooms.
Bodega Bay is a charming coastal town located in northern California, approximately 80 miles from Sacramento. The town is known for its picturesque harbor, beautiful beaches, and delicious seafood.
One of the most popular attractions in Bodega Bay is the scenic harbor. The harbor is home to several fishing boats and offers beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean. You can take a stroll along the harbor and watch as fishermen bring in their catch of the day or rent a kayak or paddleboard and explore the bay on your own.
For those who love beaches, Bodega Bay offers several options. Doran Beach is a beautiful stretch of sand with gentle waves, perfect for swimming and sunbathing. The beach also offers several picnic areas and BBQ pits, making it a great place for a family outing. If you’re interested in surfing or windsurfing, Bodega Bay’s Salmon Creek Beach offers excellent conditions for these activities.
Bodega Bay is also known for its delicious seafood. The town’s restaurants and markets offer fresh seafood caught daily, including oysters, clams, and Dungeness crab.
Finally, for those who love outdoor activities, Bodega Bay offers several hiking and biking trails. The Pinnacle Gulch Trail is a popular hiking trail that leads you through scenic coastal bluffs and offers stunning views of the ocean.
The Sacramento Delta is a region located in Northern California where the Sacramento River and San Joaquin River meet and flow into the San Francisco Bay. It is a unique and picturesque area with hundreds of miles of waterways and agricultural land, providing a wide range of outdoor recreational opportunities.
One of the most popular activities in the Sacramento Delta is boating. Visitors can rent boats, jet skis, or kayaks to explore the waterways and take in the stunning scenery. Fishing is also a popular pastime, with the Delta being home to a variety of fish species such as bass, sturgeon, and salmon.
The Delta is also known for its charming towns and waterfront restaurants. Visitors can stroll through historic downtowns, browse antique shops, and dine on fresh seafood while taking in the scenic views of the river. Some popular towns to visit in the Delta include Walnut Grove, Rio Vista, and Locke, a historic Chinese settlement.
For those who enjoy hiking and biking, the Sacramento Delta offers several trails, including the Delta De Anza Trail and the Sacramento River Trail.
Mono Lake is a saline soda lake located in eastern California, near the town of Lee Vining. It is one of the oldest lakes in North America and has a unique ecosystem that is home to a variety of rare species of plants and animals.
One of the most striking features of Mono Lake is its unusual rock formations known as the tufa towers. These towers are formed when calcium-rich underwater springs mix with the carbonate-rich waters of the lake, causing the calcium carbonate to precipitate out and form towering limestone structures. The Tufa towers make for stunning photo opportunities and are a popular attraction for visitors to the lake.
Mono Lake is also home to several species of birds, including the California Gull and the Western Grebe, which come to the lake to feed and breed. The lake’s unique environment also supports a variety of algae and invertebrates that are found nowhere else on Earth.
Gold Country is a historic region in California that played a significant role in the state’s gold rush of the mid-1800s. It encompasses several counties in the Sierra Nevada foothills, including Amador, Calaveras, El Dorado, Mariposa, Nevada, Placer, Tuolumne, and Yuba.
Gold Country is located approximately 50-60 miles east of Sacramento, making it a convenient and fun day trip destination for those living in or visiting the city. Visitors can take scenic drives through the region’s picturesque landscapes, explore charming historic towns, and learn about the history of the gold rush.
One of the most popular attractions in Gold Country is the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park in Coloma. This park is the site where gold was first discovered in California, and visitors can see the exact spot where James W. Marshall found the first gold nugget in 1848. The park also includes a museum, restored buildings, and a replica of Sutter’s Mill, where the gold discovery took place.
Another must-visit destination in Gold Country is the town of Placerville, also known as “Old Hangtown” due to its rough past during the gold rush. Visitors can explore the town’s historic buildings and shops, including the famous Cary House Hotel, which was once a popular spot for miners and travelers.
Other popular activities in Gold Country include hiking, fishing, and wine tasting. The region is home to several wineries, many of which specialize in Zinfandel, a grape variety that has thrived in the area since the gold rush era.
Nevada City is a historic town located in the Sierra Nevada foothills in California. It is approximately 60 miles northeast of Sacramento, making it a popular day trip destination for those looking to explore the region’s rich history and natural beauty.
Nevada City was founded during the California gold rush in the mid-1800s and has since preserved much of its historic architecture and charm. Visitors can stroll through the town’s streets lined with Victorian-style buildings, browse the unique shops and art galleries, and visit the Nevada County Narrow Gauge Railroad Museum, which features exhibits on the town’s railroad history.
One of the main attractions in Nevada City is the Empire Mine State Historic Park, a former gold mine that operated for over 100 years. Visitors can tour the mine and its historic buildings, including the owner’s mansion, which was once one of the most opulent homes in the state.
For nature enthusiasts, the nearby South Yuba River State Park offers hiking trails, swimming holes, and stunning views of the river and surrounding canyon. Visitors can also explore the park’s historic covered bridges, which were built in the late 1800s and early 1900s.
In the winter months, Nevada City is also a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding at the nearby Sugar Bowl Resort and Donner Ski Ranch.
Grass Valley is a charming town located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, approximately 60 miles northeast of Sacramento. It is known for its rich history, beautiful architecture, and natural beauty, making it a popular day trip destination for visitors to the region.
The town was founded during the California gold rush in the mid-1800s and has since preserved much of its historic charm. Visitors can stroll through the town’s streets lined with Victorian-style buildings, visit museums and art galleries, and explore the many antique shops and boutiques.
One of the main attractions in Grass Valley is the North Star Mining Museum, which showcases the history of gold mining in the area. The museum features exhibits on the tools and equipment used by miners, the techniques they used to extract gold, and the lives of the people who lived and worked in the mines.
For nature enthusiasts, the nearby Empire Mine State Historic Park offers hiking trails, picnic areas, and tours of the historic mine and buildings.
Auburn is a historic town located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, approximately 35 miles northeast of Sacramento. The town is known for its rich history, natural beauty, and outdoor recreational opportunities, making it a popular day trip destination for visitors to the region.
One of the main attractions in Auburn is the Auburn State Recreation Area, which offers over 40 miles of hiking and biking trails, fishing, and water sports on the American River. The park is also home to the iconic Auburn Dam Overlook, which offers stunning views of the American River Canyon.
Another popular attraction in Auburn is Old Town, which features restored historic buildings, art galleries, antique shops, and restaurants. Visitors can take a walking tour of the area and learn about the town’s rich history, including its role in the California Gold Rush.
For those interested in the natural beauty of the region, the nearby Hidden Falls Regional Park offers over 30 miles of hiking and biking trails, waterfalls, and stunning views of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Visitors can also enjoy picnicking, fishing, and horseback riding in the park.
Coloma is a small historic town located in the Sierra Nevada foothills, approximately 35 miles northeast of Sacramento. The town is perhaps best known for its significant role in the California Gold Rush of the mid-1800s when gold was discovered along the banks of the nearby American River.
Today, Coloma is a popular day trip destination for visitors to the region, who come to explore the town’s rich history and natural beauty. One of the main attractions in Coloma is the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park, which features a museum, exhibits, and a recreated Gold Rush-era town.
In addition to its rich history, Coloma is also known for its outdoor recreational opportunities. The nearby South Fork of the American River offers world-class whitewater rafting and kayaking, as well as fishing and swimming.
For those interested in the natural beauty of the region, the Cronan Ranch Regional Trails Park offers over 12 miles of hiking and biking trails, as well as stunning views of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Sausalito is a picturesque waterfront town located just across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. It is a popular day trip destination for both locals and visitors to the Bay Area, known for its beautiful views of the San Francisco Bay, charming houseboat communities, and vibrant arts scene.
Sausalito is also home to a number of galleries and art studios, making it a hub for the arts community. Visitors can explore the Sausalito Art Walk, which takes place on the first Wednesday of every month and showcases the work of local artists. Additionally, the annual Sausalito Art Festival is a major event that draws artists and art lovers from all over the world.
Half Moon Bay
Half Moon Bay is a charming coastal town located in northern California, approximately 120 miles from Sacramento. The town is known for its beautiful beaches, scenic hiking trails, and charming downtown area.
One of the most popular attractions in Half Moon Bay is the beaches. The town’s beaches offer something for everyone, from gentle waves and calm waters at the Half Moon Bay State Beach to the more rugged and secluded beaches like Mavericks Beach. Mavericks Beach is famous for its big wave surfing and is home to an annual surfing competition that attracts surfers from around the world.
For those who love outdoor activities, Half Moon Bay offers several scenic hiking trails. The Purisima Creek Redwoods Preserve is a popular hiking spot, with over 4,000 acres of beautiful redwood forest and several hiking trails that offer stunning views of the coast.
The Coastal Trail is another popular hiking spot, with several miles of trails that run along the coastline, offering breathtaking views of the ocean.
Half Moon Bay is also known for its charming downtown area. The town’s Main Street is lined with quaint shops, art galleries, and restaurants.
Gilroy is a small city located in Santa Clara County, approximately 85 miles south of Sacramento. It is known as the “Garlic Capital of the World” due to its long history of garlic production and annual Garlic Festival.
One of the main attractions in Gilroy is the Garlic Festival, which takes place every July and draws in visitors from all over the country. The festival features a variety of garlic-themed food and drinks, live music and entertainment, and even a garlic cook-off competition.
In addition to the Garlic Festival, Gilroy is also home to a number of vineyards and wineries, making it a popular destination for wine lovers. Visitors can explore the local wineries and tasting rooms, such as Fortino Winery and Sarah’s Vineyard, and sample some of the region’s best wines.
The Gilroy Premium Outlets, a large outdoor shopping center, is also located in the city’s central park and offers a variety of high-end retailers and discount stores.
Mariposa is a historic town located in Mariposa County, approximately 125 miles southeast of Sacramento. The town is known for its charming downtown area, as a national historic district as well as its proximity to Yosemite National Park.
One of the main attractions in Mariposa is the Mariposa Museum and History Center, which showcases the town’s rich history dating back to the California Gold Rush.
Another popular attraction in Mariposa is the California State Mining and Mineral Museum, which features exhibits and artifacts related to the mining industry in California. The museum’s collection includes gold nuggets, mining equipment, and gemstones.
For those interested in outdoor activities, Mariposa is located near a number of hiking trails and scenic drives, including the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias in Yosemite National Park. Visitors can also explore the nearby Merced River, which offers opportunities for fishing, swimming, and kayaking.
Finally, visitors to Mariposa can explore the town’s charming downtown area, which features a range of shops, restaurants, and art galleries. The town also hosts a number of events throughout the year, including the Mariposa County Fair and the Mariposa Butterfly Festival.
Jackson is a small city located in Amador County, California, approximately 45 miles southeast of Sacramento. It’s known for its rich gold rush history, vineyards, and outdoor recreational activities.
Visitors to Jackson can explore the gold rush town and the Kennedy Gold Mine, which is the deepest gold mine in North America and offers tours to the public. Another popular attraction is the Amador County Museum, which features exhibits on the local history, of the gold rush and the local Miwok Indian tribe.
Wine lovers can enjoy a visit to one of the many local wineries in the area, such as Helwig Winery or Sobon Estate. For outdoor enthusiasts, there are hiking trails and scenic drives in the nearby Amador County foothills.
Folsom Lake is a popular recreational destination located about 25 miles east of Sacramento. The lake was created by the construction of the Folsom Dam in the 1950s and serves as a major source of water for the Sacramento region.
Visitors to Folsom Lake can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities, including swimming, boating, fishing, hiking, and camping. There are several boat launches and marinas around the lake, making it easy to get out on the water. Fishing is a popular pastime, with the lake known for its abundance of bass, trout, and catfish.
The Folsom Lake State Recreation Area offers over 95 miles of hiking and biking trails that wind through the rolling hills and oak woodlands surrounding the lake. There are also several picnic areas and campgrounds for those looking to spend a night or two in the great outdoors.
Apple Hill is a picturesque region located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains, approximately an hour’s drive east of Sacramento. The region is famous for its apple orchards, pumpkin patches, and Christmas tree farms. The crisp air, stunning foliage, and endless rows of apple trees make Apple Hill a popular destination for visitors in the fall.
In addition to apple picking, visitors to Apple Hill can enjoy a variety of activities and attractions. The region boasts over 50 different ranches and farms, offering everything from wine tasting and craft beer to hayrides and corn mazes. Many of the ranches also feature on-site bakeries, offering fresh-baked pies, cider donuts, and other delicious treats.
During the holiday season, Apple Hill transforms into a winter wonderland. Visitors can cut down their own Christmas tree, sip on hot cider, and take a festive hayride. The region also features a variety of holiday-themed events, such as Christmas craft fairs and holiday concerts.
Chico, California is a small city located in the northern part of the Sacramento Valley, approximately 90 miles north of Sacramento. Known for its beautiful natural surroundings and outdoor recreation opportunities.
One of the most popular attractions in Chico is Bidwell Park, a 3,670-acre municipal park that stretches for over 11 miles along Big Chico Creek. The park features hiking and biking trails, swimming holes, picnic areas, and campgrounds, making it an ideal destination for families and outdoor enthusiasts.
Another must-visit spot in the historic downtown district of Chico is the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, one of the largest craft breweries in the United States. Visitors can take a tour of the facility and sample some of the brewery’s award-winning beers in the taproom.
For those interested in history and culture, Chico offers several museums and galleries. The Chico Museum features exhibits on the area’s natural and cultural history, while the 1078 Gallery showcases contemporary art by local and national artists.
Squaw Valley Ski Resort, California
Squaw Valley Ski Resort, located in Olympic Valley, California, is one of the most iconic ski resorts in the United States. Known for its challenging terrain and beautiful views, Squaw Valley has been a favorite destination for skiers and snowboarders for over six decades.
The ski resort is situated in the Sierra Nevada mountain range and boasts 3,600 skiable acres, 29 ski lifts, and over 170 trails. The resort’s base elevation is 6,200 feet, with a summit elevation of 9,050 feet. Squaw Valley receives an average of 450 inches of snowfall each year, making it one of the snowiest ski resorts in the country.
Squaw Valley hosted the 1960 Winter Olympics, which helped to put the ski resort on the map. Today, the resort attracts skiers and snowboarders from around the world who come to experience the resort’s challenging terrain and Olympic history.
Pinnacles National Park
Pinnacles National Park is a beautiful natural wonder located in central California, approximately 150 miles south of Sacramento. The park covers over 26,000 acres and is known for its unique rock formations, scenic hiking trails, and diverse wildlife.
One of the most popular activities in Pinnacles National Park is hiking. The park features over 30 miles of trails, ranging from easy nature walks to strenuous hikes that lead to stunning vistas.
The High Peaks Trail is a challenging hike that takes you to the highest point in the park, offering panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. The Condor Gulch Trail and the Bear Gulch Cave Trail are also popular hikes, leading you through scenic canyons and caves.
Another popular activity in Pinnacles National Park is rock climbing. The park is home to over 700 climbing routes, ranging in difficulty from beginner to expert.
The park is also home to the endangered California condor, with over 30 of these magnificent birds living in the area.