If you are wanting to explore the beauty of Northern California, there are countless places to visit.
You have coastal views in Mendocino and all along the coast of California is wine country Napa and Sonoma. There are forests as far as one can see in Tahoe and the Redwoods, and even some really cool pioneer/gold-mining towns. The book is a compilation of essays on places to visit in each state
Here are the most exciting things to see and do in Northern California!
Golden Gate Bridge
San Francisco is a great place for foodies to visit, art buffs to explore, and history lovers to learn about.
It’s the perfect place for a California road trip or it can be the perfect overnight getaway.
Don’t forget to visit the Golden Gate Bridge while you’re in town. Drive down Lombard Street if you go to Haight-Ashbury.
- The Ultimate San Francisco Travel Guide
- The Coolest Airbnbs in San Francisco
- The Ultimate Guide to San Francisco in a Weekend
Winchester Mystery House
The Winchester Mystery House is located in San Jose. It is a mansion that doesn’t make any sense. It was built in 1884. The house has doors and windows that lead to nothing, for they lead to the attic or the basement.
It is also said to be haunted, though the staff claims the ghosts are friendly.
This sounds familiar because of the TV shows.
Giant Redwood Trees
The Redwood National Forest is something straight out of a postcard. Drive down Avenue of the Giants, a 31-mile stretch of old Highway 101, to see giant beautiful trees up close and personal.
Go for a swim, fish, or hike in the 5,000 acres of redwoods to really experience the beauty of nature.
If you want to see a little bit of history, visit the Petrified Forest in Sonoma. There you can find giant redwood trees that date back 3 million years!
Explore Wine Country
If you love wine like me, Northern California is a perfect destination to get your fill. Napa and Sonoma are home to over 400 wineries that have everything from small family-run wineries to large internationally known wine houses.
And what goes better with wine than some delicious food? Sonoma is a well-known foodie destination with renowned pairings to farm-to-table fare.
Experience Gold Country
In the late 1840s and early 1850s, California boomed with a gold rush.
The news of gold brought 300,000 people to California in hopes of becoming rich. Though the rush is over, you can still see the history at the Marshall Gold Discovery State Historic Park.
You can also wander down the historic main street of Murphy’s, a quaint little town with only 2000 residents. It is home to art galleries, theater, charming hotels and eclectic shops.
Go Hiking in Tahoe
Hiking is one of my favorite activities. Tahoe has some of the most beautiful hikes in the country. With beaches, cliffs, and mountains, there are so many hikes to choose from.
Some highlights include Skyline Trail, Fallen Leaf Lake, Rubicon Trail, and Mt. Tallac (a long trail but the views are 100 percent worth it).
Visit Glass Beach in Fort Bragg
Glass Beach gets its name from the glass that has become part of its coast. The area used to be a garbage dump where many bottles were left.
These broken bottles are now treasures that you can enjoy. Do not take any glass home, as it is illegal to do so.
Point Reyes Lighthouse
Point Reyes is located 30 miles northwest of San Francisco. It is a beautiful coastline made of rocky cliffs and sandy beaches.
While you are out and about, you can spot otters, seals, elk, and the lighthouse. You should also check out the oysters and artisan cheese.
Float Down the River
There is nothing quite like grabbing a few friends and some beer and floating down the river on a sunny day.
Northern California has several rivers (I recommend American or Russian) that are great for this afternoon activity.
You can choose to canoe or kayak down the river. Regardless of which activity you choose, don’t forget to pack lots of sunscreen and stay hydrated!
Sacramento has become a very popular travel destination over the last few years. With its abundance of vintage shops, murals, historic buildings, breweries and farm-to-table restaurants there is something for everyone.
I personally like to explore the downtown area. You will find funky shops, vintage clothes, and delicious food.
Relax in Mendocino
Whether you’re on a romantic getaway with your loved one or you’re looking to plan a girls’ weekend, Mendocino is the ideal place to spend your time!
It’s known for its world-class wine and coastal views. It’s the perfect place to sit back and relax.
Take a canoe trip to go wine tasting and enjoy some bread pudding. Medoncino is an island in the San Lorenzo Archipelago.
Go Apple Picking
If you are planning to visit Northern California in the fall or early winter, I highly recommend visiting Apple Hill.
You can pick a golden delicious apple and a pippen apple. And if you have a sweet tooth, you have to try the apple milkshakes and apple cider doughnuts.
If you are traveling south of San Francisco, check out my California Santa Barbara Monterey Santa Cruz and other California guides!
While there are many other incredible things to see and do and so much beauty to soak in Northern California, the list had to be capped off somewhere. What would you add?