After being born and raised in Northern California, I have found that there are countless different places to visit in Northern California!
This list gives unique and beautiful destinations all throughout Northern California that could be the perfect day trip, or a weeklong getaway!
Yosemite National Park
Yosemite National Park is just one of those special places that is so beautiful, you HAVE to visit it at least once at some point in your life. Known for its beautiful tall Sequoia trees and gorgeous waterfalls, you are likely to be in awe of your surroundings upon your visit.
If you are a person who loves to hike, there are countless trails to chose from in Yosemite, at all different levels of difficulty and experience. However, if hiking is not quite your thing, that is totally okay too!! Just walking around the lower levels of Yosemite are spectacular as well, plus you can visit all of the fun touristy spots and maybe grab a cute graphic tee at the gift shop!
Being from Northern California, Santa Cruz was always my all time FAVORITE place to visit for a weekend when I was growing up. Santa Cruz is known for its beautiful beaches, but there is so so so much more to it than that! It is such a quirky, eclectic city that provides countless charm for anyone visiting.
In terms of specific things to do, the options are endless. You can visit the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for rides and attractions, cruise down the wharf to visit local eateries and shops, chill at the peace for a relaxing afternoon, and the list goes on and on! Bottom line, Santa Cruz is definitely a place worth visiting in Northern California.
Redwood National Park
Redwood National Park is the ultimate destination if you are looking for the true woodsy experience while in Northern California. The greenery in the park is absolutely INSANE, providing more photo-ops than you could possibly imagine.
Just by driving through the park, you are surrounded by the historic redwood trees, that stand at about 350 feet tall! However, if you are more interested in experiencing these in more of an up close and personal way, you can delve into one of the many hiking trails throughout the park!
Sonoma County is known for being one fo California’s top food and wine destinations, and upon visiting, this will definitely be proven. If wine is your thing, there are more than 400 different wineries to choose from! You can set up a tour at any of these wineries, or attend a wine and food festival that encompasses all of the authentic spirit of Sonoma.
While wine is what Sonoma is most known for, this does not mean that it is only welcoming to winos! Sonoma County is also home to beautiful nature walks, countless spas and resorts, Pacific Ocean beaches, and delicious local restaurants! With all of these options available, planning a trip to Sonoma County is DEFINITELY worth your while!
San Jose is yet another incredible place to visit, being regarded to as the “cultural and technological gem” in Northern California. As a central part of the Silicon Valley, it provides an upbeat and fast paced environment for tourists!
You can either shop around in the heart of the city, or visit one of the historic treasures, such as the Winchester Mystery House. Also, San Jose is home of the San Jose Sharks, so you can truly gain a sense of the city culture by attending one of the local hockey games! San Jose is an amazing catch-all location, providing options for so many different interests and individuals!
Bottomline, Lake Tahoe is simply BEAUTIFUL. It is the perfect place to visit regardless of the season, being that it is best known for its beaches and ski resorts! Like to ski? Visit Lake Tahoe! Enjoy relaxing days on the water at the lake? Visit Lake Tahoe!
If these two main activities aren’t for you, do not fear because there are countless other ways to spend your time there! You can do some major shopping at the local boutiques and then hit the town to experience the nightlife events, such as movies, concerts, and so much more! Regardless of your specific interests, I can guarantee that you will fall in love with Lake Tahoe.
It would be nearly impossible to comprise a list of the top destinations in Northern California without including San Francisco. This unique city really does have a little bit of something for EVERYONE.
You can ride around on the city’s cable cars, tour the Golden Gate Bridge, picnic at the Golden Gate Park, visit the aquarium, shop at Union Square, or watch a baseball game at AT&T Park. While these are only a few of the endless options of what to do while visiting San Francisco, I am positive that it will grant you a GREAT time while visiting Northern California.
Murphys, California is another beautiful destination within the Sierra Nevada mountain range. I made sure to include it in this list of places to visit, because I find that it can be a hidden gem that is often overlooked when people are planning trips to Northern California.
This is the perfect place to be able to disconnect yourself from your phone and social media and truly delve into the beauty of your surroundings. This being said, visiting Murphys, California is an opportunity to escape from your busy schedule by renting a cabin among the beautiful woods and simply admiring the beautiful work of Mother Nature.
The Napa Valley is another location that is meant for food and wine lovers (similar to Sonoma County), but it definitely is home to its own unique adventures! One specific activity that is worth checking out in Napa is the Napa Valley Wine Train! More of a foodie? Book one of Napa’s gourmet culinary classes to have an interactive experience with the delicious food!
The Napa Valley also offers vast shopping strips, trolley tours, mud spas, and so much more. If you are looking to truly relax and allow yourself to have a pampered weekend, visiting the Napa Valley is the ultimate choice for you!
Visiting Monterey Bay is yet another of one of my FAVORITE places to go in Northern California. Whether you decide to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium for the day or stroll down Cannery Row, Monterey Bay offers and experience that is most certainly worth your while.
From the quirky neighborhood streets to the Fisherman’s Wharf, Monterey has an exponential amount of character that is sure to provide you an amazing time if you choose to visit it in Northern California.