Diverse Northern California Vacations Offer Countless Escapes
Northern-California-Vacations.com is a fast-growing travel and leisure website that does your vacation research for you. We use our background in travel journalism combined with our personal knowledge of the region to bring you the best information we can find.
Pick Your Northern California Getaway
If it’s “scenic,” “breathtaking,” “awe-inspiring,” or “jaw-dropping,” it must be Northern California.
Plan a visit to this one-of-a-kind region, and you’ll see why those of us who are lucky enough to live and play here regard Northern California as the Golden State’s “cooler half.”
From cosmopolitan San Francisco to the rugged, snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, from the esteemed wineries of the Napa Valley to the glacially carved domes of Yosemite National Park, it’s all right here. Dozens of iconic natural and man-made wonders — all located within an easy drive from one another – define one of the most geographically and culturally diverse regions on the planet.
Best of all, you can pace your Northern California escape as fast or as slow as you want to. In the span of a weekend, you could hit world-class ski slopes with knock-your-socks-off views of Lake Tahoe, ride a bike on miles of trails along the American River, and spend the night at a romantic bed and breakfast on the coast –- or wherever your whim leads you.
Living in Northern California, we love to unwind and explore in our own backyard. Our goal is to share our favorite vacation hot spots with you as though we’re talking to a good friend. Using our personal Northern California experiences, combined with our background in travel writing for local publications, we’re able to provide you with “insider” information you won’t find anywhere else.
Stay tuned as we pack this Northern California site full of information, and keep in mind that we’re always striving to stay current. So expect things to change often!
Oh, and do remember to wrestle your breath back from the giant sequoias and pick up your jaw from the scenic shoreline — or wherever your awe happens to be inspired.
Napa Valley Vacations Make You an Insider in the World of Great Wine
Seduced by the charms of Napa Valley vacations, you begin to see what the late wine pioneer Robert Mondavi meant when he called wine “the essence of civilization and the art of living well.”
And make no mistake, with Napa Valley vacations, it’s all about the wine. Everybody drinks it. Everybody talks about it. Everybody bonds over it. Everybody is transformed by it. That’s right, everybody from Mondavi on down understands that a glass of wine in the Napa Valley is more than just a glass of wine.
Napa Valley vacations allow you to stand in the presence of America’s almost-mythic wine houses that produce some of the best Cabernets and Chardonnays in the world. By drinking and learning about Napa Valley wine, you, too, become refined. Privileged. An instant insider in the world of great wine.
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Restore Your Spirit Among Stratospheric California Redwoods
Way up in the northwest corner of California (about 200 miles up the coast from San Francisco) is a place that seems immune to the march of time and civilization — a place straight out of a storybook.
It’s a place you probably wouldn’t associate with California at all. There are no movie stars. No iconic bridges. No rush-hour traffic.
Instead, there are trees. Not just any trees, but some of the tallest, oldest, thickest, most unbelievable trees on the planet.
We’re talking, of course, about the famous California Redwoods, a pristine old-growth forest bordered by 100 miles of unspoiled coastline and enveloped by prehistoric-looking ferns and ethereal wisps of fog.
Standing among the California Redwoods is an almost religious experience. The height of several trees surpasses the length of a football field, and their girth can be wide enough for a vehicle to pass through.
There’s no better balm for the spirit than to stand in utter silence surrounded by living things that existed as far back in time as the Roman Empire. Somehow, it makes a stressful job or a troublesome relationship seem insignificant and not worth worrying about. The California Redwoods put life in perspective in a way that few places on Earth do.
Visitors to the California Redwoods say their No. 1 reason for coming is to connect with nature. You can do that in several ways. Hiking, biking, camping, scenic drives, kayaking, bird watching and whale watching— all of these afford wonderful opportunities to commune with the flora and fauna of the California Redwoods and the adjacent wild coastline.
Of course, man-made activities and attractions have their charm, too. While enjoying the California Redwoods, make a point to spend some time in the quaint seaside and inland towns of Humboldt County, the central location of the area’s old-growth forests. From the Victorian Village of Ferndale to the beautiful coastal town of Trinidad, you’ll delight in discovering art galleries, wineries, unique shops, restaurants, and festivals. And if you’re into “touristy” souvenirs, don’t forget to pick up a “Bigfoot” knicknack. A visit to the California Redwoods wouldn’t be complete without one!
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Bask in the Outdoors on a Mt. Shasta or Lake Shasta Vacation
Rising 14,162 feet toward the heavens, snow-blanketed Mt. Shasta is the undisputed king of the Northern California landscape.
So imposing is California’s most famous volcano (don’t worry, it’s dormant — for now!) that you can’t help gazing at it. Cell phones have nothing on Mt. Shasta when it comes to driver distraction!
Clear, sunny summer days are the best time to catch Mt. Shasta in all its glory against a backdrop of shockingly blue sky. During the winter and spring you may be lucky to glimpse Mt. Shasta at all if it’s shrouded in mist — which is often the case.
With so much “star” quality, it’s no wonder Mt. Shasta attracts climbers, hikers, skiers, mountain bikers, and vacationers by the droves, reigning as it does overtrails, impossibly clear alpine lakes, evergreen forests, tranquil meadows, trout-filled streams, obsidian ridges, lava tubes, crags, and gaping caverns.
Mt. Shasta, a picture-perfect 62-mile drive north of Redding on Interstate 5, is the second-highest peak in the Cascade Range. (Washington’s Mt. Rainier is the highest, but only by 249 feet.)
While Mt. Shasta may be the “big kahuna” of the region, it’s hardly the only draw.
Just 20 miles north of the city of Redding, well before you approach Mt.Shasta territory, things really start to get interesting. That’s where you’ll find Lake Shasta, a recreational phenomenon fed by the Sacramento River, the McCloud River, the Pit River, and Squaw Creek — all brought together by the Shasta Dam.
With 370 miles of shoreline, 40,000 surface acres, hundreds of coves, channels, and inlets, an average depth of 400 feet, and comfy 78-degree water to boot, it’s easy to see why Lake Shasta is a mecca for all kinds of watercraft, but especially houseboats. The fishing’s good here, too — hence the bass tournaments in the spring and fall.
With all that Mt. Shasta and Lake Shasta have to offer, you’ll definitely want to make this magical Northern California region a vacation priority.
But where do you start?
>> More info to come…
Historic California Gold Country Brings Out the ’49er
On Jan. 24, 1848, James Wilson Marshall made a discovery that would change the course of California’s – and America’s – history forever.
Marshall, who was overseeing a saw mill owned by John Sutter on the American River, was standing in shallow water in the tailrace when he noticed some shiny flecks about the size of fingernails.
He bent down to scoop them up.
“Hey boys,” he called to some workmen nearby. “By God, I believe I’ve found a gold mine!”
Thus began a deluge of gold fever, the likes of which the world had never seen. Within a few years, the non-Indian population of California swelled from 14,000 to 250,000 as fortune seekers from around the globe descended on the rivers, creeks, and streams of the Sierra Nevada foothills in hopes of striking it rich.
Boom towns sprung up along the 300-mile-long area known as the Motherlode – many of which exist today as a reflection of their rough-and-ready heritage.
As fate would have it, fortune eluded most of the ‘49ers, as they were called. (Even James Marshall himself died a pauper.) The real money makers were the enterprising merchants who supplied the prospectors with equipment, clothing, and other necessities of life.
Whatever can be said about the impact of the California gold rush – good or bad – it fixed the Golden State’s place as a major American and world player … a distinction it holds to this day.
Sacramento Tourism: Where history, politics, art recreation
and fine dining converge
Sacramento, California’s capital, is generally known more for its politicians –who hasn’t heard of the Ex-Governator? — than Sacramento tourism. But to bypass California’s oldest incorporated city is to miss out on a rich buffet of history, culture, and recreation that has a vibe all its own.
The seventh-largest city in the state, Sacramento is urbane enough for hipsters, yet down-to-earth enough for the Levi’s crowd. While half a million people reside within city limits, Sacramento is the hub of a four-county metropolitan area (El Dorado, Placer, Sacramento, and Yolo counties) that encompasses 2.1 million.
Situated in the vast swath of California’s Central Valley at the confluence of the Sacramento and American rivers, Sacramento boasts a teeming array of things to see and do, both indoors and out.
So … where do you begin? Let’s start with a brief overview of Sacramento Tourism at its best.
Masterpieces of Nature Grace Yosemite California
Waterfalls that look like something out of Lord of the Rings, massive granite walls, raging rivers, deep valleys, pristine meadows, alpine lakes, colossal ancient sequoia trees, vast wilderness — it hardly seems fair that one national park should hog all of these stunning attributes. But Yosemite California, the most famous scenic location in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains, shows no humility.
If you suffer from over-civilization, there’s no better cure than to feel utterly dwarfed and insignificant amid the awesome power of the earth’s rhythms and the incalculable expanse of time that Yosemite California represents. Best of all, you can bask in the magnificence of Yosemite California year-round.
Want to reclaim your soul? Here’s how to make the most of your visit to this 1,200-square-mile feat of Mother Nature and testament to human foresight.
Let San Francisco Vacations Take You Beyond the Golden Gate
When we think of San Francisco vacations, several words come to mind. Complex. Bohemian. Spirited. Progressive. Stunningly beautiful. Endlessly intriguing.
As that famous San Francisco fog rolls over the Golden Gate Bridge, so, too, do the images of this iconic California city roll through the imagination. A cable car chugging past gingerbread Victorians on Nob Hill, the hippies of Haight-Ashbury during the Summer of Love, the colorful historic prison at Alcatraz, the exotic markets of Chinatown, the boiling pots of Dungeness crab at Fisherman’s Wharf — all of it refreshingly original amid the sea of charmless big-box stores and strip malls dominating almost every other American city.
Unspoiled Northern California Beaches Boast Unique Treasures
Sunshine, bikinis, tanned lifeguards, and endless volleyball games on the sand. If that’s what you think of California beaches, you’re only half right.
The above may be an apt description of some Los Angeles-area beaches, but it doesn’t begin to describe what lies north of the Golden State’s Central Coast. Northern California beaches are a whole ‘nother species, every bit as alluring as their southern counterparts for reasons having nothing to do with bare skin and toned abs.
With hundreds of miles of coastline, from the Central Coast to the Oregon border, Northern California beaches and tiny coastal towns are treasures waiting to be discovered by anyone wanting to walk on the cooler, wilder side. (Meaning sweaters and sturdy windbreakers, not bikinis, are the beach apparel of choice. But don’t get too depressed, guys, there’s plenty to make up for it!)
Are you ready to cut through the fog (and sometimes lots of wind and rain) for the adventure of a lifetime? Then keep reading!
Nothing Like a Lake Tahoe California Case of the Blues
“At last the lake burst upon us – a noble sheet of blue water lifted 6,300 feet above the level of the sea, and walled in by a rim of snow-clad mountain peaks that towered aloft full 3,000 feet higher still” -Mark Twain
Mark Twain might’ve said it best. But we can think of a few other ways to describe Lake Tahoe California, one of the most exquisite gems in nature’s jewelry box.
One of the most fitting might be in terms of involuntary bodily reactions apt to overcome the beholder.
Goosebumps. Sharp intakes of breath. A keen sense of smell ignited by the heady aroma of Ponderosa pine. A drop in blood pressure precipitated by an overwhelming sense of awe and peace – or perhaps a surge in adrenaline at the prospect of swooshing down a mountain of fresh powder.
Don’t fight for control. Just go with it. It’s all part of the spell of Lake Tahoe, the largest alpine lake in North America and the premier playground of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Straddling the border between California and Nevada, Lake Tahoe is famous for the clarity of its water – to depths between 50 and 70 feet.
That’s not all. Lake Tahoe is approximately 22 miles long and 12 miles wide, with an average depth of over 900 feet and a maximum depth of 1,645 feet, making it the third deepest lake in North America and the 10th deepest in the world.