I’m into weekend and day trips. I like driving with the family, exploring new places, taking those side roads that you may have seen from the highway a zillion times and always said to yourself ‘I wonder where that road goes’. I’ve made plenty of Northern California day trips while living in Northern California. Although there are many more, here are 5 that I’m especially fond of:
Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 49 in San Francisco
What better way to spend a day with the family! Cable cars, chocolate, crab, carousels and cruises under the Golden Gate. Then there are the street entertainers, the shops and restaurants. Wear a sweater, even in summer, and be prepared to do a lot of walking. You’ll be exhausted and happy by the end of the day.
Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay to Monterey
You won’t find a more spectacular coastal drive anywhere. The Cabrillo highway winds right along the edge of the cliffs overlooking the pounding Pacific surf below. Every curve is a brand new vista, begging you to stop and take a picture. Then there’s the fun and excitement of the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Visit the incredible underwater displays at Monterey Bay Aquarium. Then relax and watch the sun set over the Pacific from a beach-front restaurant in Carmel.
Napa Valley Wine Country
Take Highway 21 from Napa through the beautiful wine country. Visit famous wineries and sample their wares (just not TOO much!) Stroll through the quaint communities of St. Helena and Yountville. Then end the day with a relaxing soak in one of the hotsprings at Calestoga. You’ll be ready to do it all over again!
Historic 49’er Gold Rush Country
History is everywhere as you drive Highway 49 and Old Route 49. Stop in Sutters Creek and visit Sutter’s Mill, the place where gold was first discovered. Check out the shops and boutiques in San Andreas. Do some gold panning in the restored mining town of Angels Camp. Who knows! You may strike it RICH!
Sacramento Delta, Sacramento River and Old Sacramento
Drive along the Sacramento Delta levee where farmland is to your right and windsurfers to your left. Find little-known bits of history in Rio Vista and the Chinese town of Locke. Watch the unique swinging draw bridge open up to let fishing boats and yachts through. End your day in Old Sacramento, exploring the shops along the wooden walks. Or visit the train museum, always a hit with the kids!