12 Unforgettable Northern California Day Trips, One For Each Month Of The Year

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“12 Unforgettable Northern California Day Trips, One For Each Month Of The Year”

No matter the time of year, you can always make a resolution to get out there and explore some of Northern California’s best destinations! We’ll make it easy for you with this list of the 12 best day trips in Northern California, one for each month of the year. This way, you can get started right away on making unforgettable memories all across NorCal. There’s a whole lot to see out there, so get started soon!

1. January: Adventure Mountain

El Dorado Freeway, El Dorado Fwy, California, USA

Claw Marks/Tripadvisor

Our list of some of the best day trips in Northern California takes us to Lake Tahoe. January is the time to make the most of the winter wonderland that South Lake Tahoe has to offer! Adventure Mountain is a popular family-friendly destination that boasts sledding, snow play, and a day lodge. Plus, it’s surrounded by the most majestic forest scenery. Learn more about the iconic Adventure Mountain in Northern California.

2. February: Fort Ross State Historic Park

Fort Ross State Historic Park, 19005 Coast Hwy, Jenner, CA 95450, USA

Dennis Jarvis/Flickr

Located right along the Sonoma Coast, Fort Ross is an amazing destination that’s worth checking out. Once a Russian outpost, the park is home to both original and replica structures that give visitors a rare glimpse into a different time. The park is open every day and boasts a visitor center alongside the historic fort compound. Learn more about what makes Fort Ross State Historic Park such a memorable Northern California day trip destination.

3. March: Cypress Tree Tunnel

Cypress Tree Tunnel, Inverness, CA 94937, USA

Spondylolithesis via Getty Images

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The famous Cypress Tree Tunnel may just be one of the most photographed destinations in Northern California and for good reason. This unique tree tunnel looks like something straight out of a fairytale! It’s a must-see when exploring Point Reyes National Seashore, and it’s even home to some fascinating historic buildings. When it comes to the best day trips in Northern California, Cypress Tree Tunnel is an excellent choice.

4. April: Redding’s Waterfall Loop

GoogleMaps

Springtime is the perfect season for waterfall chasing, and the Redding Waterfall Loop is an especially spectacular adventure. Taking you to five different waterfalls in just a few hours, including fan favorites like Burney Falls and the McCloud Falls, this excursion packs in a ton of gorgeous scenery all in a single road trip.

5. May: Eternal Tree House

Eternal Tree House – Redcrest, Redcrest, CA 95569, USA

Kelleygirl2/TripAdvisor

Kick off the summer season with a visit to one of NorCal’s wackiest roadside attractions: The Eternal Tree House. This bizarre destination can be found along the Avenue of Giants, and it’s just as charming as it is strange. Afterward, you can explore the towering redwood groves that the area is so famous for. Learn more about why you should consider planning a visit to one of the quirkiest roadside attractions in Northern California.

6. June: Lakeport

Lakeport, CA 95453, USA

Wayne Hsieh/Flickr

A visit to a charming lakefront town in Northern California is just what you need to make your summer one to remember. Lakeport is a beautiful village located right along the western shore of Clear Lake. Enjoy the state’s largest freshwater lake by day, and stroll along the assortment of local shops and restaurants by night. Lakeport is a great place to visit for the day!

7. July: Lake Almanor

Don DeBold/Flickr

Summers in Northern California can get HOT. Keep cool with a trip to the most underrated summer destination in the state – Lake Almanor. This idyllic body of water is the source of all types of water-based recreation including boating, fishing, water skiing, and swimming. With 52 miles of coastline, it’s a fantastic spot for a hot summer day. In fact, Lake Almanor might just be one of Northern California’s best-kept secrets.

8. August: Glass Beach

Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, USA

Images by John K/Flickr

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If you have yet to visit one of Northern California’s most unique beaches, this is definitely the year to do it. Glass Beach is an iconic beach in Fort Bragg, named for the fact that it’s home to an assortment of multi-colored glass shards. Smoothed out over time, the glass-covered beach is certainly a sight to see. Learn more about what makes Glass Beach such a remarkable destination in Northern California.

9. September: Lighthouse Road Trip

GoogleMaps

Spend the day, or maybe an entire weekend, visiting some of the most beautiful lighthouses on the Northern California coast. Our Lighthouse Road Trip takes you to historic spots including the Point Arena Lighthouse and Battery Point Lighthouse. Each stop is more gorgeous than the last, making for an epic trip you’ll always remember. Learn more about this fun-filled lighthouse road trip in Northern California.

10. October: Shasta State Historic Park

drdroad/Tripadvisor

For a unique autumn day trip, visit the remnants of one of California’s best-preserved ghost towns. Shasta State Historic Park has quite the history, and what remains of it is simply stunning. Once referred to as the “Queen City” of California’s mining districts, this old ghost town is a beautiful reminder of our past.

For more information about this destination, see our previous article here.

11. November: All-Day Whale Watching

Monterey Bay Whale Watch/Google

November is an awesome time to take part in one of NorCal’s most iconic activities…whale watching! Monterey Bay is the place to go when you feel like catching a view of these graceful giants, as Monterey Bay Whale Watch offers year-round whale watching trips. They are the only ones in the area to offer trips guided by expert marine biologists, so rest assured you’ll receive a world-class experience. Learn more about how you can go whale watching in Northern California.

12. December: Nevada City

Nevada City, CA 95959, USA

Nevada City Chamber of Commerce/Facebook

As the holiday season rolls around, many Northern California towns go all out with holiday spirit. However, none compare to the magic of Nevada City. This charming town shines all year-round, but the Victorian-style village is even more enchanting during the holidays! Try to plan your trip around their popular Victorian Christmas celebration which boasts all sorts of holiday-themed attractions and events. When it comes to the best day trips in Northern California in the winter, Nevada City may just take the cake.

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What do you think? Will you be exploring more of Northern California in the near future? Do you think these are some of the best day trips in Northern California? Share your thoughts and plans with us in the comments below — we would love to hear from you!

Address: Nevada City, CA 95959, USA

Address: Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, USA

Address: Fort Ross State Historic Park, 19005 Coast Hwy, Jenner, CA 95450, USA

Address: Lakeport, CA 95453, USA

Address: El Dorado Freeway, El Dorado Fwy, California, USA

Address: Eternal Tree House – Redcrest, Redcrest, CA 95569, USA

Address: Cypress Tree Tunnel, Inverness, CA 94937, USA

image

The OIYS Visitor Center

April 17, 2022

Beth C.

Where can I go in Northern California that only the locals know about?

Northern California is a beautiful region of the country filled with some world-famous destinations. If you’re looking for a bit of a different experience, you might consider traveling NorCal as the locals do. This means checking out some truly underrated and off-the-beaten-path destinations. Of course, we think this is the most rewarding way to travel! If you’re a fan of small towns, we’d recommend checking out Downieville. Most folks have never heard of this hidden gem of a small town in Northern California. It’s tucked away in the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range and has a population of just a few hundred. The community is so friendly, however, that you may just consider picking up and moving there. Not to mention the fact that it’s positively surrounded by gorgeous scenery. Next up on our list of little-known day trip destinations in Northern California would be Mount Shasta Lavender Farms. As its name implies, this picturesque farm is just a few miles from Mt. Shasta City, and it offers some incredible scenery. You might just feel as though you’ve temporarily escaped to the French Countryside. Finally, if it’s outdoor adventures you’re after, you can’t go wrong with a trip to one of the most underrated national parks in California, Lassen Volcanic National Park. Boasting 150 miles of scenic hiking trails, this park invites visitors to explore its fascinating volcanic landscape. From alpine forests to lava beds, this natural area has something for every kind of nature enthusiast. Other destinations loved by locals in Northern California include Calaveras Big Tree State Park, Devil’s Slide Trail, Point Reyes National Seashore, and Castle Lake.

Address: Nevada City, CA 95959, USA

Address: Glass Beach, Fort Bragg, CA 95437, USA

Address: Fort Ross State Historic Park, 19005 Coast Hwy, Jenner, CA 95450, USA

Address: Lakeport, CA 95453, USA

Address: El Dorado Freeway, El Dorado Fwy, California, USA

Address: Eternal Tree House – Redcrest, Redcrest, CA 95569, USA

Address: Cypress Tree Tunnel, Inverness, CA 94937, USA



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