Updated December 2023
If you call Sacramento home, you know there are some wonderful day trips from the city. Whether you’re craving to be up in the mountains, dip your toes in the Pacific, or explore charming towns, all of this is possible nearby.
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These day trips from Sacramento are a few to add to the list if you’re looking to get out on the weekend or even during the week. My husband and I call Sacramento home and are always taking advantage of the location to explore. There are a few destinations that are on our list to visit and our other go-to’s for a day’s adventure.
I also asked local residents what their favorite Sacramento day trips were and included those in here as well. Take a look through to get inspired for your next road trip out. One of my biggest tips is to get an early start, especially on the weekends. It will save you so much time on traffic, so we try to leave by 9 am or so.
Below you’ll find a quick overview of each place. It’s certainly not an extensive guide, but I’ve included a few tips here and there when I could, or have linked helpful posts. Here’s a look at some wonderful day trips from Sacramento!
Short on Time? Here Are My Top Picks for the Best Day Trips From Sacramento:
- Point Reyes (overnight at Nick’s Cove), for the best coastal day trip
- Placerville & Apple Hill, for the best charming towns day trip
- Healdsburg (overnight at The Madrona), for the best wine country day trip
- Hope Valley (overnight at Desolation Hotel), for the best outdoor day trip
30+ Day Trips From Sacramento
Coastal Day Trips
1. Point Reyes National Seashore (~2 hours)
If you’re looking to be near the coast and go for a hike, Point Reyes National Seashore is our go-to. This whole part of California is really special and packed with several activities to do. I’d recommend hiking out in the seashore and then coming into the town of Point Reyes Station. You’ll find great restaurants, cafes, and even the iconic Cowgirl Creamery. Check out this Point Reyes Guide for all of my recommendations.
2. Stinson Beach (~2 hours)
Our favorite beach day trip is always Stinson Beach. It’s a bit further than some of the other beaches but always worth it. Stinson is one of the largest beaches on the Marin County coastline and even on a busy day, you can still get some space to yourself.
We always pack a lunch or grab something in Mill Valley on our way through to eat there. You may encounter some foggy days but when the sun is out, you’ll want an umbrella as the sun is strong. In town, Parkside Cafe has soft serve, you can get lunch there or at Breakers Cafe. If you’re bound on the weekend, the parking lot does fill up, I’d suggest getting there by 11am to secure a spot.
3. Dillon Beach (~2 hours)
A favorite for getting out to the beach quickly, the parking lot sits right there at the sand’s edge. Dillon Beach is wonderful for families and it is one of the only privately-owned beaches on the coast. You’ll have to pay a small fee to park but it’s worth it. If you’re looking for food, you’ll be driving through the charming town of Tomales. In Tomales, I would get pastries or pizza at Route 1 Bakery & Kitchen.
4. Half Moon Bay (~2 hours)
For those looking to explore a more expansive coastal area, Half Moon Bay has a few things to enjoy. You’ll find a great golf course, several beaches, coastal hiking trails, and a harbor with fresh seafood restaurants here.
5. Muir Beach (~1.5 hours)
One of the smallest beach areas closest to San Francisco, Muir Beach is a favorite for hiking. We often take the Coastal Trail south and then make our way back to spend some time at the beach. Afterward, I adore grabbing a meal at the Pelican Inn, a British-style pub restaurant that serves the best fish & chips.
6. Pacifica (~2 hours)
Pacifica is great for surfing or a day at the beach, especially if you’re combining it with a morning in San Francisco. It’s easy to get to and not a terrible drive. Also, you don’t want to miss a stop at the Taco Bell on the beach in Pacifica, commonly known as one of the best TB’s in the US (if this is your thing!).
7. Bodega Bay (~2 hours)
Pop into the harbor, stop at Spud Point for Dungeness crab rolls, and find a nearby beach to hang out at. Bodega Bay is a great and often overlooked day trip from Sacramento. It’s a wonderful area to get some fresh ocean air and a bit more laid back. This travel guide has recommendations for the area and my curated restaurant guide covers the best places to eat in Bodega Bay.
Want to make it an overnight trip? I’d recommend booking a night at Bodega Bay Lodge.
8. Angel Island (~2 hours)
One of our favorite day trips in the Bay Area has been out to Angel Island. You can grab the ferry from Tiburon which would be the closest if coming from Sacramento (see this information for getting there). Once on the island, there are several hiking trails to explore and even historic sites. You should pack food and water for your time there.
Charming Towns & Sights Day Trips
9. Auburn (35 minutes)
My hometown, Auburn is one of the quaintest towns in Gold Country. It has a historic downtown, several breweries, restaurants, and more. My family lives there, so we still make several trips up from Sacramento to see them and explore. A few favorite businesses we love to stop by are Pour Choice for coffee, Martin Mattox and The Haus Collective for shopping, and the newly opened Josephine’s for food. There is a weekend farmer’s market on Saturdays and a wonderful wine + beer trail too. For all of my Auburn recommendations, check out this travel guide and my guide to the best restaurants and things to do.
Want to make it an overnight trip? I’d recommend booking a night at the Park Victorian.
10. Placerville (45 minutes)
Just up Highway 50, is the town of Placerville with a historic main street that runs through it. It’s close to a lot of the wineries in Amador and El Dorado County, making it a wonderful stop on your way through. In town, you’ll find coffee shops, curated boutiques, and several restaurants. Check out this guide to Gold Country for tips on visiting Placerville.
Our amazing local tour company named SacTown Bites offers a few different group tours in the Sacramento area. For those looking for a food tour, I’d recommend the “Cocktails, Mocktails, & Bites” to eat and drink your way through Midtown. For those looking to visit a nearby area to Sacramento that has so much to love, check out the Capay Valley Farm Tour where you will get to visit a lavender farm, try a wood-fired pizza, and sip on local wine. Check out all of the tours here.
12. Nevada City + Grass Valley (~1 hour)
It’s easy to see why Nevada City was named as one of the most charming historic towns by Travel & Leisure a few years ago. My husband and I grew up near here, so we have spent many weekends exploring both Grass Valley and Nevada City. They each have a downtown with the main street that’s great for a bite and a stroll.
Nearby, there are hiking trails and places to get outdoors (see below in the section for outdoor day trips.) You could easily come up for an afternoon, grab a bite, and then head out on a hike.
I personally love Nevada City, which is where we opt to go when in the area. Hop into the Lola at the National Exchange Hotel, Heartwood Eatery, or Three Forks for food. I would then peruse the shops down Broad Street and Commerical Street.
Want to make it an overnight trip? I’d recommend booking a night at The National.
13. Apple Hill (1 hour)
It’s a classic fall trip for us, a day at Apple Hill. Even though you can visit year-round, it’s especially wonderful in the fall when apple season is in full force. I’d recommend avoiding the weekends if possible and opting for an early afternoon excursion. Some of our favorite stops are for walk-in apple pies at Delfino, caramel apples from Able’s, cider doughnuts at Boa Vista, and apple picking at Smokey Ridge. For my complete guide to Apple Hill, check out my guide to the best things to do in Apple Hill in the fall.
14. Petaluma (~1.5 hours)
For those who love to go antiquing, you’ll adore Petaluma. There are SO many antique shops here and a historic downtown to explore as well. Pop into Chelsea Antiques while in the downtown area. For food, I like the Shuckery, Della Fattoria, and the Brewsters Beer Garden.
15. Sebastopol (2 hours)
Further up Highway 101 is the town of Sebastopol. The drive is longer than say Petaluma but I really do love an afternoon exploring the Barlow Market which is near the downtown. It is this hip outdoor market that is full of restaurants, breweries, great shopping, and coffee shops. I love Fern Bar, Golden State Cider, and Taylor Lane Coffee. For shopping, don’t miss popping into Elsie Green for incredible French antiques.
16. Sausalito (1.5 hours)
It may be one of the more “touristy” destinations on the list. However, I still love an afternoon of walking along the bay in Sausalito — it is so picturesque. The views of San Francisco and Tiburon feel like a scene out of Europe. There are also several new businesses that have opened up over the last few years which have really added to Sausalito. (You could even go kayaking there too.)
A few businesses to consider checking out are Heath Ceramics (their second sales in the back area are an amazing deal!), Bar Bocce (pizza and bocce ball), Le Garage (French food), Equator Coffee, and the Joinery (beer hall). For my full list of food recommendations, check out my guide to the best restaurants in Sausalito.
17. Tiburon (1.5 hours)
This is another favorite on the bay as I come here a lot with my family (we lived in Marin for a few years before moving to Sacramento). There is a wonderful walking trail along the water that is very family-friendly. It’s the path that starts at Blackie’s Pasture and goes along the water’s edge.
After a walk, drive out to the town of Tiburon itself along the bay. There are a few restaurants there, one of my favorites is The Caviar Co. There is also a Rustic Bakery here too, which is always fun to grab a pastry or two. The other highly anticipated restaurant that recently opened in Tiburon is Michael Mina’s The Bungalow Kitchen.
18. Glen Ellen (~1.5 hours)
Though we normally opt to stay overnight here at our favorite hotel the Gaige House, this is also a wonderful day trip. It’s a really small town but in it a few gems. I’d recommend going hiking at Jack London State Historic Park, grab lunch at Les Pascals Patisserie, and making a dinner reservation at Glen Ellen Star. Glen Ellen Star is one of our favorite restaurants in Northern California, and yes, we’ve driven from Sacramento one night just to eat here.
Want to make it an overnight trip? I’d recommend booking a night at Gaige House.
19. Truckee (~1.5 hours)
Further north up Highway 80, you’ll find the mountain town of Truckee. Another wonderful day trip from Sacramento, it has a bustling historic downtown packed with restaurants and shops. This is a wonderful stop on the way to Tahoe or even just to get a break from the city. Burger Me is one of our favorite restaurants or Moody’s Bistro, and then we walk down the main street afterward.
Wine Country Day Trips
As I started rounding up the different wine regions that are within earshot of Sacramento, I really was amazed by how many destinations there are to go wine tasting. So to keep it simple, I’m including a quick list below with a few notes + relative guides linked.
20. Napa Valley (~1 hour)
This is a massively extensive area to go wine tasting. From downtown Napa’s tasting rooms all the way to St. Helena. Everyone has their favorite wineries and eateries, so I typically like to “ask a friend” for a reference, as it can be overwhelming to choose. I have my favorite picks in this St. Helena weekend guide for what to do in the area, and I’ve put together a guide on my favorite restaurants in Napa Valley.
Want to make it an overnight trip? Take a look at this guide to the best hotels in the Napa Valley.
21. Sonoma Valley (~1 hour)
Another area to go wine tasting in is the Sonoma Valley. If you’re looking for the closest area to Sacramento, you could consider going to the tasting rooms in Sonoma Square. If you’re up for a further drive, I’d make my way up towards Healdsburg. There are over 250 wineries to visit, see this guide for all listings. One or two favorites that are rather close to Sacramento are Scribe Winery and McEvoy Ranch (technically in Marin County). For all of my Sonoma recommendations, check out my Sonoma travel guide.
22. Amador + El Dorado Wine Region (~1 hour)
We’ve popped up to Amador and El Dorado County to wine taste a few times. I still feel like we have a lot more to discover here so hoping to make a return this fall. This road trip guide to Gold Country has both of these areas covered from a previous trip. Since then, we’ve loved Casino Mine Ranch, Turley, and The End of Nowhere. Here is a list of Amador Wineries and El Dorado Country Wineries to help plan your time.
23. Lodi Wine Region (40 Minutes)
This area came recommended a few times by locals as a close-to Sacramento spot to go wine tasting. I have not personally been, but have been interested to pop down. The Visit Lodi IG account has some great recommendations I would check out to help plan a trip down, looks like a good time.
24. Old Sugar Mill in Clarksburg (20 Minutes)
The Old Sugar Mill came recommended and after seeing it’s only 20 minutes from Sacramento, I can’t wait to pop down soon. It’s a large brick building and hosts about a dozen wineries for tastings from the Clarksburg area. Looks like a great afternoon excursion from the city!
City Day Trips
25. San Francisco (~1.5 hours)
You can never go wrong with a day trip to San Francisco. This is where we lived for nearly a decade and we still make at least one day trip a month. If you time it right, you can be in the city in less than an hour and a half. There is so much to do here — check out my Local’s Travel Guide to San Francisco and guide to the best restaurants in San Francisco for my personal recommendations. You may find something new to do!
Want to make it an overnight trip? Take a look at this guide to the best hotels in San Francisco!
26. Oakland (~1.5 hours)
Over the years, we’ve popped into Oakland for food and exploring. It really has grown a lot and new businesses, coffee shops, and restaurants keep popping up. A classic area to explore would be Jack London Square on the water — you’ll find a ton of restaurants here. Another favorite is Temescal Alley for artisan shops. Afar has a great list of places to check out as well.
27. Berkeley (~1 hour)
If you’re looking for a change of scenery, the downtown area of Berkeley has great shopping and food too. We often buzz right by it on our way to SF, and I always forget how many great things there are to see and do here. The UC Berkeley Art Museum is wonderful to check out and then afterward, I’d head to 4th Street for shopping and food.
Outdoor Day Trips
28. Muir Woods National Monument (2 hours)
Just north of San Francisco, Muir Woods is home to old-growth redwood trees and hiking trails. It’s one of the most visited destinations in Northern California, so you’ll need a reservation to park there (information here). The temperature is always cooler here so if you’re looking to get away from the heat, this is a wonderful spot to do so.
29. Calaveras Big Trees State Park (2 hours)
Located in Arnold, California, Calaveras Big Trees State Park came recommended a few times by Sacramento locals. It has two large groves of sequoia trees and has several hiking trails to explore. This is a helpful guide by Visit California to plan your time.
30. Lake Tahoe (~1.5 hours)
Always a classic day trip from Sacramento, Lake Tahoe is wonderful year-round. Hiking trails, skiing, a day on the lake, you name it, there is something to do here for everyone. The new Tahoe East Shore Trail looks wonderful as well. It’s 3 miles long and family-friendly. For recommendations, this summer guide has some travel tips. I also recently put together a guide to my favorite restaurants in South Lake Tahoe.
31. Emerald Pools Near Nevada City (~1.5 hours)
Located near Nevada City, Emerald Pools is a really popular trail during the summer to go cool off in the Yuba River. Great spot to get outside and go for a swim.
32. Empire Mine State Historic Park (~1 hour)
Located near Grass Valley, we often go to Empire Mine for a walk under the shade of the pine trees. Though it is a historical site to visit, the trails nearby are wonderful and easy to access from Sacramento. The Hardrock Trail is one of our go-to’s.
33. Hope Valley (2 hours)
We discovered Hope Valley last year when I was itching to find fall colors nearby. What a gem of a destination for a day trip. The valley floor is wonderful for hiking and then there is the Desolation Hotel (formerly Wylder Hotel and Sorenson’s) which has a great outdoor restaurant and bar. Any time of the year would be wonderful here, we even went snowshoeing this last winter.
Want to make it an overnight trip? I’d recommend booking a night at Desolation Hotel.
34. Downieville (2 hours)
Downieville came recommended a few times. I’ve driven through the town once, it has a few eateries (Cold Rush Cafe for ice cream) and spots to check out. It’s close to several outdoor areas to explore. You can hike in the Sierra Buttes, out to Love’s Falls, and in the Tahoe National Forest.
Willing to Drive a Bit Further?
If you’re up for more of a 2.5-3 hour drive, here are a few other destinations to consider:
- Carmel and Carmel Valley
- Santa Cruz
- Lassen National Park
- Yosemite National Park
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