When it comes to things to do in Northern California, it’s truly endless. Whether it’s national parks or visiting gems in the Bay Area, there is something for everyone. Since I’m an avid weekend warrior, when I am home, I like to take full advantage of exploring the area.
Northern California has so much on offer and if you’re looking to do more this summer, then take a look at this list of incredible things to do. (If you’re looking to make a week-long itinerary out of these locations, then head here).
Things To Do in Northern California This Summer
Spend a day in San Francisco
If you’re looking to visit San Francisco, start with a scenic drive over the Golden Gate Bridge. It’s certainly a highlight of the Bay Area and one incredible view to start your time in the city. San Francisco has so much to do, whether it’s visiting the museums like the MOMA or De Young, or exploring neighborhoods. You could even coffee shop hop your way through the city! If you’re looking to photograph the city, be sure to take a look at these 5 photography locations.
Spend a night in Yosemite National Park
One of my favorite things to do is to visit Yosemite National Park. The valley is full of adventure, with hikes to waterfalls and views. You could spend a day here or opt to rent a cabin in one of the villages. Take a look at this post for my full guide for how to stay in Yosemite National Park.
Explore Lassen Volcanic National Park
In the more northern part of California is Lassen National Park. A trip here would probably require a day or two to really see it in full, but it would be worth it. This geothermal area has a lot to see like the Bumpass Hell site and tons of old lava flow sites.
Tour the Winchester Mystery House
If you’re looking for one of the biggest thrills in the state, then head to the Winchester Mystery House. I’d recommend booking your tickets in advance to guarantee entry here.
Hike in Muir Woods National Park
One of our best parks in the area, Muir Woods is full of redwoods and winding trails. You’ll need to reserve either a parking spot in advance or book their shuttle service to gain access. I’d avoid weekends here as well and aim to go mid-week for fewer crowds.
Swim in Lake Tahoe
My ultimate summer state park is certainly Lake Tahoe as it’s the best place to go for a swim. The colder waters and milder temperatures are where I like to head to cool off. Some of my favorite summer memories is renting a cabin on the lake with friends and spending a relaxing weekend here. Take a look at these Airbnbs in Tahoe and this summer guide for your visit.
Experience Wine Country in Napa Valley
Napa is always a favorite for wine tasting and cuisine. We love to head out for the day on a weekend, pick a winery like Peju or Domaine Carneros, and hang out for the afternoon. If you’re looking to stay overnight, I love the Meadowood or Auberge de Soleil.
Surf the waves in Santa Cruz
If you’re making your way from Southern California up the coast, then you’ll make your way through Santa Cruz. It’s a top spot for surfing in California and a fan favorite for a seaside escape.
Get outside in Sonoma County
My personal favorite place to go to is Sonoma County. North of San Francisco and about an hour’s drive, it’s a great weekend away. We love to explore areas like Sebastopol, Guerneville, and Healdsburg when we are out in the area. The restaurants are incredible and you’re never too far from the coast if you want to get those ocean views. Here’s a list of some awesome Airbnbs in Sonoma.
Learn about history in Gold Country
North of Sacramento, is California’s center for gold rush history. My favorite town (and hometown!) is Auburn, California in Placer County. It’s home to the golden era and has so much charm. Situated by the river, you can easily get outdoors here and have a charming town experience. Here’s my ultimate weekend guide to Auburn.