Tourist Places In Northern California

By | April 1, 2023

Tourist Places In Northern California – Northern California is an epic vacation destination. Why? Because there are so many fun and diverse things to do in Northern California! It’s a place where you can enjoy world-class skiing, soak up urban culture, sip wine by the glass surrounded by vineyards, hike to thundering waterfalls and see the tallest trees on the planet.

Whether you’re a local looking for things to do in Northern California with your kids or a tourist planning an epic trip, we hope you’ll use this guide as your Norcal bucket list.

Tourist Places In Northern California

Tourist Places In Northern California

Do you want to feel like an ant? Head to redwood country and walk among the tallest trees in the world. The Redwood Coast begins in Mendocino County and extends to the Oregon border. Here, dense redwood forests will make you dizzy as you crane your neck to see the tops of these towering trees.

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Visit Redwood National Park and surrounding state parks to immerse yourself in the beauty of these pristine forests. Not to be missed are places like Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, with its epic campground along the crystal clear Smith River. Check out our Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park guide for more tips and information about this special place.

Scenes from Jurassic Park 2 were filmed in Fern Canyon within Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. Fifty-foot walls covered with ferns surround the placid stream, creating a lush and peaceful atmosphere. The hike through Fern Valley is an easy one-mile stroll through lush vegetation. My kids loved crossing the little wooden planks.

Coming face to face with Roosevelt Moose at Gold Bluffs Beach is one of Northern California’s most unexpected beach experiences. After being hunted to near extinction, Roosevelt elk are making a comeback on the Redwood Coast.

These majestic animals are mostly found on the sand bluffs and surrounding grasslands. Keep your distance, especially in the fall when love is in the air and rutting season is in full swing.

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Trekking tip: For a sequoia experience closer to the city, check out our Muir Woods National Monument north of San Francisco. Due to its location, this park can get quite crowded. For your best chance to enjoy the redwood trees in serenity, arrive early and choose weekdays over the weekend.

A good portion of the best things to do in Northern California are outdoors. Some of the best skiing in North America can be found at the resorts around Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe boasts epic scenery, world-class ski resorts, proximity to San Francisco Bay, comfortable skiing conditions, plenty of activities for kids, and great restaurants that welcome families.

Tourist Places In Northern California

Lake Tahoe isn’t just a winter destination. Summer is the perfect time to visit the Blue Jewel of the Sierra. Boating is a popular way to enjoy the waters of Lake Tahoe, but swimming and playing at the beach or floating the nearby Truckee River are also popular options.

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Families looking to get active in this beautiful corner of the state love to hike and bike the area’s trails. Also popular with families are hikes around various area lakes, such as Fallen Leaf Lake, the Rubicon Trail near Emerald Bay, and the still-in-progress Tahoe Rim Trail.

If you want to get out on the water, consider booking the popular MS Dixie Dinner Cruise. Capture stunning Tahoe sunsets and scenery while enjoying dinner and music. TripAdvisor affiliate Trekaroo receives a small commission to help our small business and you are guaranteed the lowest rates.

If there was a competition to identify the most beautiful natural place in the world, Yosemite would win by a landslide. Stand in the lush green meadows of Yosemite Valley surrounded by wildflowers, see the 4,000 foot granite cliffs, cascading waterfalls and say you know a more beautiful place.

Yosemite is paradise and there are many things to do with kids in Yosemite National Park. Walk, bike, float or just sit and take it all in.

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Whether you’re learning to rock climb at the base of El Capitan, getting splashed by cascading falls on the Mist Trail, gazing at the Sierra peaks that seem to stretch forever at Glacier Point, or watching a bobcat sneak through the prairie as the sun sets, Yosemite is a place to make lasting memories.

Unfortunately crowds can be a big problem in Yosemite, especially on weekends. Fortunately, we have plenty of tips on how to avoid the crowds in Yosemite National Park and know the best time to visit.

Did you know that Northern California has its own active volcano? Mount Lassen last erupted in 1917, but there are many signs that the volcano is still alive today.

Tourist Places In Northern California

Perhaps the most exciting, “in your face” place to experience the action is Bumpass Hell, named after a man who got too close to a burning, bubbling pot of mud and lost his leg! Nowadays, thankfully, there is a boardwalk that prevents families from suffering a similar fate.

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Bumpass Hell is accessible via a 1.5 mile hike. Once inside the canyon, families can see and smell the workings inside the volcano’s main vent. Bubbling mud is delightful to watch.

This national park is more than hot sulfur springs and bubbling mud. Lake Manzanita offers great views of Mount Lawson, reflecting on its waters, begging to be photographed. Families enjoy kayaking, trout fishing and hiking around the lake on a 1.5 mile trail.

How can you plan an epic trip to Northern California and not spend some time in wine country? Yes, it’s true that wine tasting has traditionally been an adult affair, but these days there are many wines that welcome families.

Encompassing towns like Santa Rosa, Geyserville, and Russian River, Sonoma Wine Country offers beautiful parks and gardens, family-friendly wineries, and outdoor adventures.

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Visitors to the Francis Ford Coppola Winery in Geyserville will not only enjoy fine wine and food, but will be treated to an extraordinary collection of memorabilia from Coppola’s films and the iconic pool scene during the spring and summer. While parents enjoy wine tasting, children can experience the various flavors and smells of seasonal fruits in a smooth tasting. Among other gaming activities are four regulation-sized bocce courts available for free use.

In Healdsburg, Preston Farm and Winery has lots of adorable cats along with Bosse, fresh produce, chicken, lamb and some amazing wine.

More bocce ball and a variety of lawn games await at the family-friendly (and pet-friendly) Larson Family Winery in Sonoma. It is a good place to enjoy a picnic.

Tourist Places In Northern California

North Napa Valley’s Sterling Vineyard Winery is accessible only by aerial tram. After the ride, kids will receive a backpack with snacks, drink and play while parents enjoy the views and wine.

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Then book your stay in Sonoma. Or check out the best things to do in Napa with kids and book a stay there.

Point Reyes National Seashore may be only 35 miles from San Francisco, but it’s a world away. Here, the Northern California coast is wild and untamed, and traffic jams are only caused by the occasional cow blocking the road.

Highlights of Point Reyes include spotting elephant seals at Chimney Rock, hanging out at Drake’s Beach, visiting the Point Reyes Lighthouse, and eating (yes eating!).

Point Reyes is a great foodie destination. It is home to fresh oysters at Hog Island Oyster Co. and local award-winning cheeses from Point Reyes Dairy cattle at Cowgirl Creamery.

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Tule moose call these parts home and Tomales Point is an excellent place to spot them. Take the trail to the point and keep your eyes peeled for these striking creatures grazing on the windswept bluffs.

If you visit between August and October, which is Tule moose mating season, ask the bull moose to call potential mates. If you’re lucky, you might even see a moose fight!

Paddling in Tomales Bay is a popular activity for families. Kayak tours may lead to sea otter or harbor seal sightings. You can even take an evening cruise to enjoy the tranquil waters lit up by bioluminescent creatures.

Tourist Places In Northern California

Most cave tours are guided in national parks. Not so at Lava Beds National Monument. Sure, they still have some guided options, but visiting this remote park is one of our favorite things to do with kids in Northern California because of the opportunity to experience some real, unguided adventure underground.

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The 45,000+ acre Lava Beds National Monument contains more than 700 caves – the highest concentration of caves in the US – created by lava flows between 10,500 and 65,000 years ago.

Most of the caves open to visitors are within a few miles of the visitor center, including on the popular Cave Loop Road. Most of the caves are 55 degrees year-round, so long pants and a sweatshirt are recommended. There are knees

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