Figure out where to go hiking in the Presidio of San Francisco. Get a curated list of trails with epic views, informative history and quirky stops.
Northern California is positively stuffed with cool places to visit. Whether you want to go forest bathing in the coast redwoods, do a wine tasting tour or go skiing in Lake Tahoe, we've got you covered. These Northern California destinations will help you fulfill a weekend getaway or a longer California vacation.
4 Cool Northern California Regions to Visit
At 163,000 square miles, Northern California is a huge territory. And while this can seem overwhelming, it also presents a great opportunity. NorCal's terrain varies widely, spoiling you with it's unparalleled nature and cool metropolitan experiences. Here are four California regions with a bit about what makes them special.
The San Francisco Bay Area
The Bay Area was fueled by California's gold rush and that entrepreneurial spirit is still alive today. And sure, there's Silicon Valley, but there is also a lot of cool culture, wine tasting, redwoods and some lovely coastline...all within 20 miles of the San Francisco airport. You can explore the Bay Area's cutest coastal town by visiting Half Moon Bay, explore surf culture in Santa Cruz or take a scenic and historic hike on SF's Lands End.
The North Coast Redwoods
There are only three types of giant redwoods and two of them are only found in Northern California. The Coast and Giant Sequoia Redwoods found in Northern California are some of the tallest trees in the world...and they smell good too. You can see them by taking a multi-day redwoods road trip which transits three scenic byways and 9 key redwood state and national parks. Or you could visit individual parks like Hendy Woods and Van Damme, which are near Mendocino.
The Central Coast
The Central Coast presents a perfect opportunity for folks who like their wine tasting with a side of nature (or perhaps their nature with a glass of wine?) There are laid back beach towns like Cayucos, quirky hippie towns like Harmony and California's best coastline along Big Sur. And the Paso Robles wine growing regions has tons of fun wineries and even a distillery trail.
Lake Tahoe Basin
Lake Tahoe is California's most popular playground. During the summer, you can play on it's beaches, hike the Donner Tunnels or take the scenic drive around the lake. In the winter, you can explore the ski resorts or find fun winter activities, even if you don't ski. And after all of that, you can rehydrate at one of Tahoe's many breweries.
Round-ups of Popular Northern California Destinations
Chill & Charming Northern California Coastal Towns
These 12 towns feature gob smacking, jaw dropping coastline with beaches, craggy cliffs, river estuaries and redwood forests.
10 Hippie Towns in California
San Francisco was ground zero for the Summer of Love, so it's no wonder that 8 of these 10 hippie towns are in NorCal.
All 43 Redwood Parks in California
ALL of California's Coast Redwoods and Giant Sequoia are located in Northern California....and our guide will make you want to go now!
Visit San Francisco
The Best of the Central Coast
Explore Lake Tahoe
Peruse the Blog Roll for More Northern California Destinations
Take a stroll through SF’s most notorious Gold Rush neighborhood on this Barbary Coast Trail tour. Get background, things to do and a complete Barbary Coast map.
Explore SF’s wild side on the San Francisco Crosstown Trail. Get the full FAQ on the hike, tips for doing it in sections and public transpo tips.
Figure out the best, fastest and cheapest ways to get from the Oakland airport to San Francisco airport. We’ve got tips, routing suggestions and full costs.
Figure out the best, fastest and cheapest ways to get from the Oakland Airport to San Francisco’s downtown. We’ve got tips, routing suggestions and full costs.
Your full guide to finding lovely mosaic steps in SF. Get the backstory on the tiled staircases and get tips for visiting, parking and public transportation.
Figure out the best and closest airport to Sonoma to serve your upcoming trip. This thorough guide also offers rental car and trip planning resources.
Your full guide for a San Francisco to Yosemite road trip, featuring the National Park plus Native American culture, gold rush history, cool hikes and culinary tourism.
Figure out the best and closest airport to Lake Tahoe to serve your upcoming trip. This thorough guide also offers rental car and trip planning resources.
Find the best hiking in Half Moon Bay, California. This guide has 11 awesome hikes of varying distances and difficulty but they also have eye-popping landscape views.
Head from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe with this detailed road trip guide. Get routing suggestions from SF to Tahoe with ideas for fun stops along the way.
Explore San Francisco’s Presidio National Park site. Find cool things to do in The Presidio like hiking, beaches, golfing, bridge views, quirky attractions, public art and nature.