Northern California has everything from populated cities to brustling residential areas, pacifying shores to lofty mountains, and of course tall and amazing redwoods. Wait, if you know Northern California just for these things then you are probably wrong. There are many other best places in Northern California where you have to try adventurous activities and definitely the view is amazing there. We have explored a lot and hence providing a unified list of top places in Northern California that will exhilarate your soul.
Through this blog, we are going to present the best backpacking places in northern California. Throughout the year, northern California is visited by millions of people. Some came here to admire the natural vistas that are cherished by artists for centuries while the venturesome ones always choose to perform adventurous activities. From the modernity of San Francisco, CA, and the innovative adaptation of San Jose to the old Sequoia National Forest in the Northern Sierra Nevada mountains. There are numerous places to visit in Northern California that you can count on.
Top Places to Visit in Northern California
1. Big Sur
Big Sur is one of the top places to visit in northern California lies between the Santa Lucia Mountains on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west. It is wonderfully stretched along California’s central coast and now has become a prime tourist destination. The view from the coast is itself overwhelming. On top of it, the narrow route that takes you to the natural parks on the top is full of hairpin turns and beautiful scenery. There are too many national parks in northern California best known for camping, hiking, and beachcombing. In short, I can say that the road trip on the coast of Big Sur is the most Romantic getaway in northern California for newly wedded couples.
How to reach?
All scenic beaches in Big Sur are perfect for an evening stroll and public transportation is available from Monterey or Carmel via Monterey-Salinas Transit Line 22.
Main attraction: McWay Falls, Pfeiffer Beach, Point Lobos State Natural Reserve
2. Yosemite National Park
Looking for a famous place to visit in northern CA then your search perhaps ends here. Yosemite National Park is the most beautiful place in northern California with a lot of spectacular waterfalls, deep valleys, Sequoiadendron giganteum, mountains, meadows, glaciers, and huge granite cliffs. This national park is spread over 1,189 sq miles with thousands of lakes and ponds that are accessible through a winding paved path. If you are a travel enthusiast and love hiking then you are going to love this place as all the major attractions nearby can be witnessed after hiking for a couple of miles. Along the way, you will get to see Gilbert’s skink, black bear, white-headed woodpecker, coyote, bobcat, raccoon, mountain kingsnake, otter, grey fox, and many other wildlife creatures.
How to reach Yosemite National Park?
Yosemite National Park is accessible from the I-580 east to I-205 east to Highway 120 east via Manteca, Calif.
Main Attraction: Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Half Dome, El Capitan, Tuolumne Meadows, Vernal Falls, Mirror Lake, Olmsted Point, Chilnualna Fall, Thousand Island Lake, and Ribbon Fall.
3. Santa Cruz
I am sure that you all have heard of Santa Cruz as it is a famous city to visit in California. This extremely popular city is located at Monterey Bay around 32 miles from San Jose. . There are wonderful sandy shorelines, world-popular surfing space, and splendid mountains encompassed with antiquated redwood forest. All I can say is that Santa Cruz is a quintessential town with a massive coastline. Here you will get plenty of locations with natural resorts for accommodation accompanied by a brewery serving savory wine and restaurants serving regional food items.
Santa Cruz is a complete blend of real charm and the old town beauty that always attracts visitors and motivates them to visit this California town. Apart from admiring the natural vistas, this place will help you to learn to surf in the streams as there are a lot of surfing points for daredevils.
Main attractions: UC Santa Cruz Arboretum & Botanic Garden, Lighthouse Field State Beach, Natural Bridges State Beach, Santa Cruz Wharf, Walton Lighthouse, Wilder Ranch State Park, and Pogonip.
4. San Jose
San Jose is bustling with population yet we count this among the best cities in Northern California. The town is established on a massive land in the northern end of California or accurately we can say that by the area it is the largest city in California. Around 15 thousand acres of land in San Jose is covered by parks and trails that enhance the overall beauty of this Californian city. Alum Rock Park, is said to be the oldest park in the town sprawling in an area of the 3-kilometer square area of land and established in 1872
Also, the city features some ancient art galleries, theatres, museums, and eateries that are now playing a major role in the country’s economy.
Main attractions: Winchester Mystery House, San Jose Museum of Art, Computer History Museum, Municipal Rose Garden, Alum Rock Park, Hakone Estate and Gardens, Testarossa Winery, Japanese Friendship Garden
Oakland in San Francisco is the most notable seaside city in California to get settled.
If you are planning to move abroad and settle in SF then Oakland is undoubtedly the best place to live in northern California. The actual beauty of Oakland is in the coastline that allows to glare at the islands in the northern end. Angel Island is a famous island and visitors can reach there through a ferry from the coast. Apart from panoramic views, Oakland is a place with a range of restaurants serving Ethiopian to Korean cuisines. You can head to any of these restaurants to enjoy your favorite meal. The streets are painted with funky graffiti art and are the main attraction for immigrants.
Main Attractions: Oakland Zoo, Tilden Regional Park, Angel Island, Chabot Space & Science Center, Lake Merritt, Jack London Square, Berkeley Rose Garden, and Rock Wall Wine Company
6. Mendocino National Forest
Mendocino National Forest is among the hidden gems in Northern California with plenty of attractive locations to see within the forest area. It covers 133862 hectares of land in the northwestern region of California. This forest area offers you an abundance of leisure opportunities to challenge yourself. In 2015, Barack Obama himself praised this national forest for preserving the natural diversity of the country, when for the first time it was titled a national monument of the country.
The Rattlesnake Creek, the Snow Mountain on the East, Eel River, and Lake Pillsbury are some places to visit in Mendocino National Forest.
Address: Willows, California, US
Main Attractions: Blue Lakes, Mount Linn, Ceago Vinegarden, Chico seed orchard, Howard Lake, Dog Island Park, and Rattlesnake Island.
7. Redwood National Park
Redwood National Parks in Northern California is a series of forest spaces on the coastline. The park is named after the Redwood trees that you find here in abundance. In total, the park is sprawling with more than 781 Square kilometers of area and Sequoias are the tallest trees here. The park is further famous for excessive Redwood (Sequoias) trees and it has been said that it is the most expensive wood in the world. It is among the tallest trees not in the country but on the earth and can live up to 3000 years.
When you are here, don’t just stay restricted to the park as there are pristine rives, numerous species of flora-fauna, thundering waterfalls, and unlimited wilderness across the mountains.
Location: Humboldt County & Del Norte County, California, US
How to reach Redwood National Park?
International visitors can deboard at the Del Norte County Airport/Jack McNamara Field located in the Crescent City and further reach the Redwood National Park through local transport.
Main Attraction: Fern Canyon, Lady Bird Johnson Grove Trail, Trillium Falls Trail, Crescent Beach, Dry Lagoo, Hidden Beach, and Wilson Creek Beach.
8. Glacier Point
Glacier Point in Yosemite Valley is not actually a glacier but a famous mountain peak with a viewpoint. It is one of the must-go places in northern California located on the Northern end of the Valley. The viewpoint of Glacier Point is located at an elevation of 7,214 feet (2,199 m) from sea level. This is one of the cool places in northern California with implicit vistas of nature. There are various falls and creeks visible from the viewpoint that is supposed to be the main attraction for the visitors. We recommend you to visit Glacier Point in northern California in the summers for outstanding vistas. Here you can trek to the viewpoint and enjoy admirable locations and vivid kinds of fauna on the way. Glacier Point remains closed in the winters(from December through may) due to heavy snowfall.
Address: Glacier Point Rd, Yosemite Valley, CA 95389, United States
How to reach: Visitors can reach Glacier Point from the Valley via Glacier Point Road. Buses are also available throughout the tour and it will take approximately four hours to cover all the major attractions of Glacier Point.
Main attractions: Half Dome, El Capitan, Bridalveil Fall, Tunnel view, Vernal Falls, Curry Village, Nevada Fall, Cathedral Lakes, Yosemite Valley Chapel, and Washburn Point.
9. Yosemite Falls
We have already talked about the Yosemite national park but the aim of segregating Yosemite Falls from the National park is to focus on its magnificence. The fall itself is a famous tourist attraction in Northern California that attracts millions of sightseers annually. In total there are three drops in the Yosemite Falls and the highest one is located at the height of 1,430 ft (436 m)
On the foot of the fall, there is a village named “Ahwahneechee”. People of the Ahwahneechee village call the fall “Cholock” and as per the villagers, the base of the fall is inhabited by several spirits. Regardless of the haunted stories related to the plunge pool, the fall offers beautiful sceneries to the visitors.
Address: Yosemite Village, CA 95389, United States
How to reach: Yosemite Falls in Yosemite valley is accessible to visitors through hiking. From Yosemite Village walk on the trailhead for half a mile in the west and the fall is visible from the valley.
10. Pfeiffer Beach
Are you looking for unique places to visit in northern California then visit Pfeiffer Beach to see the amazing violet-hued sand. We count Pfeiffer Beach as a spotless beautiful destination to visit in California. It is mandatory to visit this location after Big Sur in California but most vacationers are unaware of this beautiful concealed location. The eye-popping offshore views at Pfeiffer Beach look stunning. You can’t really swim on the beach as the tides are too high. Rather, go for the surf amid violently crashing waves. Pfeiffer Beach is among the Top Beautiful Beaches In California that fulfill all the goals of tourists.
Address: 47199 Clear Ridge Rd, Big Sur, CA 93920, United States
How to reach Pfeiffer Beach?
The beach is located miles away from the Big Sur and you have to drive through the highway to reach Pfeiffer Beach. Turn on Sycamore Canyon Road and further drive for 2 miles on a narrow and twisted paved path to reach the Pfeiffer Beach pay station.
Check Out: Top Beautiful Beaches In California
11. Carmel By The Sea
Carmel By The Sea is a charming beach city in the Monterey Peninsula in Northern California. This small city has enough museums and libraries that are the most fascinating spot for voracious readers in the town. If you too have a deep interest in knowing about the northern California culture then you should definitely visit the Carmel By The Sea. Moreover, the villagers are super friendly making your accommodation at this place easy and inexpensive. The fairytale-style cottages and graffiti-painted galleries of this small city will allure you to spend more time here.
Main attractions: Carmel Beach, Monterey Bay Aquarium, Caraccioli Cellars, Sunset Centre, Carmel Art Association Gallery, Winfield Gallery, Ocean Avenue, Devendorf Park, Garrapata State Park, and Monterey Bay Coastal Trail.
These are the Unique places to visit in Nothern California where you will have a lot of fun with your friends and family and at these places, you will explore the best northern part of California. All the places are well famous not only in California but throughout the world also for their tourism. If you like our post please share it so it would be useful for other people also.
Dunsmuir is known for its turquoise Sacramento River. The city brags on its official slogan which says “Home of the best water on Earth” which you can witness only by visiting this beautiful city in Northern California. Dunsmuir Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center is the most prominent location here where you can take part in various adventurous activities that happen here year-round according to the season. In summers, it became the best fishing spot in northern California and provide visitors with enough opportunity to hunt colorful and fresh fish. On thoroughfare, there are top restaurants that offer you delicious food to enjoy the trip at its best. The overall trip to the Dunsmuir will become memorable when you get a friendly and relaxed ambiance here.
Main Attraction: Hedge Creek Falls, Dunsmuir Botanical Gardens, Siskiyou Arts Museum, Castle Lake, Faery Falls, Lake Siskiyou Beach, Box Canyon Dam, and Mossbrae Falls.
13. 17 Mile Drive
If you love road trips and are looking for one in northern California to go with your friends then just think of 17 Mile Drive. 17 Mile Drive is a scenic road that takes you to a heavenly beach with millions of pebbles all around. While your drive to the beach, you will get to see multiple scenic points. These points are built for visitors to capture memories of the trip.
Moreover, Fan shell Overlook and Cypress Point Lookout are two main locations on the way to 17 Mile Drive where you will get to see harbor seals. Go on a long drive to 17 Mile Drive with your friends and family in the fall or spring season for the best panoramic view.
This dramatic road that passes through multiple scenic points in northern California is built in 1800 and presently it is maintained by the Pebble Beach Company.
Main attractions: Spanish Bay, Restless Sea, The Lone Cypress, Bird Rock, Cypress Point Lookout, Carmel Beach, Monterey Museum of Art, Dametra Cafe, Lovers Point Park, and Whaler’s Cove.
How to reach?
There is a total of four entrance gates to start your journey on 17 Mile Drive and gates on Highway 1, Highway 68, and Pacific Grove are the most convenient ones. From Monterey, take Highway 1, pay the entry fee, and enjoy your journey. If you are coming from Carmel and want to take the entry from the Pacific Grove Gate then take Sunset Drive.
14. Palm Springs/Palm Desert
Palm Springs on the Sonoran Desert is a peaceful city encompassed by colossal pines. It is the best place to visit in Northern California during winter. Here you will get plenty of hot springs, golf courses, spas, and stylish hotels on the way. If you go slightly to the outskirts of northern California, then you will get to witness various coastal towns and palm springs are one among them. The Coachella Valley here is a famous tourist spot where visitors are often seen doing hiking, biking, and horseback riding. If you are the adventurous one then in Palm Springs you will get a lot of things to keep you engaged.
Main attractions: Palm Springs Art Museum, The Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, Tahquitz Canyon, Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Desert Aquatic Center, and Museum of Ancient Wonders
I hope that We have told you enough about the beautiful and amazing places to visit in Northern California to make a long vacation plan. These places are admired among tourists for their charming vistas and unadulterated beauty. Moreover, you can have fun with your friends, and family at these places while exploring the northern part of California. These places are famous not only in California but throughout the world for their exotic charm and satisfactory views.