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Northern California Day Trips – Cheap and Exciting Family Fun!

I like weekend and day trips. I like to drive with the family, exploring new places, taking those side roads that you may have seen from the freeway a million times and always say to yourself ‘I wonder where that road goes’. I did many day trips to Northern California while living in Northern California. Although there are many more, here are 5 that I particularly like:

Fisherman’s Wharf and Pier 49 in San Francisco

What better way to spend a day with the family! Cable cars, chocolate, crab, carousels and cruises under the Golden Gate. Then there are the street performers, the shops, and the restaurants. Wear a sweater, even in the summer, and be prepared for a lot of walking. You will be exhausted and happy at the end of the day.

Highway 1 from Half Moon Bay to Monterey

You won’t find a more spectacular coastal drive anywhere else. Cabrillo Highway winds along the edge of the cliffs with views of the pounding Pacific waves below. Each curve is a new view that asks you to stop and take a photo. Then there is the fun and excitement of the Santa Cruz boardwalk. Visit the incredible underwater exhibits at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Then kick back and watch the sun set over the Pacific from a beachfront restaurant in Carmel.

Napa Valley Wine Region

Take Highway 21 from Napa through beautiful wine country. Visit famous wineries and taste their products (but not TOO MUCH!). Stroll through the quaint communities of St. Helena and Yountville. Then end the day with a relaxing soak in one of Calestoga’s hot springs. You’ll be ready to do it all over again!

Historic 1949’s Gold Rush Country

History is everywhere as you drive along Highway 49 and Old Route 49. Stop at Sutters Creek and visit Sutter’s Mill, the place where gold was first discovered. Check out the shops and boutiques of San Andreas. Pan for gold in the restored mining town of Angels Camp. Who knows! You can hit it RICH!

Sacramento Delta, Sacramento River and Old Sacramento

Drive along the Sacramento Delta Levee where there is farmland on your right and windsurfing on your left. Find little-known bits of history in Rio Vista and the Chinese town of Locke. Watch as the unique swinging drawbridge opens to let fishing boats and yachts through. End your day in Old Sacramento, browsing the shops along the boardwalks. Or visit the train museum, always a hit with the kids!


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