Things to do in Northern California Things to do in Northern California

12 Fun Things to do in Northern California – A Must-Go for!

Are you looking for fun things to do in Northern California? What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about this place? Well, I bet a lot of fun things will wander your mind when you think of visiting Northern California!

In this article, we are exactly going to list down the top 12 amazing things which you will enjoy doing on your next visit to Northern California. But before that, let us first know about the North of California in detail.

Northern California – Your Next Travel Destination

Northern California is a nature’s child and a perfect combination of beauty and wonder, colloquially known as NorCal which comprises the northern part of the US state of California.

You can say that the place has been a leader whether it is on the economic stage, cultural or scientific stage. There are a lot of things to do in Northern California, we will discuss them later.

Geography of Northern California

Due to the large and diversified geography of California, It has been subdivided into parts. So, you can say that It is not the formal designation of the state and refers to the state’s northernmost 48 counties which include the San Francisco bay area, Metropolitan Fresno, and the Greater Sacramento area.

Nature and Environment of Northern California

The home of the natural and rich environment, Northern California is the perfect travel destination with varied landscapes such as rivers, mountains, stunning beaches, sea, wildlife, and a symbol of rich culture, cuisine, and history.

Here you will find endless opportunities for adventure and one of the most fascinating places on earth to visit at least once in a lifetime.

Here is the complete list of the best things to do in Northern California. It’s time to round out your bucket list so come and join us for a live visit to your favourite place.

Top 12 Amazing Things to do in Northern California

As you embark on your journey to Northern California, there is a huge list of places to visit. Let’s get started to find out the things to do in Northern California.

1. Visit Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe, Northern California

Photo by Brian Shamblen on Flickr, copyright 2022

If I start talking about the wonder of nature in Northern California, the name of Lake Tahoe comes first. With a size of 150.7 km3, lake Tahoe is called the largest lake in Northern California. If we talk about the depth, the lake is 1645 ft. deep, which is called the second deepest lake in the country.

If you are looking for fun things to do in northern California, what else can be a better place than Lake Tahoe you can utilize the best of the time, and trust me, it is worth it.

The area is especially known for its world-class skiing, exciting events, and gorgeous weather in winter, but there is a lot to do in the summers for the spectacular view and for the lovers of biking, hiking, or kayaking, Lake Tahoe has something for everyone.

There is also an amazing beach.

If you are good at paddleboarding, Sand harbour beach is perfect for you and if want to lose in the true beauty of nature, you can just relax and enjoy Kings Beach. These are some of those reasons for a visit to Northern California.

Exploring Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe is a place where you will find many great resorts, and homestays as there are small towns around the lake where you will love to spend your time with your loved ones. Some are the unexpected sites on South Lake Tahoe which are full of history.

The facility of family-friendly accommodation makes the place more worth visiting. The list of amazing things to do in Northern California, can’t be completed without including this place.

South Lake Tahoe offers a spectacular landscape along with a non-stop entertaining nightlife. The Squaw Valley Mountain Resort is one of the highly recommended places to visit.

2. Walk in the Epic Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate bridge, Northern California
Photo by Nicolas Raymond on Flickr, copyright 2022

If we talk about the list of the best fun things to do in Northern California, it would not be completed without the visit to the Golden Gate Bridge. The length of the bridge is 1.7 miles which was built in 1937 in the San Francisco Bay area to connect to California.

Vising Golden Gate is like visiting San Francisco.

The Golden Gate Bridge has astonishing architecture, and around 10 million visitors come to visit has a 746-foot tremendously tall tower. At the time of its construction, the Golden Gate Bridge was the tallest suspension bridge in the world. It is considered the symbol of the power and progress of the United States.

Explore Golden Gate Bridge

If you are planning your next trip to San Francisco, you can enjoy the Golden Gate Bridge and the San Francisco Bay area in many creative ways.

It was a story before the construction of the bridge that Fort Baker was established by the army. Today it is transformed into a resort. When you stay at Cavallo Point, you can enjoy a beautiful site view, wine receptions or morning yoga, etc.

And the San Francisco Bay boat cruises are a wonder themselves. You can also explore the Golden gate recreational area, and last but not least, the thrilling experience of biking and bicycle riding is just out of the world at Golden Gate bridge.

If you know these things to do in Northern California, your trip will leave an incredible impression for a lifetime.

For every size cyclist, there are bikes available on rentals. The auto-guided bike tours are also available with the technology of the GPS tracker that gives information about your exact location. You can stop at Fort point to take a bridge selfie. These are some of those fun things to do in Northern California.

3. Wander in Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park, Northern California
Photo by Su–May on Flickr, copyright 2022

1st of October 1890 was the day when this splendid place was declared a national park and after more than 125 years, it is still making visitors amazed because of the true beauty of nature. Yosemite National Park is especially known for its deep valleys, waterfalls, and giant granite mountains.

The national park has historic significance as it became the first land to be protected by the government because of the natural beauty of Yosemite national park so that people might enjoy it and get benefit from the foresight.

This is one of the most interesting and fun things to do in Northern California.

Yosemite’s famous granite rocks shine like a fire when the sunlight reflects on the rocks at sunset and the incredible landscape of the place is known to protect the 400 species because of its diversity.

Explore Yosemite National Park

While looking around you will find that there are mammals, amphibians, birds, reptiles, and rare endangered animals like Sierra Nevada Red Fox which were found roaming California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains as per the National Park Service declared in 2014.

You will be amazed to know that this is the home of one of the tallest waterfalls with a height of 2425 feet.

Yosemite waterfall is called one of the tallest but there is also a hidden fact behind it. The fall combines three separate falls; The upper Yosemite fall, the middle cascade, and the third one, the lower Yosemite fall becomes the Yosemite waterfall.

Most of the visitors come to see Yosemite national park from May to October and they never leave Yosemite valley. If you are a no-crowd person, you can prefer to visit this beautiful national park in winter.

So, if you are searching for things to do in Northern California, you must plan to explore Sierra Nevada Mountains, for sure!

The main things to explore here for an adventurous trip are – climbing, hiking trails, and camping and if you are a nature lover, you must choose it.

4. Explore Redwood National and State Parks—Crescent City

Redwood national park
Photo by Chad Fennell on Flickr, copyright 2022

Do you know how large an area this Redwood National park is spread over? Before knowing about it, I also used to think that it will be like normal national parks where you go to the visitor centre and you will get a map to visit but it is not like that at all. This beautiful national park has grown and spread much more than I could have imagined.

This is one of the most popular and renowned national parks on the Northern California coast which was established in 1968. This is home to the popular Californian Redwood trees and the interesting fact about the Redwood national park is that the three kinds of tallest trees in the world pass 300 feet in height.

Explore Redwood National and State Parks

If we discuss the things to do in Northern California, the state park should be given priority as it is a great destination for adventurous activities. The famous hiking trails, fishing, biking, coastal activities, and the heart-pleasing climate kicks you feel alive and active.

This is one of those places to visit once in a lifetime and you can choose to do the adventurous things to do in Northern California. You can also have a road trip through Nevada city along with the Pacific Coast Highway from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

The three state parks Del Norte Coast, Jedediah Smith, and Prairie Creek Redwood state parks are managed together with the boundaries of Redwood trees and the crescent city which is the home of the headquarter of the Redwoods National Park.

The scenic hiking trails and the beauty of the Redwood forest give you an amazing reason to visit Northern California. This is one of the adventurous things to do in Northern California.

And about the stay, it is advisable to book the lodges in advance, especially in the summers; Woodland Villa Cabins, Emerald forest cabins, Redwood parks lodge company, and Elk meadow cabins are some of the leading lodges to spend a great time here.

5. Visit the Lava Beds National Monument

Lava Bed national monument
Photo By Jeff Moser on Flickr, copyright 2022

Lava Beds National Monument is a region that is famous for the volcanic formation from lava flows in Northern California, US. The location of Lava Beds National Monument is on the Medicine lake volcano which is in the south of the city of Tulelake.

Lava Beds national monument is a land of both geological and historical upheaval. Over the past half-million years, volcanic eruptions on Medicine lake volcano have diversely created a rugged landscape with more than 800 caves.

From the North of Tule Lake National Wildlife Refuge to the Modoc National Forest, the area is covered by a large part of the land.

Explore Lava Beds National Monument

If you are looking for fun things to do in Northern California, this is a great option as here you will be fascinated by the caves that are made of live activities and it is one of those fun things that you would love to explore.

Most of the fun things to do in Northern California are to explore the caves and the pictographs on them by the ancient residents make it one of Northern California’s attractions.

This is one of those California historical landmarks, that make you amazed with the art site, campsites, historic buildings, and battlefields. And if you are one of those nature lovers, you will fall in love with the wilderness of the place.

If you are planning a day trip, I would say that it would not be enough to dig into the beauty of the place. There are a lot of places to visit and explore whether you are choosing winters or summers, this is advisable that the pre-planned trip to visit northern California would go better.

6. Explore in the Wine Country – Sonoma County & Napa Valley

Sonoma Country Napa Valley
Photo by Guttorm Flatabø on Flickr, copyright 2022

A perfect place to plan a day trip is Sonoma County & Napa Valley also known as Wine county, as this is one of those fun things to do in Northern California. Where you can experience a perfect visit to over 500 wineries, that are called one of the best wineries in the world. There are a lot of things to do besides it, you can spend a really fun time here.

In this world-class wine country, you will experience outstanding culinary activities, Vineyards, and eye-soothing mountain views along with the most popular wine treat of all time.

Explore Sonoma County & Napa Valley

It is a perfect destination for a day trip where you can also enjoy a short drive from San Francisco and the Sonoma valley. Wine tasting, and dining out experience is just out of the world and you will earn the moment not to forget ever.

The fun of the Northern California road trip is just amazing. You can learn what is the procedure of making first-hand wine.

And there is nothing to worry about if you are travelling with your kids and family because some wine country welcomes all kinds of ages. As you can enjoy wine tasting, your kids can do fun things and experience seasonal fruits.

As the surroundings are so beautiful; the lovely gardens and the outdoor activities make this place more worth visiting.

There are more places to visit in Northern California and you would love to explore more about it.

7. Visit the Humboldt Redwoods State Park

Humboldt state park
Photo by calamity_sal on Flickr, copyright 2022

If you want to have a mesmerizing experience of the world’s most magical and ancient groves you must visit Humboldt Redwoods State Park located in Northern California along the El river. The park stretches across 53,000 acres.

The first memorial grove, Colonel Raynal C. Bolling Memorial Grove which was dedicated by the Redwood league in 1921, is now known as Humboldt Redwoods State Park. Here you will get to know about the diverse ecosystem of the state park.

Explore Humboldt Redwoods State Park

The things to do in Northern California at Humboldt Redwoods State Park are beyond your imagination as there are more than 250 campsites, scenic hiking trails, biking, and the 32 -miles avenues of the Giants—a beautiful place that offers something for everyone.

You are going to have an awe-inspiring experience whether you have a single day or a full week-long vacation to make your time more enjoyable and memorable.

The best part is that recreational activities are available in all seasons so that you can have a great time to make your vacation more interesting.

8. Enjoy Mono Lake

mono lake
Photo by Frank Wittig on Flickr, copyright 2022

If a nature lover wants fun things to do in Northern California, you can visit this salt-soda lake which is a major attraction in Northern California. Mono lake is one of the oldest lakes in North America which was beginning to form around 750,000 years ago.

The lake is known as a home to the Tufa tower and to protect an unusual ecosystem as this is also a home of the Brine shrimps, migratory birds, and myriads of fish.

Explore Mono Lake

If you are fond of bird watching and want to learn about the natural preservation of nature, you will love to spend quiet time here.

The place is surrounded by beautiful scenery you get to know about the local wildlife and the place gives you a chance to relax with your family and friends as the relaxed calm spread all around.

This is a kind of ecosystem that has the potential to inspire visitors as it looks just like an ordinary lake but has a different and unique ecosystem.

9. Fort Bragg – Go Explore this Glass beach

Fort bragg, a glass beach
Photo by Lisa Nottingham on Flickr, copyright 2022

Visiting Glass beach is one of those fun things to do in Northern California. All you just need to do is just sit and look around the ocean. There is a beautiful eye-relaxing site to behold. The number of Glass beaches in Fort Bragg is three.

The location of Glass beach is at the end of Elm Street in Fort Bragg. The wonderful fact about the beach is that the beach was used as a trash dump and originated by the resident of the area between 1906-1967.

Explore Fort Bragg

In Fort Bragg, you will see the beautiful glass beach which is surrounded by astonishing and attractive glass pebbles.

On the adjacent side of the beach, there is MacKerricher State Park where you can enjoy camping which is just amazing. You can sit on the beach for hours on end which bewitch your mind by looking at those little colourful glass pieces.

10. Point Reyes National Seashore

Point reyes national seashore
Photo by Andrew Seles on Flickr, copyright 2022

Point Reyes National Seashore is a hidden gem of California. If we talk about the location, it is only one hour away in the north of San Francisco.

The area is so vast that has stunning shorelines, amazing wilderness, coastal bluffs, and many more to explore. This is one of those fun things to do in Northern California, one of those stunning places to visit.

A perfect place to quench your thirst for peace and where you can explore things differently. The interesting fact about the place is that you can participate in both indoor and outdoor activities such as hiking, and driving to the beach and the amazing view of the surrounding wilderness is just breathtaking.

You can also participate in science lectures.

There are many places to visit in the Point Reyes area such as S.S. Point Reyes Shipwreck where you can make a quick and easy stop.

Sir Francis Drake Blvd is one of the main roads where you can take a great drive. Leaning trees and cypress tree tunnels are some of the attractions of nature here.

Point Reyes lighthouse which was built in 1870, is also a centre of attraction in the area. This place is the thing that you can’t miss if you are travelling to visit Northern California.

11. Scoma’s Sausalito and McCormick and Kuleto’s Seafood & Steaks

There are many fun things to do in Northern California, and many places to visit but how can you forget the food? Here I am mentioning some of the best restaurants in the food capital of California San Francisco.

The most famous city in Northern California is San Francisco where you can find the best food for your requirements. San Francisco has a speciality of hotels and restaurants with a view of the Golden Gate bridge.

Scoma’s Sausalito
Photo by Sébastien Bertrand on Flickr, copyright 2022

The first place to have delicious food is Scoma’s Sausalito, one of the most charming restaurants with a view of the stunning San Francisco bay. If you are seeking a romantic meal, this is the perfect and wonderful venue. The special dishes that you must give a try are Oyster dishes and Salmon dishes.

The second place is McCormick & Kuleto’s Seafood & Steaks which is spread over the three levels. And with the scrumptious food, you can also have a stunning view while being on the window seat. You can also be delighted of enjoying the world-famous ice creams and chocolate there.

12. How About Eating, Drinking, and Dancing?

After exploring all the wonders of nature in Northern California, if you are looking for an after-hours celebration and want to party hard with lots of dance and fun, the Northern city of California, San Francisco has all this to please you and make your time more enjoyable.

If you want to make your night memorable and amazing, this is one of those fun things to do in Northern California.

Numerous lounges, nightclubs, and bars are there such as DNA Lounge, Monarch, Hawthorn, and many more. There are a lot of things to do in Northern California, however, if you want, you can have it all.

Key Takeaways

If we start discussing the things to do in Northern California, probably the list will go on. But, here in this article, we have portrayed the best of the best!

Northern California’s land is natural and unique with no filters at all. Likewise, there are lots of the prettiest cities in the US, I recommend going there at least once in a lifetime. There are dozens of things to do. Wish you a great and safe journey!

Also check out, Different Types of Salmon in Alaska


1. Why is Northern California so popular?

Ans. Northern California is popular for its rugged structured coastline, redwood forest and Golden Gate Bridge.

2. Name the popular tourist attraction in Northern California.

Ans. Yosemite National Park is the topmost attraction in Northern California.

3. Which is the best time to visit Northern California?

Ans. During the spring and fall seasons, Northern California is best for visiting.

Last Updated on March 9, 2023 by Priya Das