Sacramento is a city perfect for working people and families. During their time off, local residents have plenty of options for things to do. Between new museum exhibits, a growing beer scene, and annual events such as the California State Fair, takes place each year, locals don’t always have to the leave the city to get their kicks. However, when the opportunity to get out of town arises, those who live in Sacramento have a plethora of places to visit just within a short drive. Keep reading for our top 11 day trip ideas near Sacramento.
1. San Francisco
Approximate Drive Time:1.5 hours
With San Francisco so close by, it’s a wonder that Sacramento residents don’t visit every weekend. This city is a major tourist destination as it is home to the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz Island, the famous Pier 39, and some of the most beautiful homes in the country: The Painted Ladies.
2. Napa Valley
Approximate Drive Time: Just over 1 hour
Napa Valley is best know as a playground for wine enthusiasts. This region of California is covered in vineyards making for a beautiful landscape and a ton of fun. A major attraction for those who drink wine is the Napa Valley Wine Train, an excursion train that runs through Napa offering wine tasting and gourmet meals.
3. San Jose
Approximate Drive Time: Just under 2 hours
Perfect for techies and nature lovers alike, San Jose is an ideal retreat for a night away.
Enjoy downtown San Jose’s nightlife scene or enjoy oddities at the Winchester Mystery House. If you are looking to escape to the great outdoors, Mission Peak is full of challenging hikes that lead to the summit. When you make it to the top, be sure to take a picture with the iconic pole to prove you were there.
4. Lake Tahoe
Approximate Drive Time: Just over 2 hours
Lake Tahoe is an iconic weekend getaway spot for Californians, and those living in Sacramento have the pleasure of living relatively close by. Tahoe is a desirable destination all times of the year as it offers many winter activities along with summer activities on the lake. If you have an off-road vehicle and looking for an adventurous challenge, try out Barker Pass Road. Whether you prefer the outdoors or a day at the spa, Lake Tahoe will deliver.
5. Tahoe City
Approximate Drive Time: Just under 2 hours
A visit to Tahoe City is a good idea just about any time of year. Between its impressive ski resorts, abundant hiking and cross country skiing trails, this destination is suitable for people of any age. While downtown, enjoy coffee shops, shopping, restaurants, and galleries.
6. Yosemite National Park
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Approximate Drive Time: 2.75 hours
Sacramento’s proximity to Yosemite is a major selling point for nature enthusiasts. This iconic park is home to Half Dome, Glacier Point, and Yosemite Falls as well as ancient sequoia trees and an abundance of wildlife. In Yosemite Village, visitors enjoy shopping, restaurants, lodging, and education on the history of the park.
7. El Dorado National Forest
Approximate Drive Time: 1 hour
El Dorado is the perfect place to visit for a quick day trip spent outdoors. This park features woodland hikes, clear blue lakes, and scenic hiking trails. Because of the other neighboring parks that garner more attention, El Dorado tends to be less overrun by tourists meaning campsites are easier to claim and hikes are more private.
Approximate Drive Time: 1.75 hours
The perfect place for history buffs. Truckee is a small town with a vibrant past. A trip here is not complete without a visit to the Donner Memorial State Park and Emigrant Museum where you will learn more about the settlement of the West and the story of the infamous Donner Party. Along with these educational opportunities, enjoy a swim in the lake and a hike among the beautiful landscape.
Approximate Drive Time: 1.5 hours
A visit to Napa doesn’t have to revolve around wine tasting. Calistoga is a small town located in Napa Valley that is known as a place for relaxation. Take a dip in the local hot springs or indulge in a mud bath at a local spa. Visit one of several local museums and be sure to stop by to see the Old Faithful Geyser erupt.
The community of Folsom is close enough for a quick afternoon getaway. This historic features a lake, a state recreation area, an animal sanctuary, and a vibrant historic district. Residents of Sacramento often visit this small, nearby town to enjoy an afternoon spent on the hiking trails or enjoying water sports.
Approximate Drive Time: Just under 3 hours
This beach town located in Monterey Peninsula is a sanctuary for city dwellers. Get away from the bustle of everyday life and relax on white sand as the waves crash nearby. During the day, pay the local aquarium a visit and learn more about marine life. For the full experience, be sure to take an excursion to Point Lobos where you can spot whales and sea lions any time of the year.