“The 916”. “River City”. “The City of Trees”. The capital of California has many nicknames. Residents are used to the progressive culture and atmosphere that surrounds Sacramento, including farm-to-table restaurants, greenery and shade from the sun, and neighborhoods rich with diversity. If you’re in the mood for quick getaway, here are a few one-day road trips from Sacramento that can get you out of any funk you may find yourself in.
The Bay Area
One of the easiest road trips you can make from the City of Trees is to the greater metropolitan San Francisco Bay Area. Home to nearly 8 million people in total, the nine-county Bay Area is a hub of ethnic and cultural diversity, technical ingenuity, and many other occupations spanning the spectrum. Due in large part to disagreements on boundaries of the areas surrounding the San Francisco Bay by federal and local governments, the area has unofficial areas which envelope the nine counties. These areas include:
- The North Bay—Sonoma, Napa, Solano, and Marin County are all in this area. The largest in terms of area and counties included, The North Bay contains the likes of Napa (Napa Valley), Fairfield, Santa Rosa, Novato, and San Rafael.
- The East Bay—Contra Costa County and Alameda County make up the East Bay area. Notable places include Fremont, Hayward, Berkeley, Concord, and Oakland.
- The South Bay—This area begins down in Gilroy and is engulfed by only Santa Clara County. Aside from Gilroy, South Bay includes Silicon Valley cities Santa Clara and San Jose.
- The Peninsula—San Mateo County is the soul county in this area closest to the Pacific Ocean. This peninsula with an aptly titled nickname is home to San Francisco suburbs like San Mateo and Palo Alto.
- San Francisco—At the peak of the peninsula lays San Francisco and it’s lone titular, county.
Let’s take a better look at some of the activities and goings-ons in the Bay Area, region by region.
The North Bay
Though the largest city in the North Bay sub region is Santa Rosa, it would be a wise decision to venture to the Napa Valley for a one-day road trip from Sacramento. The Napa Valley (along with much of Sonoma County) is home to a plethora of vineyards and wineries and has been nicknamed “wine country” by much of the United States. It is where the majority of American wine is created.
The East Bay
The densest sub region of the Bay area, The East Bay is home to Berkeley and Oakland. Oakland is the third largest city in the Bay area and home to several renowned sports franchises, including the Oakland A’s (MLB), Oakland Raiders (NFL), and the current NBA Champion, Golden State Warriors. Berkeley is home to the University of California, Berkley, one of the top public universities in the United States and one of the most prestigious universities in the world.
The South Bay
The South Bay region is home to the world-famous Silicon Valley, where titans of industry and innovation better our lives through technology. San Jose is also home to the NHL’s Sharks and to the Westchester Mystery House, where it is said that the owner, widow Sarah Winchester was haunted by the spirits of those killed by her husband’s namesake guns.
San Mateo County is home to San Francisco’s most well-known suburbs, like Palo Alto. Though Palo Alto is still part of Silicon Valley, it is most known for being the home to Stanford, another one of the most prestigious universities in the country.
San Francisco is the commercial, cultural, and financial capital of northern California. The summers are cool, and the sunsets off the bay are beautiful. Aside from one of the many sports teams, the city is known for the Golden Gate Bridge, its progressive socio-political mindset, and the steep hillsides. San Francisco is also one of the most expensive cities in the country, with the average rent for a one-bedroom apartment ranging between three and four thousand dollars.
If heading west towards the Pacific Ocean (and a massive population density) isn’t your style, then why not try the Tahoe National Forest near Lake Tahoe, about two hours northwest of Sacramento’s metropolitan area.
The Lake itself is a massive (122,160,280 acres with a depth of 1,645 feet) freshwater lake that is nuzzled in the Sierra Nevada Mountain range at the base of the Lake Tahoe Basin. Trying only the Great Lakes in size, Lake Tahoe is the largest Alpine Lake in the country and has many tourists coming from all over to just view its sheer beauty.
On the other hand, the area of Lake Tahoe has a wide array of activities to partake in, both in California and in Nevada. Mainly known for its winter ski slopes (with more than a dozen ski ranches and resorts dedicated to the area), Lake Tahoe has a variety of other activities that include water sports, nature hikes, and casinos & gambling—on the Nevada side, of course.
Founded in 1858, the state capital of Nevada is only a short three-hour drive northwest of Sacramento. It’s the perfect destination for those who don’t mind taking a long drive and would like to visit a place outside of the state of California.
Carson City features plenty of museums to explore, including the original Nevada State Capitol building, Nevada State Railroad Museum, and the Stewart Indian School, which housed Native American students from 1890 to 1980. Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest is just within the city limits, and there are many trails that nature lovers will enjoy.
Whether or not you decide to stay in Sacramento for the weekend, at least you now know that if you ever need to get away for a day or so, you’ve got a few options.