If you feel like you’ve run out of things to do around the Bay Area, it’s worth extending your range to the rest of the region.
When we initially set out to find fascinating places to visit in every Northern California county, we didn’t quite realize the scope of the project. Depending on where you draw the line between the northern and southern halves of the state, there are nearly 50(!) counties in NorCal.
And, as small or sparsely populated as they may be, each one offers a uniquely California spot that’s worthy of a weekend trip. Predictably, many of these attractions are state or national parks — but there’s no shortage of variety within those parks. High desert, deep caverns, alpine forests and strange moonscapes are all here to satisfy your sightseeing desires. Most of them are free or require only a nominal parking fee.
History buffs are also lucky to live in — or visit — California. In Gold Country, there are myriad great museums, many covering the colorful Gold Rush period. There’s even a small museum in Mariposa County that was named the best of its kind west of the Mississippi by the Smithsonian.