October 31, 2020
As California mitigates health risks during the COVID-19 pandemic, some travel restrictions may remain in certain communities. Call the local and regional tourism offices to learn more about the restrictions in your intended destination. Thank you for reading, and stay safe.
When it comes to domestic and international travel, California's landing spots are aplenty. The Golden State's northern half alone consists of 600 miles of beautiful coastline. Thanks to the spectacular ocean vistas, rugged mountainous terrain, and alpine lakes, NorCal's natural beauty just draws visitors in. The allure of San Francisco for the city dwellers and the charming mountain towns for hustle-and-bustle escapees will have you booking your ticket to California's northern region in no time. Not sure which airport to use for your next NorCal vacay? Worry not, because our insider’s guide to airports in Northern California will help you decide.
major airports in northern California
San Francisco International Airport
Annually, more than 20 million passengers fly into one of the best ranked California airports: San Francisco International Airport (SFO). The Golden State's second-most popular airport is found south of San Francisco. The shuttle services allow easy access for visitors to reach numerous Bay Area destinations. For international visitors, SFO is the most affordable option when flying to California; more than 48 different airlines fly into San Francisco.
If you have travel anxiety, go meditate in the yoga room in terminal two. And if you have concerns about how to pass the time before your flight, worry not; live music shows and an aquarium will help keep boredom at bay. Since San Francisco is internationally recognized as a hub of culture and historical heritage, it's not surprising that the airport has a cultural attraction, too—SFO is home to the first accredited museum in an airport. Travelers can entertain and educate themselves in the terminal art galleries and aviation museum.
Oakland, CA Airport
Oakland International Airport (OAK) is Northern California's second-most popular airport. Found in the East Bay, tourists can easily travel to Sacramento, Stockton, and Fresno. On an annual basis, nearly five million passengers arrive at OAK via 13 different airlines. The domestic and international airport is great for travelers looking to fly on a budget; airlines such as Norwegian Air and Southwest offer flights from Oakland's airport. It's the best place to fly in to and out of Berkeley, Oakland, Walnut Creek, and other East Bay cities. Compared to SFO, since the airport is smaller and easier to navigate, so trips through OAK are often hassle-free.
Sacramento, CA Airport
The state capital welcomes plenty of visitors throughout the year. The Sacramento International Airport (SMF) is among the largest airports and one of the only airports providing international flights in the area. Throughout the year, more than four million passengers arrive at SMF. The airport services 10 airlines; convenient rental car facilities are also available on-site to better accommodate passengers. Sacramento's airport offers a wide range of award-winning dining and shopping experiences as well. So, book your tickets and plan your getaway to Sacramento now.
Fresno Yosemite International Airport
Have you even visited California if you haven't experienced the natural wonders of the state? Yosemite National Park, Sierra National Forest, Kings Canyon National Park, and Sequoia National Park await you. Transportation is pretty simple as well; travel through Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT) to turn your adventurous dreams into reality. Through three major highways, you can easily access these impressive national parks, the city of Fresno, and even Sacramento. FAT is home to seven passenger airlines and serves almost 700,000 travelers annually. Satisfy your hunger at one of many restaurants at the airport, including the John Muir Tavern and California Pizza Kitchen, and stop by the Hudson News to check out the selection of magazines and books.
Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK) is a regional airport found in the northern part of California’s Central Valley. This airport is a great alternative to SMF, OAK, and SFO. Getting to Stockton from SCK is fairly easy via Highway 99 and Interstate 5, especially during traffic-free times. One of the biggest advantages of traveling through the Stockton airport is its quick, no-hassle baggage check—so don't worry about your California-made luggage. The airport is famous for its fast security lines; usually, guests pass through within 5 to 10 minutes. Since 2006, the airport began servicing Allegiant Airlines, and passengers can now fly to popular destinations such as Las Vegas and Phoenix.
Sonoma County Airport
Start your Wine Country adventures by flying through the Sonoma County Airport (STS) in Santa Rosa. The airport's hassle-free environment makes for shorter lines than those at other NorCal airports. Sonoma has easy and affordable parking; ground transportation easily takes visitors in and out of the city, too. The airport is famous for its Sky Lounge Steakhouse and Sushi Bar, which serves organic, locally sourced fare for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Relax on the sun-filled patio as you watch planes take off. STS is located within close proximity to the Hilton Garden Inn Sonoma County Airport and Hampton Inn and Suites Windsor, Sonoma Wine County for those late-night flights.
Napa County Airport
The Napa County Airport is also known as the “Skyport to the Wine Country.” Napa Valley is home to renowned wineries, A-list restaurants, luxurious spas, and green golf courses. The airport is a small landing strip serving charter flights and private airplanes only. It was originally built by the United States Army Air Forces in 1942. You can now fly directly to this airport with your own chartered plane; if you’re a licensed pilot, you can fly your jet yourself. Travelers can wait for their personal planes at the Runway by Patrick for classic American comfort food while catching views of the active airport runway. While car rental agencies aren't found here, passengers can opt for more luxurious transportation—from private chauffeured service cars to luxury shuttle buses.
Redding Municipal Airport (RDD) is a full-service airport offering commercial airline passenger services with direct flights to San Francisco through United Airlines. Delta and American Airlines also fly through Redding, making RDD the best place for affordable flights. Travelers (and non-travelers) can stop by Peter Chu's Skyroom for delicious Chinese cuisine and awesome views of Mount Lassen. The airport is well equipped with rental car services, parking, and transportation services. Land at Redding Airport to begin your exciting Shasta Cascade vacation.
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