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25 Things To Do In Northern California That Are Super Fun

25 Things To Do In Northern California That Are Super Fun

NorCal is home to amazing forests, coastal beaches, and beautiful sunsets. Here's a list of 25 awesome things to do in Northern California.


6 min read

January 09, 2022

Home to redwood forests, wild beaches, large metropolises, small towns, and mountainous escapes, the vast and varied terrain of NorCal allows you to plan any sort of getaway you like. Whether you’re traveling with your family, friends, beaux, or even solo, you can craft an itinerary of things to do in Northern California that’ll go above and beyond.

Unique Things To Do In Northern California With Your Beaux

1. Go on a Romantic Weekend Getaway to Big Sur

Rent a cozy cabin and spend a perfect long weekend crossing off awesome activities on your Big Sur bucket list.

If the weather's prime and you're looking for a fun way to spend an afternoon outdoors, a picnic with your SO is definitely the move.

2. Have a Romantic Picnic by the Beach

NorCal is home to a number of romantic beaches. Whisk your partner away by planning a picnic and you have yourself an incredibly romantic thing to do in NorCal.

3. Treat Your Date to a Fine Dining Experience

Looking to impress? Book a table at a Michelin-starred restaurant in the Bay Area.

4. Camp Under the Redwoods

Nature’s mysterious wonders in California include the towering redwoods. Plan a camping getaway for you and your boo and spend a night at Henry Cowell, Hendy Woods, or Redwoods National State Park.

5. Spend a Beautiful Night Under the Stars

If you haven't been stargazing in California before, you have to go with your partner. Spending a night under the stars somewhere like Pigeon Point Lighthouse—one of the best places to stargaze in NorCal—could be magical.

6. Book a Couples Spa Getaway in Wine Country

We include Napa and Sonoma’s incredible spas in all our Wine Country travel guides simply because they’re crucial things to do in NorCal. In other words, you won’t want to miss out on this couples bonding activity!

Fun Things To Do In Northern California With Friends

Surf, sun, and sand: We've got a saltwater heart and surfing on our minds. If there's a will, there's a wave.

7. Plan a Surf-Centered Getaway to Santa Cruz

Round up the best surf spots in Santa Cruz and spend a weekend by the beach with your friends. Squeeze in a hike or two to get a better idea of the places to visit in Northern California’s Santa Cruz.

8. Check out the Weirdest Cities in Northern California

Ghost towns, weird cities, and haunted locales—friends with peculiar interests will find plenty of unique things to do in Northern California. 

9. Backpack Through the Lost Coast

A rugged and remote area near the northern tip of the state, the Lost Coast is a very interesting place to visit in Northern California for a squad who likes to adventure off-grid.

10. Go Glamping in a Scenic Setting

Going on a glamping trip is a super fun thing to do in Northern California with your gang. With plenty of options to choose from—glamping along the coast, in the forests, or at the foothills of the mountains—you can have an enviable NorCal escape with your friends.

Living in a melting pot like the U.S., it's hardly surprising that Northern California's dining scene is just as diverse as the country.

11. Enjoy a Culinary Tour in the City

With all the incredible, high-rated restaurants in NorCal, it makes all the sense for you and your friends to embark on a culinary tour.

12. Attend a Fun Musical Event or Sports Game

There are baseball stadiums, theaters, basketball arenas, and concert venues that are crucial places to see in Northern California. Check out their online calendars and pick an upcoming event you and your friends might be interested in for a fun adventure. Just don’t forget to brush up on your concert survival checklist before you go.

Exciting Things To Do With Your Family in Northern California

13. Tour Hearst Castle

A San Luis Obispo landmark and one of the must-visit places to see in Northern California, Hearst Castle is a great attraction to discover with your family.

Because the greatest part of a road trip isn’t arriving at your destination. It’s all the stuff in-between.

14. Go on a Lengthy Road Trip Full of Fun Stops

Drive from Los Angeles to Big Surcruising the Pacific Coast Highway, discover things to see on Route 66—plenty of the state’s must-do road trips either start or end in NorCal. 

15. Hike to a Waterfall in Lake Tahoe

Lake Tahoe is one of the best places to visit in Northern California. Enjoy a vacation and make sure to hike to one of its beautiful waterfalls while you’re there.

16. Discover a New Place Near your Hometown

Oftentimes, we take advantage of the places closest to us and never end up discovering them properly. Get your family together for a close-to-home adventure to a new place to visit in Northern California.

It's time to grab your gear, round up your besties, and hit up the closest mountain; a ski trip with friends is the best winter plan!

17. Plan the Ultimate Ski Trip

The best Northern California ski resorts await you to go on adventures. Plan the ultimate ski trip with the fam and get gliding down the slopes!

18. Tour the Locations of Your Favorite Films

There are several movies with scenes filmed in Northern California, and your family’s favorite might be among them. What’s cooler than visiting a real-life set and recreating a scene in person?

19. Spend an Afternoon at a Garden You’ve Never Visited Before

Things to do with the family in Northern California don’t always have to involve long trips and major pre-planning. Something as simple as going to a beautiful garden in San Francisco could prompt you to make your favorite memories as a family.

Cool Things To Do In NorCal Solo

20. Hike a Bucket List Trail Alone

Nothing forces you to do a bit of necessary self-reflection like escaping into nature alone. The Tahoe Rim and John Muir Trail are both famous hikes—attempting to cross even a portion of them is an incredible thing to do in Northern California. 

Hey there, solo traveler! We see you’re one of the cool and daring humans who enjoy wandering alone into unfamiliar places.

21. Embark on a Rejuvenating Retreat

NorCal is home to plenty of beautiful locales where you can escape on a  solo trip for a wellness retreat or digital detox in California.

22. Go Cruising on a Scenic Drive to Nowhere

Ever get that feeling that you just want to drive aimlessly for hours? Pick a route and do exactly that! Whether you’re for a scenic drive in Napa, a Big Sur panoramic route, or a spectacular drive in the Bay Area, you have plenty of places to visit in Northern California paired with awesome views.

23. Enjoy a Last-Minute Mini Getaway

Last-minute mini getaways are totally things you can do in Northern California. All you need is a free day, enough gas in your tank, and a killer playlist to accompany you along your solo trip.

24. Let your Zodiac Sign Take you on an Adventure

Can’t make up your mind on what place to visit in Northern California? Let your zodiac sign lead you on your next journey.

25. Watch a Beautiful Sunset on the Beach

Watching a beautiful sunset on the beach can do wonders for your soul. Luckily, there are plenty of places to see in Northern California with incredible views.

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