The Best Tourist Attractions in Northern California

Steve KinsmanStarred Page By Steve Kinsman, 2nd Feb 2012 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL http://nut.bz/425o1-9x/
Posted in Wikinut>Travel>North America>United States>California

California, from its mountains, to its pristine beaches and seashore, from its redwoods to its deserts, offers a variety of peak-experiences, and sight-seeing not seen anywhere else on the planet.

Let's begin at Lassen National Park

When visiting California for the first time, it matters not where you begin, for the wonders of this wonderful state will arise right in front of you no matter where you go. North, south, east or west, fantastic sights greet your eyes everywhere.

You must start your journey somewhere, of course, so let's begin in the north and take a lazy sojourn through the nation's least visited national park, Lassen. This volcanic wonder rises to a height of over 14,000 feet at the top of Mount Lassen, and it's a relatively easy climb to ascend to the top, where you will be greeted by a 360 degree view that allows your eyes to feast on the snow-capped peak of Mount Shasta, some one hundred miles to the north. The main road through the park takes you from the southwest entrance on a gradual 3000 foot climb, past boiling mud pots, emerald green and bright blue clear reflecting pools of icy water, through giant Douglas Fir forests. There are campgrounds at Manzanita Lake, at 4500 feet, and at Sylvan Lake, at over 7000 feet above sea level, with all the amenities. You will not believe the sight of the Painted Dunes, where winds have dispersed bluish-green sands across the landscape. This is a favorite spot for artists to put brush to canvas to capture this fantastic sight. Near the Painted Dunes are the Fantastic Lava Beds, where lava erupted from Mount Lassen in 1914, and sent out "forks" which pierce into the lakes below. While you're here, make sure to climb Cinder Cone, a huge pile of lava which is slowly being transformed into a mountain as vegetation begins to take root.

Because Mount Lassen National Park is the nation's least visited, you will be able to take your time, unrushed and unbothered by the hoards you will see at a place like Yosemite. And Lassen is relatively small by national park standards, so you will be able to take in virtually all of its wondrous sights in a matter of only two days.

San Francisco

The City by the Bay is almost universally acclaimed as America's best, and it is no wonder. Surrounded on three sides by water, this jewel of a peninsula juts into San Francisco Bay, as its two main bridges invite the traveler to partake of all its earthly delights. Visit any of the fine restaurants in North Beach, where the sourdough bread is beyond delicious, and the Italian fare on the menus is unmatched anywhere. Coit Tower looms above, an archtecturally unique fire nozzle pointed to the sky. Close by is another architectural gem which has become the city's signature structure, the Transamerica skyscraper. The cable cars, which really do "climb halfway to the stars," are a delight to ride, and some of the conductors possess a musical skill while they bang on the bells of the cars that will impress you no end. Golden Gate Park is a must-see, with its Japanese Tea Garden and its rhododendron dell a delight to the eye. And do take the Forty-Nine Mile Drive, which winds its way from the waterfront to the city's western shore, through Golden Gate Park, to the top of Twin Peaks, where a 360 degree view of the city, the bay, Marin and Alameda Counties await your gaze. The delights of San Francisco are far too numerous to mention here. Bring your checkbook and stay two weeks.

Gold Country

San Francisco became a booming metropolis immediately after gold was discovered at John Sutter's mill in Coloma, California in 1848. Miners by the thousands rushed to California's foothills to stake their claims, and the course of California's history was transformed forever. Two towns, Nevada City and Grass Valley, rose among the Douglas Firs at 2000 to 3500 feet above sea level. Mines were constructed, and during the course of their operation over 100 million ounces of gold were extracted from under the streets and in the outlying districts of the two cities. There are miner museums, where you can catch a glimpse of what it was like in those days, when Lola Montez entertained the miners, and there were brothels and saloons everywhere. The Yuba River, hard by Nevada City, is one of America's best for white water rafting, and thousands spend lazy summer days along its shores. If you visit the gold country, you will be greeted by some of California's most friendly folks, and you will be certain to return again and again.

Lake Tahoe

Leaving Nevada City, take Highway 20 and merge into Interstate Highway 80 for the trip opver the crest of the Sierras to Truckee and Lake Tahoe. Pull off at the Donner vista point and drink in the view of this small, deep blue body of water, a feast to your eyes. Visit the Donner Memorial, where the ill-fated Donner Party met its match in the brutal winter of 1847. Take Highway 267 from Truckee and descend to Lake Tahoe's north shore, where you will be able to see down the entire length of the lake. Spend about three hours to motor around the entire perimeter, an easy trip of just 72 miles. The lake is inviting, but it is exceedingly cold, and if you go in you will want to be wearing a wet suit. The water is crystal clear, and you can see to a very great depth. At Emerald Bay, you will be astounded at the view.

You cannot leave California without visiting this Sierra Mountain jewel.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite is the crown jewel of the entire national park system, and you will never want to leave this place once you are here. The language fails to contain the superlatives that would describe the awesome beauty of this magical place. Black bears wander all over the park and break into cars to steal unsecured food. From El Capitan near the western entrance, to Bridal Veil Fall, Nevada Falls, Yosemite Falls and Vernal Fall, water cascades down the steep, granite cliffs everywhere. The Merced River is idyllic as it meanders through the valley floor. Visit the high country at Toulumne Meadows, where the air is thin at an elevation of 9900 feet. The Awanee Hotel serves the best, most reasonably priced breakfasts you might find anywhere. Try the Belgian Waffle. Superb. The Mariposa Grove of ancient Sequoias, some over three thousand years old, will feel peaceful and arouse your spiritual nature. The Grizzly Giant is the biggest living thing on earth, 300 feet tall, with branches over twenty feet in diameter. You feel like an ant among these leviathans. Finally, a visit to Glacier Point, on a promontory 3500 feet directly above the valley floor, caps off your magical visit to this wondrous place.

Monterey Peninsula

Robert Louis Stevenson christened it "the most felicitous meeting of land and sea in all of God's creation," and you will never argue with that assessment. Just 125 miles south of San Francisco along California Highhway 1, a promontory of magnificent coastline curves around several points of land which fork into the blue Pacific. Here you will find Cannery Row, where John Steinbeck whittled away countless hours with Doc Ricketts, and where he penned his masterpiece novel East of Eden. Meander through charming Pacific Grove, which bills itself as "The Last Home Town," and "Butterfly Town, U. S. A.," where millions of Monarch butterflies alight in the trees of Washington Park each summer. They come for the abundant and lush floral growth seen everywhere on the peninsula. From Pacific Grove, drive out to the northern most point of the peninsula, around Asilomar State Beach. and enter Pebble Beach's Seventeen Mile Drive. You'll see Cypress Point Golf Course and Pebble Beach Golf Links sitting at the edge of the ocean, where you can dine at the Del Monte Lodge along Pebble's famous par 5 finishing hole. At the end of the Seventeen Mile Drive you will enter the cozy and quaint village of Carmel by the Sea, where you just might catch a glimpse of Clint Eastwood visiting with his neighbors. Carmel's restaurants rival San Francisco's in quality, and of course they are equally expensive. This is where the ultra rich come to vacation.

Big Sur

Leaving Carmel, you will travel through Carmel Highlands, perhaps some of the most spectacular coastline along all of California. Twenty-six miles south of Carmel, Big Sur extends all the way to San Luis Obispo, and here you will want to linger forever, drinking in one stellar view after another. Visit Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park and hike along the Little Sur River, or stay a while at Jade Beach, where the jade is everywhere for the taking. At the southern end of Big Sur be sure to visit Hearst Castle, where William Randolph Hearst entertained the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., and Mary Pickford in days gone by.

Places to visit not mentioned

Northern California's scenic attractions are so numerous that we could mention only a few. If you have the time to spend a liesurely year or two in Northern California, you will be able to visit many more places. Here's apartial list of the delights that await an extended visit: Burney Falls, John Muir State Park, Jedediah Redwoods State Park, Mendocino County, Humboldt County, Del Norte County, Santa Cruz Mountains, Smith River Wilderness, Lake Shasta, Mount Shasta, Napa County Wine Country, Sausalito, Lake Almanor, and the Sacramento Railroad Museum, to name just a very few. Happy sightseeing!

Photos of Lassen, San Francisco, Lake Tahoe, Yosemite, Monterey and Big Sur from wikimedia commons.
Photo of Nevada City from NevadaCity.org.
Photo of Burney Falls from castateparks.gov.

Tags

Big Sur, California, Gold Country, Hollywood, Lake Tahoe, Lassen National Park, Monterey Peninsula, San Francisco, Steve Kinsman, Travel, Vacationing, Vacations, Writing, Yosemite National Park

Meet the author

author avatar Steve Kinsman
I live in California with my wife Carol, where I have been practicing professional astrology for 35 years. I write articles on astrology, but I enjoy writing on a variety of other subjects as well..

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Comments

author avatar Songbird B
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Stunningly beautiful Star page and a breathtaking article Steve...You are an excellent guide my friend..

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you Songbird. That's a very nice comment.

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author avatar Mark Gordon Brown
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Thanks for this excellent guide on tourist attractions in Northern California, I feel warmer already.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Glad you do.

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author avatar Sheila Newton
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Wow - Burney falls particularly caught my eye. Superb write-up -superb images.
Oh, Steve, and you were so quick with Mark's new challenge. Mine isn't even into the first paragraph yet.
WOW - and a great star to add to your list of great articles too.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Thanks so much Sheila. I really appreciate your encouragement.

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author avatar Jerry Walch
2nd Feb 2012 (#)

Wow! Steve, this was a real trip down memory lane for me. I much prefer Northern California to Southern California any time of the year. Great scenery and the people act like human beings.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

I'm with you all the way Jerry. Would love to have you visit. Come soon, hear?

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author avatar Tess Irons
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Beautiful places, Steve. Thanks for sharing. I should plan a trip to see some of those places this summer. You deserve the star.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you so much Tess, for your much appreciated comment.

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author avatar Jules Castillo
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

breathtaking!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Yes it is, and I feel very fortunate to live here. Thank you, cowboynextdoor.

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author avatar Retired
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Superb star page, Steve! Shasta is my favorite of all those places, though they are all wonderful. great fact page...and pics, too!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Shasta is such a spititual place. Hope to see you here in California very soon, rama devi. Namaste.

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author avatar Clarence Schreiber
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Excellent star page, Steve. Makes me want to travel there.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

I certainly hope you will someday Clarence. Thanks for commenting.

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author avatar Denise O
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Steve, Love the photos. I am so darn tired and it is 3:30 east coast time. I am beat! I will read your page tomorrow. This is one corner of our main land I have not been able to see. I have also not seen Alaska, one day maybe. So see ya tomorrow.:)

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Denise, I would love you to visit us one day. Thanks for commenting.

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author avatar Delicia Powers
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Wow...what a beautiful state..I have longed to visit Yosemite, you have mapped so enticingly all the MANY wonders ...I really enjoyed reading this article ...your wonderful lead in paragraph captured your love for the state and flavored the whole page:0) ...just beautifully done Steve many thanks!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you so much for that very nice comment, Delicia.

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author avatar Buzz
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Spectacular scenery, Steve. Excellent response to Marks' challenge!

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you so muich Buzz.

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author avatar Ivyevelyn, R.S.A.
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Definitely a "star-worthy" page, I enjoyed reading your article and the pictures are so special. Thank you, Steve.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

You're very welcome, Ivyevelyn, and thank you.

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author avatar cnwriter..carolina
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

congrats on a very very well written and informative piece...most enjoyable..

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
3rd Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you cnwritier. I appreciate that.

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author avatar ppruel
5th Feb 2012 (#)

You toured me around those fantastic places. Great article...

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
5th Feb 2012 (#)

Thank you ppruel. I appreciate that.

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author avatar Denise O
6th Feb 2012 (#)

Steve, you have me hooked. I must go see these places. I almost went to Lake Tahoe for the summer as a nanny. The family was not able to go, so then I was not either. It would have been great. Steve the photos are just magnificent, just breathtaking. Great facts and tidbits about each place. Yep, I really enjoyed this page. As always, thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
6th Feb 2012 (#)

I certainly hope you'll visit us one day soon Denise. Thanks for coming along on my tour.

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author avatar GV Rama Rao
13th Feb 2012 (#)

Steve, I was fortunate to spend six months in San Diego as a guest of the US navy for a course. During this period I traveled around the whole of California. It is breathtaking.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
13th Feb 2012 (#)

Cool, GV. Glad you got to see my marvelous state.

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author avatar Charles Waugh
30th Mar 2014 (#)

Nice article, but as someone who has summited Lassen, it is not 14000 feet ... that is Mt. Shasta. Lassen is a non technical climb (steep trail) to about 10,000 feet. Worth the visit ! Also see Redwood N P.

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author avatar Steve Kinsman
1st Jun 2014 (#)

You are right, of course - my mistake. Lassen is 10,404 feet. Thanks for correcting me, Charles. I appreciate it.

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author avatar Janette
18th Jul 2014 (#)

Planning on a visit to California from the UK. This has given me plenty to think about . Had not heard of Lassen and if it's quiet all the better. At the moment thinking of Lake Tahoe, Monument valley and some days in Palm Springs . Does that sound a good way of spending three weeks please!

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author avatar Janette
18th Jul 2014 (#)

Planning on a visit to California from the UK. This has given me plenty to think about . Had not heard of Lassen and if it's quiet all the better. At the moment thinking of Lake Tahoe, Monument valley and some days in Palm Springs . Does that sound a good way of spending three weeks please!

Reply to this comment

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