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15 Best Weekend Getaways from Sacramento (Under 3 Hours!)

If you're looking for places to visit near Sacramento, California, for a weekend getaway look no further! These 15 destinations were chosen because they are all located under (mostly!) 3 hours road trip from Sacramento and offer a variety of fun things to do. Whether you're looking to explore the great outdoors or visit some of California's iconic cities, there's something on this list for everyone. So pack your bags and hit the road—your weekend getaway awaits!

Sequoia Trees in Yosemite National Park. Text says "Best Weekend Trips from Sacramento"

One of the main reasons that drew me to living in Sacramento is how centrally located it is, and the variety of amazing places you can road trip for the weekend. While there are many advantages to living in Sacramento, there are times when it is nice to get out of the city, especially during the summer to escape the heat!


If you live in the capital city, you might relate, but road trip travel is a common theme due to the amazing destinations we can get to in under 3 hours! Whether you're craving some time at the beach, exploring redwood forests, or a weekend of wine tasting in the vineyards, the options of places to visit near Sacramento are endless.


It truly was pretty difficult choosing only 15 destinations, but here are some of my favorite weekend getaways from Sacramento...

Guerneville


Guerneville is a charming small town located in Sonoma County wine country, and is a really well rounded travel destination for those who love the outdoors and getting away from the hustle and bustle of it all. If retreating to nature is your vibe, you are in luck because it is situated close to the beautiful Sonoma Coast State Park and the Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve.


On past trips to Guerneville, I've loved staying at the beautiful AutoCamp Resort, which has been a great home base and is truly a unique property, though there are a number of charming inns and boutique hotels in the area.


While there are many wine regions to choose from within a short drives distances from Sacramento, you will find that Guerneville's stunning forest backdrop and peaceful river provides an exceptionally outdoorsy experience for the perfect weekend getaway. I highly recommend the deli at Korbel Winery, and you might as well reserve a champagne tasting while you're there!


There are plenty of things to do in Guerneville, from hiking and biking to kayaking and canoeing along the Russian River. Whether you're looking for an active vacation or a relaxing getaway, you'll find it in Guerneville. If you need more ideas for exploring one of California's best-kept secrets, check out this complete travel guide!


Distance from Sacramento: 2 Hours via I-80W


Half Moon Bay


Half Moon Bay is a fantastic travel destination for a weekend getaway from Sacramento, if you are looking to have a quaint coastal vacation. One of the best things to do in Half Moon Bay is to visit the beaches, go hiking and enjoy local seafood. There are many different beaches to choose from, and each one has its own unique atmosphere. Maverick's Beach is an iconic surfing spot known for huge swells, and is so fun to watch the surfers and it is also a dog friendly beach, while the 9.5 mile long Coastside Trail at Half Moon Bay State Park is ideal for biking, hiking, or simply taking in the stunning views. If you feel like treating yourself, stay at the iconic Ritz Carlton, which is located on the trail and has immaculate views of the ocean and is something out of a fairytale!


In addition to the beaches, Half Moon Bay is also home to a number of restaurants, cafes, and shops. Standing in line and visiting the cash-only Barbara's Fishtrap to order clam chowder and fish and chips is always a classic when visiting, and grab a pint at Half Moon Bay Brewing Co across the street!


I highly recommend visiting the Purisima Creek Redwoods Open Space Preserve if you want to go hiking and see beautiful redwood forests. Another beautiful photo spot and hidden gem I recommend is the Seal Cove Cypress Tree Tunnel, which, while not exactly in Half Moon Bay, is only a 15-minute drive away and close to the Moss Beach Distillery!

The Seal Cove Cypress Tree Tunnel is a hidden gem located just 15 minutes from Half Moon Bay in Moss Beach, California!  Girl Hiking underneath canopy of trees looking up at the sky.
The Seal Cove Cypress Tree Tunnel is a hidden gem located just 15 minutes from Half Moon Bay in Moss Beach, California!

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy during your stay, and the friendly locals make it the perfect place to relax and enjoy yourself.


Distance from Sacramento: 2 Hours via I-80W


Mount Shasta


Mount Shasta is one of the most beautiful places in California and a great travel destination for those looking to get away from it all. The area is home to towering mountains, pristine lakes, and rushing waterfalls, making it the perfect place to enjoy some time outdoors.


The main attraction is the iconic, Mount Shasta, which is a 14,180-foot tall mountain, and is part of the cascades range that expands throughout Oregon and Washington. It's popular with climbers and hikers, but even if you're not an experienced mountaineer, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the stunning views of the area.


There are plenty of things to do in Mount Shasta, from hiking the beautiful Castle Lake and Heart Lake area, camping, fishing, and kayaking on Lake Siskiyou. And, for those who want to explore the area's waterfalls- Hedge Creek Falls, McCloud Falls, Faery Falls, Burney Falls, and Mossbrae Falls are all in the general area to visit. You can even go skiing or snowboarding in the winter!


Whether you're looking for an adventurous vacation or a relaxing getaway, Mount Shasta is sure to have something for everyone. So come and explore all that this wonderful place has to offer!


Distance from Sacramento: 3+ Hours via I-5N


Murphys


Murphys is a small town located in Sierra Foothills of Calaveras County wine country. It's best known for its underground gold mines—you can even go on a cave tour at the Mercer Caverns!


I love walking around their quaint downtown, and exploring all of the shops, restaurants and wine bars. You must try some of the local wines—they're some of the best in California! Plus, tasting fees are very affordable and the experience is very down to earth and friendly compared to other wine regions in California! My favorite spots to visit are Twisted Oak, Aloria Vineyards, and Mineral Wines, although they are all great, and most of them have larger vineyards in the surrounding areas!


If you enjoy festivals, some of the most popular days to visit Murphy's is for Murphy's Irish Day (3rd Saturday in March) and the Calaveras Grape Stomp (First Saturday in October).


If you venture up the highway a bit, you should definitely visit the Calaveras Big Trees State Park to hike amongst nature and enjoy some of the largest sequoia groves in the world.


Distance from Sacramento: 1 Hour 40 Min via CA-99S



San Francisco


San Francisco needs no introduction—it's one of the most iconic cities in America, and it is just a short drive from Sacramento, making it an ideal option for a weekend getaway. Whether you're visiting for the first time or the hundredth, there's always something new to see and do. From exploring Alcatraz to taking a sunset catamaran cruise on the Bay, San Francisco has something for everyone.


The city has so much to offer, from world-class museums and restaurants to iconic landmarks and beautiful parks. You could spend an entire weekend exploring all that San Francisco has to offer and still not see everything!


Whether you're looking for culture or adventure, San Francisco is the perfect place for a romantic getaway or fun filled weekends with the kids. Check out these tours for fun things to do on your weekend adventure!


Distance from Sacramento: 1 Hour 30 Min via I-80W


Lake Tahoe



Lake Tahoe is one of the most popular weekend getaways from Sacramento, and for good reason. The lake is absolutely beautiful, and there are tons of activities to keep you busy year round, including swimming, hiking, biking, skiing and kayaking. Depending on which area of Lake Tahoe you visit, most destinations are 2 hours or less from Sacramento, and there are also plenty of great restaurants and bars in the area.


South Lake Tahoe is easily one of the most popular spots to visit as it's a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts. In the summer, you can go hiking, biking, or boating. In the winter, hit the slopes at one of the many nearby ski resorts. And don't forget to head to Emerald Bay—it's one of the most beautiful spots in all of California!


Truckee is a great place to travel for vacation because there are so many things to do! In the summer, you can go hiking, mountain biking, floating or whitewater rafting. Or, if you're looking for something more low-key, you can explore the historic downtown area or enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants. Truckee is also a great place to travel in the winter - it's close to several ski resorts, and there's always something going on in town. Whether you're looking for an adventurous vacation or a relaxing getaway, Truckee is the perfect destination!


There's always something to do in Lake Tahoe no matter what season, although Fall time is one of my favorites - check out my Lake Tahoe Fall guide here.


Distance from Sacramento: 2 Hours or less


Monterey


Monterey is home to world-famous Monterey Bay Aquarium, and offers plenty of sea-faring activities for those looking to spend some time near the ocean. You might enjoy whale watching, kayaking, or taking a stroll along Cannery Row. Plus, it is in close proximity to Carmel by the sea, and the beautiful Big Sur coastline if you are feeling adventurous!


The Monterey Bay Aquarium is one of the largest and most popular aquariums in North America. The aquarium features over 35,000 animals in more than 550 species, making it a must-see for any animal lover. In addition to seeing all sorts of amazing sea creatures, you can also take part in educational programs and hands-on activities.


We always stop by the Alvarado Street Brewing for dinner, and Alta Bakery for breakfast while in town. See my full guide to exploring Monterey to get the most out of your visit.


Distance from Sacramento: 3 Hours via I-680S


Lassen Volcanic National Park


Lassen Volcanic National Park is one of those travel destinations that seems to be a hidden gem. It's not as popular as Yosemite or Sequoia, but it's equally as beautiful and definitely worth a visit! The park is located in Northern California and is full of volcanic landscapes - it's actually the site of the largest recent volcanic eruption in the continental US! The geothermal Bump Ass Hell hike is a must-do when you're in the area - just make sure to go during the right season due to trail closures in the winter!


One of the most iconic things to do in Lassen Volcanic NP is hike up Lassen Peak, which at 10,457 ft is the second largest peak in the Cascade Range. It's definitely a bucketlist experience for any avid hikers out there. In addition to all the amazing things to see and do, Lassen Volcanic NP also offers scenic camping, wildlife viewing opportunities and some of the best stargazing in California! If you're looking for a more off-the-beaten-path travel destination, Lassen Volcanic NP should definitely be on your radar.


Distance from Sacramento: 3 Hours via I-5N


Santa Cruz


Just a short drive down to Highway 1, Santa Cruz offers everything from stunning coastal views to world-class surfing to laid-back vibes. And with so many great things to do, you'll never be bored. Here are just a few of the reasons why Santa Cruz is the perfect place for a weekend getaway.


If you want to feel like you're in Southern California but don't want to drive too far, Santa Cruz is the closest you'll get! The town is extremely relaxed and laid-back, which is ideal for a weekend getaway. While there's also plenty to keep you busy with its lively boardwalk, charming downtown area, and great restaurants.


Plus, there's so much to do in Santa Cruz! You can spend your days relaxing on the beach, hiking through redwood forests, or exploring the funky shops and art galleries downtown. And of course, no trip to Santa Cruz would be complete without riding the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. Plus, the weather is almost always perfect, so you can enjoy all that Santa Cruz has to offer no matter what time of year it is.


Distance from Sacramento: 2.5 Hours via I-80W and I-680S


Nevada City

Nevada City is a great spot for a weekend trip from Sacramento because it's really close to drive to (just over an 1hr!), and it's not packed full of tourists. This charming town is located in the Sierra foothills and oozes lots of history and character. I recommend staying at the National Exchange Hotel which is a historic hotel from the gold rush days now refurbished, and be sure to grab a drink from the Golden Era Cocktail Bar just next door.


There are plenty of things to do in Nevada City, from exploring the many art galleries and shops to hiking and biking in the nearby forests. And thanks to its central location, Nevada City is the perfect base for exploring all that the Sierra Nevada region has to offer.


We loved visiting Empire Mine State Historic Park during the Fall time!

My favorite time to visit is during the holiday season to experience their Victorian Christmas, which happens on select Sundays and Wednesdays in December, and the streets are filled to become a bustling Christmas Market! Order a Hot Buttered Rum and stroll the streets to experience the festivities and Christmas magic!


Distance from Sacramento: 1 Hour 10 min via I-80E and CA-49N


Mendocino


Mendocino is one of my favorite places to visit in Northern California, and while it's not exactly under a three-hour drive from Sacramento, I couldn't leave it off my list of best weekend getaways from Sacramento. Plus, the road trip is so scenic and beautiful it hardly feels like a burden. Mendocino is a beautiful coastal California town known for its stunning views, great food, and small-town charm. If you've ever seen the Netflix show Virgin River, the scenery and vibes of the town remind me of it! Life is slow-paced, and it's a great place to relax and enjoy all of the beautiful nature, especially since you have both the ocean and the forest to enjoy!


There are many great state parks and spots to visit in Mendocino such as Russian Gulch State Park, Point Cabrillo Lighthouse or the Mendocino Headlands State Park, all of which also make great vantage points for whale watching during the Gray Whale migration in November - April.


I love The town's seafood is fresh and delicious, and there are also plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans. See my top things to do in Mendocino guide.


Distance from Sacramento: 3 Hour 45 min via I-80E and CA-49N


Chico


While Chico may not be the first place that comes to mind when considering a vacation, it surprisingly an excellent destination for a weekend getaway! Chico, is only a short drive from Sacramento, and has plenty to offer visitors of all ages. My favorite seasons to visit this charming college town are either the fall, when the fall colors are spectacular in Lower Bidwell Park, or the spring, when the hills in Upper Bidwell Park are lush and green. The summer is also a nice time if you want to explore swimming holes in Upper Bidwell, but make sure to check the weather forecast as the temps can get hot, even hotter than Sacramento!


Downtown Chico also has some great local restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. The city is surrounded by agricultural land, so you can likely expect farm fresh ingredients and to support family owned businesses. I also highly recommend saving time to stroll around the Saturday Chico's Farmers Market to grab some local goodies and get a vibe of the community. Stoble Coffee Roasters is a must-visit coffee shop with a truly unique three-story building, and dinner at the Madison Beer Garden for burgers and beer is a college town staple. In addition, touring the Sierra Nevada Brewing Co is a fun Chico activity, and the original location is a must for beer lovers. If you are looking for a full weekend guide to Chico, don't miss my full guide to Butte County.


Distance from Sacramento: 1.5 Hours via CA-99N


Yosemite


You'd be surprised how many Sacramento residents haven't visited Yosemite National Park, despite the fact that it's one of the most popular national parks in the country and is only a few hours away! While exploring this breathtaking National Park should take time, it is possible to accomplish this in a weekend. The park offers breathtaking scenery, as well as opportunities for hiking, camping, and rock climbing. There are also several lodges and hotels located within the park boundaries, but my favorite is AutoCamp located in Midpines.


Point Reyes Station


Point Reyes is the perfect spot for a quiet and romantic weekend getaway. Just a short drive from Sacramento, it offers beautiful coastal landscapes, delicious cheese and wine, and fresh seafood. It's a great spot for a romantic getaway, and it totally reminds me of Ireland or a quaint coastal town in the UK. Enjoy visiting some cheese shops, some of the best in the world, and then grab lunch or dinner eating oysters and seafood with an ocean view.


Point Reyes is also one of my favorite hiking destinations! There are numerous trails to choose from, and the views are breathtaking. The iconic Cypress Tree Tunnel, which is a hot spot for photographers, especially during golden hour, is one of the natural landscape highlights in Point Reyes. My personal favorite hiking spot is the Chimney Rock trailhead, but Alamere Falls, a waterfall that cascades into the ocean, is a must-see for experienced hikers! Point Reyes is definitely a place where you can find peace and quiet surrounded by nature, and I would highly recommend adding it to your list of California places to visit!


Napa Valley



Napa Valley is one of the most famous wine regions in the world, and it's just a short drive from Sacramento. The valley is home to hundreds of wineries, each with its own unique style and flavor. You can spend a day (or two) touring wineries, tasting wines, and learning about the wine-making process. And of course, don't forget to enjoy some of the delicious food that Napa Valley has to offer.


Another great option within Napa Valley is the small town of Calistoga. It's best known for its hot springs and mud baths, which are said to have healing properties. If you're looking to relax and rejuvenate, Calistoga is the perfect place for you!


So there you have it—out of all the places to visit near Sacramento- here are some of the greatest 15 destinations to spend your weekend trip!

Make sure to pin and save this article to help you plan your future travels in California!


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Welcome to the Brittsbellavita Blog, a California based travel and adventure community geared towards inspiring others to find their "Bella Vita." I am a Licensed Drone Pilot and Content Creator with a passion for exploring the outdoors, finding hidden gems, and getting off the beaten path. I live in Northern California, and love showcasing the Golden State, West Coast, and beyond!

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